On the Road: Case Western Reserve University

Dress, H&M ($5)// Shoes, China ($7)// Necklace, Macy's ($5)// Glasses, prescription Ray Ban

"Augh! This is the hardest decision I've ever had to make!" The sound of beeping watches complemented my distraught complaint as my teammates and I began our last summer run.

I was vaguely aware of how ironic--or simply histrionic--my lamenting was. It was a simple schedule conflict, but logic and emotions clashed violently inside of me.

I wanted to take AP English Literature, AP French Language, and AP Physics this year. Problem number one. It turned out that these three classes were all offered in the same two periods. Something had to go.

I solicited the experience of graduated seniors. I explained my worries to my cross country teammates. I emailed my counselor long-winded paragraphs. I pondered my options with my parents. I even called my former chemistry teacher for his advice!

I finally decided to drop AP French and try it flex credit or perhaps second semester post-secondary. I was leaning towards becoming a lawyer, or perhaps an engineer like my parents had always wanted. French was the least of the evils.

But something nagged me. I couldn't do it. I couldn't drop the class I loved so dearly. So I emailed my counselor and met with her a second time. I want to take French...put me in regular Physics! I told her ardently.

I had to come to terms with the fact that I don't want to be and can't be what my parents have always wanted. The hard sciences, while I can do well in them, frustrate me rather than invoke a thirst, an excitement to learn.

I hadn't taken a regular class since Freshman year--and that was only because an honors class wasn't offered for Global History. But I dashed forward, full speed ahead.

But something bothered me again. I wanted to attempt to take Physics C post-secondary second semester. But then I recalled the rather unsuccessful physics labs Freshman year in Physical Science. And my high school offered so many AP science courses. Why not take advantage of at least one?

Take three. I emailed my counselor once more--the subject line? Schedule Change #5021. I'm probably wearing your patience thin, and I definitely don't blame you, but I'd like to take AP Chemistry instead. I typed feverishly.

There were plenty of logical reasons. Many colleges don't even grant Physics B credit for a high school on the AP exam. The score distribution for 4s and 5s on the AP Chem exam was higher last year than on the AP Physics B exam. I couldn't possibly manage the stress of driving half an hour to campus and back in the middle of the day on top of my already-hectic schedule. A few of the colleges I'm interested in have foreign language requirements--French definitely needed to be in.

Then there were the flowery, feathery, emotion-based reasons: I don't really enjoy science as much as I enjoy the humanities. I've always wanted to become fluent in French (hey, who doesn't want that awesome accent?) I love small classes, and French would only have eight people. I've always yearned to travel the world, perhaps volunteer in Haiti and sample pastries in the bustling streets of Paris, and French would definitely help.

So I jumped right back into my final year of high school. Six classes--five AP and one orchestra. It seemed like we had never left school. Tests and quizzes already loomed ominously in the first week. I visited my old chemistry teacher to break the news about my schedule to him.

"Hey, I came to find you to tell you that I'm not taking AP Physics anymore--I'm doing AP Chem instead," I told him somewhat sheepishly.

"So you've come to confess your sins, huh?"

I laughed. But I believe that if I am happy, if I enjoy my classes and what I'm learning, then everything is just right. And so far, it is.

It's been a crazy week already, friends. I feel like from sun up to past sun down, it's just go, go, go! I have outfits and more interesting stories in store for you soon, but I wanted to quickly update about school and post some photos from my in-state college visit to Case Western.

I went into the visit expecting not to like it. After all, it was in-state and in an urban environment. But I felt rather comfortable there and was happy to meet up with a friend who graduated two years ago. It's definitely a viable option. But I keep reminding myself that me picking a school is only half the battle--they have to pick me back! For some reason though, I want a school that scares me a little. As dearly as I hold on to the past, I want plunge into the uncertainty of a new environment, a school hundreds of miles away, a new life. We'll see how all this turns out--it's terrifying, but I'm ready to scream at the top of my lungs, exhilarated at the countless prospects and the final decision. Can I please just fast forward nine months?

A few housekeeping details--I will reply to comments as soon as I find a little down time. You never fail to make me smile, lovelies. I strive to reciprocate the warmth I feel from reading your little notes. Also, I failed to mention that I revived the ol' facebook page about a month ago. Like away if you'd like to see updates about posts! And finally--I added a new section for blog buttons. If you'd like to swap, just give me a holla!

Have a beautiful week.

FitFlops: A Flip-Flop Revolution

Content provided by SoleProvisions:

The design of the humble flip flop has remained the same for over three thousand years, when the early Mesopotamians and Egyptians began using them – until now.  Unfortunately, the traditional flip flop design has a great deal of drawbacks.  While it protects the foot from hot sand and hot pavement, the flip flop does nothing else.  Without any support, flip flops worn for a long period of time can cause a number of foot problems, including over-pronation (an inward rolling of the foot), tendonitis and even ankle sprains.  FitFlop has taken the design of the flip flop and viewed it from a medical angle as well as a comfort angle.  By doing so, FitFlop has completely redesigned the flip flop, eliminating most of the foot problems regular flip flops can case.  You can see some examples of classic FitFlops at www.soleprovisions.com.
To create their shoes, the designers at FitFlop work with doctors to develop a shoe that is fashionable, supportive, cushioning and even toning.  The key to the FitFlop is the three levels of ethyl vinyl acetate or EVA in the sole.  Having three layers allows the heel to be thick and firm to absorb shock, while the toe area has moderate support, with the midsole finishing the set with a soft center.  The reason for the soft center is to create a slightly unstable walking surface spread out over a good portion of your foot.  This unusual walking surface tricks the brain into thinking that the shoe is trying to make you fall.  Although you won’t fall, the brain issues orders to your body that causes the wearer stand up straighter and also to use the leg muscles more for balancing.  

FitFlop footwear has the potential to alleviate pain from the concentration of foot pressure by distributing the pressure over a larger area and thus reducing pain.  At least one academic study found a significant reduction in the pressure load portions of the foot bear when wearing a FitFlop sandal.  
The second generation of FitFlops bear the FF2 label.  A great source for comfort shoe of any shape and size is the internet retailer www.soleprovisions.com.  The FF2 carries some design tweaks that allow FitFlops to go beyond flip-flops to casual shoes and walking shoes for slimmer sizes.  

Given the very recent genesis of the FitFlop sandal and shoe, FitFlop has performed a miracle in terms of the variety of styles, colors and materials it can offer the consumer.  With summer drawing to a close, now is a great time to find deals on FitFlops so you can try your first pair for less.  Once you try one, you’ll be hooked.  

My take on SoleProvisions:

Upon browsing the website, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that such practical shoes could still be stylish. While the prices are far from inexpensive or cheap, often times better quality and support is well worth the value. I learned this firsthand when I bought a pair of Ugg-style boots a couple years ago; while I can safely vouch for the quality--the boots were still Australian-made with genuine sheep's wool--the bottoms wore out quickly. When I examined my friend's pair of real Uggs, however, the soles were still completely intact. Moral of the story: sometimes pricier items are justifiably so!

Below are some of my favorite chic and practical shoes:
A girl can never go wrong with a pair of classic, sensible black heels. I would pair these pretties with a periwinkle skater dress and some silver accents or a monochromatic, black outfit for an orchestra concert.

 The fashionista has to have at least a couple comfy days a week! I'd slip these on in the chillier fall with leggings and a sweatshirt.

Nude dress shoes. Need I say more?
Bronze takes a classic pair of kicks up a notch. These effortlessly-stylish puppies are perfect for giving a girly outfit a touch of edge--styled well with a pretty pink dress!

If you're on the look for a pair of stylish, comfortable, and sensible shoes, definitely take a gander at SoleProvisions.com! With countless options, you'll definitely find your sole mates (;

I Make My Own Sunshine

Dress, Forever 21 ($15)// Necklace, Macy's ($5)// Flats, Target ($6)// Ring, Amy O Jewelry (Chictopia Reward)

As soon as I started walking, I knew something was wrong. The slam of the trunk door was unnervingly final. I looked down at my hands.

Notebook, highlighter, camera, phone...something very important was missing.

You know you're in the right mindset for school to start when you lock your keys in your trunk...I feel like I get into the most stereotypical unfortunate situations. First dropping my phone down a storm drain in the spring, now locking my keys in the car...

But I've met the kindest people through these mishaps. One was a complete stranger who donated hours of his day to help me fish my phone out. Today was a nice park ranger who pried the door open with a fancy set of "secret" tools.

And through all of my emotional debacles, you guys have been seriously awesome to me. Thank you. We had a nice chat last week and now both of us feel much more at peace. We're both beginning new chapters of our lives--he his freshman year of college, me my senior year of high school. But we're equipped to face the life's challenges with the assurance that we have a friend in each other.

"Gosh darn it! We forgot to make a wish!" Candace exclaimed a few moments after we witnessed the shooting star.

"Ah! Oh no!" I sputtered dramatically, "Let's make one now!"

It usually takes me an eternity to make a decision. But this time my heart reached a conclusion as quickly as the silvery light had streaked by.

I wish he and I could be friends again.

I'm beginning to believe that it's coming true. Like for many things, only time will tell.

'Tis the last batch of senior photos...for now hehe. I'd like to be able to snap a few shots with my violin. I'm also looking into investing in a zoom or portrait lens.

The dress is one I happened upon at Forever 21 about a month ago. It would be a perfect formal dance dress, but personally I've never enjoyed the dance scene much. In my last narrative about the last night of cross country camp, I realized I should've written: The flames were dancing...while we weren't.

Sigh. Just another to add to my collection of formal dresses--each time I stumble upon a bargain, I snap it up. I've amassed a total of three formal dresses for under $15 each that I've yet to wear out. Shhh, don't tell about my clothes collector habits (;

Surprisingly, I've no tales of shooting stars or any intentions of waxing philosophical today. It's the last day of summer for me--back to the swing of school, cross country, and orchestra. Often times I feel deeply unsettled before the start of school. Nothing life-changing happened. I didn't do anything remotely extraordinary. A couple thoughts I remember lamenting last year.

But for some reason, this summer is different.

"Now that I think about it Lily, this summer wasn't that great," My best friend said thoughtfully in the car as we embarked on a last summer adventure.

"I think part of it is that we expect so much out of it. When we have such high expectations, it's too easy to fall short."

Every year there a few things I can't check off my summer to-do list. This year, for example, I had planned to make two covers over the summer, but I only completed one. I had hoped to road trip to observe breathtaking meteor showers. And like always, I had hoped to do something life-changing.

But instead, this summer my family drove hundreds of miles in pursuit of my future at various colleges. Instead, this summer I played at my English and History teachers' wedding. This summer, I ate fried zucchini. This summer, I told my best guy friend that I had feelings for him. This summer, I learned more about who I am at a leadership conference. This summer, I ran thirteen miles without stopping. This summer, I saw a shooting star. This summer, I geared up for my final, terrifying, exhilarating year of high school.

This summer, I lived. 

I may not be around as much now. I may not be able to stalk *cough* read your blogs as closely. I may not be able to reply to every comment. But I promise to keep you updated. I may go poof! sporadically these upcoming months because of college applications, but I promise to be back.

I promise to come back with a vengeance.

Until then, my friends.

Put Your Records On

Dress, Von Maur ($14)// Heels, Payless ($30)...I find it slightly ironic that one of my most expensive buys was from a store called Payless// Belt, Forever 21// Necklace, Macy's ($4)// Ring, Amy O Jewelry (Chictopia Reward)

Just the second ol' batch of senior photos. Prepare for an onslaught of photos haha--these were my favorites.

I've felt like a rapid-speed machine ever since I returned from camp. I miss the days when my calendar was empty, before jolting schedule reminders replaced my usually-silent phone. Before menacing yellow squares indicating a packed schedule replaced the white ones indicating a day to do whatever I pleased, on whatever whim.

As much as my teammates and I complained about the straitjacket showers, less-than-appetizing food, two-a-day runs, and cramped, musty cabins, I long for the serene grassy hills, the warm rays of sun, the stretching cornfields, the winding country roads, the long distance runs, the star-dotted sky, the quaint little haven encircled by the tranquil woods.

Oh, I miss cross country camp.

Before I jump into another little tale, I'd like to acknowledge all your kind words on my previous few posts. I hope I haven't sounded like a blubbering, wistful mess. As strong as the pressure to appear perfect is in today's society, I like to treat this blog as a place where I can bare my soul and show others that they are not alone. And perhaps you yourself can pick little tidbits of wisdom up from my ramblings. If I have influenced just one person in a positive way, my heart is content.

If all goes well, I'll be able to talk it out with him tomorrow. To catch up. To fully understand each other. To salvage and rebuild our friendship. 

It's always uncanny when you stumble upon song lyrics or little sayings that suit your situation flawlessly. I named this post after a pretty song by Corinne Bailey Rae because every time I feel a little down, I turn to music to perk my mood up. And today at an Asian buffet, I knew my fortune cookie was not a coincidence.

It said, "The stars appear every night in the sky. All is well."

I developed a penchant for the heavens after reading his essays about the wonders of the sky, after his many texts prompting me to take a look at the gorgeous moon on its brilliant nights. The words left a bittersweet taste in my mouth; perhaps when you fall for someone that hard, certain things will always bring back a wave of numbness.

But enough of that.

The sky is a magical place. I've become intrigued by it, even though I tend to have a strong distaste for all things infinite. The idea of a never-ending universe makes me shiver, I shy away from astronomical science (black holes and the idea of a perpetual free fall through space make me grimace), and though as a child, the “TV Scenario,” a figment of my imagination, may have intrigued me, it also made my mind want to explode. What would happen if you were watching TV and on TV it showed a person watching TV and that TV showed another person watching TV and then another watching TV…and so on? Or what if you were an actor auditioning for a role and the audition scene was an actor auditioning for a role and that scene was an actor auditioning for a role…and so on? Infinity may never end, but my patience definitely does.

Back to the story. Back to my fortune. Back to my last night at camp.

A passive account simply cannot do those beautiful moments justice. Here, I'll attempt to bring it life and relive it through a narrative.

The flicker of the dancing flames radiates warmth as I inhale the cool summer air. Entranced, I am in another world, barely hearing the incessant chatter of my teammates and the deep boom of the blasting dance music complemented by flashing lights in my peripheral vision.  I sigh and glance in the direction the dining hall-turned crowded dance floor. It was never really my scene.

I focus my attention once again on the bonfire; my eyes follow the fierce blaze to the feathery flames, then I finally gaze up towards the sky as the golden sparks retreat into the darkness.

I pause abruptly.

The milky sky is like a black canvas and various midnight shades left at the disposal of an impressionist artist--Van Gogh, perhaps. Countless white orbs dot the darkness like tiny lanterns. Captivated, I wander towards an empty bench and lie down, soaking in the cathartic sparkle of the beautiful scene.

I call over to my teammates. "Hey, guys, look at the stars!" I gesture towards the heavens, "They're gorgeous--I can't believe I didn't bother to look until today."

One particular teammate expresses a similar fascination. "Oh my gosh, it's beautiful."

After hurrying back to the cabin to grab a towel and muse under the stars, we decide to take a gander at the dance scene. As soon as I step into the packed, uncomfortably warm room, I wince. The flashing colorful lights make my head spin; I feel oddly out of place--I'm on the outside looking in at the sea of gyrating bodies.

"Candace, I'm going to have a seizure or something!"

So we retreat back to our dome-like world surrounded by the dark outlines of tall trees. I rest my head on the towel, feeling the cool grass beneath my fingertips as I drink from the Big Dipper, wave at the Twins, allowing the starry sky to liberate my soul.

A streak of white flashes in the corner of my left eye.

"Candace, did you just see that?! Was that a shooting star?"

I sense her confirmation before she nods eagerly.

"Ahh, we just saw a shooting star!" I erupt into a fit of giggles, kicking my legs.

Our twinkling silvery friends seemed to multiply with each glance. The crackling fire warmed my body, but the shimmering jewels of the sky warmed my soul. I sat up once again to observe the fiery embers.

I felt the most peaceful I had been for quite awhile. Surrounded by a light musty odor of smoke, teammates who should be called sisters, the majestic midnight sky, and the radiant stars, I watched the dying fire's scarlet sparks float away. Some were swallowed by the night in an instant. But others, from beautiful crimson to golden hues, pursued the sky, venturing towards their brilliant sisters before finally fading into darkness.

Dots and Dashes

Top, Target ($6)// Skirt, H&M ($8)// Moccasins, thrifted ($3)// Necklace, c/o eFoxCity// Belt, Forever 21// Ring, Amy O Jewelry (Chictopia Reward)

Oh, my. A week is an eternity in the blogging world, isn't it?

Well, if you thought I had disappeared (I tend to do that every so often), I am indeed alive and well. I'd like to thank all of you who took the time to follow my emotional roller coaster ride. It gives me such warm feelings to know that you read and become involved in my long-winded rambles. Thank you.

I'm doing quite all right. He dropped off a response to my letter yesterday morning while I was at church. Among other things, he apologized for sending mixed signals, saying that he has trouble trusting people and that those he does trust he forms intimate friendships with. I get it, but I just don't know what to do anymore. Where do I draw the boundary?

Perhaps I'm just confused. Perhaps he's confused. Perhaps we're all just confused.

All I know is this: things can't and won't be the same. The daily good morning texts have long since trickled off, our once constant communication fades slowly. We were each other's emotional kickstands for a good half year, and the withdrawal hovers above me like a gray cloud.

I want to tell him about my crazy week at cross country camp. I want to answer the questions he asked in his letter. I want to ask him my own. I want to wax philosophical with him. I want to spill about my impending dread of another year of petty high school drama. I want to see him again.

I have girlnextdooritis (a term coined by Taylor Swift). The guys always see me as "just friends," and perhaps it's my own darn fault.

"Lily, what's your dream man like?" A teammate asked me on a run at cross country camp.

"Well, he has to be funny--a classic one. He's gotta be motivated--I don't do lazy people...Smart--but not so much that I don't know what he's talking about. People always ask me about Asian, and that's preferable, but only because the clash of cultures is almost part of our identity, and you can't understand it unless you've been through it yourself...Faith is important--I don't want to be dragging him to church all the time or him holding me back. Oh, those runner couples are super cute too--running is good. Just slightly sassy. Attractiveness is nice, but a lot of the attractive ones don't have attractive personalities, so it's icing on the cake...someone I can talk to. And the biggest thing--we'd have to be best friends."

The three of us pondered the question of our ideal guy the entire run, coming up with the above. The best friends one was something we all emphasized.

I saw a line once that always stuck with me. It said: Love is friendship on fire.

I never understood when people began dating or acting like it in a short amount of time; it always seemed shallow to me. They don't even know each other, I would think disgustedly. That kind of attraction is infatuation. And perhaps that's my guy friend's idea of liking someone in that way. But I've always wanted something more.

I don't want a guy to mess around with. I want a guy to be close to. I want a guy to ramble with, to complain to, to make each other smile, to celebrate with, to study together, to wrap each other in a hug when we're feeling down, to run with, to ponder the mysteries of life, to always be there for each other.

Perhaps my idea of romance is slightly skewed. But I firmly believe that love is friendship on fire, and I will hold on to that for as long as I live.

I hope this drama will eventually blow over. I wish desperately for things to be normal again, but there's a long road ahead before that happens. I promise to keep you updated.

On a lighter note, this is the first batch of  my sort-of senior pictures; I really see it as an excuse to be in front of the camera more haha. I applied a vintage filter to almost all of the photos except the ones I considered senior-picture worthy. My favorites are to come in the next post!

On to the normal life, philosophical tidbit for the week. I've mentioned a couple times that I was at cross country camp, which is why I disappeared from the internet for a week. It was...interesting, to say the least. Camps tend to be the type of experience you can't really understand unless you were there. All the typical girl bonding and general craziness goes down. The first impression was definitely disappointing, and well, rather grody. We reached our cabin and the first thing I though was prisoner of war camp. It was dark, damp, and tiny inside with many rumors of mice infestations. The food was GFS food. We had to run twice a day. The showers felt like straitjackets. We were in the middle of nowhere (apparently it was so mentally damaging that I had dreams of throwing corn at people haha).

I began to realize how prissy I was. But the camp slowly grew on me.

"These cabins are not college dorms for a reason," the camp founder told us, "To be a cross country runner, you need to be tough, and that's why we have this sort of environment."

I took it to heart. If he was brainwashing us, he was doing a real good job. 

Then the dreaded long run day came.

"Lily, how much do you want to do?" My running buddy asked.
"Let's do 10. I've always wanted to be able to say I've run 10 miles without stopping."

So we embarked on the long journey of rhythmical footsteps and strained breathing. The scenery was gorgeous--idyllic fields illuminated by the misty early-morning sun, quaint farmhouses, almost-empty roads that seemed to stretch for forever. 

"Aww, man! I have to poop. I knew this would happen," I lamented to my friend. 
(Runners are very open with their bodily functions. I forget this sometimes and cause awkward situations--I once told my orchestra teacher that I really had to poop after I asked to go to the bathroom. Luckily, she just laughed and said "Too much information.")

So we planned to stop in "downtown" Orangeville, with its glorious one general store so I could take care of my business. But as we neared the turn, I hesitated.

"No, we can't do this. We have to keep going. I've got to be tough!"

It was an extremely uncomfortable mile before I finally suppressed my body's urges. But instead of doing 10 miles, we kept adding distance.

"Let's do an extra mile just to be safe," my running friend suggested.
"Yeah, I don't want to run this long to find out I didn't even do 10 miles," I agreed.

But the runner's high took over as we began to giggle and shout encouraging "good job guys!" to all runners returning to the campsite. We were slap-happy, drunk on, well, running.

"I'm feeling good. Let's do an extra half mile!"

But it wasn't enough to quench my hunger to keep going. I felt like I could go on forever. My legs wouldn't stop; I was a machine.

Back at the campsite, I dragged my friend along for another half mile around the workout loop. We were over 12 miles now. Then I looked at the time--just six minutes from running two hours straight.

"Girl, I've got to keep running. When's the next time I'll have time to run two hours without stopping?"

So we pushed on, jogging along the grassy trails until my watch finally read two hours.

I expected running 13 miles straight to be life-changing. I thought I would feel like a different person. But perhaps I just hold an overly-romanticized view of life. Perhaps nothing really is life-changing.

But I can always hope. And if anything, I feel more determined. If I can run a half-marathon without stopping, what can't I do? It's certainly empowering, especially because four-and-a-half years ago, I couldn't run so much as a lap on the track without becoming winded.

The summer is slowly fading, and things always seem to remain unchecked on my to-do list. I put too much on my plate sometimes. Is there something, perhaps, that you've always wanted to check off your list? Well I hope you complete the task--because I want you to experience the same empowerment. And who knows? Maybe you'll surprise yourself.

I want you to try to fly, because perhaps you'll discover that you can soar.


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