Welcome Home. Finally.

I don’t think I ever really absorbed the depth of the phrase, “you don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone.” I understood it conceptually, but to experience it is a whole different level. It’s so common that it’s almost silent when it is uttered, and it flies over your head without a second thought.

Yes, I guess I could be talking about friends who I have lost in the past or past relationships that I still miss. Those are the personal connections that come and go in my life that I will undoubtedly learn to appreciate more as I reminisce about the memories associated with them, but those are only the smaller component in the wider scope of what I’ve come to realize after leaving my college campus in a rush due to the pandemic.

I learned to love my hometown. And hate it. It’s complicated. We’re working on it.

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The Asian Image Amidst COVID-19

It’s hard to accept change as the new every day. It is the human condition to thrive in familiarity: when I was living on campus and had to balance classes and extracurriculars and events, I would plan my days out to the second on Google Calendar. It was my best friend. Right now, though, our relationship isn’t as strong: I’m learning to live in the moment. But that’s a topic for another day.

Change doesn’t come out of nowhere, and when people have a hard time dealing with change, it’s natural to want to place the blame on somebody or something. Unfortunately, this pandemic has led to the blame being placed in large part on the Chinese. It’s reflected in the way that COVID-19 was dubbed as the “Chinese virus” just because the first cases were seen in Wuhan. 

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Superficiality: A Modern Tragedy

Every experience is different. It is important for me to recognize that before I delve into anything deeper than I rightfully should. Every individual has their own unique set of values that guide them along different paths to meet different people, and it’s these same values that may determine how people connect with one another and how long these relationships last.

I want to discuss not individual links but rather a seemingly impermeable layer of interaction that has invaded our everyday lives and reroutes the way we choose to meet new people.

I call this the superficial layer that almost everyone encounters when they meet one another.

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The Sentimental *Return* of the Receipt

Before I left home to go back to college for Thanksgiving break, I opened the smaller compartment of my wallet and took out all of the receipts I had accumulated over the past month. Each one was carefully folded into thirds, fourths, fifths, and so on depending on the size of my purchase and how many surveys the company wanted me to take in order to get customer feedback. I was in a hurry to get to the airport, so I tossed these little beings onto my desk in a messy pile. They weren’t waiting to be touched again or looked at. They were just there to be.

I came home again a few days ago and saw this pile on my desk. The first thought that came to my mind was, “How could I have been so irresponsible to discard them like that instead of throwing them away in the first place?”. Of course, since this was my thought, it wasn’t *that* elegantly phrased. But nevertheless, these were receipts. These were transaction records that were no longer needed since I couldn’t return the food that had already been consumed or the shirt whose tag I ripped off months ago.

So why hang on to these strips of paper?

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I recently spent a weekend with my dorm friends in an AirBnb in the middle of the woods near a small lake. I will admit that the location itself was kind of bland because the only thing to explore was the lake, but it got me thinking a lot about what constitutes our environment around us and how that may affect our thought processes.

I think we undervalue the presence of clouds in our lives. I grew up in Washington where there was no one day where the clouds were absent from the gray sky, providing the atmosphere that is so commonly associated with the Pacific Northwest. I grew desensitized to those bodies that oversaw my 18 years there, but upon moving to California, the first thing I noticed was the sky. It was flat. It was 2D. There was nothing to indicate dimension and it saddened me to not have any signs of distance in the altitude above me. My eyes were accustomed to layers and levels of the sky that were so large in numbers that I couldn’t distinguish them all.

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Saying Goodbye to Freshman Year

    Coronavirus. You hear it all everywhere, from the conversation happening at the table to the TV playing in the background. It’s almost as if the word is as infectious as the disease itself. Will you catch it? Will you give into the temptation of weighing in your opinion on the epidemic? And when you do, will your opinion even matter?

Fear of catching this virus has driven universities all around the country to close down campuses because as seen in the senior homes in Kirkland, WA, people living in close quarters is the perfect ground for the virus to thrive. In less than a day, six of my friends left for home and suddenly the campus felt unhealthily vacant. Things are changing, and it’s going too fast for me to process. COVID-19 brought upon this community unforeseen circumstances that we did not project before.

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Walking Backwards

You hear people preaching about representation and diversifying the racial makeup of the entertainment industry. It permeates news sources, casting pages, guest lectures at universities. They speak wonderful dreams of equal opportunity for all people of color amidst a white-washed Hollywood. They hail Crazy Rich Asians (2018) for taking major steps towards bringing Asian faces into the scene.

I would love to jump onto that dream. It fulfills every desire of mine in creating a career for myself in the future, one where I can fight an equal fight with everyone else who chooses the same path. One where if I do land a job, it’s because of what I can offer and not because of how I look or what I symbolize. I don’t want to be present in an artistic process just because I have the face of a Asian-American woman. I want to be there because I can contribute the experience of being a woman from an Asian-American background with an honest and genuine point of entry.

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What It Felt Like to Have a Heart

Some days I feel empty. Emotionless. Cut off from the rest of the world. Unwilling to look at my phone because I know that if I turn on the screen, my wallpaper is going to stare me down, devoid of any notifications. It’s taunting and shameful. It made me get in the habit of shoving my phone in my bedside table drawer during the day so I wouldn’t be tempted to see if someone wanted my attention, but stowing it away in the dark didn’t change the fact that some people just don’t reach out. The part that I hated most about this was that my happiness was dependent upon the attention of people who I knew wouldn’t reach out but I told myself, “maybe they will today”.

I often reflect back on what it felt like feel full of life everyday and wake up and feel like I belonged. Where I could walk out the door and have someone to look forward to seeing every day without wondering whether they would be equally as overjoyed to see me as well. I think the year where my emotions blossomed the most was four years ago in my freshman year of high school. It was like my freshman year of college, just more pure and innocent.

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The Law of Attraction and My Take

One of the most inspirational people in my life is my piano teacher. He made me realize that art is not just about the practice, but also about the mentality that comes with it. Before I came to him, my mind was clogged with self-doubt and self-depreciation. Every piano practice and lesson consisted of me telling myself that I couldn’t do it and that I wasn’t good. People around me told me that I was so talented, but when I watched other players and lost competitions, my self-esteem lowered more and more until I wanted to quit. I put my focus in other arts and neglected my piano.

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The Concept of Perfectionism

In today’s society where we’re surrounded by images of perfect models and celebrities living their best life in the city or traveling abroad, or where we’re constantly bombarded on our phone with the latest news about an amazing 16 year old activist who’s attempting to change the world, we often get caught up in our own minds. We question what we’re really doing with our lives, and whether our work is significant enough to make ourselves matter.

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