Happy

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Lately I’ve been having these little moments where I’m just suddenly really happy for the relationships in my life. For the friends, family, best friends, s/o (Oh, s/o sounds so formal. Boyfriend.) Like today, when we were curled up on the couch, eyes glued to the screen, feeling ambivalent for Eleven in Stranger Things, (leave! Hawkins needs you) munching on take-out Indian.

Sometimes over half-eaten shrimp you’ll take about God. Or over savory soup dumplings you’ll talk about your family. Or, late at night, you’ll toss and turn over strange ballooning hypotheticals that seem, in the mental fatigue and subconscious lair, daunting, terrifying, unbearable. Amid the this’s and that’s, I believe in the buffer hypothesis, that the people in our lives keep us sane and happy and from going sad-stressed-loony. I feel warm, content, okay.

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Date Night

Anniversary. We’d gone out to a comedy show, watched two groups improv-battle it out over dinner and drinks. I remember the guac–partitioned from the salsa, of course– cheesy enchiladas, peering at his eyes, room erupting with peals of laughter, looking towards the stage to see funny girl #2 in pink toppling backwards. I felt buttery, warm, happy. The show was pretty good–the first group was a little awkward; the second group, phenomenal. Things might be funnier when you’re tipsy, but the second group was funny. A duo of pros oozing comic chemistry on-stage. Hilariousness in their own right.

Relief

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Relief, relief, relief now that midterm season is over. Like a weight lifted from my shoulders, my head, my mind, I feel lighter and happier and more myself. I mean, I don’t know, but I just feel so happy. For the first time since, well, I can remember, my professor sent a kind little message saying ‘good job on your midterm!’ At first I thought she’d cc’ed it to a bunch of others, but then I saw that it wasn’t. And that made me feel a little like the toddler who’s given a thumbs up on her underwater sea-life drawing.

I did my presentation yesterday, which my professor also messaged about saying I’d done well on 🙂 The presentation itself was an analysis of a poem, a slightly morbid one, but packed with beautiful imagery. A boy in my class with a nose ring who I’ve never talked to complimented me on it briefly after class. Sometimes I feel paranoid about people who tell me that I’ve presented well after I’ve gotten off-stage/away from the class spotlight–are they just saying it to be nice? so they don’t actually hate me or think I talk too fast? Then, this afternoon, I led the class discussion, which really wasn’t all that bad, and people were fairly engaged, as engaged as they might be after a midterm.

Now I’m breathing, breathing, breathing, breathing, breathing, breathing, breathing. When it comes to school or work, there is a certain degree of intrinsic motivation that pushes me–the feeling of getting shit done, churning out something intelligible, accomplishment. But there is, of course, also the extrinsic motivation, like the notes, the grades, the comments, which doesn’t get in the way of the intrinsic motivation. Instead, they sort of build upon each other, so I move forward on my own with an external push.

On the down side, I’ve pushed socializing to the wayside, as I often do during testing. I have been seeing my best friend regularly, or at least did the past week. Last Thursday we went to the annual mini Oktoberfest, stuffed with free beer and apple cider and food. We reminisced about how time’s passed, how we’ve stuck it through the entire time, then chatted with a mutual friend and his friend, etc. But work loomed over my head, and after a few hours, I ducked out to work on my paper. Then lunch with a friend from class, a late-night tea hang-out, but otherwise things that got sandwiched between one round of work and another. After 14 hours it became difficult to mask the exhaustion, which showed as I talked dryly on the phone.

Now I feel myself becoming more, well, myself. In about two months I’ll have to go through this whole process again for finals, but it’s okay. Taking life as it comes.

Attitude of Gratitude

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” – Eckhart Tolle

It’s been a minute since I’ve sat down and counted my blessings, been actively grateful for what I have in life. Ironically, I’ll do this sort of thing when I’m at my lowest. So it’ll be in fits of sadness or confusion or negative what-have-you’s that I’ll write out the things that make me happiest. Projects I’ve embarked on in the past three years: three good thing that happened today and why; 100 happy days; list of reasons to be happy, stuff like that. But when I am cruising on happiness and genuinely content, as I am now, and as I have been, I’ll do everything but. 

The daily quote by Tolle on Momentum, a Chrome installation, reminds me otherwise. So, in the spirit of acknowledging the good, and not just when it’s bad, here are 10 things that in my life that, well, bring me happiness. Or at the very least, that I am grateful for. Continue reading

Solar Eclipse

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Shadows, passing moon, a darkening sky. Even though it’s ten degrees cooler my dress is sticky with sweat. I’m holding up a bright yellow Cheerios box that reflects the sky since I didn’t order solar eclipse glasses in time (you can’t see it with the naked eye–you’ll go blind). When I look inside the box, I see a little orb of whitish blinding sun glaring at me from the back of box; I see a black dot, the Moon! inching across the orb.

The Solar Eclipse: when the homewrecking Moon passes between Sun and Earth.

Some parts of the country saw the solar eclipse in its totality. Others, only partially. If you google solar eclipse, you’ll find a ringlet-of-fire-looking thing–the sun’s corona–staring back at you the way it did in my textbooks. That’s what the people in its path today saw. Alas, I didn’t, not in its entirety. Taken from the small cut-out opening, this picture shows the blurry partial eclipse seen from my location. The sun looks, ironically, like a little moon where the moon passes over.

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Like seeing science in the flesh. I remember the first time I peered into the telescope to see a massive spotty Jupiter staring right back. I experienced less an epiphany than I did surprise: I knew the planets were there, but they’d always been more…conceptual to me. Science had always been removed by textbooks, grades, illustrations to recreate. Earth was a plastic globe spinning on my pre-k teacher’s desk–according to her, it rotated constantly, and I imagined it spun on its own at night. In physics, in astro, I memorized definitions, calculated coordinates, listened to songs about stars in the sky, but I didn’t always get it, just regurgitated for the grade.

But for a moment, today, I got it. The sheer coolness of solar eclipse wasn’t so much about it being the first in several years (there’ll be another in 2024), or the well-publicized hype. It was more of a small a-ha moment, when things clicked in my head, when textbook definition met astro illustration met real life demonstration. Like in the fourth grade when I watched vinegar and baking soda bubble volcano-ey; like in sophomore Chemistry when my teacher said, “there’s no such thing as cold, only the absence of heat”. Like the moment I understood that basics and acids, when combined, neutralize to create salt and water. Quirky instances of science that, at some point, sunk in beyond the understanding-for-a-grade level.

And today it sunk in–the light-spitting corona; a massive crater-riddled Moon. Us, wee little people, pointing paper glasses towards the sky, oohing and aahing on a (carbon) coughing-sputtering earth.

Six Flags

….was insane. In the past four years, I’ve gone to Six Flags thrice. Of all the times I’ve gone, this time was the absolute best, hands down.

As my friend once said, “the faster, the bigger, the scarier, the better”. We rode the 2nd scariest ride three times, the scariest ride twice, a moderately scary ride three times, and basically any other extreme thrill ride that didn’t just spin around. To make things infinitely better, there were no lines. So on each ride, we either rode at the very front–for the view, the incline, the steep regret as we swooped over metal criss-crossed beams-or the back, for the whip (It’s a physics thing: roller coasters feel fastest in the back, mildest in the middle).

My favorite moment was probably when, at the top of a vertical ride, we paused, stopped screeching, looked to the 90 degrees below–right at that moment, the full-bearded man behind us look threw his hands up and bellowed, “take me down, Jesus!”

And down we went.

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The eight and a half hours flew by. Drenched in sweat (and fun!), we rode each thrill ride on my list with time to spare. This time around, unlike the past five times I’ve been at amusement parks, I memorized the map, marked out must-go rides, then made a mental path, so we wouldn’t waste time wandering back and forth. On the walk to rides, we stopped for Giant turkey legs and funnel cake, Six Flags cllllassics.

Ironically, I probably felt the most terror on the seemingly delicate swing ride. Much to my dismay, I had confused it for the miniature version. Instead of being calming, it turned out to be terrifying, hurling us up 400 feet in the air. Toes dangling hundreds of feet in the air, above lakes, coasters, Lego-like cars and buildings, with nothing but chains to connect us to the structure, we bellowed for dear life: “oh god, you said this was supposed to be calming!” Plot twist: it wasn’t.

After the swing ride, we got onto yet another ostensibly calm ride. This time, we faced a terrified five year old gripping onto her youngish dad, with whom we shared regular “oh!’s throughout the ride.

Turn. “Oh–” Shift. “Oh!” Dip, swivel, glide. “Oh?” Another dip. “Oh, haha!” It was delightfully awkward.

To end the night, we trekked across to the other side of the park to where we began: at the scariest ride. I think, though, that after time, you get used to the stomach-drops, steep dips (when I dip, you dip, we dip), barrels of regret and fear coursing through your veins. At any rate, we left the park at closing time feeling exhausted and exhilarated.

Kayaking Adventures

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Distant mountains, swaying trees, basking turtles and a view of the city up ahead. It was, by all means, beautiful. But we weren’t here to enjoy the sight. We were here to aggressively kayak to some arbitrarily-determined location three bridges away.

“Let’s get down to business! To defeat the huns!” I paddled emphatically. Water splashed in our kayak.

When it started to get hot, I declared, “toes in the water!”

An hour later, we’d arrived at our (again, arbitrarily-determined destination): the triple arched bridge. Arms sore, clothes drenched and tired, we looked back to realize we couldn’t see where we’d begun. We’d also reached our one hour limit. So for the next forty five minutes, we alternated between drifting/wailing and aggressive paddling. We almost ran into a turtle and definitely ran into another kayaker before finally reaching the dock soaked in lake water.