Riding on a bicycle should be a very simple thing, but it is extremely difficult for me. When I was a child, I could ride the four-wheel and three-wheel bicycle very well, and I liked to ride around in my neighborhood. I felt myself was as cool as the police riding on his motorcycle.
However, I cannot ride the bicycle anymore that I rode when I grew up. I started to learn how to ride the two-wheel bicycle, and it is much more difficult than I expected. This kind of bicycle is totally different from what I used to ride, it has no balance at all. Someone told me that you can get balance when you’re riding. So I was trying to pedal and let the bicycle move forward, and it was quite smooth at first, I even could felt the breeze touch my face gently. But, this condition did not last longer than one minute, I felt that I was just like a clown performing acrobatics when the bicycle started to shake left and right. I was too scared to continue pedaling, then the bicycle started to tilt to one side until it touched the ground. Then I was sitting on the cement floor with a scrape on my knee.
The end of this story is I will never ride any bicycles again, even if it is more than two-wheels.
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.
“So I did my calculations, there are 93 days before Thanksgiving, 93 long days until I can see April again. To those that don’t know April, she’s my companion…”
I read Hemingway’s A Fairwell to Arms a couple of days ago… ‘They threw you in and told you the rules and the first time they caught you off base they kill you…” They do kill you, I’m telling you.
I didn’t care for writing any journal yesterday. Tired and dulled by all the handbook rules they were announcing last night, I went to sleep quickly. I need to get out of this place, maybe I’ll get kicked out so that I’ll see April back in China again? But deep inside, I know I’m not going to do that. Men are selfish.
I really miss April.”
Because of the virus now I can’t go back to her again. It’s basically the same scenario all over. But this time, I’m willing to get kicked out for her. (not saying I will and definitely not confessing to anything)
For much longer than I am willing to admit I have been obsessed with flags. My trusty yellow legal pad was covered with tiny drawings of real and imagined flags, and I talked extensively about the tackiness of specific flags to anyone who would listen, and, perhaps most embarrassingly, I referred to my study of flags as vexillology. I love the way the perfect geometry of a good flag looks when it is billowing freely in the wind, and a flag at half mast brings my world down with it. A flag is noble and monolithic and is ideally the distillation of a place, but there is also massive weight in the symbolism of a flag. Flags can tell the story of oppression, and they can symbolize a history fraught with complications. I love Los Angeles, but I hate its flag (it is just undeniably ugly). For centuries, a black flag with a skull and crossbones made grown men quiver, and now it is reserved for children’s games. The black, red, green, and white of the Arab flags unite those ancient, bickering states, and the stars and stripes tear through the wind on diesel pickups as they roar down highway 33.
The American flag is also the focus of the first section of Arthur Grace’s America 101. The photobook describes the way Grace sees this glorious and hypocritical paradise of oddity. I spent so much time reading this book that it changed the way I take photos. But it has also changed the way I see the American flag in general. Grace juxtaposes the immense pride Americans have for the flag with the mundane usage that it receives in advertising or on smokestacks. These two parts of Arthur Grace’s America, one, comically capitalistic, and the other, powerfully patriotic, have become the lens through which I look at my own nation.
When flying, a flag can be seen on two sides. From the perspective of my Latino heritage, I see those stars and stripes representing employment and the opportunity to support a big family. With entirely different circumstances, my Jewish point of view is focused on the underpinnings of the American beliefs in freedom and expression. The symbolism of the flag is different for everyone who views it, and that is one of its strongest powers: being something everyone can relate to.
As much as I love the American flag for personal reasons, from a design perspective, it is flawed in one way: it cannot be drawn by a child with a box of crayons. This one simple test is the true mark of a perfect flag, and the American flag falls short. There are simply too many stars for it to be crayon-able. But many great flags are similarly afflicted. The Union Jack, for example, is almost stellar, but what child knows that it is not horizontally symmetrical. Or the Mexican flag—beautiful, bold, and impossible to scribble. There are, in fact, perfect flags, unmistakable even in chicken scratch like the elegant Swiss flag and the simple beauty of the Japanese hinomaru.
To me a flag is a poem. At first it presents as simply beautiful, but with time and knowledge of its history, a flag unfurls the silky layers of its meaning, its true power. A flag can be glossed over, or it can be analyzed and decoded and still maintain its original beauty. Flags tell a story, a history of a place, and that is why I am still fascinated by them.