Slow Down

I hate rushing. I love taking my time, being meticulous, and doing things to the best of my ability. Like when I cook slowly, plating the dish perfectly. I’m writing this blog post slowly, ensuring the words sound right. It’s time-consuming, but it’s undeniably satisfying.

I think we have an overcomplicated life because even as a 16-year-old my schedule is packed. I don’t have the time to be a perfectionist and that makes me sad. Maybe it’s a good thing I don’t give my 100% to everything, but at the same time, I hate the pace at which I’m forced to live.

My second-semester junior year burn-out has inspired me to write about this, because never have I felt the time crunch more. I procrastinate too, which as you can imagine, only forces me to rush more as deadlines approach.

Thank god summer is on its way. For the first two weeks, I will rest, relax, and move through my days in slow motion, soaking up every minute.


Emily Dickinson Poetry

I think Emily Dickinson’s “This World is Not Conclusion” is one of her most underrated poems. Here’s an analysis:


In “This World is not Conclusion,” the opening line asserts that the world we know and inhabit is not the only one and that death is not final. The statement ends with a full stop, in contrast to the hyphenated lines which follow. This difference signifies that the narrator is firm in his/her belief, which could be ironic, as the rest of the poem is concerned with doubt. Next, Dickinson describes a “Species” which “stands beyond –,”  to be “Invisible, as Music – / But positive, as Sound –”. This paradox suggests that the world may not be as rational as we would expect if music and sound can have opposite qualities. “It beckons, and it baffles – / Philosophy, don’t know – / And through a Riddle, at the last – / Sagacity must go – ” the poem continues. That which the narrator seeks both compels him/her to investigate and leaves him/her bewildered in the search for truth – another example of juxtaposition. No conventional intellect can answer the question of what happens when one dies. The poet writes that scholars have puzzled over this “Riddle” for centuries while other men have adopted religious faith, especially Christianity. But Dickinson says that sometimes this faith slips in a world becoming increasingly skeptical. When this happens to an individual, they will laugh at themselves a little, ‘correct themselves,’ so to speak, and blush in case anyone saw. To believe in something whose existence cannot be proven by any means, – in fact, can oftentimes be disproven – is embarrassing, the poet insinuates. People “[Pluck] at a twig of Evidence – / And [ask] a Vane, the way –.” The “twig of Evidence” metaphor describes how little proof there is, but could also imply that there is much more to be found – a whole tree from which the narrator has plucked but a twig. Conversely, the tree could bear information that invalidates the narrator’s belief system, but which they choose to ignore for that very reason. Dickinson’s intentions here are ambiguous. Also, the notion that a weathervane can tell “the way” is nonsensical because this device constantly changes direction. Perhaps the word “Vane” punningly suggests that truth-seeking is all in ‘vain’ and won’t produce any results. The final stanza reads “Much Gesture, from the Pulpit – / Strong Hallelujahs roll – / Narcotics cannot still the Tooth / That nibbles at the soul –.” This excerpt alludes to a Church service, and then concludes with a metaphor to communicate that no expression of faith can inhibit the doubt which “nibbles at the soul”. The poem as a whole explores the conflict between faith and doubt, especially when it comes to belief in an afterlife. It is up for interpretation as to whether this belief is well-founded or ill-considered.

My Nonna

When I was a baby, my Nonna would take me to the community pool while my parents were at work. When I was five, she made me a Christmas advent calendar with quilted pockets she filled with chocolates. When I was ten, she passed down her most prized childhood possession to me: a troll doll complete with hand-sewed outfits.

She loves her dog, Ella, like nothing else. Each morning I spend at Cosy Cottage, she makes me a fruit bowl with (slightly unripe) apricot, nectarine, grapes, blueberries, fresh raspberries, and maybe gooseberries from the garden. We once labored hours over a puzzle of London during an especially rainy week. She built Big Ben and I pieced together the Thames.

I love my Nonna. When I have grandkids, I’ll bake them chocolate cake with her recipe and these memories will come flooding back.

^ A quilt that reminds me of my grandma. PC:

Movie/Show Recommendations

In no particular order, here are some movies and shows I watched, loved, and would highly recommend. Some of them I grew up with and others I’ve seen in the past year, some of them are basic, and others maybe not so much.

The Queen’s Gambit, The Matrix, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Stand By Me, The Notebook, Mamma Mia (the original), 13 Going on 30, Gilmore Girls, Where the Crawdads Sing, The Sound of Music, How to Lose a Guy in 10 days, 10 Things I Hate About You, Amélie, Goodwill Hunting, Clueless, Scream, When Harry Met Sally, Miss Congeniality, Dirty Dancing, Forrest Gump, The Shining, Friends, Steel Magnolias, Stranger Things, Star Wars, The Florida Project, Moonrise Kingdom, The French Dispatch, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The End of the F***ing World, The Edge of 17, Les Miserables, The Karate Kid (the original), 500 Days of Summer, It’s a Wonderful Life, Psycho, The Fugitive, Pretty Woman, and Only Murders in the Building.

And here’s a short version of my to-watch list:

Roma, Léon (The Professional), and The Great Gatsby.

^ Amélie, PC:

My Journalism Journey Pt. 2

When I began high school I was no longer eligible for the Scholastic program, but I knew I wanted to continue to pursue journalism. Although freshmen were not typically allowed to apply for the school newspaper editor position, my junior high English teacher put in a special word and they made an exception. I was elected, and again the following year.

Last summer I applied for, was accepted to and attended the New York Times Summer Academy, which was an amazing experience.

I’m (obviously) taking journalism at OVS now and have had the chance to publish a couple articles in the OVN. This coming summer, I will be taking a course titled Storytelling for Social Change, which I imagine I can tie back to journalism. And for my senior capstone project next year, I’m hoping to create a Humans of New York-esque video or book in which I interview strangers.

^ An example of a Humans of New York story, PC:

A Perfect Summer Day

There are only 7 more weeks of school until summer and I am so ready. This is what my perfect summer day looks like: I start off the morning reading in bed, then make myself a delectable smoothie bowl. I get ready – shower, pick out an outfit, brush my teeth, and put on some mascara and sunscreen. I work on my French course a little bit and do the NYT mini in the hammock outside. Before it gets too hot I might go on a bike ride in the meadow with Siya or Tomoki or them both. We make avocado toast and fresh lemonade for lunch.

PC: Me

Next, I drive to the beach, listening to Spotify’s Daily Drive (which mixes your favorite tracks with daily news and is my new favorite thing.) I meet up with friends here – let’s say Ula and Melia – and we sunbathe and swim and body-surf and laugh. We probably hit a thrift shop and pick up a burrito on the way back, before staying up all night together.

My Journalism Journey Pt 1.

Last night I found an old video on a cheap little camera of mine. I’m in Joshua Tree on a camping trip, approaching my fifth-grade classmates and interviewing them each in turn. “What’s your name?” I ask. “What do you like doing – what are your hobbies?” Looking back, I realize I’ve always been a reporter.

My first real interview was with Jane Goodall some four years earlier when she came and visited my school in Bali. A few of the best students in the second-grade class, myself included, were selected to ask her questions about her conservation work.

In the sixth grade, I applied for a Scholastic Kids Reporter program after spotting an ad in a magazine. Once accepted, I began covering all kinds of stories and interviewing all kinds of people. Among those I spoke to (or listened to in press conferences) were screenwriters the Russo brothers, actor and writer Chris Colfer, director Rob Marshall, Oscar-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter, America’s Got Talent winner Darci Lynn Farmer, JoJo Siwa (no explanation needed), Congressional Representative Julia Brownley, and the casts of Captain Marvel, Avengers Endgame, Mary Poppins, Coco, and Young Sheldon. I even got to see Zendaya and John Cena in the flesh. Scholastic was quite possibly one of the highlights of my life.


^ My first interview for Scholastic. I was so nervous I mispronounced my own name when introducing myself.

My Favorites

Color: It changes constantly, but currently I’m liking electric blue.

Scent: Jasmine, or coconut if it’s summertime.

Flower: Pink tulips. If it’s a bouquet, wrapped in brown paper.

Season: Autumn, especially in Ojai, where it is still warm but not as sweltering and sweaty as in the summer.

Sport: Gymnastics, as always.

Book: How do I even choose? Maybe The Book Thief. Recently, though, I read The Virgin Suicides, which I thought was brilliant. The author’s poetic writing romanticizes even the most dreary of scenes.

Movie: Not my all-time favorite, but as of this past month, I loved the Mid-90s. The characters, the storyline, and the directing were all so well done. It definitely presented a perspective I don’t typically see.


Food: Sushi; at the moment my go-to order is the lemon flush roll.

Drink: Oat milk matcha. I refuse to buy from a store or restaurant because I can make it at home just the way I like for a fraction of the price.

Fruit: Mangos or cherries.

Ice cream: Pistachio gelato. Delicious.

Number: 27 is my lucky number.

Toast Appreciation

I’ve decided to write an entire blog post about toast. Because toast is incredibly underrated. It is simple, versatile, and delicious. See for yourself.

Avo toast: It’s a classic. Buttery avocado, plenty of salt and pepper, lemon juice, olive oil, paprika, everything bagel seasoning, basil, plus maybe some arugula – chef’s kiss.

PC: Me

Eggs, etc: Scrambled, poached, or fried; salted and peppered; paired with some smoked salmon and spinach; on a piece of buttered toast; and you’ve got yourself a finger-licking slice.

PB toast – Peanut butter or Nutella with fruits galore is just so yummy.

Greek yogurt toast: Don’t hate on it until you’ve tried it. I dollop on a generous scoop of yogurt and top it off with honey, fruits, and a sprinkle of cacao nibs/granola for a crunch.

Goats cheese and roasted grapes toast: I’m not sure how my mom seasons the grapes – I do know she uses balsamic – but they come out of the oven SO delicious. Together with sourdough and goat’s cheese, the combination is to die for.

The World’s Best Mystery Author

What a lot of people don’t know about me is that I am a nerd for murder mysteries. I love Agatha Christie. I love her mustache-twisting, balding, OCD detective, Hecule Poirot and his “little grey cells”. I must have read close to 30 of Christie’s books by now; starting from the age of 10, up until today, at age 16. And yet, I still can’t see the plot twist coming, or guess the motive, or identify the murderer. I’m impressed by anyone who can.


Coming from an Agatha Christie connoisseur, here are my recommendations:

Christie writes about a few different detectives. There’s Miss Marple, Tommy and Tuppence, and my personal favorite, Poirot. If you’re new to Agatha Christie or detective stories in general, you should start one of her most famous, either The Orient Express or Death on the Nile. From there, I would strongly recommend The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Crooked House, or And Then There Were None.

There is supposed to be a chronological order to the stories, but you really don’t need to follow it. Every once in a while, a Christie references another case from another book, but it is of no real importance. My only guidance would be to read Curtain, Poirot’s final case, last.