Liebster Award (Or why I’ve gone missing)

I’ve been busy lately.


That was my biggest understatement ever.

Term paper and science fair due dates coming up… and our robotics team is required to finish building our robot by tonight, midnight. D: *stress stress stress* So I’m doing a complete cop-out post and telling you all that if you want to read something interesting, go check out my friend’s blog right now. She’s also hosting the upcoming TCWT blog chain (which has, in my most esteemed humble opinion, the best prompt ever. :D

Kirsten of Kirsten Writes nominated me for my first (and probably last) blogging award ever, which is sort of depressing (but I’ll just pretend it’s a joyous occasion–m’kay?). Behold:

So… the rules for the Liebster Award are as follows:

1. List 11 facts about yourself.
2. Answer the 11 questions the blogger who nominated you left.
3. Ask 11 new questions for those who you nominate.
4. Choose 11 bloggers with less than 200 followers to nominate.
5. Go to each blogger’s page and let them know about the award.
6. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog. 

Eleven Facts:

1. I play flute, but badly.

2. Sometimes I wish I were French (hence the pseudonym Alouette).

3. I am an extremely boring person, and yes, that is a fact.

4. My two favorite movies are Life is Beautiful and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.

5. I haven’t seen very many movies.

6. Currently I am AT a robotics meeting, so I probably shouldn’t be blogging right now.

7. I actually kept a New Years resolution this year. (It was to enter a legitimate writing competition).

8. This post is very boring.

9. I don’t have eleven things to say about myself.

10. Yesterday I went to a writing workshop with my friend Jenny.

11. I am a big, fat liar.

I’ll admit, I was getting a bit dramatic with number eleven. So the questions Kirsten asked are:

1. What is your favorite game (board, card, or video)?

Am I supposed to choose between those three or just name a game I love to play? Among those three I prefer card games, but my favorite game is the alphabet-name game in which somebody says a name starting with the first letter of the alphabet (for example, “Alison”), and the next person says that name and one starting with the next letter (ex. “Alison, Buster”), and it goes on and on until somebody messes up. And if you get to Z, you go through all the letters all over again.

2. If you could write one book-to-film adaptation, which one would you choose?
If I could write it? I would probably write a film adaption of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, and (in my dreams) it would be directed by Hayao Miyazaki. :P
3. If you could drop one school subject, what would it be and why?
History, because we spend too little time on the fun stuff and too much time on the unimportant stuff. I would prefer to go study history alone, thank you very much. :P
4. How do you wear your hair?
Down. Sometimes tied up.
5. What is the nerdiest/geekiest thing you own?
6. Do you know any other languages? How well do you speak them?
I’ve studied other languages, but I wouldn’t really say I “know” them very well. I can speak English and Korean fairly fluently. Latin I can translate (although not very well), and I can barely speak it.
7. What is your favorite television show, past or present? If you don’t watch television, what is your favorite film?
I’m not really a TV/film person, but I love Tom and Jerry. I also haven’t watched it since third grade. 
8. Do you speak with an accent?
A Connecticut accent, whatever that is. I’ve been told that a Connecticut accent is where you pronounce “water” as “water” instead of “woater.” 
9. What is the largest city you have ever been to?
New York City, I think.
10. Have you ever lied about reading a book or watching a film? If so, which one?
Yep! I’m always lying about my English homework. “Yes, of course I read up to chapter 29 of Great Expectations….” It’s not that I don’t read it, it’s just that it isn’t as if we’re actually going to talk about it in class, so I might as well put off the daily readings until the weekend and then read it all at once….
11. What is your first memory?
I remember eating a banana in a hospital when I was three or four….
My eleven questions:
1. What makes you human?
2. What is the most annoying question anyone has ever asked you?
3. What do you think of questions in general?
4. What is your favorite quote about questions?
5. What is your favorite quote about anything?
6. What is the meaning of life?
7. What color is your favorite pair of socks?
8. Do you even have a favorite pair of socks, or did you just choose a random one?
9. What are you number one at?
10. What are you just awful at?
11. Who/What (if anything) would you be willing to die for?
My nominees:
5. MoMo
And… I’m out of people to nominate. Most of the blogs I follow have >200 followers, so…. :-| I guess you’re all more then welcome to self-nominate yourselves, if you want. I’m barely coherent at this point. Haven’t slept… in too long….
Categories: Truth | Leave a comment

Truth: The American Museum of Natural History is awesome, but the H1N1 vaccine… not so much.

Dear AMNH,

My friends and I visited you on Friday because we figured, “hey, we just finished our biology midterm–what better way to celebrate?”

It was really awesome. We didn’t have much time, so we only really got to look at the Diversity of Life exhibit and the Hall of Ocean Life with the giant squid and huge model whale, but it was worth it. My friends and I ate freeze-dried ice cream for the first time! It was kind of awkward bringing it into the food court (because it said no outside food allowed), but we figured that since we had bought it at the gift shop it probably counted as inside food.

We shared the chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream sandwich and mint chocolate chip flavors. It didn’t taste nearly as gross as everyone always says freeze dried ice cream is. It just tasted kind of… fuzzy. Like marshmallows. The texture itself was powdery. It had that sickly sweet aftertaste of inexpensive ice cream.

Then I bought a birthday present for a friend of mine. It was probably one of the strangest gifts I’ve gotten anyone: candied bugs. It’s basically just a block of sugar with a cricket, insect larva, and fern inside. Really gross stuff. We had gone looking for chocolate-covered bugs, but the cashier said that they don’t sell them anymore, which is why we had to settle for candy.

Overall, it was a really nice way to relax after an exhausting week. I slept maybe three hours a night and was chronically on the verge of falling asleep. I also heard read about the huge number of adolescents who received the H1N1 vaccine in 2009 who have developed cases of narcolepsy–which is a medical tragedy, and likely occurred because of the pressure to develop and test the vaccine very quickly. People aren’t really sure yet whether it’s the vaccine, the booster in the vaccine, or the H1N1 virus itself that’s triggered the onset of narcolepsy, but whichever it was, it should have been caught during the testing process–the fact that nearly 800 cases of narcolepsy in children have been linked to this vaccine is not only tragic but an inexcusable mistake on the part of those developing the vaccine. I doubt this mistake can really be traced to a single culprit, so let it stand as a warning to all on the importance of caution when dealing with human lives, along with careful and standardized medical practices. Also, let’s hope this doesn’t happen again.

I still have three tests and three projects to go before midterms are finally over, so I’ll be pretty busy for awhile. I’m sorry about my lack of posts lately–it’s just that the semester is coming to a close and I have loads of work to do. I wish all of you luck on exams! (Although from what I’ve heard, lots of you have finished with them–congrats!)

Also hoping that any other FRC teams out there are making good progress on prototyping frisbee loading/launching mechanisms and the climbers! We have a working shooter, but are having issues with picking the frisbees up. Ah, well. Only 23 days left in build season!!!



Categories: Truth | Leave a comment

Truth No. 5: Tomorrow is not far away.

Dear Self,

Semester one is almost over, and you’re already dying. Seriously. Not cool. Get yourself together, because in a week and a half you’ll be done with your midterms and you know what? Sure, you have to put up with Ms. Redd for another five and a half months, but you’ve already put up with her for four and a half months. You’ve survived. And sure, she had the nerve to lie to your face two days ago and sure, she’s a creepy stalker and absolutely the worst teacher you have ever met, but look: during the remainder of your life, you’re going to have to deal with much, much worse.

Honestly, you have way more important things to deal with right now. Like the fact that for Latin you need to translate an Engish song into Latin. Or the fact that you need to graph a conic section monster for math. Or the fact that you have a global project due the day after tomorrow, and you’ve done practically nothing. Seriously, all you have right now are three books to read (because you haven’t actually read them yet) and a posterboard on which you spent five hours painting a Cartesian plane. You should really learn how to prioritize.

And yes, I agree. Semester two is going to be awful. Five more months with Ms. Redd when the situation has been slowly deteriorating? Gym twice a week? Science bowl, Biology Olympiad, speech competitions, AMC, FRC, and basically every other competition you’re entering this year? Competitions are fun and all, but they’re really time-consuming. Also, in order to do well, you actually need to work. Hard. Get your act together, and remember:

Midterms come. Midterm go. And after that, there’s always tomorrow.

In preparation for the new semester I’ve gotten myself a fourteen file expandable folder to help organize my stuff. A few days ago I received a package in the mail containing snacks and love and stationary and happiness from an aunt in Korea. I also got an ARC of The Office of Mercy, which seems fairly interesting despite its disastrous cover. I’ll post a review here as soon as I get around to finishing the book.

And really, this semester has gotten to me in a lot of ways. So many of my classmates have dissolved into crying fits these past several months because of grades, teachers, and life. But still, I’m really happy for two of our robotic mentors for getting into Harvard and our science bowl captain for qualifying for the International Mathematics Olympiad. I baked some awesome pasta today, and that made me proud. It’s so easy to forget the good stuff amidst all the troubles and intense emotional exhaustion that comes of being an angsty teen who sleeps less than five hours a day, but hey–that doesn’t mean it should be forgotten.

I love you, you know that? I love you in the way that one needs to be loved when they’re being smothered by exams and projects and expectations and devastations; I love you in the way that everyone deserves to be loved, just for being who they are.

And maybe, just for a moment, think about your English teacher too. She can’t have had life too easy, and sure she’s an awful teacher, but don’t be too hard on her. Remember that “[a] teacher can change a person’s life. A good teacher or a bad teacher. Each can change a person’ life…. But only if the person is ready to be changed” (Potok, The Promise).

Live another day. Get your work done. Go to bed (it’s already half past twelve!) and try your best–after all, that’s all anyone can ask of you.



Categories: Dear Now, Truth | Leave a comment

Memory No. 3: Potok’s The Chosen changed my life. –Teens Can Write Too! Blog Chain (January 2013)

Dear Reader/Writer,

This is my first time ever participating in a blog chain, and I’m super excited! The topic is: “Is there one particular book that changed your life? If so, why did you originally choose to read it? What impact has it had on you?”

If nothing else, I think I can say with certainty that hundreds of books have shaped me as a writer, and each of them has, if even in just a tiny way, changed my life. But today I decided to focus on a single book that I would not have read if it weren’t required for school: The Chosen, by Chaim Potok. I had not even heard of it until I received a copy of it in class and was told “read the first three chapters.” There was no blurb on my copy, no anything. I had absolutely no idea what to expect.

The book begins as most books for English class tend to begin: boringly, with completely unrelatable characters (unless you’re the son of a rabbi living in Brooklyn during WWII…). The story itself is lacking in action, strong female characters, and earth-shatteringly beautiful prose. The narrative arc follows a (non-romantic) friendship, focusing also on father-son relationships, religion, and silence.

It all begins with a softball match between Reuven’s high school and Danny’s yeshiva, which ends abruptly when Danny hits a ball breaking Reuven’s glasses and injuring his eye. Danny later visits Reuven (who is at the hospital) to apologize, and slowly they begin to form a friendship. Soon enough it is revealed that Danny is an uber-genius aspiring to be a psychologist (which is only, like, the coolest thing ever), but that his father needs him to become a rabbi. The thing about Danny’s father is, however, that he only speaks to his son when discussing the Talmud. He wants his son to be able to hear silence.

The Chosen features everything that I had never known I was looking for. It features a brilliant main character who is in no way stereotyped or dehumanized. Instead, Danny has intensely conflicted emotions of hate, love, and confusion brought alongside his drive to discover intellectual truth.  It was only when I read the part where Danny confesses to going to the public library to read secular works by authors such as Freud and Dostoevsky that I realized I could actually relate to the characters in The Chosen. Yes, I may be Asian and female and an agnostic living in the twenty-first century (as opposed to Caucasian and male and Jewish in the 1940s), but I’ve read (and loved) Dostoevsky. As I continued to read, I found myself further drawn into the story by the focus on a single friendship (instead of the all-too-common romance). After all, I have never fallen in love. School and learning and just talking (instead of running around fighting demons) are major parts of the novel, and I found that strangely compelling.

As the story continues, Potok raises questions about religion in a modernizing world. Although I did not necessarily agree with his answers (he himself having been a rabbi), I found them still to be incredibly satisfying.

But what really makes the book amazing is the ending.

The ending is absolutely brilliant. I would feel guilty telling you what happens, but I assure you—the entire book is worth reading if only for the reason behind Danny’s father’s silence. It’s such a beautiful display of his unconditional love for his child and the strength of their father-son bond. Chaim Potok brilliantly executes this revelation, explaining what must be explained and yet leaving unexplained many of the emotions that even the characters themselves do not understand. In a way, he’s the one that taught me to do that in my own writing: explain only what you must, because when you lay it all out in words it is set in stone, but what you do not explain the reader can explain with a multitude of explanations and answers and possibilities, all of which are true.

This is the main way in which The Chosen changed me as a writer. It also did a number of other things to my writing such as push me towards focusing more on character emotions, as well as helped feed my growing interest in the role of religion and faith in our lives and the concept of secular spirituality. In addition to all of these things, it encouraged me to be unashamed of who I am. By creating characters who were so relatable—characters whose emotions I could repeatedly identify myself with—it helped me realize that a lot of things I’m going through now, people have been going through again and again for the past millennial. I don’t know why it was a book about a friendship between two Jewish boys that finally showed me this, but who said life makes sense?

A lot of the books I read give me the opportunity to escape my own world. But The Chosen looked at the world I live in and introduced characters I could fully relate to. The way friendship is everlasting, knowledge is an obsession, and silence can mean everything—using main characters whose confusion I could relate to, Chaim Potok reminded me of all the things I needed reminding of.  And when reading about characters asking the very same questions I ask and as much at a loss for answers as I am, I felt connected. In this way, The Chosen changed my life.



P.S. Read about the books that changed the lives of my fellow Teens Can Write Too! blog chain participants!

January 5th – Muslim Spirit by Fida
January 6th – The Teenage Writer
January 7th – Miss Alexandrina
January 8th – Between The Lines
January 9th – Avon’s Babbles
January 10th – Life.
January 11th – Inside The Junk Drawer
January 12th – Notebook Sisters
January 13th – Musings From Neville’s Navel
January 14th – The Loony Teen Writer
January 15th – A Mirror Made Of Words
January 16th – Epistolary Girl
January 17th – Inklined Writers
January 18th – Zara Hoffman’s Blog
January 19th – SydneyJoTo
January 20th – Reality Is Imaginary
January 21st – The Little Engine That Couldn’t
January 22nd – Writers Response
January 23rd – John Hansen Writes
January 24th – Miriam Joy Writes

Categories: Dear Past, Memory | 6 Comments

Truth No. 4: Scholastic is… over?!!!!

Dear Mothy (for lack of an actual recipient),

No, this letter actually has nothing to do with you. However, you were the first person that popped into my head when I thought about this post, so alas: it is dedicated to you and your songs.

It isn’t just that my weekend homework load was the weirdest thing ever (three English assignments, three global assignments, and three language assignments? What?) or that I’m a week behind on everything in general thanks to Scholastic. It’s that new things are happening, and a lot of things are finally ending. As Scholastic deadlines approached for most regions, I found myself flooded by sudden and unexpected last-minute critique requests. I’m so sorry to all non-Scholastic-related editing requests that I should’ve sent back last week but instead sat around while I tried to get through pages of poetry/short stories/memoirs/etc. for Scholastic entrants. Seriously. I owe you all for not sending me hate mail and stalking me. If it makes you feel any better, Scholastic didn’t just put me behind on your stories; it also put me behind in school and classes and whatnot. Whatnot being everything that’s been going on: FRC (robotics) kickoff, proctoring a three-hour test, bracing myself for the upcoming midterms, studying for science bowl and USABO, and practicing flute.

Today I finally edited my first story since Scholastic submissions. It was an interesting narrative about fratricide with some rather elegant writing and lovely characterization. The arc of the story could do with a bit of work, but overall I was most definitely impressed. I’m hoping to finally wrap up pre-scholastic stories that I’m behind on by the end of this week so that I don’t have to worry about editing over midterms week (which would be just awful). The mad rush to submit for Scholastic was… incredibly surprising, to say the least. And yes, I know, I’ve been babbling about this for a while, but seriously. I edited >25 pieces the week and a half before Scholastic. And now I have this huge migraine that may or may not be related to the fact that I’ve been up since 3:30 this morning.

I also have a bunch of post ideas ranging from one about the odd dream I had a few nights ago regarding the relationship between Truth and writing to one pondering whether or not I should bother participating in the NACLO (North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad). Of course, there’s also the TCWT blog chain post that I need to write. I’m super excited about it because I actually managed to choose one book that changed my life. Then there’s the fact that I really need to post about FRC. Robotics is this amazing sport (yes, I consider it a sport) that nobody seems to know much about–but in reality, it is one of the coolest, most exciting/satisfying/challenging/collaborative things that I’ve ever done, so… yeah. You can look forward to posts about that as the season progresses.

This is an awful letter. I’m sorry. It’s just… going twenty hours without sleep is not really my thing, and I’m really exhausted. Tomorrow you can expect a more energetic post from me as I begin reading The Hobbit with Kirsten from Kirsten Writes (or not, if I have to stay in the city past seven for robotics).



Categories: Dear Now, Truth | 11 Comments

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