July 30th, 2020
I so badly want to work in a hospital one day. They’re massive, yet organized structures and internal intellectual chaos inspire me to absolutely no end. The healthcare workers are the often the ones praised as the heroes, especially now amid the Coronavirus pandemic, but there’s another subset of fighters too: the patients. They’re all fighting for their own lives (to different degrees of severity of course), but none the less working just as hard as their clinical care team. Whether their immune system is compromised from intense chemotherapy or a 15 year old dangles their feet over the hospital bed with plaguing suicidal ideation, they’re all battling life versus nature — modern medicine versus natural selection. Everyone in a hospital, staff or clientele, has a life or lives that they are responsible for. Even the praying loved ones sitting anxiously in the hospital’s waiting room have a life they’re indirectly fighting for.
Doctors, technicians, insurance workers, nurses, surgeons, residents, lab workers, corporate lawyers, other hospital staff, and even the cleaning/maintenance crew all have a designated purpose for saving those lives. You can’t have a hospital rampid with infectious disease from the previous patient who just got back from 9 months in Rwanda, because the sterile ventilation system throughout the ducts of the hospital malfunctioned. That would be catastrophic to those immunocompromised patients and infants alike. There is literally no wasted space nor role, and most certainly no time to waste either when most everything is a matter of life or death.
A logistical masterpiece stems from the system of EMT’s to the hospital’s rotation of staff to the white blood cells in a patient’s immune system; they’re all fighting for life. Of course, by virtue of being intricately thought-out, does not guarantee it will work like clock work. In fact, most of the time it doesn’t. Hospital can only handle so many patients at once, until overflow must spill into neighboring clinics and other hospitals. EMT’s can become overrun with calls across county lines, insurance policies can often override a patient’s degree of care, and and there are only so many nurses to staff the ranging speciality wards of the hospital. Organized chaos is the best way to describe. There’s a code of ethics, surgical procedures, code protocols, time shifts, and other tools in place to instill as much organization as possible, but prep and planning can only go so far. With so many different individual operations feeding into the master healthcare system, chaos is bound to strike sometimes.
Within this gracefully organized chaos is where I desire to live my professional life.
July 2nd, 2020
My bike is a symbol of independence. It is also a privilege, both the physical simple machine and the ability to be able to ride it freely. A nice bike it is; drop bar, 12 speed, internal cable routing, carbon fork, gravel tire beauty. I am eternally grateful to have this bike, my bike, to roam free as I please.
I do have a driver's license, but commuting via bike is actually faster considering the heavy SF Bay-Area traffic. I am a master of public transport as well; the CalTrain is my longer commute vehicle. Read the post below (June 15th) for a deep dive into my love for the CalTrain.
My bike and I run -- or rather ride -- on our own time. Of course sometimes in accordance with the train schedule, but for the most part I go and come as I please. No traffic to worry about or gas to pay for, just the occasional air in the tubes.
That's all; bikes cool.
June 15th, 2020
A ferroequinologist is a person who studies trains and a railfan is a train enthusiast. I am a railfan, but not quite a ferroequinologist. Trains, steam engines, locomotives, or whatever you want to call this specific, large, moving metal tube; I love them.
My local train, the CalTrain, runs from San Jose to San Francisco. They feature 26 total stations and 20 diesel locomotives with a total of 73 bi-level passenger cars. I think my admiration for the CalTrain is best described through the following artist statement from my senior year, AP photography final:
This series attempts to showcase the local CalTrain: a conduit from suburb to city. It is much more than a large, metal tube used for intercity transportation. The train is a culmination of folk: freedom for the teenage spirit, home for the homeless, a timely bustle for the working class, a designated driver for the weekend’s party-goers, and someone’s career and livelihood. Many different stories lie between the tattered seat cushions and the steel cars, strung together by the countless late trains and lost tickets. The images represent a unique micro-ecosystem in which these individual worlds collide into awkward silence as a stranger takes the seat next to you. This balance of space and time is one of the only places where all walks of life will come together.
My favorite train car is the northern most bike car in CalTrain's gallery locomotives. Equipped to handle 48 bikes (4 per rail) and its riders, the car always fills to the brim during rush hour. For courtesy purposes, each rider is strongly encouraged to fit their bike with a small tag detailing their to and fro destination. This way, the bikes can be arranged in such a way where someone getting off at a sooner station does not have their bike buried behind others.
The upper most level of the bike cars (and all the cars) houses 13 single seats on the left and right side of the gallery. Large windows line about two seats each. Sitting up there never gets old for me. I always station my self on the opposite side of my bike, in order to keep a watchful eye on my beauty. Once seated, I resume my usually modern alternative/indie music and disappear into the motion of the train. Just me, the dynamic window scape, and my thoughts. It is a space for me to be free in my head, while hidden in the bustle of the familiar sounds of this grand locomotive. Every once in a while, a conductor will come by and check tickets and or clipper cards. I am mindful of my music volume and the station announcements over the loud speaker. Every time I get off the train, I anticipate my next ride in motion.
Visit www.caltrain.com for a virtual visit, but only a ride yourself will do my words justice.
June 13th, 2020
My relationship with death: a satirical op-ed. I, my 18 year old self, have shook heads with Death. It was a rather firm handshake I must say. Not an intimidating one though, just a rather alluring grip. I shook hands with death (picture the Grim Reaper from The Sims kind of scenario) and said no thank you. "No thank you Mr. Death, I would rather not associate with you right now."
I wish I could say it's not personal, but in fact it really is very personal. I've shook hands with Death more than once in my life so far, and I finally decided to say "no thank you." Death never did anything good for me despite his alluring nature. Death offered me an escape, a drug with an infinite yet blinding high. Once I was able to see through those blind spots (via gained self awareness from learned experiential knowledge), I was then capable of turning my head away from death himself.
I danced with death for far too long, and I am done with that tango now. Of course, Mr. Death is not done with me. Death will always be near because he is a natural part of life for some --- the elder. And as my again, 18 year old self, I choose not do be personally affiliated with Mr. Death right now. Of course, he is going to invade my life at some point in time, whether that be via a loved one, a friend, an unfortunate accident, or a sorrow illness. Yet I refuse to let death take over my mere 18 year old life as it stands right now.
May 21st, 2020
Just because you're over shelter in place does not mean it's over. Check out my physics final here if you so please to do so. I don't know if anyone reads this, but that's not why I do it any-way. I write these words and publish them on the internet because just the thought of people maybe reading my work makes me smile. I don't care if zero or ten or ten thousand people read this. I just enjoy putting my words out here for the internet to browse, in case someone cares to read my two cents.
That's my two cents for today, enjoy.
May 17th, 2020 (It's a biggie)
Is there really such thing as a mistake? What is the difference between a mistake and an error? These are two questions that were recently posed to me, and I intend to answer them with the fullest of my past experiences, present knowledge, and intense internet research.
Merriam Webster defines a mistake as: an action or judgment that is misguided or wrong. An error is defined as: an unintentional deviation from the truth, accuracy, or correct code of behavior. It should also be noted that amongst the definition of error is also: a mistake. So they are the same thing, but they aren't? The two words exist for definitive and separate purposes, so there must be something distinguishing one from the other. Upon further internet digging, a found a bit more of a clear cut difference. An error is based upon a lack of know- ledge; machines make not mistakes. But then what exactly is a mistake?
Rather than taking the analytical English linguistics route, I opted for the human psyche route. Out of all places on the internet, this lead me to the United Kingdom's Center for Health and Safety. There, I found a nice and neat pdf explaining to me the two different types of human error: an unintentional action or decision. There are skill based errors and mistakes within the umbrella of human error. Skill based errors include slips of action (not doing what one is meant to do) and lapses or memory (forgetting to do or complete a task). These are seen to be a general lack of conscious attention. Then there's the second type of human error: mistakes. Mistakes are generally a decision making failure or a failure in planning. There are two types of mistakes: rule based and knowledge based mistakes. As the name may give it away, rule based mistakes occur when a particular rule or set of rules is disregarded, and a knowledge based mistake is simply caused by a lack of knowledge or experience about the particular task at hand. Thus, novice people are more prone to make mistakes. They arise when the person does the thing, all while thinking they are doing the thing.
Now that's just me regurgitating what I read on a tidy government pdf. My thoughts of mistakes and errors goes a little something like this: errors are like a brain fart. They are a distraction of sorts because the person performing the task was not conscious enough to realize their error in the present moment. That little bit is important -- People often don't realize their errors as the occur because they simply cannot compute them. This may be because the person is under 25 years of age (the pre-frontal cortex is not fully developed until around that age) or because they are under the influence of drugs. What ever it is, it's like a temporary faulty wiring in a computer -- something that inhibits the person from computing.
Errors appear to be more socially acceptable than mistakes -- why is that? "Mistakes are often a decision making failure or a failure in planning," you may recall me stating earlier. Can someone really plan for every turn in their life though? One can certainly try to map all possible outcomes, but humans are mistake prone! Mistakes are too often tied to failures -- one makes a mistake, thus they are a failure. The more mistakes, the more of a one is. It's a simple yet lucrative logic trap.
"There is no such thing as a mistake, just an opportunity to do something else." That's a quote from British illustrator Ralph Steadman. Really sticking to the British theme today. Mistakes are really, truly, an opportunity to learn. Often, our brain is so caught up in the pain or loss from the making of a particular mistake to simultaneously notice the opportunity for growth. Negative emotions (pain, loss, fear, etc) limit one's ability to see growth, but that doesn't mean they cannot grow. Whether it's conscious or subconscious growth, it's there and that's what matters.
So, after all of this, is there really such thing as a mistake? I believe so, there is such thing as a mistake. But do I believe in the negative connotation and shameful nature around mistakes? No, I certainly do not. I think it is important that we have words to recognize moments that may be classified as mistakes. Otherwise, how would we learn from our mistakes if we cannot even identify them? It's crucial to knowledge the wrong that someone has done where they can grow from that wrong-doing. How can I do thing differently next time? Where exactly did I go wrong here? These are just some identifying questions when it comes to the growth process, and ultimately transformation.
May 15th, 2020
I have two weeks left of high school left. Two weeks, two final projects, three AP tests (Spanish, photography, and stats), and a couple of thank-you laters to send to those who helped me make the most of my high school career.
I have this final project for English -- my creative writing class. It consists of three parts: a written piece, a visual art piece, and an artist statement. Needless to say, I am extremely excited about this project. I've decided to treat it as PhD thesis of sorts. It is a visual and artistic culmination of my high school career and how those four years made me the senior that I am today.
When I think of the defining moments of the past four years, most of them aren't exactly the happiest of memories. It's not like getting my driver's license or turning 18. Rather, it's the hardships that I have survived and learned a whole hell of a lot from that have really made me the resilient person I am today. Most of those moments for me happen to be related to my mental health. Thus, my English final project will be surrounding my mental health journey, its highs, the lows, and how I would not trade my struggles and my narrative for the world.
So, stay tuned for the two weeks I have left to finish (and start!) this journey of a project.
May 5th, 2020
Today is national teacher appreciation day. Go send your teachers a thank-you email, they'll appreciate it more than you think.
I contacted a local tattoo artist today. I am hoping to get something before I go to college -- something small to commemorate the closing of this chapter and the beginning of the next.
May 3rd, 2020
"Maybe You Should Talk to Someone," by Lori Gottlieb -- thoughts. God damn best book I have read in a while. Her writing style is seamless-- her ability to combine three different narratives (her personal past, her personal present, and her patient's narratives) is stunning.
There is often a heavy stigma surrounding therapy and general mental health care, especially for those who have not had any prior experience. Gottlieb's personal and professional narrative gives light to the importance of communication, whether that be through therapy or just a friend. She imbeds critical life lessons into her words and then exemplifies them through her own patient's developing stories.
I wish everyone could read this book. Therapy is not a dirty word. Therapy is not just for the severely mentally ill. Therapy is for those that need a little extra help processing their emotions. It's a very insightful quarantine read.
May 2nd, 2020
Silence is only awkward if you make it awkward. I used to be afraid of the silence. That was until I found the value in the awkward silence.
Silence is the only time that you are truly able to experience your feelings. Feelings as raw as they come. Silence allows time for the feelings to percolate and forces "the feeler" to confront those feelings -- whether that be internally and/or externally. Feelings translate to behavior, so once someone is able to recognize, acknowledge and understand their own feelings, they can better orient their behaviors and change as needed.
Silence is a gift in disguise.
April 26th, 2020
It's been 18 days. Just a small hiatus. In the last 18 days, I have eaten many bananas, read my current book (Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb), written a 112 word love story, achieved a Birkenstocks tan, and checked many things off my many do-to lists. I have also started a to-read book list. Here it is:
1. Building a Life Worth Living (Marsha Linehan)
2. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (Oliver Sacks)
3. Stick Figure (Lori Gottlieb)
4. Bird by Bird (Anne Lamott)
5. Talking to Strangers (Malcom Gladwell)
That is all ... for now.
April 8th, 2020
Official update on Mission #exposeKiehl's: corporate has responded to my complaint via email. They replied with "We are always looking for ways to improve our products and services. Your comments will be passed along to others in our company for consideration. Please visit our website often to learn more about our latest offerings." Essentially, it's just a bunch of baloney!
In other news ... actually I have no other news. Life is pretty mundane these days.
April 5th, 2020
Today is day 2 of using Kiehl's men's "Facial Fuel." I have not yet sprouted a hipster-like beard. I am gravely disappointed. I will be contacting customer support immediately. Here's the email:
I am curious as to why there are different skin care products for men. We are all human after all -- we all have skin. Am I wrong? What happens if I don't identify as a man or a woman, what skin care products should I use? I am not a biological male, although I have been using the men's line for some time now. Why have I not sprouted a glorious hipster beard? This is ridiculous, a non-binary skin care line is essential too. Thank you for your time.
April 4th, 2020
Ok so, not only are digital voice assistants gendered, but so are most main stream product marketing campaigns. Why is my dad's face wash titled "Facial Fuel" while my female friend's is "Morning Beauty Mist?" There's no major chemical difference between the two, and there is certainly no difference between the sex's skin. SO WHY DO WE NEED SEPARATELY MARKETED FACE WASH? What if someone doesn't identify as male or female -- so then what? Is this a call to action for cosmetic companies to make non-binary specific face wash? I am not male, so thus am I barred from using the men's face wash? Spoiler alert: I used my dad's "Facial Fuel" this morning and I feel no more male or any less female.
Face wash has no gender. Period.
April 1st, 2020
Today, I went biking with my girlfriend. We climbed (3,500 ft!) and cruised through 42 miles of Portola Valley and Woodside. I wouldn't call myself a biker yet -- I'm a runner by trade, but an athlete by all forms.
I also found out today that I will not be going back to school for the rest of my senior year. Online learning will continue until June 4th, and then somehow myself and the rest of my peers will all (virtually?) graduate on that day too.
It is an under statement to say I am disappointed; I am devastated. I will not have a senior prom with my girlfriend, never attend another high school class with my amazing teachers, and I won't get to decorate my cap the night before graduation.
The thing I am most disappointed about is my senior track season. Like I said above, I am a runner by trade. My mom and dad both were runners in their younger days, and I've been running competitively since the second grade! After missing out on my junior cross country and track season, I was ready for a comeback. Not a "comeback" in the sense of crushing the competition, but rather just to comeback and be proud of my best efforts against the clock. Sure, I am running in college at the NCAA division III level, but I didn't think my senior season opener would also be my closer. Never again will I experience the distinct feeling of lactic acid burn in my legs as I round the final turn. With 200 meters to go and my teammates cheering their hearts out for me, it is a feeling like no other. It never gets old either, pre and post finish line rush.
March 31st, 2020
I stumbled upon a very interesting podcast today: The Psych Files, by Dr. Michael Britt. With over 300 episodes and 13 years in the making, it is one of the longest running podcasts ever.
I listened in on one exploring the relationship between gender and digital voice assistant (VA). Why is it that most major VA's are feminized. Apple's Siri, Amazon's Alexa, and Microsoft's Cortana all have female voices. Britt goes on to talk about possible causes and consequences of this and to even test his own Amazon Alexa with his wife. Women are usually seen as the "helpers" of the household, so it makes logical sense that these digital voice assistants would be feminized as well. This phenomena only goes on to perpetuate gender stereotypes.
The part of this that I found most intriguing was the people that capitalized on this perceived issue: Equal AI. This digital voice assistant is known as "Q." Q is the world's first genderless voice. Made my combining hundreds of voices from non-binary people around the world and then perfecting their pitch, Q is binary fighting AI. Although it is not available to your own Siri or Alexa yet, you can still listen for yourself here.
I find it fascinating that we live in an era where artificial intelligence can fight real world inequalities, one start-up at a time.
March 27th, 2020
The peacekeeper does not have to always be silence, and nor does silence equal peace.
During my freshman year of high school, we read Shakespeare's infamous "Romeo and Juliet." Everyone in my class was assigned a role to play (or read). Coincidently, I was given the role of Benvolio. If you know near to nothing about this book (most don't, so no worries), Benvolio is generally known as the "peacekeeper" of the character cast.
I once had a teacher of mine call me a silent leader.
I don't believe in coincidences. I believe in fate. My puny role of Benvolio was thus, not in fact coincidental. It was a quiet parallel that would not come to expose itself until today -- about three and a half years after it occurred. The latter of the parallel is simply: me. I am a silent leader, if you so must. "Silent" refers to my calm and calculated persona. I am not a leader to blear out their words. And yet, that doesn't mean I am not the leader to take charge. I do take charge when needed, and prefer to use my voice to a minimum. I believe a leader's power lies not in their physical voice, but in their words. I believe words deserve all the time in the world.
What is the difference between fate and destiny?
March 26th, 2020
I miss my teachers. I miss flashing them a small smile as I walk into their room each morning and saying "thank you," to them at the end of each class period. I miss interacting with my peers whom I am not close enough to just non- chalantly text, but we were somewhat of friends inside the classroom.
Essentially, I miss the people part of school. I never though I would hear myself say (write) that. Historically, I am not much of a people person. Don't get me wrong, I am not not a people person, I just am not an extroverted socialite. I am rather calculated when it comes to social interactions, especially with people who I have just met or am trying to impress. This usually goes for teachers or anyone that I work with (students and adults).
I raise my hand in class, but I make sure not to raise my hand too much to the point where it may seem to others as though I am a teacher's pet. I am observant of all the kids in my class. I know if they do their work with effort, slack off, are disruptive, diligent, popular, or what not. I make a little profile in my head for each of my peers. Thus, when it comes time to work in a group project, I make my choices wisely. I'm usually the "leader" of group projects. I take charge, but not in a dominant way. I'm the person who asks the group, "Ok, what role would you like to take," and make sure everyone is aware of their task. I am a natural leader. I have also been called a silent leader before.
I enjoy leading or guiding groups of people towards a greater good or one common goal. It gives me a sense of purpose, especially when the people I am working with are passionate about the goal in mind too. When I think of myself as a leader, I do not think of myself as superior to everyone else. We're all on the same playing field -- working as one -- and I just may happen to have the role of leader. That doesn't mean that others can't lead with me either. Leader is not a black and white, one man for himself term. Nothing is in this world.
March 23rd, 2020
I enjoy solace time. I can't say "I like being alone," people tend to have a negative reaction to that. But "solace," solace is different. Solace is a peaceful time for self reflection. Alone time signifies a desire to wallow in ones own feelings, alone. It is a time when they do not want to be around others. Meanwhile, solace is socially acceptable. Solace is healthy, while the desire to be alone is not. That is the message I often receive from others.
Where am I to get a haircut during this shelter in place? I think I might have to cut my own hair. That is a scary thought.
March 22nd, 2020
Every day, starting promptly around 10:45pm, my neighbor begins to play their violin. I live in an apartment building (as most do in San Francisco), and the walls of fairly thin. I say "every day," although this is a rather new undertaking -- new for the current quarantine.
March 20th, 2020
Today was a fine day. When I say "fine," I mean exquisite, pleasant, or pleasing. Not the average "fine" when someone asks you how you are. Not "fine" as in barely above the surface but I'm just gonna smile through it and swallow my words. A fine-ass day is suiting.
Lately, I've had a lot of time to think. My latest spawn of thought: the vast and powerful beauty in human emotion. Raw emotions can be daunting, yet striking as well. It reminds me of the Golden Gate Bridge. It it most certainly striking; a beautiful piece of pure forgery and an engineering marvel. People come from all of the world to witness the staple of the Silicon Valley and larger Bay Area.
What if I told you the Golden Gate Bridge is second most popular suicide, just trailing the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge in China. There are believed to be a total of 1,600 "jumpers" from the Golden Gate, although not all bodies have been recovered. In 2017, the city approved funding for a suicide barrier.
Does this change your maybe picture-perfect perception of the Golden Gate? Does it deter this image, or does it rather simply expand your perspective of the bridge? It is only the truth, and the truth does not lie about the bleak after all.
Human emotion, in all its power and purity, often takes the same effect. This "power in beauty and in bedevil," effect of sorts. Love is beautiful, and love hurts. Pain can be ... well ... painful, yet pain can be beautiful. The scars that you may bear, the scars that I bear, are beautiful. They make of come from my pain and certainly do bring back times of struggle, but they tell a story. The story of the light that came from my darkness. I took my narrative of struggle, and made something more out of it. After all, humans are a sum of all their past experiences. I would not be here today without the good and the bad and the in betweens.
Seemingly opposite emotions can co-exist. Purpose doesn't spawn from the black and white world, but rather than grey scale nuances of life.
March 19th, 2020
Someone asked to expand on yesterday's writing. Thus, I shall respect the people's wishes. I don't think there is any data of this sorts yet (or available to the public eye), so my best inference is as good as yours.
Gathering from my personal experiences and friend's as well, the current shelter in place scenario is proving to be rather distressing for those with mental illness. Specifically, people who struggle with OCD, any eating disorder, or anxiety disorder seem to be having a more difficult time right now. These three mental illnesses are often fueled by rumination, and as misery loves company, rumination loves time. That is, endless amounts of time and boredom trapped between the four walls of your "shelter."
For me, what I have found to work the best in the midst of my mental health is to keep myself busy. Fortunately, this is not a difficult ask for me, as I am easily entertained. Like a small child one might say. Today is day number four of quarantine, but the first few days were a bit rocky. I spent most of my time in my room just trying to figure out what to do with my time. This proved rather unproductive, but a perfect spot for my depression to sneak in. I was thus reminded a lot of (and relived) the times of my hospitalization -- counting down the hours until you "get out." As one may assume, these aren't the most pleasant of memories.
Flash forward to now (day four), and I have stopped taking "depression naps," and have also migrated quarantine locations to my dad's place. I am full of quiet hope. I've also found that taking things day by day, hour by hour, helps be not only compartmentalize my day, but also my thoughts. Day by day, "bird by bird" (a book I recommend, by Annie Lamott).
March 18th, 2020
Alrighty, I have never done this before. Well, I've written words and formed coherent sentences, but never have I ever shared my words with the internet.
I am very curious as to how this COVID-19 business is affecting the number of emergency psychiatric evaluations. Are there generally fewer now because people are sheltering in place? Or are house-bound people, left with all this time on their hands to ruminate, feeling more emotionally unstable?