When I’m living in San Diego, my mom and I talk on the phone practically every day, so I wasn’t surprised when I saw a call from her come in at 9pm on a Wednesday night.
“Did you see the picture?” was the first thing she said when I picked up. I raised my eyebrows in mild concern at my housemate, who was seated cross-legged on my bed (we had been studying for our respective upcoming exams). Then, I put my mom on speaker and opened our text conversation to be met with this:
I’ve written a lot of posts over the years about how the posts I write today may very well be terrible in the distant (or near) future simply because of individual growth over time. Lately, I’ve been grappling with the decision to leave my old writing up on this website, available for any and all eyes—do I really like that my current reflections about science, media, and more are filed next to school recaps, novel excerpts, and terrible first-draft short stories from when I was thirteen?
When the rain started pouring down, I didn’t make any move to find cover. We had just returned from a sweltering, dusty, who-knows-how-many-miles-long hike through the Sierra Nevada mountains, so the brisk thunderstorm was a welcome surprise.
Our intern cohort (plus several advisors) had scaled slopes through a charred forest in search of the vast meadows we knew to be at just a slightly higher elevation. The forest had undergone a controlled burn in an attempt to protect and restore biodiversity—as fire clears long-dead organic matter, it creates room for new life to recycle those materials into their own success. As the burn flickers on, the older, larger trees continue thriving and supporting other life, from their roots to their canopies.
Some reflections on lessons learned so far from my ongoing internship and other summer involvements.
When I got the acceptance email, it took me until the first day of the internship to believe that it was true. Fast forward one week, and my disbelief-turned-acceptance had morphed into a pit in my stomach that left me feeling flustered, anxious, and frustrated at myself.
After landing a spot in a program I’d had my eye on since high school, after already hearing my mentors express their excitement to have me around for the summer, after active participation in discussions about science, I still felt like an outsider. It wasn’t a new feeling; throughout my undergraduate experiences, I’ve been fighting the voices in my head that tell me I don’t belong in many of the spaces I spend my time.
phormium [New Zealand flax] // taken with a macro lens attachment in my backyard!
“Get a keyboard, label all the notes, and practice identifying them by ear. Okay?”
My music teacher smiled and waved goodbye to me and my two classmates. My five-year-old hands hugged my half-size violin case closer to my chest. Every week after, she played short, sweet notes on her violin and asked us to name them with our eyes closed, over and over in different intervals until we could sing them back to show our understanding. She explained that, in order to play Carnatic–South Indian classical–music on our violins, we first had to train our ears and voices. Continue reading →
George, two madreporites and all, surrounded by sea stars galore. (photo at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, CA)
Ice-cold water shocked my hand as it breached the shallow tank’s surface. A rainbow of colors glittered up through gentle currents. Diverse sea animals carpeted the basin, unaware of the crowd eager to feel their spiny skin or soft tentacles.
There at the Aquarium of the Pacific’s touch tanks, I fell in love with a cerulean-colored sea star. The bright blue wasn’t what caught my eye, though. Continue reading →