The Outside Ghost

In the past few years, I’ve developed a love for the outdoors that is indescribable, I live for the moments I spend in the backcountry. I yearn to lounge on my hammock, strung between two awkward trees, uneasy about my weight. I dream of not getting back into the vans, of staying near the spot where I dug my favorite latrine. But I have to say one of my favorite things about the outdoors is the chilling experiences.
The first one very vivid to me occurred nearly three years ago in the Eastern Sierras. I had gone backpacking with my school about 10 miles up into Little Lakes Valley, a quaint spot along the John Muir Trail, and we had set our packs down by a lake snuggled into a cliffside. A few of us, being the adventurous souls that we were, decided it would be fun to summit this peak, towering around 1,000 feet above us.  Half an hour into the climb, I had to stop, at our elevation, nearly 13,000 feet above sea level, wearing a heavy ski coat, I was winded. I was given a walkie talkie, water bottles to hold onto, and told to standby as they submitted.
Being on a neighboring peak, just slightly lower than the peak I originally set out for, I had a nice view of the three that continued on. As I sat alone, talking and singing to myself, using up 30 minutes of footage on my phone, I felt a sense of tranquility I hadn’t experienced since starting high school. Around 15 minutes into my time alone, as I carefully examined the pockets of snow that lay in the distance between the jagged rocks that covered the mountain where I would occasionally see the hikers jumping through as the continued to summit, something interrupted by solo jam sesh. In the footage, you can hear me rambling about a second rate animated movie from my childhood, and all of a sudden a voice maybe 40 feet behind me interrupts my train of thought. I hear the click of a walkie talkie as the gruff voice says, “OK hold up.” However, the walkie talkie sitting beside me remains silent.
Now at this point, two things are running through my mind, either there is a stranger hiking by his lonesome and he’s for some reason communicating with another hiker far another away where he needs a walkie talkie, or that there’s a ghost. Seeing as I have turned to face the source of the noise and there was no face to put to the voice, I quickly jumped to conclusions that it was the latter. Regardless, as my experience from horror movies dictates, if I acknowledge the ghost as a ghost, it will mess me up. So I narrate to the video what just happened, and QUICKLY change the subject so that the ghost believes I am just a naive little freshman, not worth the trouble. I increase the amount of panning shots in my video so I have opportunities to look around for the voice that is intermittently speaking, traveling, but maintaining a consistent distance from me so that I can keep an eye out for the ghost without it catching on.
A few minutes later the voice disappears completely, but as it does the weather takes a turn, I see the hikers running back as they indubitably saw the storm cloud moving in our direction, completely invisible to myself until the hikers were almost back. Now I’m not saying that the ghost made it dump snow on us for the next 12 hours, but if he did that was a pretty crappy move. Regardless, when we get back to camp I refrain from telling anyone because I am convinced I’m still within earshot of that petty man, so I go about the rest of the evening and kind of forget about it. When I wake up in the morning, sore from the number of times the gusting winds slapped the roof of the tent into my unsuspecting face, I hear stories that convince me that the ghost man didn’t like our group.
One tells of how he heard trailing footsteps when he went off to pee shortly after dinner but saw nothing, no indication that he was being followed. And the three girls all corroborated that in the night, in the worst part of the storm, when the howling winds would’ve prevented any sane man from leaving his tent, no matter what capacity his bladder was at, they heard footsteps circling their tent, unaffected by the storm, oblivious to the bitter cold, definitely a ghost. When we hiked out of that canyon the next day I vowed never to return, but I actually did a year later when I school offered the trip, and I had a really splendid time. However, everyone who went on the night hikes heard footsteps in the woods around them and experienced wacky flashlights malfunctions, which is to be expected when the ghost man is out there. That is precisely the reason I didn’t go on the night hikes, I knew about the aggravating spirit that lay waiting in the darkness, so instead, I elected to stay in my tent, on my phone, where I had downloaded a Patton Oswalt comedy special and had a very enjoyable evening.
Next week I got another doozy so keep an eye out for that one.
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Thoughts from a Balcony

something has changed.

colors are duller

even flowers look sad.

my eyes feel like a melancholy ocean,

and my cheeks the sand; waiting for the waves to rush on to them.

tears have replaced laughing,

smiles feel hollow.

my face has a different complexion,

more pale, more hopeless, less me.

my body feel lethargic, corpulent, and ignominious,

i am rotting from the inside out.

i have lost a part of me; the will to push, the will to continue, the will to strive

and it shows.

things that barely phased me are now barricades.

it’s hard to exist when you feel like you have nothing to live for.

oh me, oh life, oh self… where have you gone?

photo credit: weheartit.com

untitled

I started my junior year one month ago, which I have been waiting for pretty long time ago. I heard this year will be super tough, taking tons of AP courses, preparing for quizzes, tests, exams, and finals that come one after another. Besides, also need to take care about extracurricular activities, social relationships, being a student leader or something like that. All of those things are taking up both my time and energy. 

photo credit: jjhsfocus.com

It has been 4 weeks since this school year started.

What did I do so far? I don’t know. Probably nothing. 

Nah. I definitely did something, not just something, I have done a lot of things.

I wrote four reading journals and rewrote them several times, three short answer questions, two stories, one lab report, took the first unit exams for all my classes…… Almost every day was extremely busy, I got super exhausted every night, and need to refill my energy level back up every morning.

Actually, the school itself, does not seem to be that much more challenging compared to last year. And the challenges I am struggling with now are not really difficult, they’re just new to me.

There are always ups and downs in life. I am happy I have someone to share both my happiness and unhappiness. 

where my eyes cease to look

If I may,

through ye rivers

through ye trees

it is you who have suffered

by the hand of me

with starlets faded

and trumpets drowned

ye murky streams

stood idle

held fast in winter sounds

– you’re a river –

ancient winnings left unsung

you’re my peer, my equal

yet you still leave me stung 

ye valley, ye hillside, ye marbled dismay

covered in oleander

onward ye May

ye gargling, ye moving, ye ponderous brook 

(struck through me!)

a center it took

“Tear me to pieces

cut out where my eyes cease to look”

and just then will they open to see

the face of summer laughing at me

with eyes open wide 

my love it did wander

for bitter I was

my heart it did squander:

ye forest, ye mountain, ye breeze

ye sunglass driving, ye proliferate bees.

Suppose I am the offspring of thine shepherd:

you are the hunt,

that which I am after.

and with the fall comes the rapid convergence:

mine sweet love’s resurgence

But once again the autumn leaves took

to a different stream or babbling brook

and forevermore I am wandering in a forest ever stranger

of perilous rot

and cavernous danger

All that which a summer could bring!

but once again I am searching for a longer sting

and what of the prospect? What this winter will bring!

while more I could say might strengthen the pressure 

I leave with you no words, no rhyme, no measure

that might contrast mine song of May

it tingles, it trickles, and just may delight

in telling a story of our precarious plight

with the sincerest intentions on an immeasurable scale,

all that you’re left with is a tacky email

and no words, no sermons, no divine light

could bring you back the way it would 

into my life.

minutes later you answer:

true love is true love’s killer

Credit: https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/1992.5112/

Drink Water, Live Longer

I love Diet Pepsi. If I order a food delivery, a 2-liter Diet Pepsi will definitely be in it. But lately, I’ve announced farewell to it. 

Looking at a can of Diet Pepsi, it’s the word “Diet” that will capture your eyes. It means no sugar is in Pepsi. In other words, Diet Pepsi has zero-calories. It means you can feel guilt-free when drinking a can of soda, it means you can drink ten cans of Diet Pepsi and still stay in shape… but it also means cancer.

Cancer? Yes, cancer. Like I said, Diet Pepsi is sugar-free. However, the Pepsi company replaces the sugar with a kind of sweetener called aspartame. Studies on aspartame have shown that the use of aspartame can increase the chance for an individual to get blood-related cancers. 

On the Diet Pepsi company’s response to the studies on aspartame was replacing aspartame with other non-sugar sweeteners. This alone shows the dangers aspartame triggers. However, most Diet Pepsi I see out there still state the use of aspartame. While I’m no professional in studying sweeteners or the soda industry, I do care about my own longevity. And honestly, even if they use another kind of sweetener in soda, I don’t think I can trust its safety anymore. That’s why I’ve decided to stay off the product.

Looking at all those soda cans, with labels like “sugar-free,” “caffeine-free” or “aspartame-free”… I have a question for all of us—why not just free yourself by drinking water? 

Drink water, live longer.

credit: amazonaws.com

Food in boarding school

Derived from my experiences from boarding schools, food delivery is inevitable. Boarding school’s rigorous schedule is demanding for students. I was wondering if my thought applies to other boarding school kids, and from their testimonies I could say for sure that boarding school’s food is insufficient for students. I believe that to boost boarding school kid’s morale , the school is responsible for better quality of food.

I acknowledged that the food can’t be perfect, but if school at least tries to satisfy students by communicating with them, I’m pretty sure that in result students will achieve greater performances, for instance, in academics, sports, and involvement. Also by better quality of school food, the trash caused by delivery will reduce significantly, which diminishes one of the big concerns in our school. In conclusion, I believe that if school communicates with student for better quality of food, the benefits will outweigh the negative effects.

How to make a better OVS

OVS for sure is a great school, however, I believe there are some parts that could be better in future perspective. For example, breakfast check in. In my opinion, breakfast check in is inefficient for both boarders and teachers. Derived from my experience, it is hard to finish the school work within study hall period, so I would stay up late to finish my work. However, OVS requires borders to check in by 7:35. As a result, students who stayed up late struggle to make it to check in. Students would have to wake up super early to get ready for school.

Credit: gettyimages

If school gets rid of breakfast check in, or if school could make breakfast check in as punishment for misbehavior. Student would start off day lively and they would better perform in school by focusing more in classes. Therefore school should not force students for breakfast check in for students, which would benefit the school as a result.

shower thoughts

The entire day, I have been thinking about what to write and what to say. Quite frankly, I have nothing to say. So here is everything that has been swallowing me alive this week:

  1. This week, I have exhausted my opinions and today, I feel indifferent about all those previous feelings.
  2. Being a Libra, one of my qualities, more like flaws, is that I am indecisive. Sometimes, I cannot make a decision even if my life depended on it and that scares me as I apply for college.
  3. I am so excited to vote next year.
  4. I am done with the cliches that I hear in music and see on TV. Why can’t the world be real with me?
  5. How much water is too much water to drink?
  6. The sun is literally going to cook me alive and sunscreen will not stop it.
  7. Why did all my teacher’s decide to give me tests in the same week? Just wondering.
  8. I believe that we are not alone in this universe and I want to be the one to truly prove that.
  9. The world is crumbling under our feet and so many people are careless about it.
  10. Clouds are crazy.
  11. I am a consumer and I hate it.
  12. Even though its 100 degrees, I want to be in a hot tub.
  13. Is it okay if my conditioner is my best friend?

This is a brief look inside my brain and conscience this week.

Photo Credit: i-love-png.com

Remember

By no standards are my Chinese skills any more than proficient. After moving away at the age of 12, things started to fade for me very quickly. After six months I forgot how to write; after a year, my reading; then finally, my identity.

By the time I entered the eighth grade, I had been thoroughly white-washed. Granted, I am only half Chinese, but I was raised to embrace my Chinese background, to be proud of my heritage. But it was slipping away.

I went back to China the summer before I entered my Freshman year of High School. I wasn’t able to handle the street-food, my 8-year-old cousin was speaking better than I was, and I had lost a connection with the country that raised me.

Before I left my Grandmother repeated something to me that she had told me before I moved away. “Remember,” she said simply, “Remember where you come from.” When she said this, I realized it was a plea for me to clasp onto my cultural identity that was on the cusp of being extinguished. I had a life in China, friends, family, and a part of myself that never seems to board the flight to LAX when my visits end.

So I listened to her, I pushed myself to retain the identity I found in being Chinese, I acknowledged the comments of being only half, being unable to communicate, but they don’t bother me. When I listen to songs from my childhood, when I go back to visit, when I speak my native tongue, no matter how poor it is, I feel like myself again.

There are certain things in everyone’s life that hold invaluable, unspeakable significance to their sense of self, to their state of being, that without it, they feel like a bulb without its filament. To me that is the ability to speak in Chinese. As soon as the words escape me, I feel that connection again, I remember the people, taste the food, experience the culture. I am eternally grateful to my Grandmother for what she instilled in me because I know that at my lowest moments I always have something to lean on.

Happy Birthday Derek

Education Abroad

Nowadays, personal knowledge becomes much more important with the high development of technology, since the machine and robots can replace the manpower.  Almost everyone is eager for studying more knowledge or letting their children get a better education. Based on this, more and more people choose to attend a boarding school overseas, and the most popular destination in America. However, attending a boarding school in the U.S. is still a controversial issue.

From my own experience of studying and living here, my feeling is very great. I remember the first day I came here, I was so nervous and confused. A totally strange environment with unfamiliar people speaking a language that I could barely understand. But with time, I felt more and more comfortable. I started to laugh again. I could communicate in another language and make my own opinion in class. I made a great number of new friends and we have fun every moment. Without my family’s company and help, I started trying some things that I had never done before. I can put my room in order and sweep the room by myself. I can pack my things for a trip and go to homestay during the break. I can take care of myself and know what do to when I get sick. I feel much more independent and confident than before.

To sum it up, although studying abroad will cost a great amount of money and stay so far away from home, in my opinion it is worth it. What you will learn and what you will experience in studying overseas can not be bought by money. It will make your own life become unique from others.

Photo credit: eliteoverseaseducation.com