The Good Short Life

•July 18, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Dudley Clendinen doesn’t have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: he has Lou – the familiar, less threatening creature that he named. When we see the half empty glass of water (the state in which Clendinen is), we see A.L.S., we see death. But Clendinen shows us that the glass is also half full – half-full with life. Death is not the antithesis of life, but that withering end of life that makes us realize its value and understand that the things that make up the pinnacle of life – friends, families, success – are not necessarily the domineering potentates of our years. Though death is natural it should not be treated too naturally…too casually as Clendinen does in one of his paragraphs; death is not a hasty ending to be made simply because the homework has been done and there is a plan as to how to “snuff out” life. As he says in the later paragraphs, one slowly dances into life, giving as much time and thought as one gives about life.


Feeling the Power

•June 4, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Musicals. There are no in-between feelings when it comes to musicals; you either love it or hate it. Those who do not enjoy musicals find it is too much over-dramatization to bear. It is really the whole thing about breaking in the midst of a conversation and singing that gets them. And of course, bad singers make it worse. I can understand where they are coming from, but my argument as to why musicals are downright one the greatest forms of art is that it provides a context. There is a story, there is an action behind the words they are singing, and most importantly, it’s direct. There is no “transcendental meaning” to figure out or complicated mind reading to do. Musicals has its way of making the singers’ emotions transparent to the audience. Kristin Chenoweth is the kind of Broadway singer who not only has the skill, but an amazing ability to reach out to the audience. The first time I heard Kristin Chenoweth was when I listened to her songs from the musical Wicked. I admire her as a singer because she has a great voice, and she’s got personality. She is an expressive singer who knows how to tell a story with a voice, with her face. You’ll see what I mean after you watch the video below where Kristin Chenoweth sings “Taylor the Latte Boy”

Musicals give me a big voice that I don’t usually have. I’m not just talking about the volume (although it does get loud), but the power and confidence that I feel and hear from my voice. If I’m happy or depressed or angry I only have to let it out through my voice. Singing changes me. I become a much different person as a singer. Someone passionate and frank.

The Problem (?) With My Blog

•June 2, 2011 • Leave a Comment

No, my blog is not shutting down for technical reasons, not yet at least. Although it will soon because as Bobby from our English class says, “A blog is like a person: It lives its years, and dies when the days are up.” So else from the fact that my blog will sooner or later meet its gradual death, the problem with my blog is this: self-absorption. A blog is a space (a public space mind you) where people write about their interests, and that interest for me happened to be life. Not music, books, sports, fashion or anything but life. As you may or may not know from reading my previous entries, I have mostly written insights about my day-to-day life. The ideal answer as to why I wrote these kinds of posts would be “I hoped others could connect with my experiences”, but my intentions were quite different. It was very clear to me that the blog entries were intended more for me, than for the audience. And when you turn a blind eye to the audience who might be reading it, then there is a problem: a blog is not a blog anymore, but a public diary. The idea of a public diary if you think about it is very intimidating, but somehow I have managed to do it for the past two years.

The problem with my blog may be a mixed blessing. I’m not saying that it is not a problem, (a problem is still a problem) but because of it I have become more self-conscious. The blog had become an unintended reflection of my state, and so when I compared some of the first few posts with the latest ones, I saw that I was slowly “taking me outside of myself”. Yes, all the posts were still about my day-to-day life, but it wasn’t just me rambling on about my depression, my miseries, my brutal criticisms about friends and life. It was me and the world around me seen under a brighter light. A girl who used to talk of back-stabbing friends, blunt life, and fear have come to talk of true friends, love, courage, and dreams. The change to me felt subtle, but when I stepped back and looked at it, it was something much more. So I guess in the end I was half-glad that I made the mistake of being too self-absorbed because without it I wouldn’t have had a space to reflect upon myself, upon who I was.

Empty Cans, Empty Years

•May 31, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Firsts mark the most important moments of our lives: first step, first school day, first love, first ________________ (fill in the blank whatever applies to you). Well, I set up my first Facebook account several months ago (I can hear the half-hearted yeah’s and congratulations). In today’s high-tech society of 24/7 status updates and virtual pokes, I thought that setting up my first Facebook account merited some significance. So did my first Facebook account revolutionize my social life? Sadly, no, but I did get to find some of my elementary school classmates back in America. A high schooler looking for her elementary school classmates on Facebook. How can your social life get more backward than this? I’m already in high school, yet I’m still stuck in the mind of a 5, 6th grader. It was as if time froze for me back then, and my five years after that was like an empty can: you know a lot of things must have happened during those five years, but there is really nothing you see in those five years. So in a sense my body was living in the year 2011, and my brain was still lost in the ancient year 2006. When I looked at their photos and their list of new friends, the effect was even more amplified; I was going back in time while others were progressing forward. This told me two important things about my life five years ago, and my life now: 1) Although those two years in America were the hardest years of my life there was satisfaction, fulfillment, and energy 2) There are still all these things in my life now, but it lacked pith. The reason why I pedaled backward, while my friends pedaled forward was that in a sense I wanted to relive those moments, but didn’t know how to relive them now. More social life? More concentrated hours of study? More goals to achieve? The list goes on, but I knew that refilling those empty years, and the years now was going to take some time and a lot of patience.

Visit to the Aquarium

•May 22, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I need a pleasant break from my usual life talk posts (and I guess the bloggers from my emotionally loaded language) so I would like to talk about my favorite place on earth – aquarium. The only aquarium I’ve went to in Korea is the one in Coex, and every summer I somehow managed to persuade (beg would be the more accurate word to use) my older brother to go with me. As a result I’ve managed to go to the same aquarium with my brother three times (many apologies to my brother), and once by myself last Friday. So let me introduce some of the coolest species around the place.

First up, Soft shell turtles. As the name implies, they have an unusually soft shell, sharp teeth and fast movement, all attributes that many would not connect to the stereotypical image of slow, moderately tempered turtles. You can’t really see it from the picture, but the two white appendages sticking out at the very back of the tank would be its feet. One the queerest things about this aquarium is that they have a lot of albino organisms. This particular Soft shell turtle is also an albino. (Note: albinism is a genetic condition with defective melanin-producing mechanism)

Except for the widely known fact that they generate electricity (sometimes up to 850V), one random and rather disgusting fact about these guys is that their excretory system is located below their jaw (I won’t go into specifics). The organs dedicated to the production of electric currents make up about four-fifths of their body. It’s a bit chilling when you think about it but I guess it is important for their survival considering that they have poor eyesight and the electric currents in a sense act as their “eyes”

African lungfish has an interesting evolutionary history, and that’s probably the biggest reason why I included it on this list. It is thought be an ancestor of amphibians, and its anatomy proves that: it has both lungs and gills (to those who have quite recently suffered from AP Bio… overdose how would this organism’s circulatory system look like? Just curious) and two funny-looking appendages (probably a vestigial structure) located in the latter section of its body

Kissing gourami are quite popular among aquarists, and I’m guessing among couples because of their “kissing” behaviors, but let’s show these guys a little respect so that every time we see them we don’t say, “Ow, aren’t they just cute!” when actually they are displaying agnostic behavior. Yes, agonistic behavior. Imagine how these little guys might feel when we have our noses stuck up to the tank ahhing and owing while they’ve just lost their temper and are fighting each other.

You’ll be surprised to know that they are shark eggs. Well, some species of sharks lay eggs, some have live offsprings. These particular shark eggs are from Bonded bamboo sharks. Enclosed in tough covers and anchored to surfaces, they are relatively well protected from predators and water currents that might otherwise sweep them away.

This turtle or should I say turtles is two-headed. A chance that a two-headed turtle is born is extremely slight, and it’s amazing that they’ve actually survived to grow this big. Imagine two brains, two central nervous systems controlling one, same organ systems. From what I’ve researched in Wikipedia (a very reliable source) there are several cases of two-headed snakes. Only in case of two-headed snakes the situation is much bloodier: sometimes they will attack each other and injure each other severely.

Coex aquarium is pretty cool, but my next wish is to visit Busan aquarium, which I heard is bigger (I don’t know if my brother reads my blog posts or not, but this would be another heads up for him!)

Confidence Level in Decline

•May 17, 2011 • 1 Comment

It’s after the AP’s now and as my mom would say, I had “time to space out and worry”* So what’s been buzzing around my head lately? As usual, life (I know it sounds really cheesy when you actually say it but hey, it’s important). These days I would sit with myself (I mean alone), feeling uncertain about this adolescent girl who doesn’t wear converse (or skinny jeans), stammer in English class, but talks like she’s never talked before when she goes back home. So I ask, “I’m Claire Yang?” (shame my last name doesn’t have enough syllables to sound right!), and the little Ed Harken in my mind would shout, “Who typed a question mark there?!” Well, for me the real question was really why I typed a question mark there, and how I typed it there. This may sound a little egotistic (okay, a lot), but several years ago I knew who I was, and I was glad I was me – a hardworking girl who was confident, daring, and energetic. Now I find it hard to relate myself to these words. Yes, hardworking, but confident, daring, energetic? Those are a little doubtful. Sometimes I’m polite and quite, other times ruthlessly cynical and indifferent, and still other times surprisingly casual and upbeat. I hated this shape shifter, this mediocre among others so seemingly kind, smart, and simply great. Once I thought, ‘well, different situations, different attitudes’, but no, this was different. Even though crimson is different from scarlet, and scarlet different from maroon, you know that they are still of the same thematic color – red. But the thing with me is I can’t see this thematic color: my color is just this icky blob you get when you start mixing random colors. Icky, confused, uncertain.

So few months ago, I read Kevin’s blog post. He was talking about how unconfident he was, how bad he felt about not being able to meet up to expectations, and in his last sentences he asked, “how can I feel confident again?” I was going to comment, but I had nothing. How do you feel confident again? Sure you can “think of things you’re good at”, “be more positive about yourself”, but these statements are as unhelpful as those on advisory handouts about How to be a successful student, How to be a good leader. The truth is, there are no instructions you can follow, no quotes so inspirational or influential enough to turn your life around. No, not really even though people always say in their essays or speeches that when they heard this, when they read that their life changed. The hard, simple truth is you gotta live it. You got to see it, you got to hear it, you got to feel it to know, and when you think you can answer that question, how to be confident again, that’s when you will be. So far from my experiences there’s one thing I learned, and that is I don’t have to prove myself to someone else, wait for that acknowledging nod to give myself a legitimate reason to be confident. Being just Claire, and doing what Claire does is more than enough reason to be confident.

*My mom says that if I have time to worry about things that means I have time to dilly-dally (which is not true).

B,B,B Bertie In Us

•April 1, 2011 • Leave a Comment

King George VI was more than capable of speaking fluently, but he was always B,B,B,Bertie in his mind. He never really had a debilitating speech impediment – he simply had no faith, and without faith even a capable man like himself was reduced to a mere stammering king. That is the power of faith – it can bring out the best of you, but without it leaves you helpless. Teachers, parents, friends often throw out the phrase, “Have a little faith!”, and we pass it off as one of those stereotypical encouragements that everyone gives. We do not realize and maybe even the speakers themselves do no realize the value of what they hear or say. But at the face of a difficulty we consider for the first time whether it is really the lack of faith in ourselves that is limiting our opportunities, discouraging us from embarking on new endeavors. Could it be that we are simply being practical about the situation, knowing what we can and cannot handle or is this just an excuse of an intimidated individual who needs a little faith? As I ask these questions in a voice of great uncertainty I’m thoroughly aware of the truth that this is an age when we have faith in god, faith in money, but no faith in ourselves. So we seek to find that faith that we do not often find.