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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

When you think the signs aren't clear but they've been in front of you all along


A long title, I know, but I really didn't know how else to explain the feeling. You know, where you're unsure of a decision but sure at the same time. Or maybe it's just me. 

Anyway, I'm attending a different college now, at last minute, but everything seems to have worked out in a weirdly perfect way. I decided to try out nursing, see how it goes, and when I first applied to this college, I thought, "how will I afford this and how can I get into these programs?" 

Somehow, someway, I managed to get the last spot in a scholarship program, and the last spot in the nursing program. I don't think either was a coincidence; it was fate. I was undeclared at first, but my academic counselor encouraged me to try and see if there were still spots to get into the nursing program if that's what I really want to try. So, I called the admissions, and by some miracle, the last spot was given to me. 

I was unsure about my future until that moment, because it's like something is pushing more toward this direction, letting me know that it's the right one. Life is funny like that. One way or another, the right opportunities seem to magically fall on your lap. 

Meanwhile, I've been writing a lot. When I say a lot, I mean a LOT. I think my average is increasing from 20 pages a day. But I cannot say that all I've been writing are serious pursuits that I want to publish one day; in fact, most of what I'm writing is just for fun. That's the joy of it of all, though. I don't care about the success that could come out of these silly stories, they're just entertaining. Plus, it's a good warm-up for the serious stuff. I think that's how you know you're truly passionate about something; you don't do it for the money or fame, but because you just like to do it. I must say, however, there's a difference between the selfish and selfless passion, and I've realized that writing is my selfish passion. Sure, I'd love to inspire someone with my stories, perhaps, but I don't really care to rush the sharing. I've realized why: I write because it makes me happy, it entertains me, it captivates me. It's not a bad thing, most of the time. 

Getting sucked into stories has a way of making you forget that real people and real places exist. 
That's the danger. 

I think that's why I got so into books when I was ten years old; I wanted to escape to a world that was better than this one. I still do. Watching the news depresses me and makes me think maybe there isn't hope for this world. When I write, I can construct a story that has a happy ending; I can create an ideal world filled with hope and love and joy––a reflection of everything I hope to see in this life so it can stop being a silly dream written on paper. 

That's the answer––in front of me all along: make the dream come true. 



Sunday, July 17, 2016

Parenthood

There's a movie. And there's also a TV show. It's on Netflix, and if you're a parent, you may especially like this show.

It's funny because I know parents and I know teenagers and I know little kids that act like the characters on this show. You see, us teenagers don't really realize this at the time, but we're jackasses to our parents. As I'm watching this show, I can see myself in some of these characters and I think "Why are they being such asses to their parents?" and then I realize I've done and said some of the exact same things as them. Made me feel pretty bad, but praise my mother for giving birth to me and then having to deal with that (and still dealing with it on occasion).

What I especially like about the show is that it doesn't censor the reality: it's tough growing up, and it's tough being a parent, and neither party is perfect. I think I understand where parents are coming from a little better now; it all stems from their worries and love. Maybe parents watching this show would understand where the kids are coming from, too, I don't know. The truth about parenthood, it seems, is that it's a learning process with every single kid and grandkid, and there's drama with family in every family, no doubt about that. People are going to judge you and be overbearing and criticize you and then life is going to happen and you'll be so strained you don't even remember who you are anymore!

Life is just frustrating like that, but then there are the moments worth all of the stress in the world: a wedding, a new baby, a college acceptance, or even just a simple family dinner. At the end of the day, everyone is there for each other. Family.

Some people aren't close with their family like the Bravermans are. The show acknowledges that, too, but it shows that you don't have to be blood-related to be family. Love is what makes family, and that's a statement I stand by constantly, because sometimes blood-relatives can be, well, not very loving. Family should love you no matter what, that's why the bond is so strong: it's unconditional love.

I think Parenthood really lives out that value, and sometimes we just need that reminder.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Scratch that.

Scratch that last post about reasons I want to be a doctor, because I actually have no clue what I want to do with my life.
Funny, because I felt so sure before, but suddenly, I have all of these options before me, and I have no idea. I guess that's what college is really for though––figuring it out.
I just hope I don't make the wrong choice.

That's my biggest fear: making a choice I will regret for the rest of my life. It's like staring at your own very possible, impending doom.

But who cares, there's far more important things going on, like the fact that yet another cop killed a black american who was a father and a son, or the fact that there's terror spreading around the world because of poisonous wars and thirst for power. People are so sick it sickens me. I think that's why I'm having a tough time deciding what I want to do. I want to be a doctor or nurse to help those who're physically sick. I want to be a psychiatrist to help those who're mentally sick. I want to be a teacher to help educate kids growing up in a sick world. I want to be a writer to tell the few people that my writing falls into the hands of that it gets better, you can be better, we can all be better, and we can all chose to love or hurt. I want to be able to afford the best life for my future kids because they'll deserve the very best.

That's the problem; I want to fix everything, but there's only one of me. So what the hell do I choose? How can I choose to help the physically sick while the mentally sick are also on the edge of dying? I guess, to reassure my conscious, I could say that there are plenty of people in the world who can take care of those people. But that doesn't really make me feel any better at all.

I may not seem like it sometimes, in fact, I probably seem cold and uncaring most of the time, but I'm actually so fragile that my heart breaks for every stranger I pass by on the street, because I know that each and every one of them has suffered, is suffering, or will suffer because of the cruel world we live in. I just hope and pray that they know of love, too. I guess that's all an 18-year-old girl without a job or money can do. For now.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Reasons for Careers

I've thought about the reasons over and over in my head, and a couple of nights ago, I basically wrote out an admissions essay in my head, the passionate feeling keeping me awake.
It started out when I was reading about the Stanford swimmer rape case, thinking maybe I'd want to be a lawyer to defend those who deserve justice, and not so long after, I read about the Orlando shootings, and how many people lost their lives, but also about how many lives were saved.
I knew either career could make a difference to someone, but when I thought about those 53 injured people from that shooting, or those still in the hospital...I knew I'd want to do what I could to help. Whether I end up in psychiatry or surgery, people need doctors.

"You'll be making lots of money."

That's usually the first response I get when I tell people I want to do pre-med in college, and it makes me sad to think that society has associated a medical job with money. You know what's sad? If a doctor's average salary was half what it is now, I bet the medical field wouldn't be so competitive. How fucked up is that?
I asked myself a question: if I got paid maybe fifty thousand a year instead of a hundred thousand, would I still want to be a doctor?
Yes. My answer is yes, because being a doctor doesn't mean you make a lot of money, it means you have a responsibility to care for people who need it, and that responsibility is one that all who wish to be a doctor to take seriously. Being a doctor is way more than just knowing the science of the body, but holding a compassion in your heart that gives you the strength to give a piece of yourself to others.
I realize a lot of actual doctors out there may think my idea of what a doctor should be is a little naive, and that I should be realistic because I can't save everyone, and because there will be times when I fail, but I refuse to believe that failing is the end of believing.
Don't sell yourself short, don't walk onto a path for money, don't lose your heart.
I guess I'm writing this to remind myself years from now why I'm choosing this, and I hope I sound convincing enough for me to keep going. 

It's when you give up that you truly fail.
It's when you lose your heart that you're truly dead.




Wednesday, June 8, 2016

I'll Give You The Sun

Last night, I stayed up until past 1am just to finish a book I started earlier that day called I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. I think this is the first time in a long time that I've read a book with both a beautiful story and artful writing. I feel as if I literally just read a piece of art, and that's what literature is––art.

The story isn't typical. It's about two twins named Noah and Jude, who have this loving connection that only two siblings (or more like only twins) could have, and how tragedy drives them apart, but love and forgiveness brings them together (not giving anything away though). Yes, they both have their love interests, but the story isn't surrounded around the love interests, it's surrounded around them, around who they are and how these two try to find themselves as individuals despite the fact that they've been NoahandJude their whole lives. They even have this thing they've done since they were little where they split up the world. Originally, Jude had the trees, the sun, the oceans, the stars, and the flowers, but she wanted this drawing that Noah had created so badly that she traded the trees, the sun, the oceans, and the stars for it. Noah gave her the sun. Later, someone tells Jude she made a bad trade, and she needs to find the sun again. Don't you see? She was lost without the light, that's why things went dark. It's so clever and charming. Nelson really has a knack for tying nature and art together as if they were one (which I believe they are).
And most importantly, it's about art, the true meaning of art. I don't think I could ever write down what it was like for me when I would draw or sketch anything on a piece of paper, but Jandy Nelson was on point with her descriptions. I just can't get over how beautiful this work was, and I cannot use any word except "beautiful" because no other word is appropriate.

Anyway, I just had to share this, because not sharing this would be selfish (but please don't ruin it with your silly fandoms like people did with John Green's The Fault in Our Stars).
You know, I may have found this book in the New Teen Fiction section at Barnes & Nobles, but I have feeling, one day, it will be literature.

Jandy Nelson gave me the sun.

Friday, June 3, 2016

When A Writer is Alone

Well I don't really know if this applies to all writers, but I feel like most of us don't really mind being alone; in fact, we embrace the atmosphere in which there are people around us, but we ourselves are sitting in the corner of the coffee shop, silently typing or scribbling down thoughts with the occasional sip of coffee or tea.

I have small conversations with people here and there, and I get this weird impression people actually like me. Kinda weird, right? I keep thinking in my head, "Oh if only they knew, they wouldn't be smiling." Or maybe they would, who really knows?
Anyway, this town is cute, and full of interesting people. I like this feeling of a clean slate, but keeping what's important right by my side.

I wake up, check my messages, reply, go for a run (sometimes with my dog, but she gets tired pretty easily now that she's getting old), take a shower, watch a movie or clean a little, surf the internet, or I go out and just walk or bike, without a particular destination. So this is what freedom feels like! Not to say I'm not doing nothing, though. I'm definitely not. I'm actually trying to get a few small jobs here and there to save up money to go to Japan next summer, and I'm also trying to get my license. Speaking of, I need to study for that test. Oh, that reminds me.. I need to take those math and science placement tests for college. Funny, it's like senoritus has fluttered away and I'm ready to just work more than ever. Does that mean I've grown?

A friend of mine recently told me, "Remember that every day is a learning experience..." and that made me think about the past few years, or the past year even. I've learned a lot. I think the most important thing I've learned, and am still in the brutal process of learning, is how to think beyond myself. Meaning that I should be aware that although the world doesn't surround you, it doesn't surround me either. I should have more compassion for people, and understanding, and not be so quick to anger. I think this year, for some reason, the angry part of me has surfaced more than I desired to. The years before, it was the sad, depressed part of me. Now, it's this anger I've got to deal with! I guess it's those stages of grief still getting to me, isn't it? Or maybe it's just me growing, because we're always changing, aren't we?

What are you? Are you sad? Are you happy? Are you low-key pissed off at your best friend or high-key pissed off at your parents? Are you unsatisfied? Are you hurt? Or are you one of the lucky ones, and feel loved and love to love? Or are you just plain old LOST?

Now, I've tried to find the source of this anger. I think it's coming from fear; fear of what, I'm not so sure yet. Perhaps it's the fear of a new opportunity and fucking it all up and losing more than what I started with. I guess that's a pretty common fear, though. So what am I going to do about it? Well, I'm going to walk toward that fear, my heart pounding against my chest and nerves pulsing through my head, and trust.

I trust that I am in the hands of a greater power. For me, that greater power is God, love. Maybe for you it's different. Maybe it's fate. Maybe it's nature. The point is, we're only human, so of course we're going to be scared. We're so fragile, from the time we're born to the time of our deaths. So what's the point of holding back from our own happiness? I know I shouldn't be scared to reach for that happiness, and neither should you––no one should.

These are the thoughts that pass my mind when I'm in the corner of a coffee shop, surrounded by people, but sitting alone.

Goodnight,

Alena

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Graduate

"I'll just be honest here, I kinda hated high school."
That's what I said at the final dorm senior dinner just last week, but there was a "but" to it.
"But this year has made me change my mind." That's true. But there's a but to that, too.
I'm going to talk about a few quotes here by some famous people that represent the general population opinion on high school, and some of you might disagree, but it's probably because you're a high school student or one of those people who peaked in high school (which is a little sad, and I won't say no offense because I know that's kind of offensive, but true).

“High school isn't a very important place. When you're going you think it's a big deal, but when it's over nobody really thinks it was great unless they're beered up.” - Stephen King, Carrie

“I hated high school. I don’t trust anybody who looks back on the years from 14 to 18 with any enjoyment. If you liked being a teenager, there’s something wrong with you.” - Stephen King

As you can see, both of these quotes are from one of the most famous modern-day authors, Stephen King. Now, you could argue that this guy writes horror stories that keep people awake at night, cowering in fear, he was probably just a freak in high school so of course he didn't enjoy it! He must be biased! Yeah, okay, but let's also consider the fact that he's published over 50 novels and 200 short stories, more than half adapted to relatively successful films (The Shining is the most well-known one), so how could a high school experience even compare to that kind of success, even if you were one of the popular kids? 

Now, he says, "if you liked being a teenager, there's something wrong with you." Which I agree with, even though I'm still a teenager. I mean, your teen years are when you're growing and confused and still trying to figure the world out––who likes that? And even when you're 18 and considered a legal adult, you're still trying to figure out what the hell being an adult means. There's bound to be drama there. Being in your 20s or even 30s are probably the glory years, we just don't know it yet. Which brings me to the next quote: "A lot of kids think high school represents the best years of their lives, but others recognize that it's mostly irrelevant bullshit, and that life doesn't even begin until afterward." - Paula Stokes, Liars 
We're in those years right now, and we haven't experienced anything greater, so of course we kids are going to think that these are the best years of our lives, but the truth is, the best part of life begins with the end. "I open at the close," - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Even J.K. Rowling knew, she emended the message right in her series, conveniently in the last school year, when Harry's one life really does just begin, because it's finally his own, not Voldemort's (if you haven't seen the movies or read the books, you probably don't understand this reference). 

The truth is, people who feel left out in high school, which is pretty much everyone, thinks like Deb Caletti here: "The hope was, people like me got to finally find our place in college or in the actual world. People who understood this told you that high school wasn't the actual world, that it was more like a temporary alternate reality you were forced to believe in for four years. A video game you played, where you could never get to the next level no matter how hard you tried." 
High school is growing up, it's learning, and maybe it's a huge joke. There are people out there who will pretend to be your friend, and there are people who are actually your friend, and you usually figure that out after high school, which only emphasizes how "unreal" high school is. I'm pretty much bashing on high school, aren't I?

Look, you're experiences in high school aren't irrelevant. They've helped you form into the shape you are now, but high school isn't everything––it isn't the end, it isn't the beginning, it's the awkward middle stage that no one really wants to experience all over again
I guess the goal is to make sure that high school isn't the highlight of your life, because if it is, that kind of sucks, because it could be so much better. I know people talked shit behind my back, but I don't really care because it's not like those people are my friends. I admit, even I feel sketchy about certain friends I had. There's one person I'm thinking of in particular, and when I think about it, I really don't trust them at all, even if they think I do. I kind of regret letting my uncle help with their car, because I don't know if they even deserve that. Not that I'm being fake or anything. Just trying to be friendly, but I wouldn't care if I never talked to them again. That's another way you can tell who your real friends are. I feel bad for that person. I think they're lost, and frankly, I don't think I even know who the hell they are anymore, or maybe I never did. There's a few people like that, actually. Fuck them, though, right?

We can start all over, and not with the same people, but with new ones, and hopefully we'll make better choices this time 'round. Hopefully some of us will mature a little (emphasis on the hopefully).  

"You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, you should've behaved better." 
Remember that. Sometimes I forget it, too. 

Your fellow writer,

Alena