I swear no one hurts me and nothing could be sad.
I’m fantastical, I say.
I swear no one hurts me and nothing could be sad.
I’m fantastical, I say.
The Statue of Liberty has become a symbol of America. She is a symbol of freedom and welcome. And if you go to Liberty Island and see the statue, you can read the New Colossus, a poem written by Emma Lazarus, and which, I think, captures what America should be.
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
Yes, I know, America belonged to the indigenous people before Europeans came to this land and stole it from them and hurt these people. I know America has a tumultuous history and we’ve done good and bad things in the world. But we are a country who claims to value freedom above all else. We also value equality, or so we said in our Declaration of Independence when we took the first steps of becoming an independent nation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
America has never exactly been overwhelmingly kind to immigrants and refugees, but it’s part of our history that everyone, I think, from both sides of politics, take as an example of why America is great. We are a place that people dream about. We are a country people risk everything to get to, because they are seeking a better life. We are the “land of opportunity.”
And right now… it’s like Lady Liberty is in a cage. No one is free while even one of us is enslaved. Closing America’s borders to certain nations and people? What is happening to my country?
It’s hard for me to really believe that we are looked at as a land of opportunity, because I wish I could emigrate to a better country, a country that already upholds my personal values and principles. (Such as Sweden, perhaps.) But I know I’m not alone in America. I’m not the only American who believes that we should accept immigrants and refugees and provide more opportunities for the most vulnerable people. I’m not the only American who thinks we need to change a lot of things to improve the lives of our citizens, and believes in our responsibility to make things better for our planet.
I pledge allegiance to the flag for which it stands, one Nation, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.
We are so divided, though. Half of us is terrified of the other half. Republicans, Democrats, when did the divide between us become so great?
I am proud of our First Amendment to the Constitution. It protects our freedom of speech, of the press, of our right to assemble.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
We can use our voice, our right to assemble peacefully, our freedom of speech. We can speak out. We can protest.
I am sad and I am afraid for my country, and for the world. I know, on a logical level, that the world is getting better. Overall, things are getting better. But it’s hard to look at the big picture in a moment like this.
Let’s make America compassionate again. Please.
I love to learn. All kinds of things- about programming languages (Python, lately), and about video games, and new languages (Spanish and Hawaiian right now), and anthropology and history and the names of trees (most recently learned about monkeypod and rainbow shower trees)… And everything in between.
I want to learn yoga and surfing and scuba diving. I want to learn how to dance and sing and I want to conquer mountains.
And right now, I’m embarking on the adventure of learning the violin. Really learning the violin. I love music. I love, love, love music. And I want to learn how to play music!
This video shows a little bit of the things that go through my head when I’m playing. Especially if other people can hear me.
This isn’t even the worst of it. I struggle. I have PTSD (although I always say “I’m fantastical! whenever anyone asks how I am, no matter how I actually am). And I struggle with a lot of things. Anxiety and panic and flashbacks and nightmares and… I hate it. I don’t want to be that person that’s so haunted by all this negativity.
And low self-esteem, feeling worthless, hating myself. That’s something I am fighting to overcome.
It isn’t just with violin, but with anything I do or try, or when I’m around other people. I’m always struggling. In my mind I’m thinking:
I’m worthless. Why am I playing? I sound awful. Why would I post a picture or a video of myself? I’m ugly. I’m fat. I’m disgusting.
I look awful, and I sound terrible. I should give up. I should just quit. I’m worthless.
I can’t play the violin.
And I can’t yet. That’s what learning is all about. No one begins as an expert. Make mistakes, play horribly, sound terrible, and have fun!
And I have to fight that every day. When people ask me, “How are you?” I give them a bright happy smile and exclaim, “I’m fantastical!!!”
I try to fight the bad things with positive energy. I want to be fantastical. And I am a happy person most of the time. And instead of focusing on what other people think of me, I can focus on being a positive force in the world.
So whenever my brain is like:
I’m worthless. Everyone hates me. I don’t deserve to even breathe the same air as these people. I don’t deserve to be alive.
I just try to chase those thoughts away. And it’s hard for me to think positively about myself, so instead I think:
How can I treat everyone with compassion? How can I bring joy to the people around me?
Because it doesn’t matter if I’m worthless. If I’m letting that negative thought have power over me, and letting the bad things from my past define me, then I’m channeling that negativity into the world. And I refuse to let the bad things win.
So instead, I focus on positivity! And being fantastical! And having compassion. And trying my best to bring joy and happiness and cheer to everyone around me.
Everyone has scars. And you can let those scars define you, or you can fight the sadness or fear with positivity and compassion. Be a positive force in this world! And if you can’t be positive for yourself, be positive to help other people. Making the world a happier and more compassionate place is all of our responsibility. (Or, our kuleana, the Hawaiian word for responsibility.)
Have a fantastical day!
I love this song and I want to learn how to play it on the violin
I love the violin so much. I can’t wait until Thursday! I have my first lesson. I’m going to ask my violin teacher so many questions.
I made a video comparing my Mendini ($130) violin from Amazon, to my new violin I got from a luthier here in Waikiki. ($1000).
I feel like it’s such a dramatic difference. My new violin sounds pretty even with my terrible playing.
Annnd here is me playing 2 of the songs I’ve been practicing today:
I practiced from 11am until 2pm. Only 3 hours… but now I have to go to work. I can’t wait to have more time to practice!!!
So I bought a new violin.
It was $1000. So, not a beginner violin, but also not a violin I’d buy if I was an expert violinist and performing around the world.
I’m meeting with a violin teacher for a lesson on Thursday. I want to learn vibrato. And how to shift positions. And how to strengthen my fourth finger. I will go to great lengths to avoid using my fourth finger when I’m playing.
I’m in love with the violin. I don’t know why I ever stopped playing. And I don’t know why I left my violin on the mainland. Out of all the things I prioritized bringing here, my violin and my books were last. They should’ve been first. Before my gigantic iMac.
I guess I got discouraged and slowly stopped practicing because I don’t sound amazing. And I’ve always lived with roommates and I’m ashamed to have anyone hear me play badly.
I think I’m going to make videos of my practice sessions. And post them on YouTube. Play terribly. Make mistakes. Sound awful. It’s part of the adventure of learning.
$1000 might sound like a lot of money. But my Masters degree cost $100,000 and I don’t even want to pursue that career anymore. People spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on houses. And tens of thousands on cars. Honestly, I will never buy a brand new car. Instead of buying a $20,000 car I could buy a $20,000 violin. So if I ever have $20,000 saved up one day, I’ll buy a violin. Not a car.
My iMac was around $4000. And that loses value. Just like cars. It will never be worth what I paid for it ever again.
A violin doesn’t lose value.
Actually, the store I bought it from has a 100% trade in/upgrade policy. So if I decide to upgrade, my $1000 violin will still be worth $1000. (And I want to save up and buy a violin in the $5000-$6000 range one day, when I’ve taken a lot of lessons and I’ve practiced and I’ve gotten good.
I want to play it all the time. What’s unfortunate is that I’m a night owl. I can’t sleep at night. And I live in a city and I have three roommates in my apartment. I can’t play the violin at night. But I sleep in the mornings. And soon I’ll be taking classes in the mornings and working in the afternoons. I’ll hardly have any time at all to play.
On my days off I’ve been practicing all day. I don’t even eat until it’s too late to play it anymore. I just wanna learn and make beautiful music.
I’m in love with the violin.
I am slowly investing time and money into all these things I want to learn and do. It’s hard. If I had all the money I’d do it all. But I’m saving for a better place to live. Hawaii living situations are ridiculous. And once I have a better spot I’ll have more freedom to practice violin more often.
Everything’s expensive. Rent and deposit, $2000-$3000. Yoga year, $1000. A new violin, $1000. Violin lessons, $400 a month.
For now I’m practicing when no one else is at my house, and in every spare moment.
I went to the violin shop that I’m in love with today and spoke to Nicholas, the owner. I asked him to put tape on my violin because I’m having a lot of trouble learning third and fourth position.
He said to me, “This is a violin. This isn’t a guitar or a ukulele. You want fret boards, play them.” And he handed me my violin and said, “You can hear it. Play it.”
And I started trying to play third position. And the first note I hit perfectly. But that’s the easy note, it starts with your index finger where your ring finger goes in first position. It’s the D note. And then I played E which I hit perfectly because it’s the same sound as the open E string. And then I tried to play F natural, and it was wrong. So I just adjusted, played it again and hit it perfectly. And then F sharp, and G.
“You see? You can hear it. You make a mistake, you hear it, you fix it. This is how you learn.”
I wish he gave lessons because he’s my favorite.
This year I will do all the things.
I know. Modest goals compared to 2016. But this year I will have less money and less time. I’m going to be working full time and be in graduate school full time. I’m going to be busy and have to stay focused on my education and career goals. And for 2017 at least, I’m staying still in Hawaii. I’m not moving again. And traveling back to the mainland or to another country is expensive. I’m going to go to Reykjavik and Zanzibar and Lascaux and San Morino and Barcelona and the Sea of Stars in the Maldives and to Fiji and Townsville in Queensland and to London and ALL the places. One day. But not in 2017
More personal, vague goals:
For this goal, I didn’t meet it. There were days I ran 1 mile, there were days I ran 2 miles. I definitely ran at least 10 miles this year, but not 100 miles. Should I set this as a goal for myself for 2017? Perhaps. I think I’m just going to set a goal of run 10 miles in 1 week at least 1 week out of 2017.
I met this goal! Kind of. I bought a couple months of yoga classes and I attended around 15 yoga classes this year. I bought a yoga mat, which I left on the mainland. But don’t worry, I’m buying another yoga mat. As far as fitness goals, I have also been purchasing a lot of fitness outfits. I have two weeks’ worth of sports bras, running shorts, running tops, workout clothes, and at least a week’s worth of yoga pants.
I’m glad I set these lofty goals for myself for health and wellness, because I’ve slowly but surely been taking steps towards being more healthy. And I’m in love with yoga. It’s $100/month for yoga classes at the yoga studio next door, and guess what? It’s right above this little café that has the most amazing pitaya bowls (and they’re vegan!). I’m going to buy 6 months of classes next week to kick off the new year and I’m going to go at least five days a week for those six months. I love love love yoga. It’s amazing.
I did not meet this goal. I spent money as soon as I made it and I’ve been following that pattern. I bought a $4000 iMac. I bought a $4000 car. (That was really more like a $1000 car). I bought a $200 violin. I bought $500 worth of workout clothes. I bought more money than I care to share on pretty dresses and makeup. I bought beats headphones and a waterproof stereo. I bought an iPhone. I bought a 12″ Macbook. I bought an iPad Pro. I bought an Apple products. Most of my money now belongs to the Apple corporation.
But this year, 2017, I am going to work harder at saving. I’m going to try to save at least $5000 this year. It’s going to be nearly impossible because I’m paying back my student loans AND I’m going to graduate school to get a Masters in Library and Information Science. But I’m going to have $5000 in an actual savings account by the year 2018, goddammit.
I achieved this goal! I worked for New Bedford Public Libraries and I worked in Casa de Saudade Library, Lawler Library, and the Wilks Library. I loved that job more than I’ve loved any job I’ve ever had in my entire life. I loved every second of it, I couldn’t wait to go to work. I would leave work with a smile on my face saying, “I can’t believe I get paid to do this.”
I need to be a librarian. And so I am pursuing a degree in Library and Information Science. I already bought a textbook for one of my classes (that doesn’t even start until August 2017!). And I’ve been reading it and taking notes and smiling a lot. I love love love the library, and I cannot wait to work in a library again.
I applied to UH Manoa graduate school for Library and Information Science and I got accepted!!!
I read a lot of books this year. I don’t remember how many. But here’s a few:
Indie Games– awesome book I just read about independent games and their importance in the gaming industry. It talks about how video games are becoming an art form in their own right, similar to how movies evolved into an art form. It’s a new form of telling a story.
Pax– cute and profound story about a boy and his fox and how war devastates lives.
Blue Hope– a book written by Sylvia Earle, one of my personal heroes, a marine biologist, brilliant scientist, and adventurous aquanaut. It’s about how we can save the oceans and preserve marine life. It’s beautiful and full of wonderful, delightful photographs of the underwater world.
Fables– I re-read the entire series of comics. It’s about fairy tale creatures who live in New York City.
The Strange Library– a Haruki Murakami book. Honestly the actual story was very bizarre, but the book was so cool looking!
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage– another Haruki Murakami book that I found in a drawer at the hotel where I work. I read it in a couple days in between phone calls when I was the phone operator. At first I started reading it out of boredom because there was nothing to do in the slow moments at work. And the book didn’t seem that interesting. It seemed bizarre like Haruki’s books typically are, but more grounded in reality than his other books. And then it got really, really interesting. I actually thought a lot about this book and want to meet someone else who has read it so I can process it.
Ready Player One– Ernest Cline. This was a re-read actually. I was part of a very fantastical book club that one of my best friends, Kristen, started and I tended to convince everyone to choose my books. I love this one. It’s all about video games! Well, video games set in a dystopian future where a young boy from the slums has to save the world. Kind of.
Broken Monsters– a book club book about a magical serial killer in Detroit. Wasn’t my favorite.
Dime– a book that very close to accurately portrays what human sex trafficking actually looks like in America. It got it wrong though. I understand that E.R. Frank is a writer and wants to be dramatic, but come on, if your purpose is to accurately portray something than do that! Don’t go off the deep end into drama about selling infant babies because that’s sexier than a 16 year old on the street making money for her pimp. That’s disgusting. People aren’t going to remember the teenagers in danger in this book, they’re going to hold onto the “selling babies” part of it. “Oh my god, human trafficking is horrible. Babies get sold on the black market.” No. That doesn’t happen. Or, well, I know, it probably does, but that’s not what most human trafficking looks like.
Undeniable– Bill Nye the Science Guy. About evolution and why it’s true, but it’s preaching to the choir because I already know it’s true.
The Rational Optimist– all about how the world is actually getting better and we’re all going to be amazing in the future.
Abundance– another book supporting this theory that the world and human quality of life is improving.
Strangers in Our Own Land– about Republicans and why poor people in Louisiana vote against their own interests. It’s actually really fascinating, but also incredibly frustrating because I just want people to be more logical.
Belle de Jour– book club book. I just don’t think she’s telling the whole truth in this book. She’s clearly been through trauma and is pretending to be full of joie de virve to fight the pain.
Fierce Medicine– Anna Forrest about her yoga practice. A little too dramatic, but I love what she’s saying about yoga being powerful and healing.
The Girl with All the Gifts– about zombies.
I read so many books this year. Bossypants, Yes, Please, The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, We Should All Be Feminists, Men Explain Things To Me, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children… So many books. I definitely met this goal.
Yo aprendí más español en el año dos mil y dies y seis. Pero tengo que aprender más español y practicar más en el año dos mil y dies y siete. Quiero leer muchos libros en español. Quiero leer cuentos de hadas! Quiero leer libros de la biblioteca.
I moved to Hawaii!
I did not go surfing, but I am going to in 2017! I’m living in one of the best places to learn to surf.
Definitely happening in 2017.
I wrote a lot, but not 50,000 words. I’m working on a book though. In 2017, I am going to finish writing my book.
Nope. Nope nope nope. And I’m nope-ing away from this goal.
I am vegan! As of six days ago… But still. I made it to vegan by the end of 2016!
I gained 25lbs! I won the New Year! Haha. No. I weigh 10lbs less than I did at the beginning of the year. I’m continuing this goal though. I want to weigh 87lbs in 2017. Just for like a few days, and then pig out on a bunch of ice cream.
Yep! A few actually. And a manicure.
I’ve been to so many spas this year! Niagara Falls spa, Oahu spa, Maui spa, and Big Island spa. I love the Maui spa. It was like… out of a movie. Like a magical enchanted spa.
I’ve gotten 3 massages this year, at the spa.
I saw Niagara Falls! It was amazing and I went with one of my best friends Amanda Panda.
I saw the Grand effing Canyon!!! I saw Antelope Canyon and Meteor Crater and the Vermilion Cliffs too!
I hugged ALL the rainbow trees!!! Hawaii!!!
I saw the biggest Sequoia on the entire planet. I also saw the redwood forest at Muir Woods. I went to Sequoia National Park in California.
Not only did I visit Provincetown, I visited it with one of my best friends Matt who also worked at the library where I worked. It was so much fun! Matt and I also went to the Whaling Museum in New Bedford together and Matt, Kristen, and I all went to the Boston Museum of Science.
I went hiking on AN ACTIVE VOLCANO! I met Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess. Or at least, I saw where she lives. Or where people believe she lives. I saw petroglyphs and the sea gates and active lava flow. I saw all the lava! It was awesome.
I did so much more this year than just that. I went across the country. I saw the oldest cemetery in the entire country, in Massachusetts. I went to see lighthouses. I went from Portland, Maine, to Portland, Oregon. I saw NASA and touched a space shuttle that has been to the moon and back. I went to the Providence water fire. I went to the grave of Mercy Brown, a reported vampire child. I went floating down a river in Asheville with one of my best friends, Amanda R. I saw so many fireworks this year. I went back to New Orleans and ate rum chocolate chip gelato (zuppa inglese) at Brocato’s and I had a po-boy again. I went to a TARDIS bar with one of my best friends, Little Katie. We had story day at the usual place, Rue de la Course coffee shop.
I saw all the things in Arizona. I saw all the things in California. I saw the Hollywood sign with one of my best friends Adriana. We went to Hollywood and saw the stars of the movie stars on the sidewalk. We went hiking and saw the city. We went to the Los Angeles arboretum and I saw my first rainbow tree there! And a lot of peacocks. And we went to the sand dunes and danced in the desert. And I ran into the Pacific Ocean, my first steps in the Pacific!
I went to the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose! It’s been on my list forever and it was a spontaneous side adventure when I was in San Francisco. I walked across the Golden Gate Bridge. I saw Fisherman’s Wharf, the Castro, and Dolores Park. My last day there I met this really awesome guy from England named Jack who was on holiday in America. He was going to see the Grand Canyon, too.
At the Grand Canyon I also made a friend! Her name is Kelsey and we’ve been sending each other books. She is a teacher in Texas, and just as adventurous as I am.
In San Francisco, I went to Muir Woods too with a couple of my good friends, Annika and Jakki. We had so many laughs. It was such a magical, enchanted day. After the woods we went to this awesome little beach surrounded by cliffs. It was a fun hike and such a great day.
I went to Salt & Straw in Portland, the best ice cream shop I’ve ever met. And I saw Portland things, like this submarine thing (there’s a cooler submarine in New Bedford), and the downtown part with this goofy sign that points in all directions (there’s a more colorful sign like that in New Orleans). Portland library was pretty cool, too.
And then Seattle! I saw the Space Needle and I went to the Seattle Public Library, and it was love at first sight. That library is made of magic. It’s so bright, happy, creative, and colorful. I want to live there. The first level is literally called “The Living Room.” And there’s a desk that someone works at that is literally just the desk for “Book Suggestions.” I want that job! I want to be the Book Suggestions Expert!
There’s a Writer’s Room in the library too, space for people to write! Every single floor is a new adventure. I love, love, love, love, love that library so much. I want to live there. Seriously. When I get my Master’s, I am applying for a job there. I am going to work hard and I am going to work there one day! I solemnly swear.
And then I got on a plane and flew to Hawaii. And now I live here. My life is made of magic.
I know it was last year, but in 2014 I met an astronaut. And I went to Boston Calling music festival and I saw my all-time favorite band Of Monsters and Men there. I saw the Decemberists in concert, too. And Hozier, Alabama Shakes, Daughter, CHVRCHES, Walk the Moon, alt-j, and the Avett Brothers. I love music.
In 2017, I am going to see the Legend of Zelda symphony orchestra. I can’t wait!
I listened to a lot of good music in 2016 too. I discovered rap and hip-hop. I listened to a lot of Beyoncé and I loved every second of Lemonade. I am setting an intention to learn more about music this year too.
I made all my dreams come true. See, that’s the thing with resolutions. People make it like it’s a wish list. Like, Oh it’d be so cool to see the Grand Canyon! I want to have a model’s body. I want to… It’s more like, a dream of what might happen if the world was magic and wishes came true just by saying them.
But you have to work at it. If you want to do something, go do it. Don’t just wish for it and hope it jumps out at you and just happens by magic. Make it happen. Work hard for it. Fight for it. You can do it, you just have to make that choice.
And my dreams come true because I dream it, I work hard, and I grind until I own it. Bring it on, 2017!