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

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Indie Throwback Playlist

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The kind you might drunkenly sing at the top of your lungs in the middle of the night post-Comedy house laughs, boozy Oreo milkshakes and whirring pinball games that you win by, oh, thirty million points.

  1. Someday, The Strokes
  2. Take Me Out, Franz Ferdinand
  3. Young Folks, Peter Bjorn and John
  4. Riptide, Vance Joy
  5. Where Did Your Heart Go Missing?, Rooney
  6. Midnight City, M83
  7. Ho Hey, The Lumineers
  8. Tighten Up, The Black Keys
  9. I Wanna Be Yours, Arctic Monkeys
  10.  A-Punk, Vampire Weekend
  11. Oxford Comma, Vampire Weekend
  12. Float On, Modest Mouse
  13. Mardy Bum, Arctic Monkeys
  14. What You Know, Two Door Cinema Club
  15. Stolen Dance, Milky Dance
  16. Are You Gonna Be My Girl, Jet
  17. Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked, Cage The Elephant
  18. No You Girls, Franz Ferdinand
  19. Sweet Disposition, The Temper Trap
  20. Welcome to the Black Parade, My Chemical Romance

(Honestly I’m so happy right now my heart might just explode.)

An Update (Raises Juicebox)

disposable film 35mm photography philadelphia architectureHe-llo, world, WordPress, world of WordPress. I haven’t been on the past week since–as you may or may not know–it’s the first week of school. And so I’ve been getting into the school grind, seeing friends, going to class, wandering around campus. Most things haven’t changed–my best friendship and our musical jams; talking to strangers in coffeeshops; subsisting primarily on food truck food. And yet other things have–I have my own space (insert gentle chorus of angels); there’s a new wave of freshman….and I can’t think of the last difference.

Anyhow. It’s nice being back, albeit a little noisy. I forget how loud the city can be. I’m still getting settled in, but that’s probably not entirely true, since I currently have copious amounts of free-time. Even so, I haven’t been writing or drawing much. The most art I’ve really done is some figure drawing in an old sketchbook. I used that sketchbook most during my second year second semester, probably one of the (literally) sunniest semesters I’ve had here. I’d carry it around, then sketch the people around me: classmates, teachers, strangers, you name it. A girl at the cafe saw my sketchbook two days ago, started talking to me, and then we spoke for two hours.

My best friend is happy. And I, too, am happy. Yesterday I joked about how, after all these years, our moods had finally synced up. When she first met me, I was sad. A year later, she was sad. And now, finally, we are no longer sad, but content and happy, musical like chirping birds. For a few hours I sat at the piano playing songs by ear while she belted them in a crowded lobby. I used to live there, felt self-conscious of how many people were by the piano. But it was different yesterday, because neither she nor I cared about who was there, so it was easier to jam without hesitation.

In retrospect, most life dampeners from the years before were people-related. Antagonized roommates, confused people (?), sad friends, not-particularly-helpful-advice-bellowing acquaintances. That, for a handful of reasons, probably won’t be as much of an issue this year. For whatever reason, the actual school part–where you do homework and take tests–was never quite as stressful as the emotionally-knotted people situations. I can handle a school curriculum. I cannot, however, handle a bunch of mixed emotions and passive aggressive text and noisy people.

But, well, obviously not all people are aggravating. A few days ago I watched The Conjuring with my friend, posed as a freshman to get into a poorly executed dessert reception; got bubble tea and played Connect Four; introduced my past froomie to Chewing Gum; walked past the bridge to get sno-cones; caught up with the best. When I talk about my schedule, the people in my life chuckle about it. After taking, for whatever absurd reason, a 9 AM my first year, I quickly resolved to have a manageable schedule where I can sleep like a panda, eat like a cat, and do well.

I’m excited. Here’s to a good year. -raises juicebox-

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. 

Oasis

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Around us, people mingled and posed and photographed the sunset. Like a citrus smoothie, the white-yellow sun dipped into the sky, the reddish orange pinks melted into water–then a tap on the shoulder and a “hi, can you take a picture of us?”

I don’t blame her. Or the countless others with cameras aimed towards the sky (I was one. With three cameras) The view was breath-taking. And we were high up, too: on the drive, we’d looped up and around the rocky hills. It reminded me of California, with its steep roads and inclines.

So I’ll cut to the chase–let’s just say we found ourselves at the crowded sweltering restaurant on a hill. To our right were fancy homes (and lucky homeowners). To our left, tourists and restaurant-goers and sight-seers. The place was packed, a hive of sweaty well-dressed vibes. We slipped into the bar for a fruity pink smoothie, then wandered around the three stories. Once it was dark, we speed-walked back to the parking garage hungry and exhilarated.