Writing a story that has yet to be told

Staring down the roadwing

I bound towards the green glow with gusto. I pedal with all my might, not knowing when the traffic light will turn. Time is ticking. Curve around the impatient Ford Ranger waiting to go. Steer away from the big Dobermann barking across the street. Smile and say “Hi!” to its owner. It’s something I do every day, yet each bike ride is a new experience. As I head to unknown places, I absorb each landscape to build upon my ever-changing biography.

When I was younger, my family rarely took vacations or went anywhere. My days were spent at home doodling dragons in the sky and joining Bilbo’s procession through the Misty Mountains. Through my bedroom window, I would count airplanes and chronicle the life story of the people who walked by.  My room was a safe sanctuary where I could travel around the world in 80 seconds and still be home in time for dinner.

The world was so small.

The world was so small, but as I grew up, I took liberties to open it wider. Rather than write fiction about other people, I wanted to narrate my own adventure. My dreams for my own adventure came together this summer: I challenged myself to bike to all 23 San Jose Branch Libraries. Although I was afraid of being on my own in foreign streets, I biked on them anyway. I biked fifteen miles from South San Jose to downtown. I biked in 100 degree weather and in the frigid morning air. I threw myself into the world to find out what I would learn from my own adventure.img_2130

I met some of the nicest people on my journey: the strong man who helped put my bike on the lightrail rack, the deaf woman who gave me directions, the friendly jogger who replied, “Hello! How are you?!” I also endured the harshness of others: the rude driver who honked at me and cut me off, the drunk pedestrian who yelled at me to get off the sidewalk, and even the no-faced thief who stole my blue bike with the pink lock and tattered basket. Unconfined to my small room, I discovered my life to be an uncharted map.

linh    The more roads I travel, the more open-minded I become to different people in my community. The light is green as long as I’m willing to pass it. As I explore more pathways in college, I will gain even more knowledge on people and their behaviors. Even as I bike down the street, I sometimes shirk from my responsibility, different people, and impatient cars, but overcoming that fear of the outside world is also part of the experience.  Now, I don’t see the world through a pane-glass window. Now, it is through my knowledge of people I encounter and my experiences that steer toward the outline of my story.

 


This is my personal statement that I wrote for my college application and I’m not surprised at how much I still resonate with each sentence I wrote back in high school. Everything as it is now: my want for adventure, my love of learning through people and places I go, my everyday biking experience – it is all unchanged. In learning sociology, I think I am able to gain the knowledge in understanding human experience and learning more about the outside world in general. There is so much to learn, yet so little time. I sometimes feel this way: I want to learn. I want to improve. I want to sleep. I want to be still. It is hard to satisfy all these things in the time being. As of now I am forgoing sleep and catching up on Durkheim to write this post.

A drama once told me this quote.

The truth is always painful,

that’s why I sometimes close my eyes in front of the truth.

 

Perhaps I am turning like that. Biking along, I see things in the world that are not right. I see people getting hurt, people being scared, people unable to move forward. And I, though my heart hurts, I am still. This whole time I was biking. I never got off. And stopped.

I think it was because I was on a bicycle that was fully pumped. Pumped with faith, love, friends, family. I saw others on bicycles that would crash into cars and bicycles that would even be stolen. Personally I’ve had 9 bicycles stolen, but every time, I would have a new one to ride. (My thanks, Steak) When you are riding a bicycle, it is not easy to stop, for it is so fun to ride. When you get used to riding a bicycle, it is hard to walk because you are itching to ride again.

I must start learning to walk again. And feel how it is for others to walk, instead of bike. 

Alviso Branch Library

This post is 5 weeks overdue. Did you have fun reading about my adventures around town? I guess… I never wanted the dream to end. But as time continues to pass me by, I can no longer afford to stall this last post of Biking to the City of My Dreams.
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Although the time has passed, I still remember that day clearer than I remember yesterday.

Alviso Branch is the farthest away from home. I took the lightrail to downtown but as I approached the Metro/Airport station, I had to BOUNCE as soon as I saw the police coming to check for tickets!

(Yes I didn’t pay that morning. Bad Linh!) So I shot out as soon as they walked in.

Good thing? They didn’t catch me.
Bad thing? I now have to bike the rest of the 5 mile road down North First Street to reach the library.
Good thing? I get to ride the rest of the 5 mile road down North First to the library (:

At some point I realized I was reaching a new threshold to another world. As I crossed the bridge from one country to another, the land welcomed me with a gushing breeze.
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There’s not much to see here, it’s a small population of San Jose.
It’s on the edge of my universe.

There’s much to see here, the Guadalupe River Trail starts here.
The peaceful grains of dead grass sway with the wind.
The sky was never so blue, the sun never so bright.
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I’m sorry, I accidentally mistook that temple for an ice cream place….

Finally, the Alviso Branch Library.
Alviso Branch Library
It’s a small-town library. Unlike Educational Park or Almaden, it’s not grand or sophisticated or anything like that.

It’s small and sweet. From the outside, I see the paint peel off the bottom. Inside, the library is probably as big as the Carnegie branch. It’s great though.
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I wanted to end my trips in a grand way, in a grand place. But, despite its size and age, it still is a grand library.

Someone posted on Bascom that a library shouldn’t be judged by its looks or feel, but by the content of its books.

At the Alviso Branch, I read this great book called Deadline by Chris Crutcher.
[synopsis: Given the medical diagnosis of one year to live, high school senior Ben Wolf decides to fulfill his greatest fantasies, ponders his life’s purpose and legacy, and converses through dreams with a spiritual guide known as “Hey-Soos.”]
Butterflies
The story resonated in my mind so much that I later bought my own copy. You guys should check it out. Crutcher manages to be funny while also keeping a reflective, thoughtful tone.

After I left the library, I toured around the area.
Guadalupe River
I don’t know where the road leads me to. I could flow down into a great sea or I could trickle into a dead end.

But, like water, like time, as a biker and a person, I can’t help but just keep going. No matter where the road takes me.

This trip was quiet. Today was quiet. Most endings are quiet.

As I bound for the road home, the streets silently embrace me in familiarity and strangeness. This beautiful place I never knew is already leaving me so fast.
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Have you ever had that feeling? That something so simple could move you so easily?

So. I’ve been to all twenty-three libraries in San Jose. I’ve breathed in some really good memories and been through some crazy ride all this time, but I actually did it guys.
(And don’t worry, I paid the fare for the ride home)

Every library has a different concept, but they all have the same theme:

Flying.

Be it fluttering butterflies, falling leaves, or doves taking flight, the central concept of flying was introduced in every library.

Many animals fly, but humans can’t. Not literally of course, but figuratively, we can soar as high as Mount Olympus if we wanted to. If we tried hard enough.

After two months of trudging through stairs, bridges, dirt, and San Jose, I’ve finally started to fly.

My first challenge has already been accomplished. I finally biked to all 23 libraries.

The second? I finally got my bike up on the rack this time.
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What’s my third challenge you ask? Figuring out how to write a poignant personal statement out of the best summer adventure/challenge ever.

Right now, I’ve barely reached the base of the mountain. Tomorrow begins the uncertain climb and the rest of my life I might be dangling off a dangerous cliff until the inevitable fall, but to not let that happen, I grab the handholds tightly and take a new step each day until I reach the top.

Thank you, reader, for joining me on this journey across the San Jose Public Libraries this summer. It really was a ride I will never forget.

Bascom Branch Library

It’s true. The Bascom Branch Library is really great. And big. And on the outside, it screams NEW! INNOVATIVE! LIBRARY!

Seriously, every library is basically designed in pretty much the same structure on the outside so you can see from down the block the shiny beacon of Beauty that is THE LIBRARY.

Inside though, the Bascom Library isn’t as imaginative and fun as the others are. (Which explains the lack of photos)

It’s straight to business. Colors are fine. But no stuffed dragon or tree sculpture here! No sir!

Pretty computers YES.
Bascom Branch Library
Needless to say I didn’t fall in love with this place. But I do find the quiet room interesting.

There’s no difficult door to maneuver or find. It’s like one big glass window slapped the other one out and made a parallel gap between the two so you can just WALK THROUGH LIKE A BOSS (without having to make a fool of yourself wondering if it goes in or out -EDENVALE!!-)
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Anyways, yea. Did my homework here. Not really, just fell asleep on the couch before I even read one page of SIDDHARTHA.

Don’t worry. I saw 2 old people sleeping while I was touring the library. I’m not alone.

After leaving the library, I was in a pretty conflicted mood and therefore spent the next hour roaming downtown San Jose. Again.
me
Not even sure if you can see my expression but it stands for “bleh.”

But, that was then. You can’t stay too long in the red zone.

This is going to sound so cheesy, but bear with me.

Only YOU are in charge of where to steer your bike. U-turn it, drive it madly down the road, turn left or right. There’s many ways to bike.
Steer
As for me, this summer I’ve been driving my bike all sorts of wonky ways and will probably continue in that manner. Life is fun that way.

And eventually, when it’s time to park your bike, lock it up safely and walk away in style!

The time comes soon! I’m off to Alviso Branch Library in less than 12 hours!

Almaden Branch Library

Oh my god I love this place. Wait. Hold up, let’s rewind.

The Almaden Branch is on the edge of Almaden County Park, like where all the green tree-ey mountains are in the south. So, naturally, their library loves trees.
tree
Besides the awesome tree design, this place is HUUUGEE! It’s more than just a library. It’s a community center complete with a cafe, a game room with pool tables, a park to it’s left, and just a lot of cool stuff.
Almaden
It’s a very quiet and nice library. Reminds me of Vineland. The people that is, and the kids.

Because I could not find a nice place to set my laptop on, I sat in the kids’ table and all day long, parents and their kids would plop themselves across from me and read.
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This is just a random thing I’ve noticed since I explored Educational Park, but every library since then has owned at least one copy of this decades old Dragonlance series. I never got the chance to read it (just look at the size of em) but it always intruiged me because of the blurb in the back of the book.

The plot really reminded me of some other story about dragons in Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.

Do you ever get that feeling? That nostalgic feeling that wells up in you when you notice similarities between things?
Crystals
Thomas C. Foster, author of “How to Read Literature Like a Professor” said that there is only ONE STORY. That is, all stories derive from each other. They borrow this, twist that, so that each book is like a leaf sprouting from different branches that all stem from one tree trunk.

I suppose almost everything can be explained in this way. Ancestors, science, cause and effect. It’s pretty cool.

With that being said, I’ve just two branches left. Bascom library it is!

Berryessa Branch Library

So I totally messed up my opposite-alphabetical order already so.. why not go to Berryessa right after Alum Rock? xD

Ahh a day without my bike. It wasn’t too bad. Although going back to the Alum Rock area gives me bad vibes… I shrug it off. Not like they can steal anything else…other than my laptop which I brought with me today to do INTENSEHOMEWORK.

In any case, I arrived at the library safely and was struck in awe at how beautiful it was (not like the others weren’t beautiful too but..)

The Berryessa Branch Library.
Berryessa Branch Library
If the Cambrian Branch was crazy with circles, Berryessa is obsessed with triangles. The end of some shelves are designed like a sleek shark fin and even the ceiling shouts TRIANGLES ARE SO COOL.
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But I don’t mind. It is cool.

I really like the mood of this library. It’s very lively during the day and a lot of Asian people are here. Although you can see many Latino references in the paintings around the library.

Once again, the children’s area really is the awesomest place yet. (Seriously, why do the children get all the awesome architecture? We teens can appreciate beauty too) The theme: Moonlight Dreams.
Moon
Man I could just sleep there. But I didn’t sleep a wink here! Did my homework in the quiet study room like a good girl. 😀

Outside, there is a nice park with a beautiful man-made fountain/lake. It’d be a great place to bike around.. …
Park

Only two more branches to hit up and I will have accomplished my quest. Looking back, there is no other way I would have wanted to spend my summer. I’ve seen so much of my city and there’s still so much more to see.

Some people believe in God, others in Fate, I believe in Cause & Effect.

Upon arriving home, I receive the best news ever. Thanks to the great advice from Nido, I made up with my friend Phillip again as you guys know from Pearl Branch. So that was the cause. The effect was that, when I lost my bike, he messaged me offering his extra bike, giving me a list of reasons why I need it.

It’s like we’re out of Mirkwood already and rolling down the Forest River in barrels of rum. His bike is a bit high but it’s better than walking there. Could not have asked for a better way to ride down the finish line.

Thank you to everyone for your concerns. My sister keeps telling me to bike with a friend so I’m not lonely, but I’ve always known. I’m never alone.

The next trip is to Almaden Branch Library! (Yes I’m messing up the order again) Trololo!!

Alum Rock Branch Library

Basically, I just didn’t like the ambiance of Latino america today so I left it for the next place on the list: Alum Rock Branch. So what if I have to bike 5 miles? Library closes at 8 anyways. I have time.

So I head off to the land past downtown and I-680. There I find a more densely Latino and black population. Don’t mistake me for being prejudiced, but after being checked out by a middle aged black man earlier that day I’m kinda wary.

The Alum Rock neighborhood is weird. This block looks like I passed the border to Mexico, the other is like I never left Westgate.

Moving on, the Alum Rock Branch Library. It definitely stands out from its surroundings.
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Like every library, it’s pretty awesome. The Children’s area is populated by cute little plastic palm trees and blue clouds.
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But I never linger there for long. I plop myself down on a comfortable couch in the quiet study room and start THE TRAVELER by Daren and Daniel Simkin.
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[[SPOILERS: The story is about a boy who wants to find out what he wants to spend all his time on. So he packs up his suitcase with hours and minutes and months and travels across the world until one day he comes home an old man and realizes he wants to spend his remaining time with the pretty girl he left at home. But when he opens the suitcase where he kept his time, only a measly month falls to the ground and several seconds trickle to his feet. And only now does it hit him. You cannot pack up time and save it. And so he lived the rest of his month with his friends and family. It wasn’t what he planned for, but he was happy. END SPOILERS:]]

The short story really resonated in me because, heck I’m pretty sure it’s what I’m doing right now!

Because the reason I’m going to all these libraries is because I don’t know what else to do. I’m searching for a reason right now.

Later, I tried to do homework but every sentence of SIDDHARTHA was a melodic harp that lulled me further to sleep.
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I have no dreams of late. It’s all black. A dark abyss. I’m searching for a star to look upon.

Finally, I decide I can do nothing more here and head out the door. It’s sunny outside. Good weather. The breeze is warm.

All that’s missing is… my bike.

My bike with the tattered basket and pink lock. Linh’s bike with the tired brakes and rusty chain. Where did it go? Who did it go to? A deep pool of anger surged within me but I tried to stay as calm as possible. My eyes radiated anger. I resorted to fast-walking to the nearest Alum Rock lightrail station approximately 0.8 miles from the library.

“The AUDACITY! The POMPOUSNESS! The THIEF!”

My mood today :<
My mood today :<

I screamed in my head that it was not so but Alum Rock is far from Cottle. The hour-long ride home leaves me exhausted and drained of anger. Now I'm just freakin' depressed. At the end of the day, I just don't care anymore. My legs ache. My feet hurt. I take off my flip flops and walk home barefoot the rest of the mile. Through grass, cement, pine leaves. It's the true hobbit experience you know.

It's like we're at the verge of Mirkwood Forest. The horses cannot go any further, nor can my bike help me. The band of dwarves and hobbit traveled great leagues on foot. Why can't I go a few miles?

Even without my bike, I'll still continue my journey. It's a duty to you readers and a duty to myself.

With that being said, tomorrow I am headed for Berryessa Branch Library! Fighting!

Biblioteca Latino Americana Branch Library

Yes. There is actually a library pretty much made specifically for the latino american population in San Jose.

Anyways, today started out in a frenzy. I had to hurry to school to get my schedule and ID and then rush to the book room to get my books and then spend the next 45 minutes delivering bookbricks to students.

I was so engaged in helping the busy crowd that I forgot that in an hour I had to take my senior portrait!

So I rushed home, grabbed my books, wallet and raced to the lightrail.

Suffice it to say I managed to reach my destination and took my picture.

Speaking about pictures, I couldn’t find my camera today (scatterbrained) so we’ll make do with small, low-quality phone camera. Good? Ok! 😀

Onto the Biblioteca Latino Americana Branch Library! (phew that’s long)
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From the outside, it looks huge! Tall enough to have two stories. Big enough for a basketball court.

From inside, it totally reminds me of those awkward one room houses. No. Just.. No. I want my privacy please.
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Still, it’s a reaaaallllyy pretty library from the inside. Upon entering the front doors, a gush of air conditioning welcomes me to a cozy looking arena of books.
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On either side of the library are hand-painted canvases depicting important Mexican figures and culture. There’s also really cool quotes on the wall too.
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So the library system has been down since August 5th therefore most of their services have been… wacky.

So it’s just my luck that my card just so happens to expire this week thus disabling my computer and checking out privileges.

But nice lady let me make a temporary new ID and check out this cute book called THE TRAVELER. I’ll read it later.

Speaking about later, this day isn’t over! The second half of Tuesday, August 6th will be up shortly.

In an epic quest involving bikes and books and people, a girl will show her wrath at Alum Rock Branch Library!! RAWR!!! :<