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.


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:

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


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



I’m at work right now. It’s pretty boring. The weird thing about working here is that you actually don’t have to do any work at all. I’m just sitting here wasting time on Instagram and Craigslist; endlessly scrolling mass consuming irrelevant content. Anyway, I decided I should probably do real work so I don’t get zeros on all my blog posts, or worse, get shamed by Alula in the group chat. I know these only need to be one hundred and fifty words (see what I did there ) but I seem to be completely adverse to doing them. I never want to make bad content so I procrastinate but by pushing them off to the last minute I end up making bad ones anyway. I think this one is long enough, so I’ll see you in a couple minutes when for the next one.

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.