i’m scared

I’m 19 and I’m scared.

I’m scared of who I’ve become – overwhelmed, discouraged, a procrastinator; naive, unconfident; always finding excuses. Becoming dependent on and then desensitized to pick me ups. Knowingly making the wrong decision. Over and over; once, twice, thrice, four times, and I lose count.

There’s such a major cognitive dissonance that exists within me: I wish with all my heart to be someone better, but I refuse to take any steps in that direction.

Instead, I procrastinate, I sloppily disregard personal plans and deadlines, then it becomes normal. I know I won’t finish on time. Justifying your mistakes is such a painful process: you’re wrong, are you going to lie to yourself?

I find myself looking more and more backwards. 9th grade, 8th grade, 7th grade; heck, 2nd grade, kindergarten. That kid that read so much, that laughed so much, that dreamed so much; she knew so much. She knew she had to work hard. She knew life didn’t owe her any excuses. She knew what she wanted, a heart so small filled with an imagination of the future so enormous. She knew the whole world couldn’t stop her.

But who would’ve known; she was stopped by herself.

I’m 19 and I’m scared. I haven’t lived up to the idealistic goals that I envisioned when I was eight, but that’s ok, when you’re young you want to do everything. What terrifies me is losing this sense of pushing oneself to improve, to be who you’ve wanted to be, to do what you’ve wanted to do; these important feelings have been absent.

I’ve wanted so much to free myself from rigorous discipline to find honest curiosity, that I’ve also freed myself from this search – sparks dissipate instead of flaring into flames.

g’luck, 19 year old. this life is still yours.

December; subway

I walk past the old man, white beard, wrinkled fingers. Thin gray garments, traditional Chinese buttoning, shoes made of cloth. His hands move the Erhu bow, slightly, weakly; it only shifts the bow 2 inches where it should have been pushed along 5. There’s no sound. His eyes are half-open, or maybe closed; I can’t tell. There’s no sound, no cacophony, no string rubbing with string to the point of screeching.

His hand moves the Erhu bow, faintly, painfully. There is no sound.

The dented ceramic cup sits in front of his crossed legs, a symbol of his situation. It’s a boundary: two feet from that cup, the stream of rush-hour, quick footsteps, earpods, smart phones, human voices bouncing off the gray marble floor, each different but each eager to reach home. The noise is loud and it makes me uncomfortable. The cup is a boundary: a two-feet boundary of cynicism and apathy, a two-feet boundary between exuberant chaos and deathly silence, two feet between this life and theirs. My two feet stand in the boundary.

A week later, I walk past the old man again. Still, the thin beard, the rush-hour, the dented cup before him.

His hands don’t move.

He ran to the ocean

He ran to the ocean.

It was truly a beautiful day. The saturated sky glowed azure and the sand underneath it sat delicately: white, soft, and as clean as the clouds. It dampened to a glossy gold where the waves lapped at it. No one else was here.

The boy paused at the edge of the asphalt, before the sand.

The sun bloomed like a chrysanthemum, steadily pollinating the sea with sparkles and glitters that each only ephemerally decorates the dark crests.

He wished he could lose himself in the serenity, the senseless beauty, the nothingness. And for that moment he did. He plunged into the hallucinatory comfort of hallucinatory content. But he could feel himself falling through his own imagination and again he felt afraid.

And rhythmically, the waves came, crashing, crashing.

He didn’t bother taking off his shoes. Pounding through the sand, he ran, wanting to escape the throat-clenching rawness creeping in his chest, the abyss forming and re-forming to eradicate  anything bright he might hide secretly, unconsciously, the intangible guilt weighing him down, always, always.

His feet beat the sand, and each thud drew him closer to the sea. He could barely feel the grains of sand encroaching his shoe; he didn’t know where he was going; he didn’t care. The salt on his face made his eyes hurt. The howling wind rushed to his ears. 

Finally, there was no where else to run so he stopped. The water reached the boy. Water covered his face and poured into his shoes, seeping into the woolen, white socks he put on this morning. That was a lifetime ago. At his feet, there was the crashing of tides, over and over, over and over. He stared. Perhaps this is why he came here, to seek calm in the chaos.

But all he felt were the tears staining his face, the salt-filled wind ruffling his clothes, the rhythmic rush of the ocean. The loneliness and the hurting and the wanting to not feel anything, but also the inability to forget the perpetual weight that filled inside him, dragging.

He didn’t know what to do.

The boy sat down. He couldn’t tell if the salt that parched his lips was from the sea water or from his tears.

But he didn’t care. Tears streaming down his face, he hit it, he struck it rhythmically, he struck the water again and again and again. And the roar of the rush of the ocean came, louder and louder, but he didn’t care.

On Differences (Another Hello)

The feeling when some of your friends are telling an inside joke and they’re all laughing but you’re just like ???

The same with countries. Languages, cultures, how to eat, what to wear; their own big inside jokes. (Hey, I still remember my first trip to the Chinese public bathroom: the way the toilet is just entrenched in the floor. Flat. :/)

I’m going to blatantly assume that you’re here because of this video (if not, go! and! check! it! out! It’s about Chinese schools and irrelevant things! Here’s the Youtube link. The first link is to Youku, a Chinese streaming platform). So far this blog has been pretty private, and I’ve been neglecting to “dump my immature and irrelevant musings” (lol) as I said I wanted to do in my first post. But this is another hello. Not quite sure where this blog is going; maybe it’ll turn into a “Cath in China” kind of project (@cathincollege) (Yes, I swear, my name is also Catherine and my friends sometimes call me Cath)! We’ll see.

I’ve been wanting to make a video/blog/post like this for a long time because I find cultural differences intriguing (hmm) and because I’ve been out on too many jokes. I moved to China from the US in 5th grade, attended local schools from 5th grade to 10th grade, then transferred back into the American system in 11th grade (yeah, the theme song of my life is “Change”).  To me, learning about different cultures was a way to adjust. I’m not saying that you should be afraid to be yourself; it’s just some things are sensitive and some things are funny and as a newbie you never know what those things are (and sometimes it’s good to know).

Some people ask what it’s like to be in China. Weather: smog. Food: mildly poisonous. School: memorization & regurgitation. Not exactly, though. Smog is real, but it isn’t 24/7 and it isn’t all over China. The food, well, just don’t eat off of street vendors and small restaurants. And school. That’s what I hope to show a little in this video.

Writing (otherwise: me right now)

AHHHHHH.

Those are my now 24-7, eternally on-going internal screams. The woes of writing.

See, the problem isn’t that I don’t have anything to talk about (I have, indeed, accumulated at least 3 different topics that I want to seriously write about), but I don’t know how to craft my thoughts. Everything is so nebulous up in my brain! And writing is concrete, it’s substantive, it’s relatable, it’s a communication. If I don’t even know what I want to say, how can I refine my thoughts to someone else? (Sometimes I wish we could be like Avatar and — zap — you would know what I mean. And then tell me what I mean. Because sometimes I honestly am still stuck in the primitive, pre-verbal stages of my life.)

And how do you force good writing? Forced writing is pooped out. It’s not good. I want to be creative, I want novel ways of saying things, of letting readers feel what I feel, of expressing and communicating but heck! No good to be wanting.

This sounds so pessimistic. I’m just going to write write write and read and write and have fun with words and emotions. I’ll improve. I will. I am.

The problem with words like “doggies”

(This is a weird piece that I don’t want to finish. Normally I would write in a more self-reflective or at least journal-type style, but I really wanted to discuss linguistic conventions and this is what came out. Pooped out. I’ll prob just take it down later.)

I love Tumblr; I love its memorable memes, social justice protests, and useless trivia, yes. Its run-on sentences & random caPATILIZING in the MIDDle of a word & the Trademark ™, its tendency for typos to convey sof and gentl and certain pruhnunciations. It’s cra . zy . punctuations. also its blatant refusal to capitalize in sentences like what im doing here. I love these even more so.

All these unintentionally craft a sense of authenticity. A confident giving of something erroneous, an instinctive rebel against conventions, a stray from the public stream into something not quite private but more like a secret: we both like the same things. On screen, the symbols you type are the faces of your language.

It has a sense of authenticity because with the run on sentences you can show your excitement for something because you just can’t stop ! and there are no pauses for you my reader to stop tooooo hahhahah so this feeling of excitement is shared not only through words but through their form.

It can show your feeling of boredom because when everything is monotone there is no difference in when there is sound and when there is emptiness since everything is dull everything is devoid of feelings and so no one cares.

It is truly experienced. And even if the words do not resonate, their form drags you through the writer’s mind.

It has a sense of authenticity because oH MY GOSH I CAN FINALLY WRITE I ALL CAPS TO SHOW YOU  and the best part is I CAN aLtErNaTe like hoW MUCH BETTER CAN THIS GET??   See, my initial surprise at being given back this choice was made full aware. And better yet, the surprise building up to joy — this increasing and sublimation of emotion — can be felt because oH MY GOSH I can alternate in the middle of my words.

It shares, not communicates. Feelings are clearer, fuller; readers understand better.

But what is the problem with such linguistic conjures? Only one: they sound immature.

Nobody wants to understand a three-year-old kid.