Motivation, Where are You?

Photo ©2010 by Andrew Blight [C.C.-by-2.0]
Photo ©2010 by Andrew Blight [C.C.-by-2.0]
It’s funny when I think back to the places and time where most of my writing or more memorable thoughts appear. Almost always, I get the greatest ideas when I’m walking to school, doing the dishes, or in the shower. The ideas never come to me when I’m doing anything else. I would say that it’s just exclusive to those three activities. Some of my friends tell me that they often feel super motivated to change their life, to study more, live more right when they’re all tucked in and ready to sleep. I experience it to but for some reason, it also occurs when I’m walking home. During my last class, I’ll be super motivated and tell myself I’ll do my homework right when I get home and I’ll try to finish most of it so that I’ll still have time to lounge around and sleep early. Theoretically, it should work right? Considering that I only have about 30-40 math problems (1.5 hours), a science project that I finish slowly (20 min), a Spanish worksheet (10 min), and a few chapters of my English book (20 min), I could finish all the easy homework (ones that take less than 30 minutes to finish so everything except math) in about an hour and take a little nap because after I get home from school, I still have about 9-10 hours before midnight. Bbbbuuuuuutttttt wait a second, in theory it works but we all know how that turns out in real life.  Continue reading


Paper vs. Digital

Photo ©2006 by John Ward [C.C.-by-2.0]This weekend, my friends and I went to Barnes and Noble, well more like I dragged them to Barnes and Noble. I wanted to see if they had Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul and they did! Because we there so early (about half an hour after Barnes and Noble had opened) the whole place was empty and it was easy finding a seat. Since the most of the other shops at the mall were only opened at 11pm, we had about an hour and a half to spare and I convinced my friends to stay in Barnes and Noble until 11pm. They agreed.

I picked up the book and finished it within half an hour and then I went browsing for other books. The moment I picked up a book, it was such a different feeling. I had been reading books from a screen for a while so actually holding a brand new book made of paper felt like I was in another world. The book I had in my hands was Miss Peregrine’s House for Peculiar Children. My friend had recommended it to me a few months ago and I wanted to read it ever since I read the synopsis. The pages were smooth and thick. This was the kind of book I would take with me on long airplane trips.

Going to the Journal section, my friends and I were mesmerized with the journal display. We stood there for probably half an hour and I was trying to resist the temptation to buy a journal even though I already had one at home, which was only half filled. Then, I thought more about whether I should write in a journal at all. I used to think that I would write down my thoughts on a blog to be stored in the cloud or on my computer, but now I like the idea of documenting everything on paper instead.

I wish I could write both digitally and on paper but another part of me wants everything to be in the same place. For now, I think I’ll stick with writing on paper and reading digitally.

– Duchess

P.S. Check out more of John Ward’s work here!

My Gateway Drug to Writing

Photo ©2009 by Manoj Vasanth [C.C.-by-2.0]
Photo ©2009 by Manoj Vasanth [C.C.-by-2.0]
How I actually fell in love with writing wasn’t much of a dramatic story. Actually, when I think back about it now, it seems funny how such a small thing could have such a big impact on me. Let me start from the beginning. My first language was Vietnamese and officially set foot on the USA January 2008 in the middle of fourth grade. As with any major changes, it took a while to get used to. I think I might have seen the books at a public library or I may have seen a friend reading it in class, but the next thing I know, my siblings and I were totally in love with Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid. The series revolved around Greg Heffley’s life in middle school, dealing with fitting in with the popular kids and impressing girls. It was around 2009 when my siblings and I discovered the series and we proceeded to check out all three books in the series at the public library and then would fight over who gets to read it first.

Soon after, Jeff Kinney came out with a “Do-It-Yourself Book”, which is basically a journal formatted like a Wimpy Kid book. I begged my mom to buy me one and she did! I was so excited and promised myself I would write in it every day. I did keep that promise, although it was close to writing four or five times a week. About half the book was dedicated to mini writing activities like writing about what it would be like if you were famous or make a signature for when you are famous. The later half of the book was just filled with lined pages for journaling. Initially, I didn’t intend to use the DIY Book as a journal but after filling out the first “fun” pages, I started writing about little things like what I ate for dinner or what games I had played that day. Before I realized it, the pages were filling up fast and I still liked journaling. After wearing out my DIY Book, I continued in a composition book and soon filled that out. It moved from me writing about seemingly insignificant events in my life to being a place where I could be alone with my thoughts. This continued until when I was in eighth grade. After starting high school, I still kept a journal where I wrote every so often but not as much as I would like to. I’ve been doing better though, as I’ve been writing in it about once or twice a week.

Anyway, Diary of a Wimpy Kid has been a gateway that opened me to the world of writing. At first, I had just started writing in it because I was bored, my brother hogging the TV, my sister too busy with schoolwork to play with me, and my parents too busy and tired from work. Before I was realizing it, writing became a part of my middle school life but when I got to high school, I stopped writing as much. A few months ago, I re-read a journal I wrote when I was in seventh grade, chuckling at the fond memories. I don’t know if this is the best way to describe it but just by reading what I wrote, I felt like I was reliving those moments. What I felt when wrote it I could still feel as I was reading the diary.

It was then that I decided that I was going to start writing again.

– Duchess

Check out more of Manoj Vasanth’s work here!

Scary Temptations

Photo ©2014 by Laurence Simon [C.C-by-2.0]
Photo ©2014 by Laurence Simon [C.C-by-2.0]
I looooovvveee scary things. Whenever it’s my turn to choose a movie to watch with my friends, almost always, I opt for the scary ones. Even for books, my favorite genre is horror. But… I’m a scaredy-cat. A HUGE scaredy-cat. During scary movies (even the ones I chose too!) I cover my eyes during the scary part. It happened so often that it’s almost a habit to do it. I’ve gotten slightly better at watching the whole movie (I watched You’re Next the whole way!!) but sometimes it just happens. Continue reading

Limbo In Spring Break


With exams and projects crammed into the Friday before Spring Break, I think many of my peers are glad that Spring Break is finally upon us (I know I am). Just a few days ago, I kept thinking to myself as I was studying for a History quiz that once Spring Break starts, all I would do is eat, sleep, and watch movies (rinse and repeat). However, now that I’m finally in Spring Break mode, I feel like I’m stuck in a sort of limbo. It’s like before Spring Break, all I could think about was how the grass would be so much greener on the other but now that I’m on the other side, it’s just “what now?”. I feel giddy but there’s a worry within me that there’s a whole day that I’ve wasted just lying in bed when I could be hanging out with friends or watch the movies I had put off last week to study. Two days of Spring Break are gone and we’re stepping into another day so there’s only five days left. Every time I look at my calendar, I feel overwhelmed of the amount of tests I have to study for, homework I have to do, etc. Last year in my English class, we had to do a presentation about ourselves because we were reading All Quiet on the Western Front and I remember one classmate of mine said his favorite quote was something along the lines of “the time you enjoyed wasting is not wasted time”. That applies to me now more than ever as I feel the clock ticking away the last seconds of my Spring Break. Continue reading

Back on Track

Photo ©2011 by Walt Stoneburger [C.C.-by-2.0]
Photo ©2011 by Walt Stoneburner [C.C.-by-2.0]
“Read everything.”

My English teacher repeated the phrase after our class looked over previous AP Language and Composition essay prompts and realized that they were asking for our opinion about certain issues. I had always loved to read but I haven’t been reading much since the beginning of 2015 mainly because I was always procrastinating my homework so I never made time for reading. However, after hearing my teacher repeat “Read everything” again, I realized it was about time I picked up one of my favorite pastimes again. Continue reading

Waking Up is the Hardest Part

"Just five more minutes..."
“Just five more minutes…”

I’m sure this is an experience many of us can relate no matter what our jobs are, but every time I wake up there’s always this thought in the back of my head just groaning and dreading the simple action of sitting up from my bed. I’ve never been much of a day person as I usually find myself staying up until late at night and sleeping in until one or two in the afternoon the next day (during the summer of course). Continue reading

Nature of Humans

Photo ©2007 by pixle [C.C-by-2.0]
Photo ©2007 by pixle [C.C-by-2.0]

I recently watched a TED video of Philip Zimbardo’s “The Psychology of Evil”, where he delves into the question “What makes a person good or evil?”. He brings up the subject of the released photos of American soldiers torturing Iraqis and his own account of the Stanford Prison Experiment. Zimbardo’s talk centers on the point that people are not necessarily good or evil, it is the circumstance they are placed under that determines their action.

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Moms, the silent pillar

Photo ©2014 by Sunny_mjx [C.C.-by-2.0]
Photo ©2014 by Sunny_mjx [C.C.-by-2.0]
March 8 is International Women’s Day, so this post is dedicated to my mom and all the moms of the world. In the book Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, my English class talked about the role of men and women in the book. The first chapter mentioned the “women and children knew deep within themselves that no misfortune was too great to bear if their men were whole”. This followed into our conversation about how men were usually seen as the pillar of support for the family, for in the Joads’ family, Ma Joad seemed to share that pillar, with the family members looking to her to see how they should feel. In a similar way, my mom is part of that pillar in my family. She is the glue that binds my siblings together, the peacemaker.

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