I went home for spring break to visit family, and on the second-to-last day of my trip, I went with my mom, brother, and one of my brother’s friends to the Silicon Valley Comic Con. My mom and I hadn’t been to a con in years, and this was my brother’s and his friend’s first time, so we were all pretty excited.
Here are a few highlights:
1. (Spoiler Alert for Stars Wars: The Force Awakens. If you haven’t seen it yet, you totally should. Also, this highlight will make absolutely no sense if you haven’t. Frankly, it might not make sense either way, but it was funny in the moment, so I’m recording it for posterity’s sake.)
We were walking down the street amongst a crowd of conners (convention-goers? I don’t know the word for this. I don’t think one exists. Conners is the word I’m sticking with), including a Princess Leia cosplayer. Nearby, a Kylo Ren got out of their car, alongside a few other members of SW:TFA.
Leia: “Son! What are you doing?! Don’t hang out with that crowd!”
2. We went to the Boba Bar for lunch, a little teahouse where a cat lounged outside on the front porch.
Me: This is a good teahouse.
Ian: Because of the cat?
Me: Because of the cat.
When I held out my hand, it began licking it. The cat’s approval meant more to me than that of most authority figures. (The cat also has its own Instagram, @carnethecat, as does the teahouse, @bobabarsj)
3. There was a modern art installation on the street by our car. It was a spray-painted shipping crate with small windows showing, on one end of it, a collection of running sewing machines, and on the other, hanging strands of children’s alphabet blocks with pictures of kids on them. I’m really not doing it justice, but it was interesting. A sign posted on the crate’s exterior explained that it was meant to highlight human trafficking.
And in the convention itself, we found...
3. A Madame Tussaud’s display with a Captain America figure, which was unbelievably awesome.
4. A group of Avengers cosplayers (including Captain Mexico and Bucky Barnes) holding a piñata with a caricature of Donald Trump on it. I got a picture of them posing as one of them pretended to punch it/his face.
6. A No Face (from Spirited Away) cosplayer giving out candy
8. David Gerrold (the writer of Star Trek’s “The Trouble with Tribbles”) selling animatronic tribbles, who purr and vibrate when you pat them. Mom snatched one up in seconds.
All in all, we had a lot of fun, and I hope we can attend another soon!
(Sidenote: I didn't post any pictures of cosplayers because I didn't think to ask for permission to do so. As for the pictures I did post, if this is your creation and you want me to take it down/give better credit, just shoot me a message and I'll do so.)
I recently attended a talk by Dr. Shatki Butler. Although her speech was filled with many thought-provoking ideas, one of the things that stuck with me most was what she said during a thought exercise. She invited us to mentally travel to a place where we felt calm and safe, and to take off our masks.
This struck me, because I realized in that moment that every last one of us has a mask we wear in front of others. Often, we have different masks for family, friends and strangers; masks intended to obscure the real us. I attended this talk with friends, people I knew well, or at least more than most, but I still found myself wondering who they were without the mask.
We get glimpses. Occasional views of the true person underneath.
Dr. Butler moved on, inviting us to search for the one idea that truly defines who we are. The one word that centers us, that we strive to live up to.
For me, that word was kindness. For two of my other friends, that word was love. For another, that word was optimism.
She told us that whatever we are, whatever word drives us, sometimes we are the antithesis of that idea. Sometimes the fear or the hate or the pessimism drags us away from who we are or who we strive to be. When that happens, we must go back to our peaceful place, look back to our driving word and allow it to center us.
We must take off our mask.
While I've been meaning to write about my recent trip home (I'll do it soon, really), today is not shaping up to be a day where I'm able to focus. My mom was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, and she's undergoing surgery today. While everyone's been telling me not to worry, that's a bit like telling a fish not to swim; it's just not gonna happen.
So, while I should be doing things like schoolwork, instead I decided to cheer myself up a bit by watching baby animal videos. I thought I'd share some, since I can't be the only person who needs cheering up, so maybe they'll help you, too.
You can be a baby sloth wrangler. If that's not the best job in the world, I don't know what is, and clearly you need to reexamine your priorities.
If sloths aren't your thing, you can check out cute pandas playing on a slide...
...or even a koala joey going about its daily life. Warning: so cute you might cry.
If you're still down, might I suggest getting a pep talk from a cat? (I can't pick a favorite, so my top three are Jane, Marvin and 99).
And finally, know that you're going to be okay. I know things are so hard right now. I know you're tired and all you want to do is give up. And that's okay; it's okay to feel like that. It's okay to be sad, it's okay to cry, it's okay to feel. But please don't give in. Don't give up. I believe in you, I know you can get through this. My brother once told me that it doesn't matter if things have been going wrong for seven weeks or seven years; things always pick up in the end. Things will pick up for me, and they'll pick up for you, too. If you ever need to talk, I'm here.
You got this.
(A bit of added inspiration, because try as I might I couldn't end this post on a serious note. Angry, oddly inspirational wolf memes. Thank you, internet.)
There’s an absolutely adorable little zoo in the neighboring town which I’ve been meaning to visit for years, and I finally got around to doing it. The Sequoia Park Zoo is most famous for its red pandas, particularly Masala, their resident “Houdini” (who unfortunately was shipped to Tennessee after her rescue).
While I couldn't get a decent picture of the remaining red pandas, I did get a pretty cute picture of the Patagonian Cavies, and a bloody magestic eagle.
We stayed for the river otter feedings, as well as the bush dogs. The otters were super excited for feeding time, and were racing around their enclosure for a good ten minutes beforehand.
No, seriously. Y’all thought I was joking when I said this zoo was adorable, but one of their employees is a cat.
Yeah, that's right. They have a zoo cat. It's like a farm cat, only better. His name is Oscar, and when he's on-duty, he even wears a little bib labeling him as an employee.
It doesn't get much better than that.
I recently visited Patrick’s Point with two of my closest friends. It’s a small, coastal state park offering acres of forest and gorgeous cliffside views of the ocean.
There’s something intrinsically relaxing about the ocean. I currently live in a part of the world where the beaches are cold, the waves constantly stormy, and the sky is almost always overcast. You wouldn’t think the beaches would be all that much fun to visit like this, but although it’s rarely comfortable enough for us to brave the water, it’s still stunning to sit and watch.
The beaches I visit aren’t ones that fall into most people’s ideas of beaches. There’s no warm waves or sun-drenched sand, but I’m glad to be able to experience them. I’m glad to have these examples of nature’s beauty so close to my doorstep. I’m glad I have the ability to leave my house to visit them. I’m glad to have friends to visit them with. I’m glad days like this exist.
Last weekend, I took a little trip with two of my closest friends to go see Fern Canyon. For those of you who don’t know, Fern Canyon is this absolutely stunning little pocket of natural wonder hidden away in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, and was actually the film location of Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World.
Two of us had visited the canyon before, so it seemed like the ideal place to visit on a day when nothing much was going on (which, admittedly, is almost every day in a small town). The day was overcast but still warm enough to be comfortable without a coat, rather typical for this time of year. The hike is actually a loop, but the first part is the section actually in the canyon. The trail threads in, out, and often through a creek, so getting wet is unavoidable. During the summer months, they have little bridges over the deeper parts of the creek to keep you somewhat dry, but they take them away during the winter.
The trip was so much fun, and I’m so glad we decided to make the trek out. I’d been having some mental health troubles, and the trip was just what I needed to remember how to relax and smile again.
That being said, I learned a few lessons for my next trip out to the canyon. I figured somebody else might find them useful, too.
1. Four-wheel drive is your friend.
The road to Fern Canyon is unpaved, riddled with potholes to the point where there’s more holes than road, and more than once passes through a stream. While it brought back fond memories of driving to my worksite in Rosarito, scraping the bottom of the car isn’t good from a mechanic’s perspective. The car we took was built low to the ground and didn’t have four-wheel drive, and made the trip just fine (though there were a few tense moments), but if you do have access to a car built for this sort of thing, you’re gonna want to use it.
2. Waterproof everything you love.
You will get wet. You’ll try your hardest not to get wet, and then fall face-first into the stream. Then you’ll have a mini anxiety attack as you desperately search for your phone, questioning why you even brought it with you when it doesn’t even have service. Do yourself a favor and bring waterproof electronics, and only waterproof electronics. Wear shoes designed to go in water, and bring a second pair of shoes and socks to change into once you leave.
3. Don’t get cocky. Nature’s not into that.
I’ll be honest: I like exploring. Every trip we go on, I’m usually first in the group, prancing along the path, climbing half-fallen trees and exploring every splinter in the trail. And it’s usually this tendency to half-run along the trail that gets me into trouble. So while it should go without saying that you probably shouldn’t run over slippery logs half-submerged in water, if you’re anything like me, and get overexcited being in nature, maybe take a deep breath or two and save yourself from nearly spraining your ankle exactly five minutes into the hike.
4. I don’t really have a four, but I felt like I needed another point. So… I dunno, thank your friend for letting you drag him out to the middle of unpaved nowhere?
I have no idea what I'm doing.