October Concerts

This past month has been beyond busy.  From school to travel to the quintessential adult world errands.  However, I have been able to make time and go to a few concerts this month.  Sadly my camera wasn’t allowed into the venues so I only have iPhone quality photos, but nonetheless I had an amazing time.

Concerts are so worth going to, especially in NYC where amazing artists are coming through each week.  I’ve discovered that despite not knowing some of the artists whose concerts I attended, the environment was phenomenal every time and everything from the acoustics to the stage lighting made me fall in love with live music a little bit more.  So without further ado..

Fresh 102.7’s Fall Fest @ The Beacon Theater ft. The Fray, Daughtry, American Authors, Kodaline & Dog Society

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Daughtry

Daughtry

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The Fray

Ben Rector @ Irving Plaza

To be honest, we attended this show mainly for the opening act, Tyrone Wells.  But it was a great concert and Ben Rector was so entertaining.

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Didn’t get a good picture of Ben Rector sorry ):

Frightened Rabbit @ Webster Hall

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Frightened Rabbit
Serenading the audience from a balcony.

Serenading the audience from a balcony.

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It was also such a plus that 2/3 concerts were so close to where I live.  Close proximity = being able to wait in line earlier and getting better views.  It also means getting home and resting my tired legs in less than 10 minutes.

 I also got to see Run River North although that was more of a community event than a concert.DSC_0491 DSC_0492 DSC_0493DSC_0481

Manhattan

So it’s actually been awhile since I’ve moved here, and even longer since I’ve updated this blog, but I’ve been feeling bouts of inspiration lately and also the urge to do a lot of documentation of these next few years.  There are some new directions I hope to take this blog, firstly with the incorporation of photography and secondly with a focus on sights and foods, since I seem to be doing a lot of eating these days.  I haven’t used my camera too much since I’ve gotten here, but this will be a series of the events I did get to document.

Yankee Stadium

Yankees vs. Red Sox

Legends

Legends

My Birthday Dinner @ Qi

Shrimp Cakes

Shrimp Cakes

Pad Thai

Pad Thai

City and Colour @ Central Park

City and Colour

Trains

There is something about trains that make them a special type of transportation.  They take less time than traveling by car, but more than traveling by plane.  Maybe it’s the way that trains are transient, allowing you to catch a head or tail, a blur of color, before disappearing.  Maybe it’s the way that it winds through the most unexpected places, and the fact that there is something extremely enduring about the rusted tracks that wait patiently for wheels to pass overhead each day.  Maybe, it’s the fact that there’s a view, but blink, and you could miss it, for soon enough the surroundings blend into one another and you leave it all behind.  Maybe it has something to do with the soft, ephemeral shadows that flicker and disappear.  Maybe it’s how you have a sense of space, room to breathe and think in silence, and the bodies around you are comforting, not overwhelming.  Or maybe, it’s just the sound of the train moving, a constant, continuous, soft clunking that reminds you you’re going somewhere.

Evolution

Happy New Year!  I’m officially a second semester senior!  As seniors, we each have to contribute a quote and short blurb for our yearbook pages.  It’s crazy to think that we’ll be graduated and off into the world in just six months.  How in the world am I supposed to sum up the life I’ve lived here, the lessons I’ve learned, the people I want to thank, in just 200 words?  I’ve come to realize how deeply and passionately I’ve fallen in love with this city.  I came here so determined to hate it, and now I can’t bear to leave.  Learning to love this concrete jungle, with it’s multifaceted people and hazy air was one of the best things that have happened to me.  Willing myself to open up was the best decision I’ve ever made.

There’s a sort of sentiment that always unearths itself in the midst of tragedy or sadness, this is one of those times.  Thinking about all the familiarity I’m going to lose, all the loved ones who will be scattered around the world, has made me finally realize how much I’ve come to need them.  I used to think about what I wouldn’t have missed out on in America if I hadn’t been uprooted, but now all I can think of is how completely and wholesomely grateful I am for the life I’ve been given here.  I’ve come a long way.

For The People I’ll Never Meet

Have you ever wondered what your life would be like if you had made different decisions?  What if you’d gone out instead of staying home that night?  Said yes to an opportunity instead of no?

I constantly think about who I would be if I hadn’t moved to China.  Who my friends would be, what my interests would be, and most importantly, would I end up in the same college, with the same future as now?  I see photos of classmates I never got to know on Facebook, and it is both terrifying and fascinating that one of these strangers could have been my best friend, or the most important person in my life.  If only our paths had crossed.  And I wonder, we missed our opportunity now, but will we meet sometime later down the road?

I wonder if the smallest decisions, like deciding to order a chocolate croissant instead of an apple tart, would have an impact on where my life leads me.  And I guess it does matter in a way, because later, there will be someone who wanted a croissant, but because I chose to order one, the cafeteria ran out exactly when that particular person decided to buy one.  Maybe they waited an extra 20 minutes for a new batch to come out of the oven, maybe they were late to class, I’ll never know.

And most of all, I wonder if I would be happier.  Would I be doing more interesting things, with more interesting people?  Would I be off having adventures and learning now things that are no match for the life I’m living here?  Would I be having the same problems with different people?  Would I have still sustained a physical injury?

I can only hope, with all my heart, that who I am and who I could have been and who I will be are all connected in some way.  That who I am is always what’s best for me, and that the greatest moments of my life would have found a way to occur anyways.  I may mourn the loss of a life I could have lived, but I also celebrate the unique life I’m living now.  I can only hope that even though life is full of paths that branch away from a “what if”, we find a way back to ourselves, who we could have been, in the end.

“Depression is humiliating. It turns intelligent, kind people into zombies who can’t wash a dish or change their socks. It affects the ability to think clearly, to feel anything, to ascribe value to your children, your lifelong passions, your relative good fortune. It scoops out your normal healthy ability to cope with bad days and bad news, and replaces it with an unrecognizable sludge that finds no pleasure, no delight, no point in anything outside of bed. You alienate your friends because you can’t comport yourself socially, you risk your job because you can’t concentrate, you live in moderate squalor because you have no energy to stand up, let alone take out the garbage. You become pathetic and you know it. And you have no capacity to stop the downward plunge. You have no perspective, no emotional reserves, no faith that it will get better. So you feel guilty and ashamed of your inability to deal with life like a regular human, which exacerbates the depression and the isolation.

Depression is humiliating.
If you’ve never been depressed, thank your lucky stars and back off the folks who take a pill so they can make eye contact with the grocery store cashier. No one on earth would choose the nightmare of depression over an averagely turbulent normal life.
It’s not an incapacity to cope with day to day living in the modern world. It’s an incapacity to function. At all. If you and your loved ones have been spared, every blessing to you. If depression has taken root in you or your loved ones, every blessing to you, too.
Depression is humiliating.
No one chooses it. No one deserves it. It runs in families, it ruins families. You cannot imagine what it takes to feign normalcy, to show up to work, to make a dentist appointment, to pay bills, to walk your dog, to return library books on time, to keep enough toilet paper on hand, when you are exerting most of your capacity on trying not to kill yourself. Depression is real. Just because you’ve never had it doesn’t make it imaginary. Compassion is also real. And a depressed person may cling desperately to it until they are out of the woods and they may remember your compassion for the rest of their lives as a force greater than their depression. Have a heart. Judge not lest ye be judged.” ~ Pearl

I know I just talked about positive thinking and all, but I found this writing and wanted to share it because it’s so true.  Food for thought.

Positive Thinking

So this weekend all the seniors from my school and our sister campus gathered for what we call our senior retreat (Part 2).  It sounds like a lovely picnic in the park or some intense bonding experience, but no, we got together to work on our college essays and attend workshops that would, hopefully, aid us in the college application process.

I did attend one workshop called Using Your Strengths in the College Application Process, and even though it didn’t sound especially helpful, I did learn some interesting methods for improving positive thinking.  The psychologist leading our session said it “worked wonders” for her family, and many other people who have tried it as well.  This little exercise doesn’t take more than 5 minutes each day, so I thought I’d go ahead and give it a go.  One week is all it takes.

Every night, with your family or friends or maybe just yourself, reflect upon your day.  Reflect and pick out three things that happened that were good, that made you happy or made you smile.  This gets so much harder if you feel like nothing went well or every day is the same, but that’s the beauty of this exercise.  It makes you reflect until you can pick out the little things that you might have overlooked otherwise.

Goodluck.

Language Barriers

I think one of the hardest parts of living in a foreign country would be overcoming the language barrier.  No matter how fluent you are in the native language, if you haven’t been assimilated enough, there will be those times when you have no idea what the slang being used means or can’t make any sense of the puns.

Personally, I can speak Chinese ok, but when it comes to reading and writing, that’s a whole new level of mystery to me.  It pains me to be sitting down at a restaurant with menus that have no pictures and no English translations.  At KFC it’s a little better because I can point to a picture and grunt, and the cashier will kind of get the jist of what I’m trying to order.  On the other hand, you do seem to get respect points from the staff if they find out you’re a foreigner.

It’s definitely difficult to become immersed in a different culture when you can’t understand half of it.  Instead of reading the signs when I’m going out and about, I tend to instinctively ignore them.  You can pick up a language more quickly if you’re living in an environment where it’s spoken often, but you can just as easily let everything you see and hear slide by without registering in your mind at all.  Sure the latter is tempting, but I would also hope that after living in China for four years I’d have something to show for it.

I urge you to be more conscious of your surroundings if you can semi-understand the language like me, and if everything is complete gibberish to you, take classes, learn the language!  Not only is it rewarding, but knowing the native language can come in handy when those salespeople try to rip you off! ;)

Summer Camps And Why Every Kid Should Attend One

For those of you who have already attended at least one summer camp, probably during your high school years, you know what I’m talking about.  Whether it’s an academically rigorous program or a more laid-back experience, there’s something to be said about the friendships you’ll make and the things you’ll learn.  I personally have gone to two camps, one of each type I just described, and both were quite unforgettable experiences.

First of all there’s the whole aspect of living in a college dorm or house and living with a roommate, or two, by yourselves, for (give or take) 3 whole weeks!!  It’s quite the college dorm life prep and you’ll gain some close friends, if not your roomate(s) then someone else nearby.  Also, you’re given free reign (well, almost) to explore campus at your leisure and go shop for food, books, and even school gear!  Don’t forget to check in though, and be in bed by lights out.

And then you have your classes, which are probably going to be either much better than you expected or much worse.  The online description was no help.  No matter what though, you will learn a lot, which is nice because that was probably the point of shoveling a few thousand bucks to attend this camp.  You’ll realize you love something or you’ll hate it, but no matter, you get to brag about your newfound knowledge to the kiddies (I mean your friends) back home and maybe show off some new study skills.

Finally, you get to meet amazing people, my personal favorite part of summer camps.  Camp is a pretty judge free zone, probably cause it’s so short, but still.  You’ll meet people you’re compatible with and no matter what people will be accepting and you can fine something you like in everyone 99% of the time.  Also, you’ll meet smart kids.  Smart doesn’t mean nerdy kids with glasses who gets straight A’s, but it means people who come from all over the world and bring their culture and experiences with them.  People who will debate about religion and politics in their free time and make it sound like the most interesting conversation in the world.  People who are interested in reading textbooks on Britsh Politics and make witty comments and speak with colloquialisms.  Being around these people made me want to read more and become a more interesting person.  It was invigorating.

The people I met were just so fascinating.  Being able to hear stories of what it was like to live in India or New Zealand and then comparing it to living in China, or just hearing what it was like to live in another part of the U.S. or even California, was so eyeopening.  I met a girl who knew celebrities, another who had survived earthquakes and wars, and yet another boy who was Chinese but had a British accent.  The counselors were amazing too, being relatable and funny college students who had fresh perspectives on life and were each their own person.

From Skyping after lights out to water gun fights with counselors to sleeping during study sessions, my years at camp were unforgettable.  I urge you to attend one if you have not because it will be memorable, you will cry, and if you let it, change you for the better.