fourth of july weekend

Unstuck in time

This is a long overdue video, but I couldn’t get around to editing until yesterday. I stayed holed up in the fine arts building basement for 7.5 hours editing this video like a madwoman. Thank god for school Macs that have sophisticated video editing software and immense memory capacities.

For Fourth of July weekend, I hitched a ride from my college friend up to Baltimore, Maryland to rendezvous with some of my sister’s friends. From there, we drove down (or up?) to McHenry, a small area of Maryland located precisely in the middle of nowhere. I won’t rehash all the details because they’re mostly in the video. I’m going to need creative, non-trite ways of saying “my heart is so full” because I might have used this phrase past the point of meaninglessness these past few weeks. But how fortunate I am to have felt this way so often…

What was undocumentable was the clear, starry sky up in McHenry. I never took the time to glance up very often during this past year in Philly, but it wouldn’t have mattered since the stars are imperceivable through the light pollution anyhow. In McHenry though, even the elusive Milky Way gleams and twinkles so luminously. Imagine this: 3:09am. You’ve never heard your own breath or the soft mushing sound of damp leaves under your feet so clearly. You lie down with your back on the lake dock–a private dock, but who’s awake at this hour to chide you for trespassing?–and for a while, you forget how chilly the air is and how the moisture from the beads of water on the dock are diffusing into the fibers of your shirt–because you look up. You look up, and you see a city of stars, twinkling in and out of existence, it seems. You know how silly and cliche and histrionic it is to gape at the cosmos and be dumbfounded by how infinite the universe is and how ephemeral your own tiny existence is in comparison, but you flicker through these thoughts anyways. It’s humbling, after all. And it’s beautiful–for a human to be put in perspective and to come back down to Earth every once in a while.

Ok, I didn’t make any of that up. I just wanted to be the dramatic dweeb that I am and convey what one of our nights in McHenry was like since no video could have captured this adequately.

(also, Stephanie and I saw a shooting star [which, I know, isn’t really a shooting star but actually a piece of space dust that burned up as it entered the atmosphere]…you bet your stars I made a wish faster than you could even exclaim, “shooting star!”)

on 4.0 (

Let’s talk about this valorized, magnificent “4.0”, this grade-chasing phenomenon. At the end of my high school career, I promised myself I would begin to focus on more on growing as a person as opposed to obsessing over my grades. Fast forward to my first semester in college, and I decide I want to internally transfer into my university’s school of engineering. Obviously, I wanted to put forth an appealing application for my internal transfer which meant having good grades. Consequently, nothing about my mentality concerning academics changed from high school to college. I still put my letter grades above all else, including my personal growth and mental wellbeing. I’m not so brash as to claim that academics are the source of 100% of my strife, but they have played a large role in my unhappiness at this school (because yes, I am not particularly enjoying my time here, but that’s a subject for another post).

We’ve all heard aphorisms like “your grades don’t define you.” And words can sound nice and perhaps make you feel something. But at the end of day, I still struggle to internalize such sayings. I value hard work, and I like to throw myself completely into what I do because if I don’t, why do anything at all? But I feel I’ve lost sight of the line between valuable, meaningful conscientiousness and unhealthy grade-chasing. An A+ on an exam sure feels damn good, but tethering self-validation to and becoming so emotionally invested in grades is noxious. College is hard. Professors can be unreasonable, so a C or an F doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a prize idiot. It means you had an off-day, or a teacher wrote a brutal exam, or the course is simply that difficult. So from here, I am trying to improve my notions of what matters to me. Paradigm shifts aren’t easy, and Rome wasn’t built in a day. But I think/hope the payoff will be worthwhile.

tl;dr: fuck grades.

bean sprout

So I’ve decided to start up a blog again (see previous 3 failed blogs on blogger and 5+ various tumblr sites). My goal is to have a space to untangle my thoughts, share small things that are meaningful to me, and rekindle my penchant for amateur iphone photography. College has been hard, and I feel like I’ve lost my foothold in everything I’ve valued. So blog it is. Mostly, I am feeling somewhat, uncharacteristically inspired after revisiting old blog favorites (esther-fromthesticks) and looking back on my small little blog adventures as a young high schooler. So yeah, let’s do this thing.