24 / misc

I turned 24 today, one of the first birthdays I've had unburdened by projects, work, exams, SATs, or AP tests in a long time. It was also the first birthday I've spent with my family since my 18th.

My family and I spent the weekend around Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo. We went kayaking, ATV-ing, and hiking, and also ate a lot of hippie vegan food and açaí bowls. I visited Hearst Castle for the first time, saw some peregrine falcons, tried to speak seal, felt an earthquake, listened to the new Vampire Weekend album, and downed a bag of kettle corn. I took a lot of film pictures on the Leica M2 and Olympus XA4, but those won't be developed for a few days.

Kayaking on Morro Bay!

Kayaking on Morro Bay!

Birthdays are quite arbitrary, but tend to provide some framework for reflection. A year ago, on my birthday, I went to dinner at Red Lentil in Watertown, MA with some very important people in my life. I ate a lot of cake, vanilla bean ice cream, and was excited for the start of an eventful summer full of New York trips, GRE flashcards, and bike-building. Three years ago, I stayed up studying for a manufacturing exam and had two exams and a project due on my birthday. This year, I'm grateful for quality family time, surprising and meaningful relationships, and California landscapes. I'm excited for a continuous process of learning more about the world, pushing on various facets of personal growth, and enjoying summer nights. I’m still processing a lot of the changes that have happened within the last 365 days, but I think one of the most fascinating things about life is its unavoidable propensity to move forward, despite how dire or unresolvable problems may seem at the time.

First time ATV-ing at Oceano Dunes near Pismo Beach, California.

First time ATV-ing at Oceano Dunes near Pismo Beach, California.

Short book update:

Endurance by Scott Kelly

I think this is worth reading if you have a particular interest in space... I found it a bit too dry, which was disappointing given how much content he had to work with. Still, the perspective of becoming an astronaut who spends a year in space is pretty interesting no matter how mediocre of a storyteller he is.

Ghosts of the Tsunami: Death and Life in Japan’s Disaster Zone by Richard Lloyd Perry

This is one of the most emotionally-sensitive narrative nonfiction books I've ever read. I really admired what Perry was able to pull from the situation he spent so much time researching. A beautiful book about a heartbreaking tragedy.

Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist by Eli Saslow

Super interesting account of how the son of the founder of Stormfront distanced himself from the white nationalist movement after growing up at the forefront of it (and was, for most of his teenage years, expected to lead it one day) . The book can be quite disturbing at times, but did provide an insightful look into the ideology of white supremacy. Important read.

Question for you all:

Tell me some of your favorite birthday stories! Best birthday you ever had? Worst birthday you ever had? Strangest birthday you ever had?