a shrinking city

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photo highlights:

  • rachel’s ~*wall*~*
  • strawberry matcha latte + boba from boba guys
  • sunset at the highline, objectively the best park in the world
  • several street view photos for which I stopped directly in the middle of the walkway and valiantly risked my life for the sake of PHOTOGRAPHY

In the spirit of college student spontaneity (or would it just be called procrastination?) and a caprice centered on sheer infatuation with New York City, I hopped on a Bolt Bus into the city with a few friends.

I went into the city with new friends but also met up with an old friend and fellow salami lover, Rachel. She lives in East Village, a quaint and thriving place with small eateries crowding every street and young people out late into the nights. I’m thankful for the slowing down of life over fall break and getting to hang out with my high school friend, no impending obligations or deadlines to worry about. We always eat until we fall into a vegetative food comatose, which I’m sure helps with the carefree attitude too. This time around, I explored and roamed the city with new friends. Sitting on a bench at Union Square Park to people-watch and digest the exorbitant amounts of food we ate, peering down the aisles and shelves of books at The Strand, and walking along the Highline during golden hour–the meaning these places and experiences is imbued with isn’t exclusive to the locations themselves. Even though I’ve been to New York more times than I can count, the city feels like a new place each time I spectate with different people.

Gazing out a floor-to-ceiling window and looking down on the miniature, toy-like streets, I felt a weird sense of reticence. If I lived here and could see the entire expanse of the city every day from my couch or from the bathroom sink while I brush my teeth, would I feel the same pang of affection each and every time I glanced out the window? I’m not sure. Maybe it’s best if I don’t wind up living in this city–I’d never want to get used to this place and have it lose the sparkling feeling of excitement and newfangledness. It’s human to take what’s there for granted and to yearn for the things out of reach.

The summer after my junior year of high school, I attended a pre-college program at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. I grew enamored with the buzz buzz of NYC, the clanking and clattering of the subway, and the vitality/vibrancy of all the streets, with its swarms of people, all with places to go and things to do. The breadth of the city astonished me…hey, look at me: a small girl inside an entire city, a needle in a haystack. But the city seems to shrink each time I come back. I’ve grown more familiar with the subway routes (although I am still perfectly capable of hopping on the completely wrong subway). I expect the drifting smells of food vendors and car exhaust and am no longer disarmed by the density of skyscrapers. My sense of complete anonymity, immersion, and smallness has faded a bit over all my visits, leaving behind weird traces of nostalgia and a reluctance to grow up.

Here is the theme of the movie of my life: the vie to reconcile with this concept of “growing up,” a Holden Caulfield-esque rejection of adulthood. Maybe I’ll be ruminating over this until I’m 90 years old…

timestamp: 3:36am. I need to sleep earlier.

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and we live to see another day

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Every Thursday morning, when I witness the sunrise through my window on the 17th floor of Harrison and after I lethargically click the “submit” button for my comp sci homework assignment, I tell myself incredulously, “It’s Thursday…I live to see another day.” Wednesday’s constitute the weekly apex of assignment deadlines, stress, sleep-deprivation, and all the classic college student tropes that are pitiful but altogether relatable. I’ve fallen into quite a consistent routine: I submit the first assignment around 10pm (for which the deadline is 11pm). Then I proceed to start Latex’ing my next homework problem set. Every Wednesday there’s a creeping feeling that I won’t make it, or that tomorrow is some insidious doomsday. But every Thursday morning, no matter how sleep-deprived I am, I feel relieved–relieved to see the sun, relieved to have survived another long Wednesday night, relieved that I get a new day to breathe and reset.

That’s the weird thing about life. You think you won’t make it. There’s no way. There’s so much. All at once. It’s too much.

But somehow you muddle through all of the shit. Who cares if you fell 1000 times on your way? You’ve lived to see another day.

A few months ago, I wished for nonexistence…emptiness…reprieve from the senselessness and absurdity of being alive; why was the pace of life so consistent, relentless and unforgiving? Couldn’t the clock slow down a little? Give me a chance to catch my breath and figure out all these pesky things clouding my mind?

But I lived to see another day and another… and another. Isn’t it ironic and unfortunate (and maybe stupid) how the worst experiences help you grow the most? I guess Nietzsche was right.

I’ve lived to see another day, and seeing the light has never felt so sweet. I feel so FREE right now. I had two midterms today, both of which I’m upset about because I know I could have performed better if I had had better foresight, been more disciplined, and worked harder. But I’m trying to…let go. I’m still working on keeping my head above water, meaning not sweating all the small things like my midterms or my homework grades. Fall break is in 2 days, and I plan to aggressively chill.

overall

Overall I am doing ok. Not many thoughts buzzing through my mind at the moment. I took these photos with my iphone and scurried back and forth in between standing weirdly and tapping the “take photo” button. Oh the things I do for CONTENT CREATION. Don’t mind the murder eyes on the righthand photo…so tomorrow is my first radio show session! I’m DJ’ing a talk and music radio hour Sunday’s at 9am. I haven’t broadcast this to my friends yet because I’m so self-conscious I don’t think I could speak candidly and openly knowing that somewhere across the Interwebs, some person I actively interact with is listening to me! ME! Talking about stupid things and playing weird music. The franticness of this past week with tight homework deadlines portends a bleak semester ahead of me…I watched the sunrise as I clattered away on my laptop keyboard, hazily typing up some pesky math proof. What a strange feeling. Ok, I formally petition for more hours in the day. Thank you sky god(s).

I just peered outside my window. I live on the 17th floor of a high rise, and the lights outside are twinkling so effervescently I swear it’s as though they’re alive, like the small fish creatures in Ponyo.

lately

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alive and breathing!

pictures:

  1. president amy gutmann, our fearless leader–she reminds me of a nicer version of Anna Wintour
  2. scoop of honeycomb ice cream from franklin fountain in old city
  3. peaches at the farmer’s market
  4. self-timed shenanigans
  5. afternoon flowers + klimt

School has been picking up pace this past week, but I still haven’t managed to hone in and focus on schoolwork or anything education-related lately. My brain is still drifting lackadaisically in summer meadows and fluffy thoughts…but alas, the soul-draining, spirit-crushing homework awaits in the real world…

This semester, I hope to find quiet, tranquil moments to myself amidst the pandemonium of Penn and the club representatives emphatically waving flyers on Locust, the perpetual homework sets, the vortex of office hours in the cold, austere engineering building, and the frantic anxiety that accompanies all this mess. I want to be deliberate with how I pass my time here. I’ve always gotten caught off-guard by the quagmire of school responsibilities which seems to always take precedence over all else. School is SUPREME. But I don’t want to always have my nose buried in the books or my existence eternally stationed in the library basement–I want to do things that genuinely inspire and excite me and befriend people with good hearts and open minds who can teach me how to be a better person and friend.

Ok, I say all this, but then school is going to rev up another notch, and all musings of a cooler, better lifestyle jump the cliff and go poof.

miscellaneous

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outside the steps of my summer home
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tasteful plating
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how to cool down the toast
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luv-a-bowl
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pink fluffs
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jeni’s ice cream (free birthday trio)
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posin’ and trespassin’
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solar eclipse, 99.1% totality
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chamblee marta
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huthmaker’s
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old neighborhood sunset

To recap: [I spent the first 10 weeks of summer in Philly working at a research lab, 2 weeks on vacation throughout North America, and 2 weeks at home in Georgia.]

Fun fact: I learned the word “miscellaneous” because it was the name of a thread in the Pet Society online forum…

Here’s to the last few bits of peaceful, sun-drenched summer. I’ll miss the perpetually decrepit state of my summer apartment kitchen (maybe), the frittered-away afternoons when I planned during work things to do and sights to see after work, and the smell of my mom’s home-cooked Chinese meals at noon. It’s funny–did the food from home get better, or does it taste sweeter because I’ve slowly realized this small suburban place I grew up in, with all my mom’s dumplings and weird vegetable dishes and cabbage 包子, really is home?

part 4: seattle

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view from floor 76 of the Columbia Center
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oysters n seafood from Elliott’s Oyster House
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pike place market

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My mom made the executive decision to stay in Seattle for one night since it’s three times cheaper to fly from Anchorage to Atlanta with a stop in Seattle than to directly fly. Seattle is a quaint, charming city with pockets of forests and underground spaces. I took a walking tour of Seattle’s underground which holds a surprising amount of the city’s history, from its urban development (and all its sewage problems) to the lively, city culture present today. The quaintness and bits of old city remind me of Philly, except Seattle is by the water and has a large seafood presence. I wish I could have stayed longer and perused every single booth, eatery, and store at Pike Place Market. My senses were overwhelmed by the prodigious amount of fresh produce, (smelly) salmon, fragrant flower arrangements of peonies and zinnias and roses, and tempting bakery aromas that wafted through the air and graced my little snout.