The City So Nice They Named It Twice

I thought New York was such a mess all around. I thought New York has so many crimes happening every day. I thought New York only had cloudy days. I thought New York had nothing that attracted me. I thought I knew all the facts about New York. 

My parents told me so much why they didn’t like New York. 

I watch the news on television about how terrible New York is.

However, It’s really different from what I expected. 

My parents are right about the environment. It is a little messy all around the street, plus, there are lots of homeless people who come to me asking for money. Although there is trash all around the city, New York City is still attractive to me. After all, the people, the city, and the weather make it impossible for me to not see how perfect NYC is. 

The best part that I will never forget is when I went to Time Squares for the first time. That night, right after dinner, my friends took me to Time Squares. The city looked vivid with the colorful LED lights and screens shining all over the city. As I walk towards the center of the street, listening to some random people playing the song, Empire State of Mind by JAY- Z, I feel alive again for the first time. At that moment I knew I became a New Yorker and I wanted to be a New Yorker. Watching people walking pass by with smiles on their faces. Don’t tell me it’s not paradise while everyone can be whoever they want to be and enjoy the night with their loved ones. It’s difficult to describe with words as there are so many beautiful and exciting moments happening every second.

Covid decides to run it back

As of last week, I have now gotten covid two consecutive winter breaks. My take on Covid, at least how it affects me, is that it is more of an inconvenience than anything.

Not being able to taste sucks. It makes food borderline unenjoyable. I have been postmating food from all over trying to get a taste of something, but it all tastes like nothing. It straight-up sucks.

Other than that, I am congested and whatever, which isn’t too bad at this point, and I have brain fog. Maybe I don’t have brain fog but it is a solid excuse to procrastinate.

The most annoying parts are not being able to see my friends, play soccer, or stay caught up on school because I have a LAUNDRY LIST of shit to do, half of which I don’t even understand.

I am kind of concerned about OVS’s covid approach. Without guidelines changing, I predict that school will just become a place where the new variant spreads semi-easily. I hope that school provides online as an option at least, as leaving students who are sick in the dark about their schoolwork makes it very difficult to keep up, and if I hadn’t already had covid I would want to have the option to not have to go to school and get covid.

photo credit: CDC

Summertime Sadness

Photo Credit: The Guardian For 200 Years

I know summer is already over, but I still want to give some throwbacks on what happened during the summer. It’s been a year when the pandemic happened, before the summer started I struggled with school so badly. I felt like I was drowning and couldn’t swim up to the surface all while my legs were tied up by an anchor. However, when the summer started, I felt like I have been to heaven for a minute. I could literally feel tears of joy slide down upon my face. The time has come!

Just before I’m about to get back to Taiwan with delight, my heart is immediately crushed into pieces. The Covid-19 cases in Taiwan suddenly rise from zero to thousands, and the number was still growing. I just couldn’t believe that all of it happened in a blink! 

When I got back to Taiwan after the quarantine, I stayed in my house for the whole summer. Exercise, games, practice for SAT is all I did for my summertime. I couldn’t hang out with my friends, I couldn’t travel around Taiwan just for a short vacation. I couldn’t go out and do what I usually do, which is dance. No matter what, I just hoped it would end soon!

Scheduling

As graduation comes near, I have filled nearly every block in my schedule with events. I’ve needed to purchase more clothes to accommodate the frequency at which I will need to dress up.

With back-to-back formal events, it feels as though we are making up for a year of lost time. Due to quarantine, I have not worn formal attire in almost two years. This schedule is typical for end-of-year seniors, though I often find myself opening my planner a bit too often out of excitement.

Having a filled calendar gives me something to look forward to each day or week. Even if it’s just a final exam, that day has something written on it. My school planner is running out of pages, and the schedule has grown so long that I may need to purchase next school year’s calendar early.

With all of these plans, I hope that the blank days following graduation will not feel empty. I have plans for the summer as well as college to attend, though, while I look forward to the break, I plan to enjoy every day of this busy May.

Image Credit: Quapaw Area Council

One month in Africa

In October I will be going on a one-two month-long safari in the Masai Mara, Kenya. I have visited Africa several times now for my photography expedition, but they usually only lasted between 1-2 weeks. Now I am ready for something bigger. I am incredibly excited, but part of me is also very nervous. One month of getting up at 4.30 am every morning, being on safari for about 11-12 hours a day can be very tiring and intimidating. But it is what I love, and I am more than excited about this adventure. Every day being out with these amazing animals, taking pictures, and sharing them with the world, what an absolute dream!

I have met so many amazing people through my photography: guides, other photographers, and even scientists. We all have the same passion; protecting these beautiful animals and sharing their beauty with the world to conserve them for many more generations to see.

I believe animals can teach us so much and they can help people. For me, I am just happy when I am among wildlife, all my stress is gone and I just feel relaxed. Doing my photography has helped me a lot through hard times, and it never fails to make me happy. Getting feedback from people who admire your work is so motivating and it makes you proud to have come where you are now.

picture by author

Reams Full Of Dreams

It really just begins as a question:

Who do you want to be?

There’s no answer yet,

just confusing clues,

and time.

At some point the rough outline, the shadow, the future is visible: 

now just a gossamer dream, 

but focusing with time, condensing…

I pour myself into the process.

I’m buying what they’re selling,

buying a future,

buying a me.

They’re selling dreams, outlines, frames for faces,

65 bucks a pop!

Expensive. But this boardwalk is a long one.

I pick places.

Leaves?

Seasons?

Words etched in stone?

Wood?

Steel?

All the while working, working.

Pressure to be better,

be happy,

be me,

pressure to do more,

to be more,

and all the while working. Guilty

because I know I could work harder,

and be happier.

Do more.

I could cover more ground,

jump through more gilded hoops,

be better,

do more,

be me-er.

Ideas stuck on frail words

clamouring to speak out

above the clamor.

Distilling self

into neat columns,

busy with intricacy.

From a fermenting mess:

fine spirit.

Then I wait,

as a man in Massachusetts thumbs through reams of dreams.

from istock.com

The Perfect Tree

This year I learned that there are two types of Christmas trees: a noble and a douglas.

I was standing in the parking lot of Lowe’s, searching the fenced in barn for this year’s tree. To my left, there were the douglasses. I knew that any one of them would look great in my living room. They had the classic Christmas tree feel, and I felt satisfied with the quality.

Then, I looked to my right. Propped along the wooden fences were the plush, green noble trees. And they were, indeed, noble. The trees looked as though they came straight out of a holiday hallmark movie. The branches looked as though they grew to meet cold winter snow, and I could not picture any kind of tree that represented the holiday better.

I again turned to my left. The douglass trees then looked drab. Dying, even. The only thing that made them more appealing than the tall nobles was the pricetag. I sorted through each of them, however, and found one that would suit my living room. I admired it and it’s imperfections seemed to disappear. But I again turned towards the nobles.

The contrast in beauty was striking. The tree I had found did not seem as beautiful anymore.

We went home with a noble.

Image Credit: Nathaniel Young

A white Christmas

Finally. After 4 months of not seeing my family, I will soon be home again. In one week I will be on a plane on my way back to Germany and I can’t even put in words how excited I am. I came to the boarding school in the U.S when I was 15. Now, this is my third year going here but every year I don’t see my family for 4 months at a time. I always fly home over Christmas break and the first feeling of stepping out of the airport in Germany is so refreshing. The cold air, the snow, and there they are. My mother, my brother, and our dog. Every year, it is the greatest feeling there is. We drive home and I see our house shining bright with Christmas lights. I open the door and I am greeted by a huge Christmas tree in the living room.

The feeling of finally being home is not comparable to anything else. I step into our garden and play in the snow with our dog. We run around and I go to the lake to see if it has frozen yet. We live close to beautiful mountains, so everyday I walk up with our dog and just sit and watch the beautiful view while it starts snowing. The next day I meet up with my best friend and we go to the famous German Christmas markets in our city. Hot chocolate, waffles, crepe, everything you could imagine for Christmas is right there. All the little shop huts are decorated with lights and snow on top of them. Christmas in Germany is incredibly special to me, and not comparable to anything else.

A beautiful Christmas market in Germany

https://www.wanderlust.co.uk/content/top-8-german-christmas-markets/

Flowers

Like most people, I’ve received several vases of flowers for several occasions. I watch them blossom and wilt as the joy from the event fades, or I regain my health from an illness.

When I am sick, the decision to throw the flowers away is symbolic of moving on. I have recovered, and the flowers have given me their beauty and life when I was physically weak. After I regain my strength, I can appreciate the era of the beautiful flowers, then feed them to my tortoise to let him have the last of the gift.

It can feel sad watching them wilt, but when I put it into perspective, they have served their purpose and it is time for me to move on. They brought me happiness when I needed it, and with each day they grew weaker, I grew stronger.

Tossing out flowers from events can seem more sad, because it was a good moment, and the wilting of the flowers symbolizes the moment’s transition from an experience to a memory. Once the vase is empty, however, it leaves room for new opportunities. Another great experience will come, and the vase will be filled once again.

Image Credit: Deluxe Blooms

Thanksgiving Break is Soon

Students are going on break soon to celebrate a holiday with their friends and family. This holiday is fun for people of all ages with football, the Macy’s Parade (which is going to be virtual this year), the National Dog Show, and lots of food.

Photo Credit: DOGO news

There is normally turkey, but if you do not eat meat or turkey you can always substitute it. Mash potatoes and gravy is a necessity at every thanksgiving table. My personal favorite is stuffing.

My family and I play lots of card games and spend time together. We used to eat Thanksgiving dinner with friends, but due to COVID it will just be our family which is perfectly fine.

I can not wait to go home and celebrate this joyous time with my family. We gather around the table and say what we’re thankful for and what we hope to do for the rest of our year.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and I can not wait to celebrate it.