on the freedom of choice

for stream of consciousness saturday!! i finally caught the whim at the right time

a collar. white and crisp, sharply ironed. or better, a dark blue shot through with burgundy stripes on a silky material that’s beginning to soften at the edges; the single pintuck in the back allowing the navy blue to billow out gently and gracefully. the front is buttoned with navy blue also, and the shirt is long enough to reach quarter-thigh and rounded in the front and back, reaching inward on each side. one of my favorite shirts, that I barely ever wear. it’s a little much, since my dress pants also have vertical stripes on them, and hard to tuck in properly. I’m not quite sure how to wear the shirt, because it fits me well above the waist and in the back but the front is just awkward.

if you’re a woman (or a man, actually, or anybody having to deal with button-ups, really) then this situation might be a little familiar. if you’re wearing dress pants, then tucking the shirt in is a must. especially if it’s long. but tucking a shirt in can be awfully awkward; with this shirt, there are bumps in along the seam with the buttons that get pronounced when tucked, and then there’s the matter of finding the right balance between how tucked in it is and how slack it is. because if it’s tucked in too tight then you really can’t move at all without pulling it out, and if it’s too slack then it’ll bunch up when you slouch only slightly.

alas, my favorite shirt satisfies my style but eludes my comfort. it’s definitely a stylish shirt, but I never feel quite right wearing it; which is really such a shame because it’s a beautiful shirt made of high quality material that is all too rare these days. seriously, i miss the clothes that i had when i was younger because they all felt sturdy. now a lot of the clothes i see in stores (marketed towards teens in summer) might be good for a one-off photoshoot but i can’t understand how people can wear them in public without some mishaps happening.

for me, crop tops and off-the-shoulder tops are an intimidating leap; so I choose not to wear them. it is a mixture of inconvenience and trepidation and the simple fact that i do not own any. (well, i do own one jewel-toned butterfly sleeves crop top that looks pretty good but that i’ve never worn out.)

that this entire mind dump went straight to clothes, the literal and most common way a collar is thought in the context of, is a little disappointing, but this is what i have to say, apparently! oh, the fickle life of a teenage girl who has always resented expectations to make herself pretty.

on that note, it is a bit confusing when people say they are dressing up to look good for themselves, rather than trying to appease others. I think it has to do with uniform/costume; certain clothes get you into character. there’s a fine line between that and just trying to blend in, though; if one were truly confident then wouldn’t they be able to wear anything to any occasion? although confidence can only get you so far against scandalized people.

so it is more like dressing up to make yourself feel good; but what if you feel good only because you think that other people will think you look good, and isn’t that the whole point of appearance anyways? how much of it is choice and how much of it is decorum? what choice do we really have over what kind of collar we wear?

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Sept. 12/2020

seeing that//

//it’s summer now, (in fact, it’s actually august. i’ve been mostly at home for the last july-june-may-april-march, and it’s been both fruitful and disappointing) march me thought i would have a better grip on things at this point: where and when exactly i want to apply for college, at least a full draft of my personal statement, some idea of how to string all the parts of me together and tie up the narrative of high school me, a meandering path point a from point b.

the truth is that although i have a better idea of all those beads on my bracelet i still don’t quite know what to do with them (well yeah, the metaphor would suggest to make a bracelet, maybe i’ll take that into account). i’ve got a couple of ideas, inspired by people around me and people on the internet, and if i’m enterprising then maybe they’ll lead somewhere.

_____

to be more specific, i’ve been thinking that starting some sort of project would be a good way to connect some dots. i’m going to be taking a capstone class, and i have some pretty awesome research experience.

stars: cello, piano, chamber music, and classical music; biobuilder club and synthetic biology or maybe just bio in general; visual art and photography; research-y stuff that could be more statistically based; sustainable energy; food and baking; hiking and biking and ecology i guess (birds!); philosophical discussion; community service (i.e. free online mentoring and delivering food to pantries).

all righty.

constellations:

#1: debunking the stigma around GMOs. i have noticed that most people seem to steer clear of GMOs when given the choice; i myself used to do that also. but GMOs are revolutionizing the way food is produced and the amount of energy and resources that are put in to agriculture. some crops have been genetically modified to be more resistant to pests and disease, and produce their own nitrogen fertilizer. this could involve surveys for public opinion, working with food suppliers, interviewing farmers that use GMOs, and checking out any organizations, as well as exploring the possibility of negative effects.

#2: flow batteries. because if we want to rely more on renewable energy sources, we will need better energy storage, because nature does not heed our demands like our power plants do. flow batteries are a possibly superior way to do this. i could… build my own flow battery? explore how they are being implemented?

#3: trees…? i mean, i really like trees, first of all. i don’t think i’m getting the message through when i say that- i’ve just grown up with a pretty profound connection to trees. and they’re extremely important to humanity and life in general as the biggest source of oxygen. they also provide shelter and resources for both humans and animals. deforestation is a huge problem all over the world, and the amount of virgin forest that exists is a mere fraction of what it used to be.

#4: photography expedition for my town to document wildlife. this sounds really fun. i don’t have the hang of wildlife photography yet (birds are especially tricky), but plants a lot easier. there might be a lot of people around town who do this already that i can work with!

#5: james, butterflies, and citizen science.

there may be more. as you can see, i am fond of making lists.

two songs in my head and a heart-shaped frame in my palm

Preface: it’s perfect! It’s Saturday! It’s stream of conscious Saturday! Finding that this is still an ongoing this is such a comfort because I haven’t been on WordPress for months, yet it is still very much alive. Love you guys even though I never really talk to you haha. Now on to the prompt!

So today’s prompt is “song,” and I have to find a picture near me and a song that I think of when I look at the picture. I also want to note that my last name is actually Song so this prompt has a special place in my heart ❤

Moving a container of Maple Black Tea to the side, I can see the dusty metal heart-shaped frame of a tiny picture of my parents. I think they took it when they were still in college; they’re in front of a cool rock structure or something, and they’re both wearing oversized t-shirts. I’m actually kind of jealous of the fashion style at the time, it looks really cool. So… what song?

At first my mind was empty, and then they all came rushing in. The first one title that came in is “Younger,” by Ruel I think. I don’t remember the melody line, only that the song is pretty chill and raw. I think the singer has a slight raspy voice. First melody that came into my head is the Prelude from the first Bach Cello Suite, which is also kind of fitting. That movement has a lot of parallels and arpeggiations that kind of mirror the streaks in the rock behind my parents. It’s also a comforting song, set in G major. Beautiful resolution.

Though these seemed like pretty arbitrary songs (or pieces, if you will) at first, they actually kind of make sense! Two people, who would go on to start a family, a photo of when they were younger, both wearing oversized t-shirts and sitting on a rock, somewhere in nature, enjoying life and being themselves, love I guess.

Summer again

I almost forgot that this blog existed! So cool to find it again. I’m looking through one of my notebooks right now and yet again find myself wondering where my passion went- and my writing talent (probably gone along with all those hours of sleep). But this is an unproductive mindset and I’ll just have to believe that the person who wrote these things is still inside me, and that I can bring them out again and maybe more.

The notebook is the one from CTY Creative Nonfiction, it’s purple with the Skidmore logo on the front. I found a draft of my 9th grade english final, some angsty poems that I can still relate to, and some ideas for college essays (yep, I’ve been painfully aware of it throughout high school). It’s fun looking through it and definitely nostalgic, and I’m hoping some of its magic will rub off on me because that’s definitely how things work.

It’s also pre-sophomore year so I was preparing for AP chem at that time.

There’s also some stuff I wrote this May!

Maybe I’ll post some of the things on here just for archival purposes.

Here’s a little something for now:

College essays are stupid. They’re like personal essays, but self-advertising. They’re the root of tremendous pressure and anxiety on any student; they have the power to make or break a college application (please shut up, mom, and go away???) The problem with them is that they’re not personal essays. The message has to be positive, the aftertaste is almost sickly sweet. Look, I’m such a curious mind. I’m a caring, passionate, determined person. Quirky stories like folding 1,000 cranes or becoming a human 20Q [are the ideal]. How much of that is true, anyway? Nobody really feels that way about themselves. Not everything has a positive side. Maybe they’re just looking for people who are able to mask the world’s true bleakness, inspiring the same cheerful ignorance in others. Look at me, I’ve taken the high road, can’t blame anyone for wanting to create a happy, healthy, supportive world.

Actually, I’m inspired.

me in ca. 2016-2017

And here’s a little analysis/response: okay, it’s true. in the end, the essay does have to be positive. and all of the ones i’ve read are more than a little cheesy, although that’s simply a fault of the genre. some of the ones i’ve read also were a little icky with the logic and analogies, but that’s okay; they worked. however, i would argue now that these essays are really similar to personal essays. they’re crafted with a goal and a specific audience in mind though, so there are definitely tricks that people can use to appeal to that audience. no guarantees on success, though. (no guarantees on failure either!) “Masking the world’s true bleakness” is truly the epitome of pessimism; and my friends all think I’m an optimist! while i still think the world is bleak, i am trying to see the good as well. there is hope out there, somewhere. not sure what i meant by “the high road,” that might be an acknowledgement of the snootiness in my tone, as if i’m above the others and looking down on the college admissions process. wish i could still do that but it’s summer before senior year and unfortunately i can’t have that kind of attitude.

packing//unpacking

Unpacking. It’s really such a pain. I went on a trip this past weekend from Thursday to Sunday afternoon and I still haven’t taken heels out of the luggage. When you say unpacking you could mean a lot of different things, because there are a lot of things to unpack. You can unpack a luggage, a suitcase, a bag. Or you could unpack a burden, thoughts, or feelings.

In a way writing is kind of like unpacking. You have to untangle everything in your suitcase of a mind, reorganize it, and put it out. You have to clear our a mess of thoughts and put them through the washing machine, dry them and fold them. Sometimes there are things hidden in the deep, hidden corners of your suitcase but you still have to get it out or else you can’t say you’re done unpacking.

This all reminds me of George Orwell reading, in which Orwell wrote that he felt compelled to write stories because there was something he had to wrench out of his mind, something he had to lay out for the world to see.

But writing is also similar to packing in that you need to gather all these things from the distant dregs of your mind and put them together, and it also requires a level of organization. All these thoughts need to fit into an essay or a poem or a book. And you can’t bring everything, even if it’s your favorite dress or your fluffy penguin socks, if you won’t be needing it for your purpose.

I suppose stream of consciousness is more unpacking than packing, though, because we’re not supposed to be organizing things or purposefully looking for facts and details and memories; we’re just taking out some of the mess inside.

This was written for Stream of Consciousness Saturday (prompt here: https://lindaghill.com/2020/02/07/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-feb-8-2020/)

And now I really need to go write my history essay-

things I want to do

It is currently 7:46 p.m. My art class has been canceled, and I have very little homework. Of course, “if I every find myself needing something to do,” I can always check out college websites. That’s what my parents are telling me to do. And it really is in my best interests, but I’m defiant and naive so I’ll write down things I’d rather be doing.

I want to draw. To be fair, I was drawing before dinner. But I want to draw and paint and try again and again. I want to lose the fear that I have for making mistakes when I draw, a fear that has been instilled because there’s so much pressure on the big works and I have little confidence and not enough ideas or practice. I want to draw pages and pages, but not mindless patterns. I want to make art that flowers, that blooms, that reminds people of things they’ve almost forgotten. I want to go outside and look at the stars, I want to go to the library and hang out with my friends, I want to have a nice warm cup of coffee standing under a streetlight as snowflakes grace my eyelashes and gloved fingers. I want to bake a cake, and play with my brother, and read the book on my table, I want to write, which at least I am doing, and I want to play with my quintet. Both of them. Because I love Schubert more than I love myself. And I only like Schubert because of his quintet.

I want to venture out into the mountains anywhere, but somewhere safe, and camp under the stars, I want to hike again to that glacier with my family, I want to count banana slugs in a temperate rainforest, I want to pick up a pencil, I want to run and shower and go shopping. I want to look at the shampoos in target and try almost every one to see which one my hair likes best. I want to live a life where I’m doing something useful that I don’t mind and where I’m appreciated by the people around me, and where I appreciate the people around me. I want to eat chocolate and blueberries. I want to drink ginger tea and eat graham crackers. I want to swim in a pool and in the ocean and in a lake, or go kayaking in the state forest. I want to adopt a cat or a dog (I’m a both sort of people), get a facial, finish all the work I’m supposed to be doing. I want to spatter paint on a large canvas, I want to save earthworms from getting scorched on my driveway in the hot sun after it rains, I want to splash in puddles and ride bikes and climb trees. I want to visit an art museum and take portraits of random people (with consent) and talk to them. I want to watch videos on YouTube and listen to music that I like. I want to sing and dance and do yoga. I also want to do word searches and puzzles and do a beach cleanup with some friends in the summer, I want to see justice served and truth prevail. I want to look into a camera and look from behind it. I want to produce music and go to concerts, have a jam session and learn theory, write and perform slam poetry, have long conversations with friends and reach that point of understanding and easiness between two people, do calligraphy and knit, plant herbs and roast marshmallows by a campfire…

this list has been abridged because I do too have a life and I should probably get back to it.

a vessel filled to the brim yet always empty

Alternative title: romance is dead

I’ve realized the problem with myself. My problem is that I want to be too many things at once, but I have so many things I already need to be, and not enough of myself to do it all. Instead, I am a half formed glob of artiste, yes i did put an e at the end of that, writer (thought dumpster), cellist, scientist, student, teacher (of little kids, at least), daughter, cousin, friend, human

Because, after all, this all brings us back to the age-old question: who am I? This is certainly not the only time I’ve thought about it. My dad is driving me back from school and I’m staring out the window, thinking that a part of these neighborhoods is forever embedded in me and how wonderful yet terrifying that is. That all the experiences I’ve ever had have left an imprint on my being and that everyone carries what is around them. That maybe globalization isn’t so great because then we’d all be so similar, and life would be so dull if all we ever heard were our own thoughts back and back again.

The latest essay I read for my english class was an essay by Brian Doyle called Joyas valoduras. (Not too sure about that spelling or punctuation but that’s how I say it in my head, at least…) That essay was confusing to read. Yes, it was beautiful. I appreciated the sweeping view of all life forms, and upon closer examination the parallel structure between paragraphs and sentences and phrases and words, even. Yet it was hard for me to grasp the crux of Doyle’s purpose in writing the piece; was it to pay tribute to the exquisiteness or fragility or variety of life, or was he simply pouring his own thoughts down on paper, suddenly astounded by constellations in his mind? And how did it all connect to each heart being alone, because we cannot bear the closeness of another person inside?

P.S. regarding the title, I am conflicted. I like the sentiment, but “yet” doesn’t read as effortlessly as it should, and “but” is much too clunky. Which one is preferable to you?

today’s inspiration gallery.

songs to listen to: false confidence by noah kahan; behind the sea (alt ver.) by P!ATD; thinking 2 much by jeremy zucker


i wonder why
i tear myself down
to be built back up again

pending life decisions: should I try to music major/minor in college? should I get bangs? what if I got my ears pierced?

look at me all fucked up over someone i’ll never meet

which colleges do I apply to? what do I write my college essay about? should I practice cello? I really need to go to sleep earlier. Is it worth it to do robotics again next year? should I drop art? should I start a sketchbook? how do I be the person I want to be? why should I even try?

probably should have made holiday cards for my teachers and friends…

don’t take your self so seriously

happy first hours of vacation

on thelovesongofjalfredprufrock

some intense meta here

I just finished annotating TS Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” and it was a great joy. There’s no one to whom I can really vent this joy (my friends and classmates would accuse me of arrogance, my teacher would be jaded and unimpressed, my parents require too much explaining, and my brother wouldn’t be interested), so I have come here to capture this great feeling before it fades away.

I can say with confidence that many of my classmates forgo actually annotating a piece and search up texts on schmoop or other literary analysis sites dedicated to thinking for you. I didn’t use any of that (besides Googling the epigraph to find out that it came from Dante’s Inferno).

The poem is a culmination of some dreary and dry reading on existentialism (which I still don’t have a clear understanding of). I used a robin’s egg blue Uni Ball Signo dx 0.38mm to annotate, and the ink flows beautifully- it’s smooth with no skips and pools just a little when the tip lingers on the page.

When I began reading the poem I had no idea where it was going, who it was about, and how the title (“Love Song”) had anything to do with it. I couldn’t figure out why “the women come and go/ Talking of Michelangelo” or the repetition of “‘that is not what I mean at all.'”

The first connections I made were between the “hundred indecisions… visions and revisions,” “I am formulated,” to prepare a face.” After deciphering those references to creating a persona (a concept I’m used to seeing in literature now), I was at a loss. Had he realized his freedom as an individual and is now “afraid” of the isolation of existence? (This was probably inspired by those existentialism readings.)

A few random filler comments later, it came to me: the Love Song, “after tea and cakes and rice,” “Should I… have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?” And that is why he is afraid- because he knows he “is no prophet,” and could very well be rejected should he force the crisis. He is afraid, yet he knows that he cannot back down. And all that stuff about creating a person? He was creating a persona to present to the lady, filtering his words and actions, thinking and overthinking (the bald spot?). And he resigns himself to his true self with “I am not Prince Hamlet.” However I can’t tell if the rest of the stanza refers to what he is or what he is not. Is he a fool or not?

And then, because we are in the middle of reading The Great Gatsby, I thought of Gatsby. Gatsby, who spent five years building an entire world on top of an over-the-top persona to woo Daisy, the not-so-object of his interests.

Obviously, I’m far from a complete understanding. I still don’t know what mermaids have to do with anything. And what explanation is there for the fixation on his bald spot? What does growing old have to do with anything? What about the yellow smoke, and the etherized patient? Lonely men leaning out windows? What does having “known them all already” mean?

The pride I feel is rueful, however. Is it too much, is it deserved? Maybe everyone else in the class was able to get it right away, it wasn’t exactly hard. It was just a really nice feeling. Will I be able to prove to myself later on that I really do have a better understanding of the poem? Will I be able to explain it to other people? Look at me, a hundred indecisions and visions and revisions. I guess people really are the same after all.

split

split ends? i have none (in my hair, at least).

there’s a split in my life. it’s been there all along. the sciences and the arts and the career planning are at odds with each other.

as a result, i’m here writing a blog post that no one will see because i can’t decide how to use my time. i’m here after seeing so many wonderful and inspiring people through the internet, and i’m here trying to imagine myself as one of them, as someone inspiring and worthy of admiration and whole, someone who isn’t splitting apart, atom by atom.