Peace, Love, Ukulele

This past Friday night, I had the unique opportunity to see the ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro. As I was walking back from class at the end of the day, I saw that the arts center was selling $10 tickets to see him and decided to go, just for the hell of it.

After 2 hours of watching him jam out, I was speechless. It’s hard to explain what made the concert so special. Individual parts stick out to me, like Jake’s near-constant goofy grin whenever he was playing something that he knew sounded awesome, or when he would headbang to his music as his hands flew back and forth along his strings.

His composition was incredible, especially his ability to capture emotions of what each piece was inspired by. One piece stuck out to me in particular, leaving me on the brink of tears. It was called “Ichigo Ichie,” which is an Japanese idiom referring to the idea that every single time we meet someone, that individual moment is something that will only occur once-in-a-lifetime and thus must be treasured. The piece somehow captures the beauty of each moment we spend with each other. It was difficult to keep myself from tearing up – the emotions were as visible on his face as they were audible in the music.

I was awestruck by every piece, as the tiny four-stringed instrument from Hawai’i filled the air with beautiful vibrations. After ending with a tribute to the recent loss of life with Schubert’s Ave Maria, I had the opportunity meet Jake. My legs were shaking while waiting in the line to get a picture and an autograph. I had loved his music for years and had always felt like I knew him through his music. In the meeting that was less than a minute, I was touched. He didn’t get my name, but I had never met someone so genuine and felt like someone cared for me in such a short time. He truly lived the idea of ichi-go ichi-e.

Beyond his music and just the incredible genuineness he showed in a fleeting moment, Jake Shimabukuro’s entire journey is unique. As someone who fell in love with the ukulele at age 4, Jake never let go of his passion for the instrument, instead allowing it to become his livelihood.

Before Jake, the ukulele was rarely considered a serious instrument. Many just thought of it as a “toy guitar” or a gimmicky beach-style instrument at best. Jake was unaffected, releasing albums and just doing his best to make his best stuff. Eventually he got a big break when a video of him playing went viral.

Jake’s dedication to his craft is inspirational. Nothing in his life stops him from following his love of the ukulele, not even the fact that there had never been a successful touring ukulele player. Each and everyone of us could learn something from him. Each and everyone of us should try to love as Jake does.

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The Best Night

Last night may have been the best night of my life. There’s exactly one reason for that, and that is the Georgia Tech Homecoming Football Game. Everyone in the school knew that FSU was favored. This was a team that hasn’t lost a regular season game since 2012 and is ranked 9th. We were a team that had just come off a 5 game losing streak and were just looking awful.

Because it was a homecoming game, the atmosphere was unreal. The amount of energy in the stadium was almost overwhelming, even at the very beginning. It was a white out game, and the sea of white with the synchronized movements of white pom-poms seemed unreal. The red FSU fans were blemishes in the stands, complete with their one terrible chant that they seemed to do everything. Our crowd seemed more powerful than ever before (with our multiple chants, including this one). Through the course of the game, we caused at least 4 false starts and a forced timeout.

Our team also performed much better than usual, having success through the middle and still running the option when possible. The game was consistently close, with FSU in the lead for most of the game. With a few minutes left, we managed to tie the game, leaving them with the ball with less than a minute to play. Somehow, they managed to drive down to the field and they had 6 seconds left on the clock to kick a field goal with the best kicker in college football.

Miraculously, we managed to block the kick. I began to celebrate then. Even more miraculously, we managed to pick up the blocked kick and run half the length of the field for a touchdown as time expired. It was a few seconds before the entire student section (myself included) rushed the field and screamed for hours with a sense of community that I’ve never felt before. What a time to be alive.

It was amazing.

Sheer joy as the entire student section filled the field.

Sheer joy as the entire student section filled the field.

The most beautiful scoreboard.

The most beautiful scoreboard.

On Sickness

As I come back to campus after fall break, I can’t help but think about how different it looks. This isn’t because anything has changed. Nothing has (except for the location of the constant construction). What’s changed is my level of health. I’m sick with some bad cold that can’t really be treated with anything more than rest and time. I am constantly congested, making hearing more difficult. My voice is altered due to the large amount of mucus in my body, so communicating is more energy-intensive, as I must repeat many things I say. Unfortunately, energy isn’t something I have huge supplies of right now since a lot of it goes towards fighting the illness.

In my state, the world appears differently. Everything is a bit more difficult and uncomfortable. Despite this, it all makes me feel… hopeful. If this is the common cold afflicting me, my basic function, my ability to exist as a human being, my view of the world are all being altered by something so small it should be less than insignificant. However, it isn’t. At all. Isn’t it incredible how something as small as a virus can have such power over us?

On this massive planet, could we be like the virus? We are each a single being in 7 billion, but could we have the possibility to change the world as the virus changes us?

8 Weeks

I’m 8 weeks into college. That’s crazy. Even crazier is the fact that I haven’t really written anything on this blog since July. I don’t know if I can even begin to elucidate all the things that have happened in the past 8 weeks or just since my last blog post.

First of all, the most important event was the beginning of college. Despite the fact that move-in day was designated as Thursday for freshmen, I was not exactly thrilled to leave home – as I knew that making friends was always a challenge. However, I moved in on that Saturday night. Since then, I have returned home quite a few times.

I knew that I wouldn’t spend a whole lot of weekends at Tech. I expected that I would split most of my weekends between going home, to Emory to visit my girlfriend or hackathons at schools around the country. For the first 4 or 5 weeks, this did end up being the case, with 2 of my weekends being spent in good ol’ Alpharetta, 2 at Emory and only 1 at Tech. Since then, I’ve spent most of my weekends here at Tech, though I did spend one of them at GT’s own premier hackathon HackGT.

Between the weekends, I’ve been busy dealing with classes and wondering what to do with all the free time between those classes. There is so much to do, yet doing homework always seems like a waste of time when you can go anywhere on campus and just enjoy the wonderful weather outside or enjoy the architecture of the CULC or anything else. Most of my classes have been fairly straightforward, with the exception of my Math class, which has proven to be a struggle. However, I do believe I can do well. I’m already to question if my dreams of a 4.0 are viable, but that’s part of the GT experience.

On the extracurricular front, I’ve been trying to figure out what I’m really into. The organization I’ve been most fully committed to has been WREK Radio, the Georgia Tech Radio Station. I’ve been learning how to work the board and run an hourlong shift at the station while playing tons of music that I’ve never heard of (one of the underlying ideas of the station). I tried to join the newspaper but I was overwhelmed by the number of people who were willing to write for it, making it extremely difficult for me to get an article I would want to write. I also joined the webdev club and Design Club, two organizations that are a part of the College of Computing. I love Design Club and it is making me consider going into UX Design instead of just software engineering. Lastly, I’ve been involved with a branch of the religious organization I’ve been a part of since I was born. It’s nice to see people I’ve grown up with every week.

The social aspect was what I was most worried about. At first, I struggled a lot, especially with the enormous time alone that I had access to. Since then, I’ve become a lot more alone, but I’ve learned to accept it and enjoy it. I’ve made some friends, mainly with people on my floor, but between my girlfriend breaking up with me and my general shyness, I can’t say that I’ve had a huge amount of social interaction here at Tech.

I’ve written a lot and although I’ve just shallowly touched on a bunch of subjects, I do want to come back to some of these things and just talk more about them. I feel like that after such a long hiatus, I need to ease into things but also need to give a lot of writing to fill in my lost time. I also think that my writing on here isn’t the best, but that’s okay. I’ll build my skills back up.

Done but not Done.

It’s been nearly a week since I finished my daily writing goal of 100 days that wasn’t really daily and you can look at all of those posts to see what it was all about. In the last couple of days, I’ve been contemplating what to do next. I want to continue writing with a level of regularity, but I doubt I can sustain daily writing in the same form that I was doing with #the100DayProject.

Beyond the difficulty of sustainability, writing daily doesn’t net the best content consistently. Recently, I’ve been trying to comb through everything I wrote through the course of the project and see what some of my best work was. Unfortunately, I found myself thinking that a lot of the work could’ve been significantly better. The time constraint often made me finish a post for the sake of finishing it, leading to less than high quality content. More time would have undoubtedly improved my writing and netted articles that I would be proud of, rather than just saying that it happened. Of course, it’s not like I didn’t write anything that I actually liked. I know for a fact that Chicago Thursday was one of the best pieces of storytelling that I’ve written. However, I just wish that I had written more than just a handful of quality pieces among a sea of mediocrity.

Of course, this is an expectation that isn’t really founded, but I think can be remedied as I improve. My current photography strategy can be compared to my writing strategy from the project. I would write a mass quantity of posts, but they weren’t necessarily good. The removal of the editing step led to the lack of consistent quality among the posts. Of course, if I edited my writing as much I edited my photos, I would be left with maybe 4 to 5 posts from the entire project, after hours upon hours of work.

Just like my photo strategy though, my writing strategy could go for a change. Since I won’t be bound by any difficult self-imposed writing deadline of a day, I will be able to put in a lot more effort into each post, hopefully increasing the quality of each while using a similar level of energy that my previous writing strategy did.

In order to improve the quality, I thought about what went into my best pieces. The main ones that I considered were Chicago Thursday, Why I Love Clothes, Kendrick as Joyce, and “Death in Dignity.”

They were pretty much all over 400 words. This doesn’t seem like a lot, but when a lot of my posts (especially the bad ones) were defined as finished as soon as I hit 270, it’s fairly important. Despite the fact that the length generally led to a better piece, I don’t want to push myself to write when I don’t want to. With those high quality posts, I never paid attention to the word count until I felt like I was finished and found myself astounded by how much I had written so quickly. Certain topics made it easier for me to do this, like music or clothes or experiences, but I hope to be able to learn how to get into that flow regardless of the topic. I know that with enough research, I can gain an immense interest into nearly any topic, so that may become a part of my writing process.

The future of this blog holds longer form pieces that may be reposted to Medium. I own several Moleskine notebooks that may be bequeathed some of the more personal, reflective type of content that was found here before. As I move on to the next chapter of my life, I know reflecting on my life will be vital for my success and believe that it’s a lot easier for me to re-read a notebook than it is my own blog. The malleability of blogs make me likely to start editing it rather than really focusing on the content. The ink in notebook can’t be changed.

Day 100: Done.

I can’t believe it. This is it. After 100 days, I’ve written 100 posts on this blog. This isn’t exactly how Elle Luna or I envisioned it, but that’s okay. Things never turn out the way that they’re expected to. What matters is the fact that I’ve written a hell of a lot of content in the last hundred days. When I began this project, I was bored on a Saturday night and decided to write my first post and synthesize my personal beliefs with a pretty book I read. The next week, I found myself with a ton of homework and was considering giving up, less than a week after I had started.

That action would’ve been super typical of me. I was really used to starting things and giving up on them soon after. However, by giving myself the lax rules of being able to catch up if I missed a day was extremely important. I’ve continued to use that rule a lot, especially today with these 8 posts, but the rule has helped me to stick to this project more than anything else. If I ever felt like I failed for not writing one day, I doubt I would’ve come near to Day 10, let alone 100. It’s been incredible writing so much and seeing my posts get likes and my blog get follows from strangers. It serves as a great ego boost to receive likes, because I know at least one person has read what I’ve said. I want to say thank you to everyone that liked or followed or commented or reblogged any of my posts just because of how much it means to me.

I don’t know what the next steps are for my writing “career” but I do think this was an important part of it. I know I want to continue writing in any way possible, be it in my blog, or pieces on Medium, or maybe for my collegiate newspaper if possible. Whatever path I take, I want to become a better writer and continue to get better. I’m going to keep writing as much as possible and start reading as much as possible to do so. Writing may not be my intended career path, but it continues to be one of the most important things to me.

For now, I’m just happy to be done.

Day 99: The Future of this Blog

After this project, I really have no idea what I will do with this blog, or if I want to really keep using it. By housing this project, this blog has more of my writing than any other single resource that I have. Google Docs may come close, with every single draft of every single college essay I turned in or threw away, but this is still larger. I don’t want to get rid of this blog, but I wonder if I can really follow this project with anything worthwhile, writing-wise. In the tech industry, it is common convention for developers or engineers or just anyone to have a personal website with a blog. However, I don’t think I would want to use this one simply because I can’t change the domain name in an economical way, and would prefer to have something consistent.

Maybe I’ll convert it into a photoblog, like my friend Sahaana did with her namesake wordpress site. Another option is to continue to use the site as a place for my rough drafts of my posts to other sites. I did that for my analysis of “Death with Dignity” (final here). I do want to continue to write consistently, like a couple posts a week if possible. That would make it easier for me to write longer form pieces where I can really dig down into a topic. I skipped out on a few days of writing when I was working on my piece on millennials, so it would rock to have flexibility to do more things like that.

The nice thing about writing final drafts on a different platform like Medium is being able to have the piece as a part of a linked community that is made up of people who are in the industry that I’m looking into. By being able to write for them, I might be able to build some cool connections and maybe land some sort of writing gig. Who knows what I’ll do with this blog and with medium? I’ll just see what happens.