lifestyle, Travel

Soon to be Summer in Shanghai

Woah woah woah, slow down there pony boy. Shanghai? China? Communism? Sticky rice? Chopsticks? Air pollution? An extremely complicated language named after tiny canned oranges?

The rumors are true. I am departing for China in FOUR DAYS. And I’ll be there for 8 WEEKS.

I, don’t even know how to feel about it. I thought moving five hours away for college was weird. Talk about a 14 hour plane ride to a country so foreign that I’ll need to carry around a business card with my hotel’s address like I’m some type of lost puppy wearing a collar engraved “fuzzy”.

I’ll be kept busy working, which is good for my health because otherwise I’d probably spend way too much time eating noodles. But also I’m so excited to meet all of the people I’ll be staying with/ working with. They already seem like they’ll be some of the smartest people I’ll ever meet.

It’s hard to stay in the present moment here at home when there is so much I am looking forward to this summer. But I will really miss having the comfort of my family nearby. I still feel like a baby bird that shouldn’t really be leaving the nest so often but is anyways, so it’s hard. I feel like I’m always leaving.

People don’t tell you about all the leaving you do when you grow up. You leave to go away to school, you leave your new school friends behind to go home, you leave your family to go see the world, you leave the family you forged abroad to return home and then you leave again to repeat the whole process. It’s a sucker punch to my heart every time. The only thing that makes it easier is the promise of return. But the hard part about that is feeling like sometimes you are making a promise that you won’t be able to keep one day.

Life, man. Sometimes it’s so complex that I feel like the four-letter title doesn’t suit it. It should be one of those incredibly treacherous and obscure long words that only those annoying kids that would correct your middle school teachers grammar can spell correctly. Like, “pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis”. (Thank you copy & paste).

So, as I am embarking on this trip soon and leaving yet another time, I figure I will start to document it all to try and make the distance between me and the comfort of my nest seem significantly less vast.

But hey, it’s a big world out there, and if you don’t go out and see it while you can it will always remain that way to you; as this big impersonal vast place and not a beautiful home with far-reaching corners where you find yourself loving and living and belonging.

Until next time,


lifestyle, Photography, Thoughts

Paths Quietly Cross in a Bookstore

I was in my favorite local book shop yesterday and sat on a low stool in the corner atop a worn and frayed oriental rug, hunched over something by C.S. Lewis I just picked up and liked the feel of in my hands. On the other side of a book shelf dividing the room in two stood two women. One was around my age and I assumed the other to be her aunt or grandmother, someone closely related to her.

I couldn’t see their faces, as they were concealed by the vertical stripes of bound paper and only bits and pieces were revealed by stripes of light that shone through from the other side, like a dance of optical morse code.

Eavesdropping was inevitable, I almost felt like I was a part of the conversation, and in some sense I was. It was a conversation between me, a quiet observer, and these two women, the books filed away on the shelves and the distant sound of conversation in the cafe a few rooms over. I could feel that it was a moment suspended in time, a brief passing of minutes that, for some reason, stood out amongst the rest.

As the two women languidly perused, they began to talk about their family. The older woman expressed how grateful she felt to feel so close to all of the people in her family, the younger girl included. She talked about how she was so excited to see all the children in their family grow to be so unique; the younger girls’ brother was a creative brainiac, the sister was grounded by the earth, the girl herself was her own person. As I listened to this honest exchange between two family members, I felt a strange sense of honor being able to witness this intimate moment, being able to be a part of it.

I felt a sense of wonderment. I felt a residual type of love that had radiated from their exchange. This type of love is often hard to see and witness in our day to day lives. Sometimes I forget that it even exists at all. But what I realized while sitting on that stool fit for a toddler, tucked away in the corner eavesdropping, is that love is much easier to come by when you are open to it and when you accept it.

It would have been easy for me to completely ignore what these two women in the bookstore had to say and continue to be caught up in my own solitary mind. But I felt open to the universe in that moment, and the universe was nice enough to show me a glimpse of hope and love in a tiny bookstore.

If you are reading this, I urge you to open yourself to moments like these, perhaps even look for them in your own life because I can almost guarantee that they’ll be there.


lifestyle, Photography, Thoughts

Oh 2017, You Bring Me Hope


As I sit here and revisit this dusty old virtual journal of mine again, I feel a release in my heart and tingle in my fingertips. Damn, it feels good to be back. I don’t really even know why, I’ve never been consistent with posting entires on here. But here I am.

There is something different this time, however. I feel a real change coming. And it’s not just because it is a supposed new year and I made some haphazard resolution I’ll forget about come February. I know it is only day 11 of the new year, but I feel that my life has changed course in a significant way in those 11 days.

It’s hard to tell where this year will take me. I have plans for travel out of the country, pending summer internship applications (that I am really excited about), a new class schedule (that includes one on Italian Opera), and have begun practicing mindful meditation. The possibilities that the future holds gives me hope.

The last part of 2016 was, in a nutshell, a special type of emotional hell. Initially I was numb to all of the change that happened when I went to college. I was facing tumultuous feelings and changes in my identity, environment, routine, social circle, even my freaking diet. It felt as though my life was stripped of me, and I forgot who I was for a while. I’m sure it happens to many people, and at different times too, but it was very hard to go through. Luckily, I didn’t shut down; I threw myself at the books and even managed to make the Dean’s list for grades.

But it was as though I was living two different lives. And i still felt torn between my former home and my new college home. There was now a college me and the old me. And then there was the book nerd version of me that existed as long as the sun was in the sky, and the one that existed under the cover of the night sky. This “other” me wore fishnets, red lipstick, and a nose ring and went against everything I believed in back at home. I played Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and actually had some good reckless fun doing it for some time. But I was drained of everything. I lost track of my feelings, health, and my old self- my real self.

I have also realized that for that last part of 2016, a relationship of mine became toxic. I came out of it feeling a cocktail of strong emotions that tore up my insides and left me with a pretty bad hangover, so to speak. It was only after it all when I realized how negative the relationship- friendship- had become in my life. Regardless of how it happened, it did. There is no sense in getting caught up in the past. And the only place to go from here is forwards.

Since being at home I have regained my footing, picked up the scattered pieces of my life, done some needed reflections and come to some key realizations.


  1. My family are the most important people in my life. They have supported me through the thickest and thinnest when no one else was there to support me.
  2. The only constant in life is impermanence. Change must be embraced in order to maintain happiness. Even emotions wax and wane, they pass like clouds in a summer breeze. You are not sad, you only experience sadness, and it won’t last forever (despite what you may think in the moment). Find solace in the hope that the future can, and will, bring you.
  3. I need to foster relationships with people that aren’t selfish, with people that are on the same spiritual journey as I am (as lame as that sounds). I need to be friends with people that have passion and ambition, a drive to find and pursue what they love. There is too much negativity in this world as is, I don’t need it in large doses in my personal life as well. I need people that can build me up, and I will do the same to them.
  4. Meditate, meditate, meditate. Mindfulness Meditation is the key to becoming a kinder and more understanding person. It fosters introspection that creates newfound direction in your life, career, and relationships with others. Seriously, there is science to back this shit up. Check out the book Search Inside Yourself by Google Engineer Chade-Meng Tan. It is life-changing.
  5. Only wish the best for everyone. Cultivate innate positive feelings towards everyone- loved ones, colleagues, acquaintances, and even people you dislike. Soon you will begin to feel positively towards everyone in your life, and they will take notice. Like I said, there is enough negativity in this world. Try to only carry and foster a positive understanding of others and unimagined satisfaction in relationships and opportunities will begin to unfold before you.

So, yeah.

And all this reflection came from the last 11 days. My life has been a whirlwind recently, but I’ve managed to find some calm within. In the “life-changing” book I mentioned above, there was a metaphor that compared human emotions to the ocean. On the surface a storm may occur from time to time, but deep down in the depths of the ocean, there is a serene calm. This is to say that our emotions can become churned up, but we can find solace in the deep calm within ourselves. Very intense metaphor, but I am trying to make sense of it, and reach the deep calm within myself.

I promise I’m not as insane as I sound, the book explains it all.

2017 is not a new beginning per se, we always pick up where we left off on 11:59 on new years eve. But I am turning a corner, embarking on a long spiritual journey, searching inside the deepest parts of myself that I guard securely against even my own minds eye. I have no new years resolution, but it is a new year and I feel a sense of resolution. 2016 churned up some important shit that needed to be churned up. And now I am going to make sure that everything was churned up for a positive reason in my life.

I almost forgot that my domain name for this blog was “findinghuman”. Now I feel that it is exactly what I am trying to do. I am a human working on “finding” new meaning, people, experiences, feelings within myself and others. I am a finding human and this is my blog about life, Life Obscura. Funny how things work.

Oh 2017, you bring me hope. Cheers to that.

Processed with VSCO with m5 preset

Processed with VSCO with m5 preset

Self portrait taken in one of my most favorite places, wearing my favorite jacket.

lifestyle, Thoughts

Fresh Air, and Starts

It’s about time I make a post on here! Not that many people are noticing anyways… But sulking about my dwindling follower count aside, a part of me needs this site for my sanity. I like it here! This is my little corner of the internet, well, one of them at least (follow me on instagram @ashhblack for more of whatever this *gesturing hands* is !).

So, what have I been up to in the past, let’s see, TWO MONTHS? Christ, these past two months have honestly felt like a lifetime, without the fortuitous effects of aging of course.

Well, I’ve graduated from high school folks, and let me tell you, I don’t really feel any different. The change was subtle, and at best, extremely gradual and continues to stretch out before me like a yellow brick road. I’m sure I will notice the change at the end of the road (quite literally) when I arrive MOVE IN DAY at college, but for now I still feel like a ripe suburban high-school 17 year old.

What else, let me check my notes real-quick. Oh. That’s right. I’ve done close to nothing the past two? three? five? weeks of summer. See! I haven’t even been keeping track of time, that damned old thing.

Not to be a complete and utter bigoted brag here, but I feel as though I’ve stepped into a bit of paradise. I am living in a sumptuous, accommodating, five star (give or take a few stars), dream. Coming from the rigamarole and ever so tedious and near impossible high-achieving high school lifestyle I, unfortunately, laid in brick and mortar for myself, doing nothing has never felt so GOOD. So refreshing, sensual, rejuvenating. No, this is not an Activia Yogurt commercial, although I’d be more than willing to say a few nice words about any free sample sent to my… ahem, well never-mind then.

The past three days have been cloudless, in mind and in weather. I sat in my backyard in my royal blue bikini and oversized floppy hat and round retro sunglasses armed with a freshly cracked book, SPF 15, sweating ice-cold lemon and basil water, and a good disposition. For lunch, I took special care to dine on only my favorite ingredients including fresh ricotta, EVOO, crusty french baguette bread, raspberry preserves, pasta, sun dried tomatoes, honey-crisp apple, edamame beans, and dark chocolate. Honestly, it was like I was on a honeymoon with myself.

And then it rained. And my mood poured. And the fantastic taste on my buds soured.

But que sera sera, right? What’s a girl gonna do when the sun hides? Hide with it? Well, sort of, but at least I managed to read an entire book start to finish by the time the sun came out again.

Books I’ve read this summer:

A Poet of the Invisible World by Michael Golding (Dazzling, quirky, unique. I could easily see it turned into a film directed by Wes Anderson.)

The Rocks by Peter Nichols (Felt as though I were there with the characters, at the ocean-side town in Spain. Felt the author’s knowledge bleed onto the pages.)

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab (Second book in a captivating series. Just as awesome as the first book, which is a hard thing to achieve. Love the writing style and I’m slightly depressed at the cliffhanger- I’m praying for a third book.)

Currently Reading:

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (I was completely drawn in by simply the editors notes/ introduction. Wilde seemed like an enigma. I can’t tell if I would’ve wanted to be his friend, or be him.)

Well, that’s all folks. Thanks for reading! I’ll be back, well, sometime.


Photography, Thoughts

A New Light

My spirits have been wayy up recently because of the warm weather. The sun is out and my skin is radiating with the promise of nice weather in the near future (even though it is currently sleeting out). My SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) wasn’t too horrible this year, and I attribute it to the fact that I’ve kept my creativity flow at a constant, with journalism and my video art class. I feel like im on the other side of winter, looking back at the harsh ice with the sun kissing my cheek.

{Check out my “Ode to Sun” playlist!}

I’m living with some more semblance of a direction in life; I think I know where I am going to college, I know that I need to incorporate creativity and science into whatever career I decide to pursue, and I know that my high school career is winding to a close. It’s a weird feeling, that’s all I can chock it up to; weird.

I’m oddly peaceful for a second semester senior with many blank scholarship applications staring me in the face and two more rigorous units of AP Calculus left, but maybe, just maybe, this is me finally learning how to manage stress. After all, stress is usually just all in everyone’s heads.

Take my grandma’s friend with dementia for example; she has short term memory loss and is happier and more blissful than ever. She no longer worries about the daily stresses we go through relating to time, traffic, technical difficulties. Her memory of these things quickly fades and her happy mood resiliently bounds back. To me, that reveals something about our tendency to hype everything up to the point where we’re just giving ourselves headaches.

So for all you stressed out kids; take a deep breath, this will pass, focus, go outside, feel the sun, you’ve got this.

Here are some pictures I’ve taken over the past two days, I have to say I’m really diggin photography and cinematography more and more these days. Can I get a whoop whoop for creative outlets! And that’s all, internet void. Thanks for being out there, doing you.


[Side note- all of these pictures are completely edit free! Woo! Special thanks to my school’s camera I borrowed]



Into Darkness

“Light thinks it travels faster than anything, but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds that darkness has always gotten there first, and is waiting for it.”

-Terry Pratchett, Reaper Man

I came upon this quote and it sort of just stuck with me. It pulsed through my head over and over until I got it down on paper. I viewed it as a depressing quote, but it got me thinking about light and darkness.

Humans have always had this infatuation with light versus darkness, it is portrayed in practically every film, novel, painting, etc.

This is based on no science whatsoever, but I think this is due to the fact that the human condition causes us to put our lives in boxes. By this I mean that we recognize patterns, categorize certain feelings, phenomena, so that we can feel organized in this chaotic life.

I go to a party, see a blunt and immediately curl my toes and say “bad”. That might be a poor example because like, drugs. But think about it. Humans have been seeking a unified theory as to why our universe is the way that it is since cavemen times; does the theory of everything ring a bell? (woo Eddie Redmayne)

It’s this relentless need to explain why, to categorize and rationalize what we see- to almost prove that things are indeed there.

You look into a dark void and you are scared, perhaps of what may be there, or of what is not there. We are uncomfortable with the notion of not knowing, we detest it actually. So we will never stop trying to explain the things around us simply because we cannot. It is human nature to seek understanding, rationalization, patterns that make sense to us.

What would happen if we stopped?

I think we’d lose our humanity.