Stories.

Basically me trying write decent publishable articles.

Stories are the backbone of my world. I hear them, I tell them, I write them. This summer I had my first big girl, real world job aka an unpaid internship (does a transportation stipend count?). Despite what I had seen in movies, there were no coffee runs or hours spent sitting by the copy machine. Instead, I dove into research and reporting with a fierceness I had never known could exist within me.

I would be lying if I told you that every minute was exciting. In reality, it was just a lot of waiting, leaving voicemails and learning how to type the right string of words into the Google search bar. The place I worked at had a small staff and the publisher brought in the most delicious cookies I had ever tasted on a weekly basis. Soon enough, I felt like I was part of a weird little family, which most people would find comforting. However, because I’m a worrier, I began to panic that I wasn’t producing material that was nearly as good as it should be. I was afraid I wasn’t telling the right story.

I think that a journalist’s worst fear is that they aren’t presenting their stories in the best light (and also an empty coffee pot) possible. People trust us to write the truth and more. Anyone can tell facts, but not everyone can spell them out with sincerity and motivate an audience to take action. Journalists want to write stories that capture the world, that change minds, that not only gives answers but asks questions (at least I would like to). The stories I had written before were read at most by my professors and friends and maybe the occasional college student. Never before had I really had a platform to write big stories read by hundreds if not thousands of people. And these weren’t just people who read my article by accident, these were people who wanted to read my story on purpose.

This audience put a whole new weight to my stories and changed the way I saw myself as a storyteller. I wasn’t producing pieces in a 48 hour time period, instead I was taking weeks to craft a near to perfect piece. Information trickled in drop by drop and my stories evolved with every bit of new information, making me both frustrated and overjoyed as I learned how to be patient and persistence with my work.

If there was one lesson that I took out of this summer, it was said best by one of my coworkers. Not everyone is going to  (or wants to) write for the New York Times, but no matter what, if you have passion for what you write, a good story will come about and everyone loves a good story. This stuck with me because as a student, you hear all these big company names thrown around and in reality the chances are slim to land those positions. In the end, the most important thing is that I write stories that are honest, passionate and inspiring to my audience whether it be 10 people or a million.

 

Bloody hell and best wishes,

Robin

 

Plums.

Trees and airplanes were the only things you could see; twas a good 12 years.

Trees and airplanes were the only things you could see; twas a good 12 years.

When I was six, my parents decided that it would be a good idea to let me pick what color to paint my bedroom in our new house. I went with a bright pink, and for the next 12 years, I grew up encased in a pink prison. Okay, a little dramatic to call it a prison, but I soon realized in my early teens that I absolutely despised the color. Instead of changing the color, I plastered posters (mostly of Jeese McCartney and Harry Potter) and pictures everywhere. When you walked into my room, you would be encased by four scrapbook styled walls. I always thought it was nice to have some personalized wallpaper. 

My parents sold the house after I graduated from high school. They had a made an agreement to keep the house until I went to college, that way I could finish my schooling in an environment I was already familiar with. Despite the flaws the house had, I knew it like the back of my hand. Even now, I can hear the thud of the last step on the stairs and the eerie sounds the laundry room made. I carved my named on the wooden structure in my living room when I was sick with the flu, and built 1,000 piece puzzles in the second floor living room to escape the heat and boredom of summer. 

12 years is a long time to live in one place. There were a lot of good firsts that happened in that home. My first kiss, the first nerd herd Christmas party (that’s what my friend group in high school called ourselves, as you can tell we’re super cool), the first time my dad taught me how to play catch, the first time I said “I love you” to a boy, the first time I got ready for a school dance; the list goes on. There are so many fond memories made in that home, ones that I shared with friends and ones that only I will remember.

One of my favorite memories, was picking plums from the plum trees in my backyard. I was excited every year to see when they were ripe enough to be plucked. I used to stand on my tippy toes or jump in hopes to catch as many as I could in my hands. When I got old enough, I would climb the ladder to grab them and eventually we got a fruit picking stick to do the work. I knew that summer was never complete until we had gotten enough plums to feed an army of soldiers (which usually meant my friends). 

I also have a lot of bad memories in that house as well. Big loud arguments, silent crying, rejections, my first real breakup; that house has seen it all. But, then again a home cannot be created with happy memories alone, sad memories need places to thrive as well.

I know childhood homes are meant to be sold and to be missed. Regardless, I still drive by when I can to check out the old place, to make sure it’s in good hands. The people who live there now have finally cleaned out the garage and the broken blinds are now changed. I don’t think my room is pink any longer and they finally fixed the overhead light in the hallway. It isn’t a different house because some lightbulbs were changed, it’s a different house because it is no longer a place I make memories, only a place where my memories are stored. 

I always have this dream, where someday I can buy back that house and make more memories with my future family. I don’t know if that can or will ever happen, but I’ve realized that my childhood home is only a skeleton where my memories live. It was because of the people I spent time with there, the experiences I had, the growing I did that made that home so special. It could of happened anywhere, in any house. 

So, I’ve been making new memories in my new home now. Some are wonderful warm loving ones, and some are hard ones. I’ve lived in the new house for about two years now, and I’m finally starting to see that this house is now a home. 

Bloody hell and best wishes,

Robin

Haircuts.

1997 vs. 2014, can you spot the differences?

1997 vs. 2014, can you spot the differences?

Haircuts seem like quite a silly thing to fear, yet at almost 20 years old, I find that my blood pressure rises significantly when scissors come in contact with my hair. Today, I went into a hair salon for the first time in seven months to change my hairstyle. I’m the sort of person that has a love hate relationship with change. I’ve had the same hair style for about six years now, but I’ve been wanting bangs. Every time I walk in to get a haircut, I chicken out and go back to the same style year after year. However, this is the year for some risk, some chances, and some bravery.

So, following the saying that’s tattooed into my right thigh (just a quick reminder it’s “All adventurous women do.”), I decided it was time to call upon the Gryffindor in me. I made the appointment last night and began Googling things like “side swept bangs” and “Asian girls with side bangs”. To be honest, I was going to back out at the last minute but alas I mustered up some courage and marched in (also I think there was a cancellation fee).

The entire time I was sitting in the chair, making small talk with the young, well-dressed stylist, I was paralyzed by fear. Even the hip Korean songs couldn’t get my mind off pieces of my DNA being chopped off. My heart was racing, I felt queasy and it didn’t help that I’m pretty much blind without my glasses, so my hair just looked like a large black bump.

I watched as chunks of hair fell past me and my mind was consumed by the nightmarish flashbacks to my bowl cut bangs (literally, a bowl was put on my head by my loving mother and hair was trimmed). I felt like I was going into a battlefield, when really it was just hair. It was just hair.

That’s when I realized, that as bad as it could turn out, hair will grow back. It will grow back and everything will be fine. I think that’s what scares people so much about change (myself included). We get comfortable at where we’re at in life, and change is this horrible thing that wrecks our safety net. It’s like having scissors come at your hair when you aren’t ready for it, but then again when will you ever be? What we don’t see is that sometimes it’s not so bad, and maybe we really needed it.

It’s safe to say that my haircut actually turned out pretty well. I’m still trying to get used to stray pieces poking into my eyes and the need to keep bobby pins in a reachable distance. In the end, I learned an important lesson. As scary as change may be, sometimes you’ve just got to take a leap of faith. Everything will turn out fine, and I mean, hair will grow back.

Bloody hell and best wishes,

Robin

Lost.

Getting lost is no new concept for me. Mostly, I get lost in parking garages and dark roads cluttered with frighteningly large trees. But, lately I’ve been feeling lost in other senses. As my twenties are just around the corner, I feel lost more than ever about everything including my career, my relationships, and my sanity.

Let’s start off with my career (or lack of). I’m still a relatively new journalist even if I have been a writer for most of my life. Recently, I found a notebook that was filled with the scribbles of  a 12-year-old Robin. It featured a story of a girl detective and a mystery that was never solved because it was never written. I think about a quarter of the way into it, I told myself I’d come back to it and just never did. I’ve always been the type of person to get lost in new ideas and as a result, other ideas are left unfinished.

I’m realizing that being a journalist means that you can’t leave things unresolved. In fact, you solve things and then you go beyond and find new problems to solve about the same thing. Keeping focus is key and the freedom to be lost without consequences is no longer a privilege that I have. As a writer, my job is to lead readers out of the darkness but how can I, when I am still lost in the woods?

In a sense, I’m feeling this same sort of lost in my relationships. People evolve, situations change, and no one has the perfect formula for how relationships should grow. Sometimes, people fail to change together and as a result, relationships no longer work out. I’ve come to terms with that for a long time now, but it doesn’t make it any easier to have to go through the process of shedding old relationships and starting new ones. I feel lost in the sense that I’m not sure who will stay and who will leave anymore.

Most of all, coming out of this whole debacle, I feel like I’m slowly losing my sanity. From overthinking to over worrying, my sanity is in jeopardy of being flushed away. The only thing that really keeps me afloat is being able to be lost in moments. It’s when I feel lost in moments that I feel this peace surround me. To me, being lost in a moment is forgetting everything else that matters except whatever is in front of you, happening, thriving, living. So rarely are we able to let our minds feel this freedom.

These past couple of months at home have allowed me to experience beautiful, fleeting moments to be lost in. I can safely say being lost in moments may be the best and only way I ever want to feel lost. Alas, life is never that simple (unless you’re a baby or a dog and unfortunately I am neither). I know that I will never stop feeling as if I’m lost in the complex maze of life whether I’m 19 or 99, and I’m coming to terms with it (or at least I’m trying to).

For now, I’ll work on crafting a map out of this maze and enjoy the moments where being lost isn’t so bad.

Bloody hell and best wishes,

Robin

 

June.

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(I could never get tired of a view that involves the Golden Gate Bridge)

It never quite feels like summer is in full gear until June hits. And now that June is coming to a close, I’m realizing that my summer is about half way over. Now I know I said I would write more, I always do. Somehow, some way, life seems to get in the way of it all. I either find that I don’t have the inspiration or the time or both. But, no more excuses. Here are a few words I have about June.

If I had to summarize June in one word, it would be lucky. Every time I’m making my late night drive home, thinking about blog posts, I can only think about how peaceful I feel. I’ve felt so unbelievably lucky to be where I am, surrounded by people who make me feel as if the world is in my hands. They make me laugh so hard I can feel my ribs cracking with joy. They sing with me with the windows down, our words mixing with the wind. They make me feel loved.

On one June night I laid in bed for hours with my best friend just discussing everything and nothing all at the same time. We laughed at how idiotic we sounded and sympathized with one another about the problems only we seemed to understand. On another June day, I saw friends that I hadn’t seen in months as we ate homemade cookies and frozen lasagna. Another June night was spent with games and liquid courage coursing through our veins as christmas lights lit the room with a dull glow.

I’ve never needed too much to be happy. Leave me in a bookstore and I can be content for hours. Strangers holding the door open for me can instantly make my day. June has allowed me to be intoxicated with love and kindness and time with people I don’t see nearly as much as I want to. I am fortunate that even within the chaos of life, I can find a effortless joy in good company.

There’s not much else I want or need to say about June. It’s as simple as this: “I’m on a roller coaster that only goes up, my friend.”

Bloody hell and best wishes,

Robin

Snapshots.

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It’s funny to think that all of life’s little moments are just snapshots of a bigger picture. I have thousands of these snapshots wandering the corridors of my mind, tucked into dark corners and kept safe. They’ve evolved into one picture, and then another snapshot comes along and disintegrates everything I thought I had put together. It’s only a matter of time before another snapshot will come along, and produce something I never thought to look for or see.

This past weekend while in Santa Cruz, I added a few more snapshots to the collection. Ones filled with companionship and a sweet foolishness that can only be recreated by youth. A certain snapshot comes to my mind specifically when I think of it all tied together. We were walking back to the car after spending some time at the beach, soaking up the sun and getting soaked. The group of us were laughing and probably harassing one another, when we passed two elderly women. One was hunched over on a walker and the other stood beside her friend, slowly inching their way towards the water. As we passed, the one clutching the walker said to us “Don’t you guys ever get old. Stay young.”

We paused for a moment to hear her words and I uttered a “thanks” paired with a smile before continuing on the path. I didn’t think much of the interaction besides it being a friendly gesture made by sweet old lady. We laughed at the comment and it was only later on (when greeted by a much too bright Sunday morning) that I remembered the incident at all.

Youth is a wondrous thing that can only be captured and kept in these snapshots that we’ve stored in our minds. Nowadays, I see young teenagers complain constantly about how troubling their lives are in a dramatic angst filled manner. It’s both concerning and amusing (seeing as I’ve been there before, less angst perhaps) to see them struggle in such pained ways, when they don’t even realize that one day those years will be reduced to moments. Yes, youth is a transitioning time where pain demands to be felt (catch that John Green reference there), but often we forget that beauty exists as well, viciously colliding head on.

Now, I’m entering a stage in my life where I understand that youth will not last forever (or drag on into the depths of hell). Soon enough it’ll disappear and crawl into a corner where childhood now resides, lost but not forgotten. I want these snapshots that I’ve been collecting to amount to something bigger and better than I could imagine for myself.

I want my snapshots to be of people I love (or loved). I want snapshots of places that I went, of adventures I lived to tell the story of. I want snapshots of the invincibility of youth and the recklessness of it all. I will not waste my time wallowing in sorrow about a life that I could of made better. Instead, it is going to be better. I strive everyday to be happy, and thus far this perseverance hasn’t failed me.

There will be days where the snapshots will not be pretty, where they will engulfed by anger and confusion. I will not let a majority of them turn out like that though. There is a certain beauty to pain, to happiness, to youth. I can only hope that I will find the right balance to string together a picture I like, one that I will be proud of.

One day I’d like to be that old woman. To see a group of teenagers and relish in the beauty that they have yet to discover must be quite an experience. But, for now, I’d just like to stay young.

Bloody hell and best wishes,

Robin

Writing.

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I’ve been home on break for about 72 hours now and I’m beginning to remember why I keep busy. If you know me well enough, you know that I’m a worrier. I worry about things that are out of my control, I worry about the people I care about, I worry about everything. Usually this is being suppressed by things such as story deadlines and club meetings. But, now it’s summer. I’ve got some time on my hands and the worry train is in full force.

Tonight, I stumbled across a quote by Flannery O’Connor. She says “Nothing needs to happen to a writer’s life after they are 20. By then they’ve experienced more than enough to last their creative life.” As a writer, I worry a lot about my writing. It breaks down into me worrying about if it’s good enough, if it impacts people, and if it’s interesting. Half the time I’m not sure whether I’m writing to an actual audience at all. The problem with being a young writer, is that often there is no feedback. Nobody cares enough to give any. If there is, it’s usually from supportive friends or family who cannot speak badly about your writing. There are no critics, and no flaws to unearth and dissect.

I worry that my writing isn’t good enough. I’m afraid that I’m not using the right words, or creating phrases that will illustrate my thoughts correctly. I want to build characters that people will fall in love with, be attached to, and want more of. I want stories that will capture the imagination of my readers, and have them be able to build my story in their minds. I want them to care.

I worry that my writing doesn’t impact people. I try so hard to transfer the feelings I have and the experiences I’ve lived through onto paper and sometimes I’m not sure that it translates well enough. Half the time, I write for myself. I write to let go of things, to work things out, to remember and to forget things. However, I also write for other people. I write because I want others to know that they aren’t alone in their struggle or their feelings. I write for people who can’t translate how they feel onto paper. I write so that someone can feel a connection.

Lastly, I worry that my writing isn’t interesting. If I’m supposed to have experienced everything I needed in the past 19 years, then I’m not quite sure how great of a writer I am. I’ve never been the rebellious teenager, or the one to lead a daring lifestyle. If anything, much of my excitement comes from the stories of my peers. It frightens me to think that because I’ve lived a “sheltered” life, I will never be a writer that captivates their audience. I want my writers to be able to live through me, but how can I if I haven’t lived at all?

I’m three months shy of turning 20 and I sure hope that O’Connor has got it wrong. Sure, we experience so much in our teen years. We’re naive, innocent, wondrous. For the first time we feel things like love and heartbreak and we believe it to be everything. Our whole lives are swallowed up in these newly discovered feelings, and yet we’re clueless. We have absolutely no idea what we’re doing. Yes, it’s fun and exciting and irresponsible. But, there are consequences.

I think that we need to go through our 20s and our 30s and so forth in order to have a more well rounded view of our creative lives. Everything that’s happened before our 20’s, that’s the beginning. It’s refreshing and it hooks the reader. But, I still need to experience the middle and the end. You can’t just only have a beginning, because every great story needs an ending.

 

Bloody hell and best wishes,

Robin