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

Airports.

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(This may be my favorite airport scene ever. Extra points if you can guess the movie.)

The floor is covered in a lined blue carpet, and the familiar sound of wheels rolling fills the air. A glass door slides open on the left, and to the right, coffee is being served to a man in a giant overcoat. A child sleeps in the lap of his mother. I’m surrounded by plastic sky blue chairs and the light of the “fresh juices” sign is slowly taunting me.

Once again, I’m at the airport. I never used to give airports much thought. To me, they were just another obstacle to get through before arriving at the final destination. It was (and still is) a place consumed by stress, long lines, and impatient passengers.

Nowadays, I see airports a little differently. Yes, all those things still apply. But, I’ve found comfort in airports. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that I don’t always anticipate all my destinations. I dreaded going to Hong Kong to see my dying grandma. I feared leaving home to go to a place I didn’t know. I hated to come back home to face friends who had become strangers.

In all honesty, I’ve felt as much anxiety as I have joy in airports. In a strange way, airports calm me in a way that I can’t explain. Silence is rare, steadiness is rare, solitude is not. Even though one is constantly surrounded by people, one can still feel alone. I used to find this scary, that sort of loneliness. When I first began to fly alone, I hated waiting alone. But, slowly I’ve found myself appreciating this sort of lonely calm.

Before you go and call the doctors on me, hear me out. Loneliness scares people. Hell, sometimes it still scares me. I grew up an only child, so trust me I understand loneliness quite well (on the bright side I got really good at reading and puzzles). I find that my generation (gen Y, or Z, or whatever letter we’ve given) is especially paralyzed by the idea of being by themselves. Our lives are dominated by social media. We’re constantly sharing things and being “connected” to people. Yes, it’s convenient and it’s great, but sometimes I think we forget how to connect to ourselves.

We’re so busy trying to communicate our happiness, our failures, our dreams. No one really takes the time to just sit and think alone. In a world where we’re so connected, it’s hard to find these quiet moments. I feel like we’re always constantly bombarded with texts, snapchats, Facebook notifications, and so the list goes on. Airports signify the beginning of my escape from the world. Flying alone means that I can sip coffee alone and none of these strangers around me expect a single thing. I can spend my pre-boarding time listening to music undisturbed and indulge in whatever pass time activity I please.

Once I’m on the plane, it’s a whole other world. No cell phone reception, no wifi, complete peace. For six or seven hours (or however long the flight is), I don’t exist. There doesn’t have to be any forced conversation between me and stranger sitting next to me (which is usually an old man). There is no crisis to attended to. Nobody needs anything, and the feeling of this temporary freedom can be fully taken advantage of.

I wish I could do this more on a regular basis, just shut off the world and delve into this loneliness. But, I can’t. Planes give me no choice when it comes to evading responsibility for awhile. However, I find it hard to evade responsibility on purpose. People count on me, I have responsibilities that are unavoidable. So, for now I’ll take what I can.

I watch as the tables around me begin to fill up with strangers. The juice sign continues to taunt me. A classical tune begins to play softly. Odd as it seems, this is my sanctuary.

Bloody  hell and best wishes,

Robin

Packing.

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In a strange unexplainable way, I’ve always enjoyed packing. When I tell people about my love for packing, I usually receive some pretty strange looks (just like when I tell people I don’t have canine teeth). Rolling shirts into tiny balls, laying jeans on top of one another, trying to fit as many sweaters as I can. It’s like playing my own personal version of jenga. Most of the time, packing is my favorite process of the pre-trip experience. Dealing with airline tickets and finding rides to the airport are always the things that stressed me out the most. If anything, packing is more a stress reliever than inducer.

In my nineteen years, I’ve done my fair share of packing and moving. I’ve moved from the city to the suburbs, from the suburbs to the city, and from west coast to east coast. I’ve traveled to different countries, leaving cities I’ve fallen in love with and comfortable hotel rooms I wanted to stay in forever. In a way, I think I enjoy packing because it’s the part of the journey that I can plan. I can choose what I want to bring, what can stay, what I want, and what I don’t want. I can leave the blue flannel, but I have to take the blue polka dot dress. I can bring those black heels, but the brown boots should stay.

Life doesn’t always let us choose what we want to stay and go. I wish that I could say that when I choose to bring that blue shirt with me (if you can’t already tell, I own a lot of blue), the pain of leaving my friends can stay. Despite the excitement of traveling, at times, it’s really quite frightening. In any case, you’re leaving behind something/someone you love (or hate). Sometimes you don’t know if you’ll ever go back, or if you’ll ever go there again. And sometimes, you leave knowing things will never be the same again.

If that doesn’t scare you, then please tell me what kind of potions you’re drinking. I think that in the past two years, I’ve packed more times than I can remember. And packing always leads to goodbyes (either to my sweet bed or my even sweeter friends). I’ve spent hours stuffing my suitcase and every time, without fail, these are the thoughts that pop up in my head. I’ve spent the past two or so hours carefully folding clothes, getting ready to depart for the summer. As always, I’m apprehensive and excited about leaving. I cannot wait to get back to my old friends, but I’m sad to be leaving the ones I have here. I know that I won’t see some of them for a long time, or maybe ever again.

There’s also my fear of going home. This may be the last summer I spend at home in a long time. This may be the last summer that a majority of my friends will be home. Hell, a good handful of them have already set themselves up for jobs elsewhere. I’m afraid that this summer will pass in a blink of an eye (just like this semester has), I will have to pack soon enough, and goodbyes will occur. I find myself packing and saying goodbye more often than I would like to be. And like packing, goodbyes can be messy, difficult, and done too frequently. But, as Lily states so beautifully,

“Hey Ted, you wrote down all these things to say goodbye to… but so many of them are good things. Why not just say goodbye to the bad things? Say goodbye to all the times you felt lost. To all the times it was a ‘no’ instead of a ‘yes’. To all the scrapes and the bruises. To all the heartache. Say goodbye to everything you really want to do for the last time. But don’t go have one last scotch with Barney… have a first scotch, toasting Barney’s new life because that’s a good thing and the good things will be always here waiting for you.”

So, I’ll be trying my best to only say goodbye to the bad things from now on. I’ll say goodbye to thin toilet paper. I’ll say goodbye to freezing temperatures. I’ll say goodbye to the unreliable BU bus. And I’m lucky enough to say hello to beautiful beaches. I’m lucky enough to say hello to endless sushi. I’m lucky enough to say hello to people who love me.

Bloody hell and best wishes,

Robin