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Archive for the ‘danger’ Category

I woke up really early this morning and tried to get back to sleep, but for some reason I never managed to get comfortable enough to sleep again. When I came out in the morning, my parents told me that there had been a shooting and that school had been canceled. News about a shooting where 2 people died and 6 were wounded has been on TV all morning. Being the skeptical person that I am, I did believe that the shooting had happened, but I wasn’t convinced that school was really canceled. Even though my parents showed me several phone messages and an email that said students should be kept home today, I wasn’t really sure because I heard something on TV about the schools in Cupertino still being open. I thought maybe there were people conspiring with the criminal who thought, “Hey, let’s have the kids stay in their houses today so we can go around the neighborhood and shoot everybody”, but of course my parents dismissed that as my usual paranoia. However, the kids at the elementary and middle schools are apparently being asked to go to school (they just said that again on TV) so I’m not sure why my school district thinks we should stay home… So now here I am at home, simultaneously afraid, bored, and somewhat excited.

I feel like a really selfish person because I didn’t really think long about the fact that people are dead (probably because I’ve never actually known someone who died, so I guess I don’t know how it feels to lose a loved one)…I mostly only thought about “What am I going to do all day? I should be going to class!” and “Are they going to make us go to school for one more day this school year to make up for the day we lost?” But now I’m also really worried because my parents left for work…The shooter hasn’t been caught, so what if he happens to be going the same way as my parents and…? I don’t want to think about this anymore.

I have one complaint right now, and that’s the fact that neither my school district’s website nor my school’s website says anything about school being closed today. They haven’t even updated the lists of teachers since last year, so the teachers and classes that they’re teaching this year are not accurate on the website. Can’t they at least put a message on the home page telling us to stay home because it’s not safe? How hard is that to do?! (But I guess since they called us and sent emails, they think that’s a better way than using the school website…)

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With only two weeks of summer remaining, I’ve decided to make the most of it. My father gave me the A-OK to take walks by myself, as long as I didn’t go too far away from home and remembered to bring my garage opener and cell phone with me.

My plans were foiled the first time that I made up my mind to go outside for a stroll. The sun was particularly high in the sky in the early afternoon, so I decided to wait a few hours for it to go down a bit. But then someone rang the doorbell. I figured that I shouldn’t leave the house anytime soon just in case whoever it was might see me and try to talk to me. Or even worse, he/she might realize I had left home and would try to break in. (Well, we do have an alarm system, but if there’s no one in the vicinity, you could still probably get away with stealing something.)

By the time I figured I could try venturing outdoors, it was already past 5 pm. If I went out now, my parents might return while I was gone. I would have to leave a note for them saying, “I’m fine, don’t look for me” or something (but then they might worry and think I was running away from home). So I figured I’d have to give up on my solo walk for that day.

But on Monday, I gave it another try. I had woken up fairly early that day, so I was already rarin’ to go when it was 11 am. I decided to walk to the end of the street that I live on, where the cul-de-sac is (I happen to live at the very beginning of the street, although someone who lives further down the street once said she thinks of my house as being the end of the street). There are gaps in the fence which you can go through to cross the train tracks and enter the park that is on the other side of the tracks. (The official entrance to the park is at the end of a different street. I usually go in through the little side entrance.)

As I entered the park, I saw that there were squirrels running away, probably to escape me, the big scary monster. There were also a bunch of rather funny birds. I am quite sure they were quails. (Quails are California’s state bird, but I’ve never really seen them before. At least, not that many of them at once) They began toddling off quickly when they realized I was there. I followed them for a while (which made them walk in their awkward way even faster) until they reached a dead end and instead flew up to escape me. I guess they aren’t really used to people. So they only come out at times of day where the people are far away or there aren’t many of them.

I was planning to have a bit of time to myself for quiet contemplation. While walking there I had been feeling quite amiable. However, when I was about to settle down on a bench in the park, I noticed a fly on it. It wasn’t one of those tiny ones that don’t really bother you. It was one of those big fly sort of flies. (Due to my lack of insect knowledge, I can’t tell the species.) There are no other benches in the park besides the picnic tables, which I don’t want to sit at because they are close to the playground and the parents with their little kids will probably think I’m suspicious. (I mean, I was taking a box out of my bag. What if there had been a bomb in it? Though I can assure you I am not at all interested in terrorism.)

Then, soon after I dismissed the park bench as being undesirable, I heard a baby’s crying. I didn’t have much reason to be staying in the park any longer anyhow, so then I left for home, but using a different, longer route. Along the way home I saw a cat, which improved my mood considerably (at least, until it left). Nothing ever turns out perfectly, but I had a lovely time walking by myself. Somehow it’s different when you’re alone. Even if you’re with someone else and you’re not talking to them, you’re still aware of his/her presence. But by yourself, you can let down your guard and relax for a change.

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Saturday was not such a relaxing day as I had expected. My mom wanted me to come with her to attend a seminar, which would have been okay, except that it was in another city, so it took about fifteen to twenty minutes to get to the seminar location.

Before he started talking, the man speaking in the seminar asked who would be fine with hearing it in Mandarin, and many of the people in the room raised their hands. Then he asked who can only hear it in English, and I was the only person to raise my hand. (Sadly, my grasp of Mandarin is still rather lacking, what with us mainly speaking the Shanghai dialect at home. English, being my main language, is much easier for me to comprehend) I hope that I didn’t inconvenience the others there by totally changing the tide. If I hadn’t raised my hand then, the seminar would’ve been conducted in Mandarin, which might be easier for the other people to understand.

After the seminar, since we were in the area, we had ramen for lunch, and then we went to a library. I haven’t been to this library for a long time. I used to go when I was younger, when I went with my mom to her workplace. I feel that the town is a peaceful place. It has these buildings (which I believe are probably a school) with murals on them, and I would like to live in one of the townhouses facing the library. The only setback is the odd smell. My parents told me that there is a landfill nearby and that you can smell the trash from the library. Although I don’t like such smells, I suppose I could get used to it, if I were to move to that town.

While we were driving, I noticed that there was a large cloud of grey smoke in the sky. Something had probably exploded or a fire had been started. It seems that I see these sorts of things a lot. There was one time years back when I saw orangish smoke coming from the mountains near my home. And when I was in Australia last summer, I saw smoke coming from someplace as well.

Fire is a fearsome thing. I have been burned several times in the past, although it was not from a fire exactly…The first time was when I was in fifth grade, I believe. We were having one of those themed days – probably Colonial Day that time. We were doing some woodburning. But I was holding the little pen-like device the wrong way, so I burned myself immediately. Not a pleasant experience, but I can’t remember whether it hurt a lot anymore.

Then, when I took cooking back in seventh grade, I was burned when I accidentally touched a cookie sheet that was still hot. I always seem to get injured doing something ridiculous. Like how I pulled my leg muscles while rolling around in bed. And how I banged my knee when escaping from the door (the doorbell had just been rung, and I usually flee when someone is there, unless I’ve been expecting a person). I wonder if someday I’ll really get in serious trouble through my careless actions.

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Not that long ago, in language arts, we were doing a group project that involved a skit. We had to meet up outside of school to film it because there was no time in class given for doing so. We met up at the school and went to one of the girls’ houses. We knew one of the members of the group would be showing up late, so we tried to call her to let her know that we were meeting at the house instead, but we weren’t able to get into contact with her. We ended up going to the school again to try and find her. But we didn’t see her anywhere.

We decided to go onto the school campus to look for her. It would’ve been okay, but there was something we didn’t expect going on at the time: Japanese school.

We went onto the campus and walked around looking for our fellow group member, but we were stopped by a guy. He said, “What are you doing here?” We told him that we were from this school. He seemed confused. I don’t think he understood that we were talking about the actual school that’s in session during the weekdays…I think he thought we meant the Japanese school. He seemed very suspicious of us and kept staring at us and following us as we walked around.

It made me feel really unsettled. I didn’t really have a reason to be uncomfortable since I didn’t commit any crimes and I AM a student of the school, but still, I felt like I was being considered an outsider, a stranger, perhaps even dangerous. It was as if I didn’t exist during the weekdays when I came to school as a student.

But I am a student there, and it is a familiar place to me, so it bothers me that I would feel this way when Japanese school is going on. Even more unsettling is the fact that Japanese school has been here for quite a while and I’ve never seen it going on until now. And it makes me realize how many things about this world I still don’t know.

But I guess that’s to be expected. It’s like Mandarin – Even if you study all your life, you will never be able to learn every character in the language. And even if you lived your whole life trying to discover everything in the world, you wouldn’t be able to. But you can always try. The quest for knowledge is neverending.

I kind of wish I had chosen to take Japanese in high school. I like French, and since I have already started it, it is best to continue with it, but at the same time I also wish to know Japanese. I think both of them are very beautiful languages. For now I can only learn Japanese through watching anime, but someday maybe I’ll be able to focus on it. One time I thought that I would like to learn all the languages in the world and learn how to play all the instruments. Both are quite ambitious goals and I don’t know if I can accomplish them. But I’d rather regret trying than regret not trying…

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One day, at lunchtime, I noticed that a few of my friends seemed to be writing on something. It was a piece of binder paper, and a girl was writing on it in cursive. Upon listening and watching, I realized that she was practicing signatures over and over again.

She was not just practicing her own signature. She also imitated the signature of one of her friends, and I think she got pretty good at it, because the person whose signature she was practicing writing said, “Now you write my signature better than I do.”

It kind of made me think of how risky it can be to let someone get a good look at your signature. With practice, a person could probably replicate your signature pretty well. You either have to have a really wacky one or you have to keep it hidden from other people in case they feel the urge to forge it. Imagine all the things they could sign without your permission! And even if the person was caught trying to use your signature, it’d still be a big hassle.

Speaking of other kinds of signatures, I recently started submitting some of mine to some groups on DeviantArt. They’re all pretty old by now seeing as I don’t make graphics that often anymore (and when I do I am reluctant to post them on DeviantArt, because something I read suggested that perhaps it could be interpreted as art thievery if the artists making images used in graphics did not wish to have their art used in graphics). Well, I know that I have a long way to go (I’ve seen some people who make amazing graphics, and I applaud them) but it does tick me off a bit to be given criticism about older graphics, but I suppose it is better that I just swallow my pride. After all, I am sure no one is purposely trying to bring down my self-confidence, they only am trying to offer tips, so I figure it’s just another challenge that I have to overcome. I would like to get back to making graphics more actively. Perhaps I should take a look at some tutorials. (The only thing is, I feel bad if I rely on a tutorial heavily since I feel like I’m doing nothing more than imitating someone else’s graphics. But then again, imitation is one way of learning…After all, once you’ve improved you can then focus on developing your own unique style.)

Well, I guess it all goes back to that whole “small fish in a big pond” kind of feeling. At times I can be quite overwhelmed by how many amazing people there are in the world – or, on the other side of the coin, how many really harsh people there are (and I’m not talking about what I mentioned in the previous paragraph in this case). But seeing a lot of talent can inspire me to try harder too, so it doesn’t always have to be something harmful. And perhaps by having to deal with unpleasant people will help me to harden myself and get “thick skin”. I only hope that things can turn out well in the end.

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Secret might not be the right word in this case, seeing as I see bees in public places like near the post office and at schools.

I just felt like using this title. I once read a book called The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. (Unfortunately, I can’t quite remember how the ending went because it was a few years ago. I guess if you read a lot of books and if you get distracted by daily life, it’s easy to forget the specifics of books you’ve read.) Apparently there’s a movie now, too.

Some time back, I was at the place I usually spend my brunch break at school, when it seemed that a few people were looking at something. I heard someone say, “Oh no! You’ve killed it!” so I went over to investigate. It was a very weak-looking bee on the ground. It was still alive, but it was unable to fly and grew more and more pitiful until it couldn’t even bother to twitch a leg. One of my friends and I tried to bring it back to life, and transported it using a stick to a leaf. It seemed like the bee was unable to hold on to the leaf – it slipped downward little by little, and we became fearful that it would tumble in to the bushes, never to be seen again. But it seemed to regain some semblance of life and started to move a little.

We tried to put it on a flowering tree, but the bee was not interested and fell onto the ground. Then another girl came along, seemingly out of nowhere, and picked up the bee with her hands. The bee seemed to be much more energetic upon being touched by a human and began to move actively. The girl started to walk off, so we followed her to the grass field, where she set the bee down on the grass.

Today I came across another bee, though it was not so close to death as the one I had seen previously. It was still moving along, though it seemed to also be unable to fly. My friends and I tried to get it interested in a flower, but the bee was not interested. It would turn and change directions every time we shoved the flowers in its face. We also tried leaves and sticks but the bee would fall off every time we tried to move it from one place to another. One time it seemed as though we had been successful, as the bee was finally displaying interest in the flowers, but then the bee fell off again. My friend insisted on handing whatever stick or leaf the bee was climbing on to me because she feared the bee would sting her. I think it’s fine as long as the bee is unable to move quickly and if you avoid the rear end of the bee. After seeing the girl from before handle a bee, and as they seemed to get along quite well, I am less fearful of bees (at least, bees that are walking on the ground, not the very active bees flying about at the speed of light).

I am hoping to use such logic to convince my mother to let me have a dog. If you are not familiar with something, it is not unusual to be fearful of it. In fact, I was intimidated by dogs, but I’ve met several of them and realized there is nothing to worry about (except for perhaps abused dogs and dogs with rabies). I’ve petted dogs and been licked by them and they have not bitten me. Be sure to pay attention to body language of animals, though…If a dog is growling at you, it’s best to keep away from it.

My mother hasn’t really been around dogs, and she dislikes them. I think it also has to do with my grandma getting bitten by a dog. I wish my mother would give dogs a chance and spend some time with them. She might feel more kindly towards them if she’d only interact with them a little. (If she still dislikes dogs after that, then I can’t hold it against her.) My mom continues to say that I can have a dog…When I’m a responsible adult. That will still be quite a few years away. And I’m not patient. Especially when I could die anytime and lose my chance forever.

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There’s this song that goes something like “I left my heart in San Francisco” (which I guess I can understand, because I think San Francisco is a nice city, despite apparently having a history of being notorious place). And I thought it was suitable considering what I was thinking about earlier.

The common belief is that being homesick will make a vacation miserable for a person. But I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. It’s true, during the first one or two days of Yosemite, I was trying hard not to burst into desperate sobs, because I was unaccustomed to the rush of Yosemite, the horrible-smelling bathtubs, the thin walls of the tent (meaning that you could hear any loud noise being made elsewhere), and the lack of sympathy from much of the other people (judging from their excited attitudes, since I try to avoid pouring out my heart and soul to people I do not know well).

As is the unusual case here, after a few days, I realized that I would be going home soon, and with this thought in my mind, I acquired a much more positive attitude toward the Yosemite trip. Isn’t it funny how wanting to go home can become your motivation? I kind of figured that if I had fun the time would pass faster and I could go home and sleep in my nice old bed and get to take a warm shower (the showers were so cold, it was warmer when you weren’t showering than when you were showering…). And in this way I was able to enjoy the trip after all, despite being very paranoid for much of the time. I was very fearful during the hiking when we had to clamber up rocks (how precarious! One false move and you would fall all the way to the valley floor) and also when exploring caves (you could slip and break your bones or bang your head on the ceiling! Or you would at least end up with really dirty pants and gloves). But at the same time feeling the adrenaline rush was a good thing since it made me feel adventurous. For much of my life I had been craving something exciting. This is very contradictory considering that I’m a person that likes normality and regular comforting rhythms in their life.

Just the other night, I closed my eyes. I began to imagine that I was back in Yosemite again. I could imagine the covers on my bed turning into the top of the sleeping bag, and the quiet of the room turning into the annoying dripping and banging of the heater… For some reason this gave me a kind of comfort while also making me feel very nostalgic. I wonder if perhaps the reason why I keep waking up really early, like 7:00 am, when I don’t need to get up until 7:45, is that my mind thinks, “Oh no! I am so late for the breakfast at Yosemite!” but that’s not the case at all.

My parents said that maybe some other time, like in 2011, we could go to Yosemite again. I’d like to go back to Yosemite, but I feel like if I went back there, I wouldn’t want to leave. I’d like my days to pass in a national park, the way some people spend a lot of time in Yellowstone, watching the wolves with their binoculars. I’d like to be somewhere where I can see the stars as clear as day and where the trees make the air delightfully fresh. And as dear as home is to me, that place is not here.

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