2017: A Year In Review & YEARBOOK

Friends, we have arrived at the end of this year. A part of me can't believe how fast this year has gone through, while another part does, with every tiring bone in my body begging for the new year-- or another nap! While I'm soaking in all the break has to offer, with college apps and most pertinent on my check lists completed, let's take a look back on how this past year has gone by, shall we?

Writing. Considering how limited my time for drafting and plotting was due to everything life decided to throw at me, only several projects came to fruition this year.

My two Silver Keys in the Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards. This is one of the bigger events happening in the world of writing this year. I’m a bit saddened as this is also my last year for entering the competition, being a senior, but I’m incredibly pleased and blessed to see the amount of growth occurring. Besides several blogging friends, the process for entering has been a bit lonely on the writing spectrum although many of my friends are competing in the art categories, so we shall see how well that goes once regional results come out late January / early February! Hopefully I get awarded at the National level— one of the worries about art judgement is much of it is subjective, but again, we shall see what the results have to say!

I’ve joined a monthly poetry group at school headed by some of the teachers. Poetry appealed to me, but more or less I remained apathetic until I got into watching slam around late August. I didn’t realize how many of my friends are actually poets until I showed up, although when I did, it made sense. We were all slightly intimidated by the continual tone of poetry others read (mostly dark, but luckily the coordinators had light lively videos to show). I’m really excited to see this start up once again at the end of the semester.

Ah, yes. So much happened in life I wasn’t able to capture for the blog!

The big things: traveling and volunteering, of course! My family was fortunate enough to explore all around town and places both south bound in the state, as well as possessing the opportunity to visit Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon, and intertwined with those weekends of traveling was library volunteering, where after many months, my family members finally allowed me to drive solo. It’s strange because it’s winter and my driving is limited, but whenever I open my car, the scent smells of summer, with the heater blasting at medium despite the outdoors edging near eighty.

Volunteering over the summer was great, meeting with the new coordinator and having incredibly random interactions in a closed library (such as singing “It’s the Hard Knock Life” while wiping down the shelves and inducing one of the rising eighth graders what MySpace and Facebook games were). Volunteering at the library over first semester was a bit different, with the opportunities more sparse, but still the same amount of weird happenings: pranking the boss with a pizza call, stuttering in front of the camera when the local news cast came up and ask what I was doing at the civics fair (I was a volunteer making pin buttons and doing a very awkward job at them), and hosting a Halloween party with over four hundred people.

Also, I met a blogger in real life and we became somewhat friends all because of library volunteering WHAT?

Some other random moments which happened all this month: Our Calculus class of twelve now has a quote board and a Twitter Page, NHS members vlogging featuring my DSLR, and a friend and I rapping Eminem REALLY LOUD in the car as we drive out to the DMV and post office.

Also, math. Just in general. I may write a post about this in the New Year, but this year was practically defined by something called Calculus.

I blogged more than last year, but it’s still sparse— I’m planning posts much more in advance, though. There were a lot of personal posts written. Here is a post on artAnother post on mental health. A third post about a fear in blogging. However, much of everything I’ve done this year has been mostly collaborative!

First, I became a part of two writing-affiliated sites in the blogosphere, Rebellious Writing & Ravenquill Press respectively. I’m both involved with both, so don’t hesitate to check on those! Many know about Rebellious Writing, but don’t know about the latter. Ravenquill Press is a community of bibliophiles with a thirst for literature mostly in the past, though we are heavily invested in emerging lit in the present day, and we’re looking for many people to join.

Secondly, I did three post collaboratives! The first of this year was with Anna and Anna (aka Anna Squared) about book to movie adaptations, while the second one a romance stereotype collaborative with the The Mango Queen, which you can read her post here. The last one, done with May (again, the one and only Mango Queen) and Charis, who I was so fortunate to meet, and we tackled on how blogging helps with social anxiety. Doing collaboratives are some of my favorite things to do in the blogging world, and I’d love to do more of them frequently!

Wow, 2018. A TON of stuff is going to go down, including:

// COLLEGE. I’ve sent most of my applications to all of my universities and received two acceptances so far to some of my schools on the West Coast, which is crazy insane, although it would be nice to go somewhere more East bound and get a taste of what life has to offer, even if the most East bound I get is along the Midwest. I’m nervous, but I’ve done all I can— the best thing for me to do now is wait and see what the next several months bring.

// Fingers crossed, THEATRE. I haven’t been completely absent from the theatre world— I was backstage crew for one of the productions this past year, although I miss the thrill of the triple threat on stage and rehearsing for two hours on end which is a bit too much at times, but still fun. I also found my jazz shoes after a year of panic and they're screaming for me to start dancing in them again.

// GIVING BACK. I have a ton of projects I want to accomplish all within the next several months to thank everyone who helped me throughout high school and who I have good memories with which you’ll all see a sneak peek of sometime in March, hopefully!

// MORE WRITING, of course! There’s a small series I’m wanting to start on the blog involving writing and videos. I won’t say much more, but if you’ve read this post carefully, there may be a hint as to where this is going. This may start in January or February.

// AND MORE TRAVELING & LIFE LIVING. My family is brainstorming places to visit this upcoming summer, including the north end of the state, or somewhere although the East Coast once again. Either way, I'm so stoked!

Now, for the part most of you have been waiting for-- the blogger yearbook! Take a look down below, peruse through the pages, maybe get to know someone you introduced yourself to yet! Who knows? I've poured over fifty hours on this, but I hope you all enjoy it as we relax on this final day in 2017.
Name one good thing that came out of 2017 for you, and name something you look forward to in 2018! Do you like the yearbook? Also, would you like to do a collaborative with me in the New Year? (If so, shoot me a comment below!) I hope all of you have a wonderful 2018!

The Power & Strength in Silence.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about quietness and silence—two words synonymous at first glance but diverge the deeper the meanings are inspected.

I’m a huge advocate on speaking on what’s on one’s mind and standing up for my beliefs. The moment someone violates a value of mine, I’m immediately stand up, garner a stance, and ready to debate it out. Despite this being a momentous topic played in the media and something I want, being silent is a negative aspect, as if a person has nothing to contribute to a discussion or opinion on such a manner. However, this is not the tangent of silence I would like to discuss today.

I’ve lately had a renewed initiation into the world of silence and quiet after several weeks of bombarding voices, including friends who are getting into their dream schools (MIT! Yale! Colorado School of Mines! Washington University in St. Louis! Montana State! Harvard! A lot of these are full-rides or most tuition covered!), demands made by all the adult figures in my life to prep for life and exploration after high school, as well as the negative voices in my head screaming every time a multi-tiered tension physics problem emerges with various blocks moving as the system accelerates and the question demands to find the minimum acceleration force. There have been a ton of good emerging as well: ranting about life with others, sending snail mail to some friends, and getting cheered on as I tackled the book tree and tried to see my luck in choosing either a library or ARC.

I do have times where I retreat and try to bask in the alone time I have, but one of the things I’ve realized as I’ve entered this semester and just in growing up, in general, is the increments of that silent moments slowly decrease. Slowly, they become less and less and transform time where others are demand aspects demand for more of your attention, which is fine. It’s like a cup of tea—while enjoyable, sometimes it’s too diluted for a person to see a reflection, but instead of a reflection, there’s a lack of voice, and we have to fight to gain some of the time back. I’ve also raved on so much this year about the importance of self-care and taking care of your own mental health and almost underlying, stepping back and just expelling negative voices does come hand in hand.

Here are three other things I’ve learned about silence:

// While it’s good to have others help input opinions and while they should be taken into consideration, you’re making decisions that will affect you, so take the time to think hard to yourself as to the cumulative scope. This is something I’ve seen as I worked through most of my college apps. A lot of the choices going into consideration besides cost and location is, “Why do I want to apply here? Will this be a good fit for me? Should I double major or should I start off with this instead?” While some of you readers may not take the college route at all, there are a lot of areas also affected by this thought process as well. Kate Emmons, the author of The Blood Race, mentions in her q&a, the reason she refrained from continuing down the traditional publishing route was because of the lack of creative control she had with her novel.

// Enjoy the quiet moments—and honestly, you don’t have to share them all the time. Some of you older readers may remember my eighth-grade self, creating a blog post every single week about everything I did and ate, as well as the awkward details regarding my endeavors, but as junior and senior year passed, I felt less obliged to post more of these. Part of the reason was because most of my junior year dedicated itself to dance and volunteering at the library, where public photography is limited, and while I haven't gotten rid of them completely, I realized I reveled and appreciated these memories more when they're kept to myself. They haven't all entirely gone away just yet— second semester is bound to have more frequently life update posts.

// If the silence becomes too overbearing after some time, speak. Silence can be good to step back, but sometimes the voices in our heads become too overpowered and it's okay to say, "I Am Not Okay," just as Eve, Elle Storset, and myself have all recently admitted. I often resort to spending hours of texting friends, often for support and subject understanding (as they help me understand concepts that aren't as easily intuitive than others).

What do you think about silence? How has the remaining days of the semester been treating you? Also yearbook update: slowly making progress on turning it into a reality! Will be somewhat more done next week.

Teen Art Council at the Museum? What I've Been Up To

Good morning, town! (Not pictured: me freezing in front of the entrance, forgetting where the side entrance was)

Walking along the busy streets! 

Or are they busy? Hmm...

Great news, everyone: I'm not dead! The reasons for my almost month long absence can be deduced as the usual status quo of school taking up most of my time, but while I was gone from the online world, my endeavors in the real world have taken quite an interesting turn all thanks to some events that transpired this past January.

Around the weekend of the Women's March, my brother and I decided to take a photography class at a museum in town. I remember pursuing on the museum's website and stumbling across a teen art council. The concept sounded amazing, working with other artists within a fifty mile radius and collaborating on projects towards the museum. The deadline for submissions into the program had surpassed, so I decided to table the opportunity until the upcoming school year rolled around. I entered into other programs, prepared my application, and fulfilled all of my requirements. There was an interview process involved with all of this, as a large application pool applied. The moment I got back from homecoming did I check my email and scheduled a time to interview the following week.

My experience with interviews have been lukewarm, since I had done them twice before: once, as a freshman who couldn't get the teen advisory board position at the library since I had been too young to drive, and twice, applying to Summit Media as an unpaid intern, although this one did not count as most of the interview was through email. Tuesday or Thursday afternoon, a car dropped me off and the interview process began.

The interview was not as daunting as I thought it would! The director of the program introduced herself, and we sat for twenty minutes discussing future plans after high school, alongside the various art forms we both immersed ourselves in and were willing to try out. It was mostly the two of us in the middle of the forum, flailing over the displays and referring to one another as "young grasshopper." I got thrown off for a bit because the director seemed a lot like Abbiee (by the way she talks and addresses everyone), so for the first several minutes I was thrown into a loop. The only part I worried over was the interviewer scribbling down some notes onto her clipboard, but it's common procedure, I suppose.


An image within an image within an image?

We have to just do two.

Why not try three? Why not go any further and try... Nine?

After the interview, I didn't hear back. 

I waited.

And waited some more.

I waited for two weeks, and I started to get a bit anxious that I didn't get in-- however, after emailing to check things back, it was official that I got in! There were three other Abby's in the program, and emailing all three of us got rather confusing.

A slight disclaimer: most of my art revolves around writing, alongside performance art, and while I've divulged into the visual arts, it's not a strong suit of mine. So, once we were instructed during one of our meetings that we would draw in pen and use a water brush for blending, the words somewhat mushed together. I tried my best to draw the birds in the museum the best I could, but they ended up looking discombobulated with strange proportions and awkward shading pages. Everyone else had gorgeous etches and discussed the properties of coquille paper so eloquently, it was hard to keep up. I remember leaving the first meeting feeling incredibly curious but also very daunted.

One of (three) pianos in the space. They've been played so much, some of the exterior white coating chipped off. They're also VERY out of tune.

I don't really know what the exhibit was for this piece, but it had something to do with a revisit of childhood, as much as I can tell...

Are those, gasp, CD-ROMS? Why yes, yes they are.

Old stage lights!

When I returned, however, our class got introduced to the neatest thing by a guest artist: fractals. Fractals are images that are constantly on repeat, such as a room surrounded by mirrors; the image never ceases. As probably guessed from the above images, we stacked old Mac computers on top of each other, and, through a series of wires and cameras, allowed for the images to produce on the screens. It was hilarious, as the director stepped in front of the projector and danced around.

"Hey!" I screamed. "This isn't a music video!"

"Or is it?" she replies. The room we were in, a large open studio in the middle of an art mall (yes, such a thing exists) was wide open and almost empty except for the stacks of miscellaneous theatre items from an art house I used to work with. The guest artist and the director let us traverse through the piles to discover items from three out of tune pianos all the way down to bicycles with a buggy and a radio attached to the front. Note to self: never honk the bicycle horn really loud unless you want everyone's attention on you.

What could a buggy be doing down here? None of us were really sure...

Radio on a bike? #thenewfuture


"Did the Narnian lamp post get uprooted again?"


Hawkins Middle AV, jealous, perhaps?

Cash register ft. miniature sticky notes inside the buttons.

You got to "C" all of these "CDs!" Gosh, that was such a cringey pun...

More open spaces.

Hello, ancient Apple computer I haven't used since elementary.

Childhood exhibition, part two?

Immerse yourself in art.

After returning back to the museum, our group huddled inside the auditorium and learned about how to set up fractals digitally through a long-haul coding process. One funny thing that happened was when the guest artist asked everyone what images they wanted as a fractal overlay, and everyone screamed to go with Tiny Kitchen videos. And I kid you not, a fractal featuring a Tiny Kitchen video on how to make lasagna projected itself onto the board.

The next meeting isn't for another month, which I'm absolutely heartbroken over, but several events, such as an local and state film festival are taking place, but I'm incredibly excited to see what happens next! As long as I don't have too much paint on my clothes...

Projector fractals!

Oh, we did more than just using triangle shapes for these... although they awfully remind one of the 

Projector lights just because.

Isn't the museum hallway pretty?

Aren't fractals pretty? If you were under the tutelage of the museum, what kinds of art forms would you like to explore? Have you ever done interviews (and are they scary? Or not)? Let me know in the comments below!

Your Art Isn't Just a Hobby. It's a Passion. // On Art, Social Validation, & Creation

One of the most irksome comments arising in conversations regarding art is someone's easy dismissal of my writing as "just a hobby," and I'm sure many artists who aspire to make a career out of it, whether in film or painting or whatever medium used, have encountered this at one time or another. There's a sense of belittlement and tinged awkwardness behind their expressions staring back, yet all one can do is nod politely and continue on.

It's frustrating to encounter these kinds of comments for one reason: it derives a person's artistic ability and presuming there isn't any way to become successful. Yes, the art world is known for it's plethora of individuals trying to make a name for themselves and make a living out of their work. Outside the art sphere, an even greater populace looks down condescendingly, thinking artists, the "doomed and starving," don't contribute anything to society, which is a red flag.

Art provides light, insight, imagination, perspective, causing those who immerse themselves into it to have a better understanding. Art transcends into tangible silk with numerous facets. Art is traversal, subversive, and visceral, getting voices out there who feel the need to express it when they can't vocally do it themselves.

Most importantly, art is whatever a person wants it to be.

The thoughts kept resonating in my head as my family and I drove back from The Homey Boardwalk Town and the future of senior year laid impending on my shoulders. The greater fear of life after high school just paralyzes me. Now, I know for some bloggers, their parents allow them to live with them right after graduating high school to pursue their passions, and they are incredibly lucky to have that chance. For numerous reasons I can't elaborate on, it's not an option for me. My parents did give me a choice to support me in my future writing endeavors including potentially studying it somewhat in at the post-secondary level as long as I have a job that would help sustain me.

Does this mean I'm giving up my dreams as a successful published author? Not at all. I do understand where my parents do come from and how much of a struggle it was to move over here as a first generation Filipino-American where back where my place of birth had only a fourth of the opportunities I have here, and I am going to study something I'm incredibly passionate about doing. Going this route doesn't mean I'm giving up on my dreams. Going to university to major in something that isn't writing based doesn't make me less of a writer.

On that same token, just because someone is ahead of you in the art world, bulked up by accolades and publishing deals, does not mean that you are any less of an artist capable of success. I have writing friends who have won competitions and have been endowed some of the highest levels of national awards there is for those under eighteen, whereas I've only been acknowledged for a couple awards at the regional level. Of course, they started much before I did be regardless, the lack of success now does not define that I stink. Comparison is an ugly poison, dear friend. Over the years I've learned focusing on one's own progress instead of comparison, however tempting it may be to succumb to its clutches, help make tremendous bounds in spirit and progress.

The key to success isn't a MFA in Creative Writing, or becoming a Poet Laureate, my friends, but passion. Passion is the key to all things: to dreams, to relationships (both platonic and otherwise), the drive towards success despite the hardships enveloping when all you want to do is lay in your bed and weep. There are days when the winds howl salt scalding into open wounds and all a person can hear are painful howls coming from their mouth, days when the darkness takes toll and convinces this dream won't be fulfilled. The art world is a hard business, friend. It's one of the most brutal because it takes something so dear to one's heart and opens it up for all the world to see and people may not like it.

So keep going. Keep creating. Keep smiling and laughing and crying and feeling. Keep going during this NaNoWriMo, during this time of college applications. Our passions are the most draining things, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, but like the feeling of satisfaction that rolls over in the end, it's always worth it.

Have you had similar thoughts? Are you doing NaNoWriMo? Also, sign up for the Blogger Yearbook! Submissions are due by November 16th!

Your Mental Health is Important.

Your mental health is important. Reiterating these words may appear pointless to some, but I cannot emphasize this enough. Your mental health is important.

These past several weeks: headaches throbbing due to the lack of water. Quiet coffee shop sessions featuring two introverts trying to start a conversation turned awkward. Four days in a row eating dinner skimpily. Lunches spent in solidarity without the company of friends. There are days I’d wake up feigning away exhaustion heavy as the feeling in my chest and just want the days to end as early as they’ve started. And yes, I’ve broke down crying multiple times. All I’ve been holding on to are the sparse moments with friends, snippets of volunteering and slam poetry and just laughing and crying and going through this perpetuating cycle.

Today, my footing has stepped into place. My college applications have been reigned in, I sent in scholarships, and perhaps I’m understanding what’s been going on in one of my toughest classes these past several weeks. I’ve talked to people fervently and visited friends, refracting different colors. My expressions are bright and iridescent so everyone can see the struggles. Here are reminders that’s good to be reminded every once in a while:

// It’s okay to say everything is not okay. Society tells us to dictate, to “suck it up, buttercup. Bottle it up.” I am telling you right now, this may be a great solution short term, but keeping your problems inhibited and not acknowledging them may make things worse. You have the choice of knowing what defines you, and what is weighing you down right now, know this does not. You have that choice. Let the armor fall, allow your skin to touch the air, however harsh it may be. Wrap yourself up in warm blankets fresh out of the dryer and just feel comfortable. Let go of the baggage. Go contact a friend or mentor and just hash out everything with them. 

// With that said, it’s okay to cry.I won’t rehash out this out, but if you’d like to hear my thoughts on the subject, there’s a post about it in the archives.

// There is no shame in having to drop events or itinerary to-dos. Come back and work at full capacity when you’re ready to do so. Doing things without your full best effort, while laudable, isn’t the best. In fact, just let all expectations go and just move through life allowing wiggle room to be surprised / shocked / out-of-schedule.

// Know that you are entitled to having free days to just relax. For me, those days consist of going out by myself to places with a lot of people, just basking in all of the chatter around me, and bringing something rejuvenating for me to do. That may be simple as visiting a book store or going out and walking around the woods, marveling at the leaves. Again, another post here.

// Lastly, take care of yourself. This is you. You may be fifteen or twenty, or perhaps an adult approaching their middle years. Maybe you’re even eight, but know this: you have only one body and one mind in this life, so take care of it. Don’t let stress overrun you. Drink water. Sleep well.

Perhaps a few may be tired about the same sayings coming out from my mouth, but they are universal. Struggles will always come around. I want to be real about the things that I go through. My classes may say ups equal the downs, and they’re right.

To days to be good to yourself.