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Today is Palm Sunday, and I spent the better half of the morning in the church listening, and mentally translating, the Filipino Mass so I can understand it better. At 10 AM the tropical heat was already setting in, the humidity already blanketing the faithful sheep in Mass with its choking haze, and the heady odor of people cramped in the building was starting to give me a headache. In my hand was a palm leaf, its underside covered with white cottony patches of pests or some sort of plant illness. In my boredom and inability to equate Pontius Pilate's decision to let the Jews democratically choose who they want to execute to a politician's irresponsibility to serve the people (Because, c'mon, to him Jesus was just another upstart), I thought of cleaning every single leaf of the palm stalk, even if it meant the odd stares of the people around me.

Eventually, I simply made myself watch them instead. There was nothing else to do when the priest's words do not make sense to you. I wondered if the people around me actually felt honest with themselves and the faith, and were not simply there because it was the Lenten Season, a time of year when they celebrate the death of a person who had supposedly forgiven their sins. Most of them looked just as bored as I am. They looked just as uncertain. It was as if they were only there because tradition dictated them to be there. I don't know. With my biased eyes, I cannot fathom being truly devout to an entity that doesn't seem to be there at all. Even the priest sounded like he was simply dictating a memorized speech instead of teaching from the heart like he was supposed to.

When I could no longer bear to look at the toddlers already suffering Mass at such a tender age and the pledge basket that did way too many rounds to take patron donations, I looked towards the stained glass window nearby. The chapel wasn't very large so its colorful displays were not the grand frescoes of the larger cathedrals the Spaniards built centuries before, but a building wasn't a holy place without them, was it? There, I saw this tiny black bird, so small I could probably close my fist around it. It was trapped in the chapel, perched on the highest ledge of the stained glass window. Endlessly, it hopped from one edge to another, tackling the light blue barrier than kept it from open skies. It was probably there even before the Mass began, throwing itself against the glass because the thought of simply flying over the heads of the faithful sheep was too terrifying.

I watched it for almost half an hour, and the longer the Mass dragged on, the weaker the blackbird became. Its beak opened as it panted, tongue raised to help the air pass through easier. I could almost hear its little heart beating in overdrive, from the exertion and the stress of being exposed to the loud pipe organ, the chanting of the choir and long drawn out sermon of the priest. Birds can die from stress, and the heat wasn't helping. The cacophony of rustling palm leaves certainly didn't. I could only imagine being the blackbird, trapped between a horde of palm leaf-holding humans and a light-blue glass that showed freedom and paradise but kept me away from it at the same time.

The irony.

When Mass ended, I went up to the stained glass window with my palm leaf in hand and saw the blackbird had become deathly still. I reached up with the leaf, hoping to chase it off the ledge now that most of the church-goers have gone (they've gotten what they came for after all: a few droplets of water on their leaves so they can pretend it's "blessed"), but try as I might, it refused to move. I thought it was simply doing its best to ignore me, so I climb on a chair and nudged it.

It felt nauseatingly stiff.

I recall myself swallowing, for if there was a corpse that bothered me more than anything, it was a dead bird. I've handled more than my share of them, and I feared that this was yet another one that I must add to my list. Yet, I couldn't bring myself to simply leave it there to rot in the church. It deserved better. I angled my palm leaf to knock it off the ledge and prepared myself to catch it.

Before I could catch it, however, it suddenly flew off and exited the church out the door and towards freedom.

I laughed at myself for freaking out, but I truly felt relieved that it was still alive and free.

I wasted no time in following it outside.
  • Mood: Relief
  • Listening to: Risoluto e Mosso
  • Reading: A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin
  • Watching: Random show with a chick with lemon yellow hair
  • Drinking: Water
When was the last time you had a serious conversation with someone on the passenger's seat? Today? Yesterday? Perhaps never. Yet, I find it easier to articulate my thoughts when I'm behind the wheel. It's sort of like speaking while drunk--though I have never been drunk so I can't quite use that as an example, can I? What I mean is the lack of inhibition, the absence of shame and fear that came with being in control of a moving vehicle. I don't know. Maybe it's because of the fact that I do not have to establish eye contact because, after all, I have to keep my eyes looking forward or on the mirrors to make sure I'm not driving us to our deaths, or perhaps it's because the person sitting on the passenger's seat has nowhere to go and nothing else to do but listen to you.

It's really difficult to explain.

I told my sister that I think I don't believe in God the other day.

I don't think I could have done that in any other setting. She disagreed with me, of course, and normally I would have simply accepted her opposing views without question because I don't like arguments, but because I was driving and had the inhibition I mentioned above, I was able to explain my perspective.

She still told me to rethink my beliefs--or lack thereof-- but at least I able to speak of a topic that is pretty taboo to most people.
I should start by stating that this is pretty much a rant so don't bother to read beyond this point if you don't want to see this.

So I was so hyped up about the premiere of LoK Season 2 last week even though I was so utterly disappointed by how the first one concluded. I hoped that the series would somehow pull itself back together again after cringe-worthy conclusion of what was supposed to be the legacy of its predecessor Avatar: The Last Air Bender. 

However, after watching episode three right before I started writing this, I realized that it probably won't be able to live up to its hype. 

First, let me say how much LoK made me cheer back when it first aired. Season one's pilot episode was amazing! The presentation of Republic City, the introduction to this feisty and tough new Avatar, and the whole theme and tone of the series truly made me look forward to how this whole new era would unfold. However, as the episodes came and went, that high from the pilot did not just plateau, it crashed. Characterization just went to the dumps, the plot became a mess, and the... sport... that Korra and co played just faded into the background despite the fact that it was one of the key attractions for the series. 

Isn't it sad that the sport had disappeared enough that I don't even remember what it was now?

Oh, pro-bending... I think. But you get the point.

I stuck with it to the end though because, damn it, Korra is badass. You just don't see a character like her often and I've always thought that she is very a good contrast to Aang, who I also adored in the first series. 

Anyway, enough about season 1. It was great, then it sucked at the end in a manner that was almost insulting to the series it descended from. Season 2 is with us now and I thought that with the audience discontent all over the internet, it would somehow salvage the poor way LoK has been handled so far. 

I was terribly wrong. 

The Pilot episode was chaotic. And not in a good way. It honestly felt more like a collection of scenes that we're supposed to piece together instead of a nicely flowing introduction chapter. One moment we're in Republic City with the pro-bending match ups, then we see Mako (trying to look cool by) riding a bike chasing some hooligans and then-- actually let's pause here because I want to ramble about that utterly unnecessary scene with Mr. Lead Guy. I've probably forgotten what the hell he was doing at the end of season one (because I tend to purposely ignore characters that annoy me) but when did he become a cop? No matter, I found the chase rather bland and sort of like a badly reproduced FFVII: Advent Children bike chase. And, for what? To make Mako look cool? Well I guess it sort of worked... until he opened his mouth with a cheesy line that sounded like it was from a long-running law enforcement drama series I wouldn't bother naming.

And I seriously can't believe he practices those facepalm-inducing lines on Korra. 

If she didn't turn so OOC when he's around, I could easily see her just laughing at him... and call the lines lame. Probably.

Anyway, back to the chaos of the pilot. I found that most of the scenes didn't quite fit in with one another, sort of like a story from which certain scenes and paragraphs were cut off to make room for unnecessary nonsense like those Makorra scenes. At least Bolin was a bit more entertaining this time around unlike in season 1 when he was just shoved into the idiot role after Mako and Korra smooched. Even comical relief characters need growth and screentime to be effective, y'know, so I'm glad that we see more of him. 

But what is with all these Water Tribe villains popping out of nowhere? And why do they all seem to look alike? And spirits, portals, and gates? I bet you that Korra's Uncle is summoning evil spirits from the spirit world ala Mediv or Gul'dan from Warcraft. Of course, the plot is just starting so I'll refrain from ranting about it too much until I have more information. Although I highly doubt this series could surprise any of its audience, especially those who have watched Aang's adventures in the first story. 

The characterization of the cast is still rubbish in my opinion. Though it is expected of Korra to be brash and rebellious, the way she has been treating her father was almost inexcusable, especially because she -knows- that she doesn't know the whole story. She still feels so damn out of character whenever she's talking to Mako. I doubt that'll change though so I'll just...ignore it. Speaking of Mako, so far, he has become worse than how he was in season 1. At least back in season 1, he had that sort of mystery and sense of responsibility... sort of. Now, it feels like he's just there to annoy viewers who dislike him, especially with those cheesy lines.

Oh, actually, he said something in episode three that shocked me. He likened a relationship to a leech that must be pried off if a guy doesn't want to be in it anymore and goes on to saying "a lot of guys do it." Really, Nickelodeon? Really? What kind of example is that to young guys out there? I am aware that the characters have their flaws and, yes, Korra has a major flaw of being full of herself, but... really? Relationships--no, girlfriends-- are leeches? And that was said by the lead guy. It almost begs to be interpreted that he thinks Korra is a leech. Hell, he was probably talking about Asami too, who had never caused trouble aside from defending and/or questioning what was supposed to be her relationship with him back in season 1 when he went and cheated on her with Korra.

Seriously, that asshole must die... or just be deleted. 

No one would notice.

At least Aang's children kind of saves the series... somewhat. I like their dynamic even if it sort of sounds childish with the way they argue to each other. I certainly understand Bumi and Kya's bitterness towards Tenzin. Favoritism tends to tear siblings away from each other and, in their case, that was topped of by their ability to bend. So far, I am drawn to Bumi the most. He's the eldest and the only non-bender out of the three. The poor guy must have grown up knowing that he was somewhat of a disappointment to his world-renowned and talented bender parents. However, Kya's case hits closer to home, being forced to take care of their lonely mother and giving up her own dreams and passions to do so, only because she is the only woman. Admittedly, I like how the series touched upon that gender role expectations. 

Blah.

I can probably complain about this series all night but I'm too tired to type any longer than this rant. There are good and bad points in LoK but the bad significantly outnumbers the good, and that saddens me. Where are the impeccable characterization and character development I loved in the first series? Where is the consistent and satisfying sense of continuity? And, what happened to lead characters who are supposed to be good models for the viewers? Why do we have a douche bag as the lead guy? 

At this point, I'll probably just wait for the season to finish and watch all the episodes in one go. It saves me the agony of watching the main cast fail when they could have been great characters. Hey, maybe a miracle would happen and they might end up being great, but I'd rather wait for the series to get to that point and then watch rather than keep following the episodes and just be infuriated that if it never happens. 
Hazel eyes stared back at itself through the silvery surface of a mirror. Empty of thought, its gaze just seemed to linger blankly into the windows of the soul, again and again through each reflection, searching for everything yet finding absolutely nothing. The Eyes panicked, lost and confused and frightened. By looking at its reflection, it had wandered into a void so deep and distressing that lost all sense of reality. Was anything there at all?

The Eyes stared and found nothing, just a hazel pit that opened to the abyss.

Have you tried destroying the mirror? The Reflection asked. 

The Eyes were bewildered. It had thought about it in the past.

It asked the Reflection, Would destroying it kill you? Oh how it wished it to be so. The Reflection had been its bane, the one that reminded it of how insignificant and worthless it was. The Reflection always pointed out the flaws while the Eyes would only cry in shame. But the Reflection stood silent, unable to answer. 

The mirror cracked like ice shocked by hot water. It split right in between the Eyes' two hazel irises, which constricted in terror. The Reflection, too, was horrified, and the Eyes could see exactly how much fear were in those black and hazel pits. The mirror fell away in sheets, splintering and sliding off the wall so elegantly that time seemed to have slowed its pace. The fragments then shattered on the floor, dusting it with broken diamonds and cold stars. 

The Eyes, though startled, were unscathed and soon the terror drained from its gaze. However, when it returned its attention to where its only companion had been, it found nothing but blankness.

See? The Reflection's cynical and judgmental voice echoed in the small empty room where the Eyes was. It sounded like it was laughing. Killing me was the last thing you wanted.

The Eyes watered. Now it did not have to deal with the Reflection's judgment anymore. It did not have to hear those taunts. But staring at the sating blankness of the wall presented the Eyes with a fate worse than the scathing words of its Reflection. 

Loneliness. 

-0-0-0-0-0-0-
Edit: Typos everywhere! 

This is too random to be a deviation so I just decided to write it here in a journal. I honestly don't know where this came from, but I'm familiar with sudden muses. 
  • Mood: Isolated
  • Listening to: Tick Tock, Tick Tock
  • Reading: Game of Throne by GRRM
  • Watching: Through the Wormhole by Morgan Freeman
  • Playing: Farmville 2
  • Eating: Binbin crackers
Hazel eyes stared back at itself through the silvery surface of a mirror. Empty of thought, its gaze just seemed to linger blankly into the windows of the soul, again and again through each reflection, searching for everything yet finding absolutely nothing. The Eyes panicked, lost and confused and frightened. By looking at its reflection, it had wandered into a void so deep and distressing that lost all sense of reality. Was anything there at all?

The Eyes stared and found nothing, just a hazel pit that opened to the abyss.

Have you tried destroying the mirror? The Reflection asked. 

The Eyes were bewildered. It had thought about it in the past.

It asked the Reflection, Would destroying it kill you? Oh how it wished it to be so. The Reflection had been its bane, the one that reminded it of how insignificant and worthless it was. The Reflection always pointed out the flaws while the Eyes would only cry in shame. But the Reflection stood silent, unable to answer. 

The mirror cracked like ice shocked by hot water. It split right in between the Eyes' two hazel irises, which constricted in terror. The Reflection, too, was horrified, and the Eyes could see exactly how much fear where in those black and hazel pits. The mirror fell away in sheets, splintering and sliding off the wall so elegantly that time seemed to have slowed its pace. The fragments then shattered on the floor, dusting it with broken diamonds and cold stars. 

The Eyes, though startled, were unscathed and soon the terror drained from its gaze. However, when it returned its attention to where its only companion had been, it found nothing but blankness.

See? The Reflection's cynical and judgmental voice echoed in the small empty room where the Eyes was. It sounded like it was laughing. Killing me was the last thing you wanted.

The Eyes watered. Now it did not have to deal with the Reflection's judgment anymore. It did not have to hear though taunts. But staring at the sating blankness of the wall presented the Eyes with a fate worse than the scathing words of its Reflection. 

Loneliness. 

-0-0-0-0-0-0-
This is too random to be a deviation so I just decided to write it here in a journal. I honestly don't know where this came from, but I'm familiar with sudden muses. 
  • Mood: Isolated
  • Listening to: Tick Tock, Tick Tock
  • Reading: Game of Throne by GRRM
  • Watching: Through the Wormhole by Morgan Freeman
  • Playing: Farmville 2
  • Eating: Binbin crackers
My brief trip to Hong Kong is now over and there is only a week left to my month-long vacation. Truly, HK has changed since I last went there at the age of 7. It was very modernized, and seeing all the high-rise buildings and their gigantic airport, made me think that there's something wrong with the other countries I've been in. HK was really impressive and I would have loved to stay longer.

I think I burned through quite a bit of blubber with all the walking there.

Macau, on the other hand, is only nice for those who like simply staying in the casino strip and spend most of their time in hotels and casinos. For someone like me, who prefers going out and photographing the land/cityscape, it doesn't have much to offer. Sure I took some pictures of the casinos and that Beijing Water Cube reproduction, but  definitely enjoyed HK more. I'm not a gambler, but a viewfinder.

After all, sights and views are free, and far more beautiful.

I wasn't able to get as many pictures as I would have wanted though, but I will see if I have some that can posted here on DA. I haven't posted photographs for so long. I think it's only time to put some up.

Perhaps I am simply odd, but one of the things that truly amazed me was when I returned here in the Phils last night. We just arrived at my sister's place, and I was about to open the gate to park the car, when I noticed that it was so bright outside. That was weird because there are almost no street lights in this village (the Philippines is stuck in the middle-ages in that way), and yet it was so darn bright that I could see the grazing fields for the local rancher's cattle.

I could even see the blades of grass!

I looked up then, and saw that there was a full moon lighting the whole place. Well, I don't know if it was a full moon but I'm sure it was really close to it.

And at that moment, I felt humbled as a human being.

I just came from a city where they could light up the night with all the ads and shop lights of a bustling metropolis. High-rise towers sparkled there, and neon signs blared their messages to the tourists and other passers-by. Of course, that impressed me because it was never that bright and cheery in California, and yet... I couldn't see the moon there.

Sure, I didn't notice because the sky was blocked by all the tall buildings but once I returned here, in this underdeveloped land with little lighting... the moment I saw that distant celestial mirror in the sky that had lit up the night for millions of years.

I was amazed.
Shameless self-advertisement.

Did I do this for the last fanfic I wrote? I really don't remember.

Anyway, a Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica story by yours truly.

The Lakeside: www.fanfiction.net/s/9046153/1…

Happy Birthday to Athyra! :heart:
I hope that everyone will have a prosperous 2013.
  • Mood: Peaceful
  • Listening to: MSMM OST - Clementia
  • Reading: Fanfic
  • Playing: Leporis
  • Eating: First chocolate bar of the year
  • Drinking: H2O
  • Mood: Miserable
  • Listening to: Broken Hearted by Eric Clapton and John Mayer
  • Reading: Horrific news
I have no words...

www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-5…

This kind of things seem to be happening weekly since December started. I am not a person who prays, but for these innocent children's souls, I will. Since the killer killed himself right after he committed his crime, I do not know how justice can be served for those kids. I think that is as tragic as their deaths under the hand of a hateful psychopath.
  • Mood: Sentimental
  • Listening to: Christmas Songs
  • Reading: DrV
  • Eating: Nothing. I'm the one hungry now.
  • Drinking: Cold Coffee
Since it's the holiday season and everyone is bombarded with Christmas carols and Salvation Army Santa Clauses, I just wanted to write something positive... or, well, positive depending on how you look at it. I read this article in Yahoo! news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/n… and, in all my sappiness this holidays, it made me smile knowing that kindness still walks this jaded world.

Of course, I have hopes that many of us still do these random acts of kindness when we least expect it. So in the spirit of the holidays that's about to come, why don't we share these little stories? I'm sure you have your little tales of everyday heroism or good deeds.

Lately, have you done anything to help another person or animal just because you can? If so, share it!

My own story was several weeks back, which is kind of sad in retrospect because I should be doing this more often. I was driving home from my town's local mall. I just got out of work and dropped my boss off there because he left his car there for a show. I was about to turn into Mowry Avenue when I saw this thin young man with a placard - you know those ones that pretty much tell you the worse possible life stories in the world? He was homeless and asking for something, of course, but unlike other people who solicit money from drivers, he was merely asking for food, something to sustain him and give him strength to find another way of living.

I fought down the urge to roll my eyes and simply ignore him, because I see those kind of people often enough that it was easy not to care. But then I remembered that I had a peanut butter sandwich in my bag. It was supposed to be my breakfast but work picked up so quickly that morning that I wasn't able to eat before my lunch break, which by then I went out to get something more substantial.

I knew that the sandwich will just be forgotten and thrown away, since I was going to see a friend later that day and I would most likely eat dinner at home. Still, there was that inexplicable possessiveness that I had to swallow, an ugly stinginess that I think every human being has and must overcome. What would being nice to this person do for me? Should I even bother? After all, some people are just out there to leech off others. Why should I encourage such behavior?

But as I pulled up at the stop sign, I berated myself for even thinking such things, for contemplating and judging people I don't even know. What if the guy was simply on the edge, rendered helpless by some factor in his life that he couldn't help? The damn sandwich will just be wasted anyway, so why not give it to the man who was probably starving his ribs off?

So I reached over, lowered my windows (though I was still wary and only lowered it enough so I can pass the bag to him), and handed the sandwich to him. I even apologized, I think, because that it was all I can give him. I didn't even dare look at him in the eye, ashamed for some reason. I don't even know if he said anything. All I know was that he took the sandwich right before I had to drive into the street.

I looked into my rear-view mirror afterwards, wanting to know if my actions (and the honk I got for idling at the stop sign) was worth it. Probably it was, because I smiled to myself when I saw him eating it immediately after I left.
...when "I understand" turns into "we're on the same boat, deal with it."

And when compassion turns into hate.

It's quite a metamorphosis, isn't it?
  • Mood: Pain
  • Reading: Brida by Paulo Coelho
  • Playing: Falling Slowly
  • Drinking: Iced Tea (I wished it was a quad shot espresso)
  • Mood: Thanks
  • Listening to: Tick tock tick tock
  • Reading: Rolling Tides
  • Drinking: Cola
This journal is more self-advertisement than anything else really. I managed to cough up write one last story for K-ON! before I can contently leave the fandom. It was originally a birthday present to our beloved BlackKit10 but after revisions, rewrite, wrestling with bunnies, pairing changes and finally deciding to write a completely different story (which I angst over in the last journal), I got one written.

Thank goodness...

It's titled Farewell Days: www.fanfiction.net/s/8416269/1…

I have no idea what hit me in the head so hard that my brain decided to write in Yui's POV. It was difficult (I still don't know how that girl's brain works and I don't think I ever will) so I just relied on the more distant aspect of 2nd Person to render her in the story. For better or for worse, I liked how it turned out. It served as good practice for imagery and storytelling (again for better or for worse).

I keep repeating that because that damn story confused even my beta reader. Lololol. Ahem...

Hopefully those who are still willing to read K-ON fiction would take a look.
  • Mood: Worried
  • Listening to: Keyboards tapping
  • Reading: The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo, TBK Interlude 3
  • Playing: a rolled over bunny with exposed white tummy
  • Drinking: Iced Coffee
Just when I thought I was going into another lapse of writer's block (or dreamer's block, considering I can't even fathom scenes in my head when I'm in this phase), I open a book, read a few lines and, well... have it slap me in the face.

I am a chronic sufferer of faithlessness when it comes to anything I do, especially in writing. Whenever I write, there is always a dissatisfaction. It is never good enough and I will never be good enough to improve. Sometimes this becomes so bad that I need a good kick on the rear to even get me to upload anything. And it makes me feel bad, horrible, distraught...

Perhaps even depressed.

Just last night, I was trying to write a oneshot only to find that typing every sentence was torture. I fought and wrestled with it, trying to make it work, but deep down I knew that it was a lost cause. The story was dead and if I wanted to revive the plot, I have to rewrite the whole thing. It became another defeat, another disappointment.

I am probably making this sound too melodramatic, too serious when it is something that happens to everyone. So a story did not work. Big deal, right? Just bounce back and write another one. But just because it's a common occurrence does not mean the hollowness that follows it is not real. Inspiration is a warm fire, I think, and it fills you up until you could set it in stone, write it out and share it with everyone. So when it fails, it's like a torch going out, blown away by pressurized air. The sudden coldness becomes overwhelming and then guilt sets in, freezing what was left. Fear surfaces afterward because you could not contribute, could not deliver.

Then that fear sprouts reluctance to come up with something new because it might be another blow if it fails.

Writer's/Artist's block.

This morning that's what I thought I had, then just a few minutes ago, I opened Paulo Coelho's "The Alchemist". I thought that if I could not be a writer today, then I shall be a reader and draw inspiration from those who have succeeded and those who have wonderful minds from which memorable stories could spring forth.

I never thought that the author's introduction would be my kick in the rear today.

Coelho talked about personal callings in his introduction, and the obstacles we all face in order to follow our dreams. He says that there are four challenges. The first one was the deeply entrenched belief that we will never be able to do what we want to do. He says, "we are told from childhood onward that everything we want to do is impossible." We are completely and utterly controlled by our environment after all, the necessity to fulfill any niche we could find even if that niche is not what we want to be in. When we try to dream bigger, we displace many things, relationships, family, and our peers.

This is when the second obstacle comes in. Coelho calls it love, the fear "of hurting those around us by abandoning everything in pursue of our dream." Are we going to step over people by doing so? Are we instilling grief to anyone by doing what we want? Are we disappointing our important people in any way, shape, or form? To a person who want to selfless, these questions are agonizing.

Then, if we somehow get over the first two, the third one is certain to bring us crashing to the ground, the "fear of defeats we will meet on the path." Coelho words this wonderfully, "we who fight for our dream suffer far more when it doesn't work out, because we cannot fall back on the old excuse: 'Oh well, I didn't really want it anyway.'" Maybe this is what makes many of us cowards. We all have our calling, things we have to do in this life, and yet we're afraid that we may not be good enough to pursue it. Sometimes it feels better to just keep a dream a dream, and never make it into reality. It is safer that way. No one gets hurt.

You'll just feel very constipated for the rest of your life.

And for those who overcome the above three, they will face the fourth obstacle that Coelho defines as the "the fear of realizing the dream for which we fought all our lives... we look around at all those who failed to get what they want and feel that we do not deserve to get what we want either." He says that this is the reason why many who were so close to getting where they want to be fall short because they see succeeding as a sin and renouncing success is pious, saintly even.

These obstacles sound cynical to be sure. They sound discouraging, but Coelho's message is far from hopeless. All of the above can be turned inside out and used as a tool, or a stepping stone, in order to achieve our callings. Life is an uphill battle after all, and only those who could find that righteous selfishness, the audacity to grasp what they have worked so hard for, could enjoy the real success of achieving their calling.

His words make my worries seem trivial, giving me strength to get over that hollowness. Hopefully, when I do find my calling, I'll be able to pursue it as he has done by overcoming people's expectations, using love as the driving force to continue forward, using lessons learned through defeats to improve myself, and getting the courage to know and to accept that I deserve good things I have worked for.

Now... I just need to catch plotbunnies. They're an endangered species, I'm afraid.
  • Mood: Excited
  • Listening to: Someone's mouth being drilled
  • Reading: The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo, TBK Interlude 3
  • Watching: How It's Made
  • Playing: Bunny tail and its white tummy
  • Drinking: Coffee
This journal is predominantly to replace the old one I had, which had been here for months.

Anyway, the Olympics is just right around the corner and, even though I'm not a huge sports fan, it is something I look forward to... considering it only occurs every four years. I'm already trying to figure out where and how I'm going to watch it, since the home television is usually hogged by other people. Do you guys know any websites that would stream it in real-time? That'd would be awesome.

Do any of you watch the Olympics? And if so, which sports do you watch the most? Due to family "tradition" (I don't know why, mine just loves to watch it) I typically end up watching the swimming competitions or anything water-related. Gymnastics is also a treat to watch, although I mostly end up cringing whenever someone messes up even by the just a tiny bit. Equestrian as well (mostly because of my fascination with horses), and looking at the sports listed in the website... there's Archery?

...I didn't know that. OTL

On another tangent, I just finished "To Reign In Hell" by Steven Burst. The book as a whole is brilliant, with a plot that makes you facepalm and hit your head against the wall. That's not an entirely bad thing though, especially if you consider the Christian religion as a mythology like the Greek and Norse Gods. It simply reflects much of modern politics, where everything is a shade of grey. In this story, there is no ultimate good or ultimate evil, just a turn of circumstances brought forth by misunderstandings and pride. The religion lists pride as one of the seven deadly sins and yet there is a lack of humility in its very foundations. It is similar in the story, where one angel disrespected the equality of the hosts and proclaimed himself god.

If you're interested or have read "Paradise Lost" by John Milton, and Dante Alighieri's "Divine Comedy", then this rendition by Burst is something that is worth reading at least once.
  • Mood: Neutral
  • Listening to: A Time For Us
  • Reading: Chime 9
  • Drinking: Coffee
While walking through an aisle full of blank paint canvasses from only inches across to yards, I wondered.

Why do we crave for blank nothingness?

Sketchbooks, notebooks, a blank wall, a concreted sidewalk, even a blank word document... all of those fascinate me. I touched a coarse sketchbook earlier, maybe one that is used for charcoal or something (not that I would know since I am not an artist or anything), and I felt a strange sense of magnetism towards it. It was off-white and perhaps even made of recycled paper (or at least I hope it was) but that was it. There was nothing there, anything that would warrant any interest.

Even then, I still deliberated whether I should buy it or not as if I would actually use it for something more than just scratch paper.

I baffle myself sometimes, honestly. I've done that many times before; buying a sketchbook or a notebook but not really doing anything with it. If I dig them up from my storage and take time to arrange and compile them, I'll probably have a bookshelf of blank books. Perhaps it was a desire to draw or maybe just a random desire to possess a medium that I could never use. Nonetheless, I buy sketchbooks and notebooks, bound paper that would never be inked or scratched by graphite.

And, to a great extent, that thought saddens me.

On one hand, they are probably better off with people who would actually use them, ones who would draw, scratch, write, anything. There is always this faint voice saying that someone, anyone, else that could give this blankness meaning and that someone is not me. On the other hand, buying them was like a vain attempt for release, as if just paying for them at the cashier will automatically give their blankness meaning.

I suppose this is the same in regards to musical instruments as well. I own a couple of guitars and amps, instruments that lie in their cases lonely and unused for quite a while. They're just like those sketch and notebooks, mediums left off-white, blank and meaningless.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm just like them in that respect.

It's funny to think that we are potentially blank pages. Well, that's not completely true because our experiences usually serve as the ink or graphite. But then again, wonderful psychology and denial dictates whether that ink is black or transparent white. We inevitably convince ourselves of what we're worth which, depending on individual self-esteem, could look like a boldly written epic or a faint faceless stick figure, whose lack of facial expression make it no different than the blankness on which it was drawn.

Perhaps what I had just talked about is inane, trivial, and something that would ultimately make me look stupid for even thinking. Those canvasses, sketchbooks and notepads are sold en mass, taken for granted so why should I even dwell on this absurdity. Most of the people who would be reading this would probably think so...

In the end though, maybe I buy those blank note and sketchbooks and leave them pristine because I am too afraid to leave my mark on them.
  • Mood: Bewildered
  • Listening to: Squawking Bird
  • Watching: Shawshank Redemption
A while ago, I talked about imagery and how stupidly inept I am at it. I have yet to improve on that since I have somehow lost the balance between what must be "seen/sensed" by the characters or not. I suppose that is both the strength and weakness of the POV Effect, but I will just leave that topic for another time.

In this journal, I would like to talk about characters and characterizations.

I perceive a character as a separate entity from myself as a writer. A character has a distinct personality that is created and presented by a author. But characterizations between an original work and a fan fiction are different, aren't they? With originals, we are given the opportunity to create our own characters. It's almost like playing God in a way, breathing life into a name and a description. However, original characters present a great challenge to the writer, the challenge of making them look and feel real. This is a lot tougher than it looks, especially to the character's creator, who may or may not have a full grasp of the character's looks, personality, and thought patterns. It almost like creating another person, another being, who may also not agree with the creator's own beliefs depending on his/her personality, the environment he/she has been exposed to, and the type of history he/she has. Moreover, an original character only exists in the creator's mind and so the author must "sell" the idea of the character to the readers. This is another difficult task, especially when there is no access to an illustrator who can accurately depict a person that only exists in the mind.

On the other hand, fan fiction characterization is relatively fixed to what the canon material has, or at least, to how much the writer can stretch a borrowed character's personality and twist it for his/her plot. And unlike originals, there are set rules when writing a borrowed character. A writer can manipulate a borrowed character's environment, history, and physical health, but a writer is essentially forbidden to step out of what canon has dictated to be that character's basic personality. To many, this is easier to deal with than originals because it is assumed that whoever reads the story already has a mental image of the character as a whole and the only aspects of the story that the author must worry about are the setting, the plot, and the character development later on.

With that brief introduction mind, I would like to ask the following questions:

How do you perceive a character, both original and borrowed? Do you believe that an original character inevitably displays its author's voice and thoughts, or is that still under the author's control? How must an original character be presented so the reader may have a good grasp of this created persona? What are some ways that could help an author "sell" his/her original character? How must an original character be introduced in both an original work and fan fiction? Should original characters be in fan fiction at all?

Like always, there is no right or wrong in the answers to these questions, but I would like to explore your opinions. They might be helpful not only to me but also to everyone who might be struggling with characters. You might notice that there is a lack of questions concerning borrowed characters, but to a certain extent, I believe that writing and characterizing borrowed characters are similar to that of originals aside from the rules I have mentioned above.

~0~0~0~0~0~

Note: Any controversies the previous journal had caused has been discussed and dealt with. The matter is closed.
  • Mood: Apprehensive
  • Listening to: Crossroads by John Mayer
  • Playing: MSMM Grief Syndrome
  • Drinking: Nothing. I must get my coffee asap.
There has been an influx of disconcerting reviews in Fanfiction.net (FFN) lately that have caught my attention. Truth be told, I've been following these reviewers for a while since there are very little actual fiction to read and their analytic and harsh but realistic reviews were entertaining. However, there has been a turnaround in their behavior as critics. I've seen these people not only putting down new stories that do not fit in their own category boxes but also insulting and taunting the authors who have wrote them.

This is troubling.

First and foremost, FFN is what it is, a fan fiction site, where most of the authors are probably in their mid-to-late-teens or even younger. I even dare say that most of them are first time writers. I started writing stories in that website when I was fifteen myself, and yes, I got my fair share of nasty reviews and flames but I digress. Keeping that mind, logically, FFN would be full of underdeveloped fiction (whether it be that their grammar is atrocious, their spelling or their diction make the piece unreadable, or their characterizations of borrowed characters are horrendous), but everyone must start somewhere. And while I appreciate that these said reviewers/critics keep people in-line for the most part, their approach has been distasteful at best. Calling people derogatory names is unacceptable because such insults make the review less than it really is. It lessens its value, especially to the person the review is trying to reach.

Secondly, traveling in packs and hunting down every new author that comes into the category is obnoxious and may even come out as elitist (which is quite ironic actually, since they are referred to as such by some people). I've checked the review page of all the new stories in the K-ON! fandom and, lo and behold, I see familiar names with equally familiar set of arrogant opinions in almost all of them. When did this idea of setting things right and/or helping new authors turn into a crusade made to block and put down the majority of writers that come into the category? This is just plain absurd.

Anyway, this journal is not aimed to address those reviewers, rather, it is written to pose a question. What I have written above shows that there is a fine line between a respectable review and one that simply discourages further progress and improvement.

So the question is:

What constructs a good review that could positively impact a writer? How could (or should) problems be addressed in a review? How should earned praise be presented? How much does a reviewer's reputation or stature as a writer matter? And, for authors out there, what do you feel is most needed in a desirable and wholesome feedback?

Think of this as a short-essay question, especially those who know the issue behind this journal and have seen what had happened in FFN. To those who do not, well, I would like your outsider's opinion, unbiased by the inane controversy in the website.
  • Listening to: Mom chattering
  • Reading: Mail
  • Playing: Bunny Fluff
  • Drinking: Coca Cola (I feel American already!)
I am officially back in California, folks.

And, it is so nice to be back. I missed the CA air for sure, so much that I dared walk out of the airport without a jacket. It was an interesting experience... my body realizing that, "hey, we're not in a tropical island anymore! I've decided I'm cold!"

Anyway, this is just to let people know that I'm alive... and that I did change residences yet again.

As for the title...

I looked up and saw a squirrel looking at me. I don't know if it's the very same one I've had beef with since college but we'll see...

...if that thing throws a pinecone at me again... -growls-
  • Mood: Uneasy
  • Listening to: muse whispering unspeakable things into my ear
  • Reading: a het blip that might be deleted in a few minutes
  • Watching: scenes in my mind
  • Playing: Bunny Fluff
  • Drinking: Water
It is humbling to sit and be able to tell myself that I am currently sitting in my last night here.

Never have I realized how hard it is to take in twenty square feet of space.

I am sitting in my the middle of my queen-sized bed with my laptop resting rather warmly on top of its cooling pad, and its backlight display is the only source of artificial light, if I ignore the little red bulbs of the outlet extension console and the flickering blue light of the wifi router. And, aside from the computer's blinding screen display, I see nothing; not my half-empty closet or the shelf on which I have displayed the numerous figurines my friends have given me as farewell presents about seven months ago. I cannot see my fan near the doorway either, nor the guitar amplifier next to my bed just three feet away.

All I see is this white screen and these texts that I am currently typing.

While mulling this journal over, I have come to appreciate the word "once" and I find it rather fitting to be the name of a character one of closest friends had given me. It is one of those English words that has more than one meaning, yet it perfectly defines the same crucial thing.

A single time.

One that would never be repeated ever again.

Change.

Not every breath is taken in the same exact way, I realized. The quick inhale now can be a deeply filling one the next, and interestingly enough, the more you think about it, the more it changes, the more varied the action becomes.

You simply cannot replicate anything perfectly.

But what about blank space? What about a black canvas? Surely it would be easy to imagine sphere of utter nothingness, even if it does have blinking and twinkling little lights.

There is a catch, however, how does one replicate a void?

I am no stranger to change, yet I am also a creature who resists change. I think we all are, because deep inside our fortitude and courage, we are all cowards when facing the prospect of change. After years of moving around from one house to another, from one country to another, I could not imagine being rooted any longer. Everything I see is temporary, which leads to my apathy and cold indifference to most things. Nothing lasts forever as many say, and I completely agree with them. Although, I could not help but ask...

What about things that are meant to be permanent?

A home is one, a relationship is another. Many stories revolve around these key things which supposedly ground a person and serve as his or her foundation in life. And yet, homes are abandoned and relationships wither like summer flowers faced with the cold of the coming fall.

Life is such a temporary thing.

Perhaps I can just sit, watch it pass by, and still consider it not a wasted life. It will only prove how fleeting it is, how similar it is to staring at a bright screen while sitting in the middle of a dark room.

Once I was a student.

Once I was a friend.

Once I was a writer.

Once I was a confidant.

Once I was a person.

Once I was alive.

Once I was here.

Rather scary, is it not? To refer to oneself in past tense, yet it is only right to refer to myself in past tense because the present is but an illusion. Many people glorify the present, the now. But it is also very easy to say that it does not exist. I blink, and by the time I finished blinking, it is already in the past. It no longer exists. It once was. Although it still amazes me how this nonexistent concept still bridges the past and the future. The future is also a very human illusion, I think. Perhaps we are the only creatures in this planet to imagine it; certainly we are the only ones who have a word for something that has not yet happened. The past shapes the present, which in turn, makes way for the future. What once was becomes is then evolve into what will be, until the cycle continues in which will be becomes once again.

Infinitely looping.

Endlessly turning.

Indefinitely changing.

---------------------

To those who have read to this point and still understand what I am talking about, I salute and thank you. This kind of rambling happens when I immerse myself in black space with only mind as my companion. It is an addiction, a way of coping, and an opportunity to know myself a little better.

Sadly, the more I learn about me and the way I think, the less I understand.

Because even I am changing, yes?
  • Mood: Outraged
For hours I sat down in front of my computer with a blank MSWord Doc up and realized that I am incapable of presenting the feelings and thoughts of anger and outrage in words while keeping them eloquent and tasteful. Instead, I ended up writing throngs of sentences that horrified the editor in me. Even then, I couldn't fully express myself for fury is an emotion I normally inhibit as a person. I would love to know how to master the art of writing fury though because I know that it can be used as an anger management tool or something that would prevent me from hurting others and their feelings while healing my own burning flames within.

Though the experience was unproductive, it was quite humbling, and it doused the inferno somewhat.

I shall not get into the source of my anger, for it is rather trivial, an everyday occurrence that would make me look like a childish and irrational brat. I will, however, tell you this...

Watch what you say.

Think before you speak.

Because there are people out there, like myself, who boils hotly within where you cannot see until it is too late.