An open letter to my freshman self

Ok, this is actually so dramatic, I’m not even graduating yet.

Well, here we are – my last blog. I’ve survived my last semester as a junior, my APS are over, and summer vacation is imminent. So, I’ve had about a week to do nothing but sit around and reflect on the last three years of my life, including the lessons that I’ve learned along the way. Honestly, I’m no old wise seasoned senior sage- I probably should wait until this time next year to do this.

get your priorities straight

There are always a million things to worry about at high school. You’re trying to do well in classes, maintain a fulfilling social life, live a healthy lifestyle, participate in extracurriculars, and whatever else. There are only so many hours in the day, and simultaneously thriving in these areas is pretty much impossible (in my personal experience). When you’re being pulled in so many directions, it’s crucial that you have your priorities in order, because something always has to give. These priorities can shift from year to year, even day to day.

keep exploring

They’ll tell you that your first year is all about exploration — and they’re not wrong. You should explore academic areas and social settings that push you out of your comfort zone. However, I’d challenge you to keep that same energy throughout your entire high school experience. It’s natural to branch out in your first year, but once you get settled, it’s easy to get a little too comfortable with your routine. OVS is full of amazing classes, interesting people, and unique opportunities, and I think we all wish that we spent more time exploring in the end, so do your future self a favor and spend some time expanding your horizons.

don’t be afraid of rejection

We, humans, can do anything – anything – but the fear of rejection is so powerful that it can make us step back from life in case we get hurt. That’s completely understandable. Completely. But we miss out on so much by doing that. I believe the key to having the confidence to expand your comfort zone is realizing that rejection isn’t that bad- and it really won’t matter by tomorrow. My advice is to focus on what you’re getting out of this opportunity you are scared to take advantage of. And rejection isn’t so bad, it will hurt for like a day and ultimately, it will get you closer to your goals anyway. It’s good to be vulnerable every once in a while.


Spring’s Return

The return of spring signals the return of many of my favorite things: the blossoming of the Magnolia tree in my backyard, the sweet smell of flowers growing in the orchards around OVS, the time change, the end of the school year, and (perhaps most importantly) the return of Junbi’s lavender honey matcha. And taking Claritin every morning…

The first day of real warm weather during the spring is always one of my favorite days of the year. People hiding from the colder weather for months suddenly reappear around Ojai as though awakened from their winter, indoor slumber. People can be scattered across Arcade Plaza, by that fountain, and in Libbey Park soaking up the good sun. 

At the risk of sounding dramatic, especially because festivals and people touring the city never really stop, life returns to Ojai.


an edgy poem like who am I to complain


For this, the clay grew tall?

I think as political landscapes crumble

As the fast food employee,

with a college degree,


Into this?

Into the vision of empty factories and shattered glass

Into cafes where no longer,

We talk with one another.

Into fist fights that end in shootings and knifings

Born into this?

Into hospitals so expensive, it’s cheaper to die

Into a land that shakes with explosions

And vibrates with each war cry

Walking and living through this

Dying because of this

The republica fell,

and the clay grew tall


my favorite food to make

I started trying to cook all the saved recipes I had on my phone last year, and it’s been a lot of fun and a huge success so far. I have a mason jar of all these recipes I’ve done so far, and some nights I’ll draw one at random and make it I love it. In my opinion, these are the two tastiest and easiest

shallot bread: this is a garlic bread I make on an Italian round loaf with cooked shallots and garlic, mixed with miso (the best part) to make this paste I put over the bread. Then you put some parmesan on top or whatever and cook it and have that all melt then add some fresh parsley on top. This bread is dangerously good, once I start eating it I won’t stop.

pasta: for this pasta, I just mince onions and garlic, cut some tomatoes-wait for them to caramelize, then mix it all with olive oil and tomato paste to make the sauce pretty much. Then add a little butter and heavy cream, sprinkle some mozzarella and parmesan, I like to use penne noodles, and boom! The best pasta in the world. It does make you a little gassy though

pc: me

songs i consider perfect (right now) pt 1

I listen to so much music that I move through phases and genres fast, but I have a playlist dedicated to my all-time favorites, and hopefully, timeless songs I can always treasure.

Take it Easy My Brother Charles by Jorge Ben Jor: I was (and still a little) a big fan of old Latin music. It started with Bossa Nova, but then I discovered Jorge Ben Jor and by extension the best album in the world: “Jorge Ben” (all bangers in there), my Brazilian exchange friend tells me only old people listen to this kind of Portuguese music but that doesn’t change the fact that this song is really catchy, has a unique melody, and killer vocals. Helps me relax a lot too.

Spring by Saint Etienne: This is probably the song I’ve been listening to for the longest on this list. I first discovered it around when covid hit and I’ve never once got sick of it. It really is its own genre- I really really wish I could find more songs like this. It’s a little like TV Girl but feels more analog and has higher quality/effort in production.

My October Symphony by Pet Shop Boys: I totally discovered this song by accident and I’m really glad I did. The opening instrumentals to this song are heaven. I used to listen to this song constantly: in the car, walking, shopping, getting ready, making food, cleaning.

19th Floor by Joy Crookes: I love this woman’s voice. This song makes you feel like you’re in a Bond movie or something, it’s so dramatic and gorgeous. It’s like Amy Winehouse x cinematic orchestra.

Fastlove, Pt. 1 by George Michael: I know, George Michael? Well, his songs are actually really good believe it or not, and this one is really catchy especially the more you listen to it. Gotta get up to get down! Also, the part when he’s like “In the absence of security” the bass is really really good.

Feels Like Summer by Childish Gambino: This is honestly the only Gambino song I like, but I really love it. I listen to it whenever it rains, I love the chords, beat, and guitar strumming in the back. Combined with the reverbed vocals- the energy on this song is really its own category.

Jezebel by Sade: In my opinion, Sade has one of the best voices in the industry. All of her songs are perfect, but I especially like Jezebel because It perfectly shows off everything Sade is good at in terms of vocal prowess and style. It’s one of those songs you have to be patient with and listen to all the way through. The instrumentals are also really unique (synth, standing bass, sax).


best movies by actor

These are not my favorite actors, just actors that have been in a lot of movies I’ve seen.

Tom Hanks: Terminal- great story, made me cry when Forrest Gump didn’t. Great performance, and a convincing accent to me. Really unique plot and an interesting antagonist.

Daniel Day-Lewis: There will be Blood- honestly this performance is the reason I decided to write this blog. Some of the best acting from an already incredible actor. Many powerful scenes in this movie.

Willem Dafoe: The Grand Budapest Hotel- I mean what a cool character, that scene with the fingers. Anytime he was in a scene it was more interesting. Also, John Wick was a good movie with him in it- but not really because of him. I notice Dafoe is in a lot of movies I watch but rarely plays a big role in them (besides Spidermen).

Leo: The Departed- probably a controversial pick but a terrific cast and director. It’s intense and funny, Leo really delivered. At its core, this movie’s characters are what make it special, you really feel like you know them and you’re invested in their fates.

De Niro: Raging Bull

Pacino: Scent of a Woman


The best movies by genre

Here are my mini-Oscars

In general best movie ever: Scent of A woman. Already wrote an entire blog post about how great this movie is, but overall 10/10 across all categories- especially acting, plot, and screenwriting.

Soundtrack: for me, it’s a 3-way tie between Baby Driver, O Brother Where Art Thou, and 500 Days of Summer.

Action: John Wicks- super basic but true like for me it goes in order of chapters 1, 4, (3 and 2 tie). All the action is super satisfying to watch, but an underrated one would be Scarface

Horror: ok the scariest movie I’ve ever seen is the Lighthouse but it’s not really scary. It’s just really gross and made me the most uncomfortable- I really don’t like this movie.

Romance: to be honest I’ve only seen a ton of romcoms, but my favorite has to be Notting Hill, 10 Things I

hate About You, and My Best Friend’s Wedding.

Comedy: Superbad- it’s just hilarious I love Fogell and the Cops, haha.

Best “film bro” movie: The Pianist, French Dispatch.

Cinematography: The Grand Budapest Hotel.


Just My Luck

So I rolled my ankle the day before the league final track meet- an event I’d been looking forward to all season. All my life, there’s been a pattern. I will have roughly 4 days where everything is just fabulous and going my way, life is terrifically smooth and easy but it abruptly comes to an end, followed by an equally long period of just comically terrible rotten awful luck! And this eternal pendulum swings between luck and misery, creating balance in my polarized life.

It’s gotten to the point that I will recognize whatever “phase” I’m in and alter my behavior because of it. If I realize I’m in a bad luck week I will be more cautious and weary of what I’m doing. It’s like a legitimate phenomenon, really, if there are any scientists out there totally out of things to study, this could be it.

Right now, I am definitely in that bad luck phase. My computer just died while I was getting the charger for it WHILE typing this, I am getting bug bites too, and I accidentally spilled a drink on my piano earlier this evening. I realize these are serious first-world problems and it could be so much worse, but dealing with all these little annoyances really makes me mad enough to write a whole blog post about it. You’re not going to believe this- but my first draft of this wouldn’t even save so I had to start over!

To be honest I don’t know if I actually believe in luck or not, but what I do know is I either have it all or not even a smidge.


what I’ve been playing on the piano pt 2

Imagine rainfall, accompanied by the sound of warm piano slowly picking away at the layer of your sorrows, that’s how I feel when I play Laura by Erroll Garner. It’s a song I’ve been learning lately, and one of the hardest and technically challenging songs I’ve tackled this year- but most rewarding. The arpeggios are INCREDIBLE.

Just listen:

the rain last week made me want to go back to playing more moody jazz. Pieces with really pretty and new york city-type chords. Songs like Almost Blue (Chet Baker), and Scenery (Ryo Fukui).

amore mio aiutami by Piero Piccioni is perhaps one of the most beautiful songs I learned on the piano. I can’t stop playing it. Another one like it is Lujon by Heny Mancini

I found one of my Dad’s old Billy Joel books, and I’ve been playing the music (that I could play) in there too. Billy Joel is the master of complex and heavenly chord progressions. I especially liked Just the way you are, and The Stranger (interlude).

Surprisingly, George Michael and Sade’s songs, although very slow, are a blast to play on the piano. Their melodies are so satisfying to play.

Also, I watched the pianist 2 days ago


perpetually ill

Up until last month, I thought I was invincible. I had gone the whole school year without getting sick once. Yet, here I am stuck with the fourth cold I’ve got in the span of 30 days. I can’t remember the last time I could breathe through my nostrils when I didn’t have to stand up every 10 minutes or I would drown in snot. What is going on? There is some vicious cycle where everyone around me keeps getting sick- they mutate it, and I get the disease again. I know I’m part of the problem but I am very upset!

And this week, not only did I become re-infected with the same, dreadful disease that I had spent the last month battling, but now I have allergies. I am all for the super bloom California is gearing up for since all this rain, but now I don’t think I will ever feel comfortable again (at least until this Summer).