Kai Tai and Siyu Lai

My two favorites. Despite being different in many ways, their camaraderie is unparalleled, and it spreads to those around them as well. I am baffled by how they never run out of things to talk about.

I cannot think about present day Siyu without his smaller sixth grade self. That first year of middle school, he unknowingly started a cult based around him. I of course was one of his most loyal devotees. You know that accent that you hear sometimes when Tyler or myself or Adam are talking? That’s because of Siyu. I will admit that Siyu is a strange boy. But that is in the best way possible. His love for volcanoes and mumble rap are endearing, and he always has a moist handshake for those who extend their hand, even if it isn’t to him.

Carter is a bit newer, but it feels like he has been at OVS for much longer. Carter is one of the kindest people I have ever met. He always has something positive to say, and I rarely see him without a grin. One thing that I will miss in college is the arguments that we have in the hallway of who is more handsome; I of course religiously assert that HE is the handsomest of all, yet he insists that it is me. (Carter if you are reading this, you are the most handsome and you have it here in writing).

I will miss this duo quite a bit, but I am nonetheless excited for them as they move on in life. Their brains and personality will get them far, and I know that they will do great things for this planet.

The Boys

There is something beautiful about the congregation of adolescent males. Sure, most of the time something gets broken, the noise level goes through the roof and no one, not even the participants, understand what’s going on. But the camaraderie and jocular affection displayed among teenage boys is an experience worth having.

As I end my time here at OVS, I want to pay tribute to some of The Boys. The next blog posts will each describe one or two individuals who have been important in my time during high school. Some have been great mates in the musical, others on the field, and some by helping me with crosswords. But each lad in one way or another has made the last four years of my life better, so this is my way of saying thank you.

strange little thing

I woke up late this morning, and everything just seems a little bit weird to me. 

I was eating my cereals with black grapes in it, and somebody knocked on the door. 

I reluctantly put down my cereal bowl and got up to answer the door. It was two package delivery guys with two gigantic TREES. 

Right, trees, taller than me, I saw two actual trees outside of my door. I even wonder how they fit them into the elevator.

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They checked the address with me, and that was correct indeed. 

I thought this is a prank from my silly friends or something. So I asked them who ordered these trees, and they told me that they didn’t know, they just knew they need to deliver them to here. 

I called my mom, and she said just put them on the balcony. 

Am I still dreaming? 

Anyway, I couldn’t just let two delivery guys wait too long. So I told them to put the trees where my mom told me. And then they left. 

So… now I’m sitting outside with these trees, and writing down what just happened here.

Mind Games

Throughout my athletic career, I’ve struggled with comparing myself to others. Not only has it affected my performance in sports, but it has affected many other aspects of my life. From not raising my hand in class to ask for help because I’m scared people will think I’m dumb or make fun of me, to quitting a swim team because I thought my teammates judged me and thought of me differently because I was the slowest on the team. But in reality, there were at least ten other of my classmates who were just as confused as I was, and the good people on that swim team liked me because I tried and was kind, and the people who treated me differently because I was the slowest weren’t worth my time anyway.

But still, my fear of being judged has had me in chains for years and I still fight it every day.

Yes, I have been viewed differently by people when my athletic abilities were less than theirs, but I’ve come to the realization that the true athletes are ones who accept and help others succeed.

Dear anyone who needs to hear it: We all start somewhere. We all have our insecurities. Not everyone has the same strengths as others. Comparing yourself to others will only bring you down. The most important thing is to focus on your journey.

Whether you run a 15 minute mile or a 5 minute mile. Whether you can bench 40 pounds or 400 pounds. Whether you swim a 1:40 for a hundred or a :40 for a hundred. The point is you are trying, and that’s what matters.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not a pro athlete and I am not saying I am in any way, but I have recognized one of the main things that holds me back, and I don’t think I am the only one.

Please know that where ever you are in your athletic journey, don’t look at what others have accomplished, look at the improvement you’ve made because that’s what matters.

I don’t care how talented an athlete may be. If they judge or make someone feel bad because of their abilities, all of my previous respect would be gone. Sportsmanship is building one another up, not tearing each other down. A team is a supportive group of people, not enemies. Athletics is a field meant to empower, inspire, and be available to all people, not just the pros.

If you share this same anxiety as I do, please know that it is your journey that matters and the people worthwhile will support you no matter your skill and ability.

“Those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter”- Doctor Seuss

Photo via huffpost.com

Goodbye to the Circus

As I walked down the hill, rounding the bend just before reaching the parking lot, a thought ran through my mind, but in an instant, I had expelled it. I had thought to myself, “what if this is the last time I set foot on this campus as a student?” But with stormy weather approaching and a sour mood pervasive through the student body, I didn’t allow myself a moment to linger on the idea, and left swiftly, my stereo silent, with only the mechanic hum of my engine to fill my thoughts. Why was I in such a hurry to leave?
 
I keep playing that moment back in my head. I didn’t take a moment to say goodbye to anybody, I knew I wasn’t going to see them for at least a month, even a brief farewell would be better than nothing. After all, these are the people I have cultivated strong relationships with the past seven years. But I don’t think I was ready.
 
Now that the remaining strands of my senior year are confined to a desk and I have much of the day to sit on my bed and think, I try to occupy myself with plans of the future. I committed to my college a month earlier, I’m already searching for roommates, trying to get my ideal housing. But I’m still trapped in that moment.
 
That one singular instance, an otherwise insignificant instant in time amounting to no more than a single shutter of a hummingbird’s wings, and I’m frozen in it. I stand there, Thermoflask in one hand, lunch bag in the other, backpack on, rounding the corner, staring directly at my car as if that would get me there faster. Why was I in such a hurry to leave?
 
I’ve never been in such a hurry to leave.
 
Maybe I knew this would be my last time seeing all my friends together again, and I was only trying to save myself, escaping the flood of memories that was rushing down the hill after me.
 
Photo Credit: Safe Haven Marine
 
 
The end
 
See how abrupt and unsatisfying that ending was?
 
Yeah, it sucks doesn’t it?

Wind

Broken;

Yet I made myself that way

and my attempts aren’t aimed at solving the problem,

they’re meant to make me feel more whole

but it’s breaking me apart even more.

Confused;

I aim to please these people and have them accept me,

but the person I need to be in order to get their approval

just isn’t who I am.

How much should I sacrifice for acceptance?

Fading;

Losing myself and a grasp of who I am,

how much time do I have

before there’s no more of me left?

Photo Credit: KKTV.com

Nostalgic Pride

I like divulging stories and experiences from my childhood so I think I’ll do that again.
 
5th grade was an interesting year for me. I spent the whole year knowing it was my final year in China, that I would soon be moving to the promised land that I had only know as Hollywood from movies and the few visits I had made to the southern coast of California. I fostered friendships I knew wouldn’t last, I got moved up to the highest reading group, and I ALMOST kissed a girl. All the subdued craziness afforded to an awkward twelve year old was incredibly liberating, however at the same time, it was shrouded in the despair of having to leave behind everything I knew.
 
Aside from all that depressing stuff, my fifth-grade year was the perfect culmination of all the time I had spent in China. My friends and I released more videos in a single year than we ever had before, under the name of our production company, “Yovodka United.” My homeroom class won the elementary school dodgeball tournament, even defeating the teachers somehow, making for one glorious pizza party. I finally read the final book of the TinTin series from the library, after waiting nearly two years for someone to return it, and I gave my final goodbyes to the friends, the school, the city, that had raised me and taught me so much, walking off stage, throwing glow sticks into the audience, after our heartfelt class song.
 
The Skype calls that seemed to go nowhere but made hours fly by in minutes. The new era of pop music, Maroon V, Imagine Dragons, Taylor Swift, The Script, and Gotye, creating a perfect soundtrack that could encapsulate my memories into a single playlist. The Minecraft LAN parties that involved poor WiFi, pizza bagels, and lots of griefing. I don’t know if I can ever recreate a year as packed with mixed emotions and shameless exuberance as my fifth-grade year, but I only hope I can one day look back on my high school experience, my senior year even, with the same kind of nostalgic pride.

Scars

scars never go away.

no matter how many dollars you spend on Mederma.

they fade, but their reminiscence will always remain.

cuts, bruises, scratches, and blisters hurt

but cuts will heal. bruises and scratches will vanish. blisters and sores go away,

scar takes a different type of hurt. a different type of stab. a scar is a much deeper pain.

happiness, anger, regret, remorse, and fear burn.

but anger will simmer down, regret will turn into acceptance, remorse will turn into forgiveness, and fear will be overcome.

but love is a different type of burn.

love is a different type of hurt. a different type of happiness. a different type of pain.

just like a scar, love fades.

just like a scar, love will never go away.

just like a scar, love is a weakness that can be cut open at any time.

for better or for worse…

photo credit: Pinterest 

The Art of Boundaries:

Boundaries are a part of our healing process. Many of us grew up in homes where boundaries were non-existent. As children, our boundaries were crossed so often that we become adults without them. We were told how we felt, how to behave, and how to interact with others. This disconnected us from our intuitive responses of stating (and following through with) our own personal limits.

All healthy relationships require boundaries. There’s no shame in us not having boundaries in our relationships if we never had this behavior modeled for us. It’s something we have to learn. And practice. And slowly integrate into our lives.

Disclosure: when I first started setting boundaries it was terrifying. The reactions I got often sent me into fear along with many panic attacks. Being in toxic relationships in the past, confrontation with others was my number one fear. I would completely shut down with the thought of telling someone how I felt about the way they were treating me. It took me a while to realize I am not responsible for the emotional reactions of others. It took me a while to see how this benefited me and everyone I had relationships with. 

Boundaries are kind. They provide clear limits of where we end and another begins. They allow other people to understand how to best engage with us. Setting and receiving boundaries can feel terrifying and guilt ridden, especially coming from codependent dynamics.

And for those with unresolved trauma, boundaries can feel like abandonment. They can trigger defense mechanisms within us. All we can do is objectively deliver them with grace. Then hold them regardless of reaction.

stars in tyler’s toes

tyler died the other week 

and in his death I was forced to remember him

stuck uncomfortably askew into my otherwise sweetly lapsing childhood

the odd cold memory next to geraniums and my dads’ warm hands:

it hadn’t rained in weeks but it would tomorrow

tyler and his friends tore down the highway

the truck old 

the boys young 

and the night infinite

four teenagers careening through space

running out of time

(twinkling like stars, the holes in the bottom of his truck shone into the cab. Twinkling not like natural light, but like reflections from yellow road reflectors and moonshine)

then as Murphy knowingly frowned

the teenagers plunged abruptly into the darkness

two flew through the night and landed bloody on the highway

but he and his passenger tumbled endlessly into that indiscriminate abyss

and someone I hadn’t thought about in years came crashing back into my life

(and those stars that lined his bare calloused toes erupted into vivid supernovas)

credit: upload.wikimedia.org

tyler and I were friends when i was very young. he lived in Kauai and i would visit every so often. he was a terrible influence; he would steal stupid things, and i would watch. sometimes tyler took me fishing. he would torment the fishes by cutting off their fins and sending them back to the water to die bloody but breathing. and i would watch. he told me fish don’t feel pain, but i saw that he did. he grew up between houses, neither one was particularly welcoming. he grew up never believing he had a chance. one day he was watching his younger sister, and i remember sitting where the tide leaves sandy pools on the beach. she splashed and screamed while he delicately folded her clothes placing them carefully on a log. I watched him pull a shirt over her wet sandy head and I saw how precarious tyler’s life was. he couldn’t have been more than twelve.

it barely hurts to imagine him flying down the road drunkenly focused, it doesn’t pain me to imagine his dark brown eyes, and not even the dead teenagers trapped in a combusting coffin bring me to tears

but that little girl