26 April 2015

Working to Balance the Good and the Bad

Have any of you experienced one of those last few weeks of the school year where you end up waking up super groggily and grumpy on a daily basis? This past week has been one those weeks. I have been placed in charge for managing certain tasks by my teachers that I wasn't necessarily ready for. Let me tell you, the world has given me things to ponder.

But just because my week was horrible didn't mean that no goodness came out of it. On Friday, I went to an audition-- a practice one (I wasn't really trying to audition for the show; I just came to practice auditioning skills)-- and surprisingly, the directors were impressed with my cold reading of a game show host caricature of a character.

Saturday was our season's first outdoor meet, held at my school. Half of our school's team was competing out of town, and the twenty of us who stayed behind had to tackle on the many events that remained untouched. My friend and I got to the area at about ten, and honestly, I just remember making smiley faces out of oranges, stretching, talking, and a race of mine.

Today was the last day of catechism class, which I mainly came for the fact that we were all going to spend an hour playing on my church's playground. There's this aspect of reaching your teens or when you are college aged and encountering a chance on going on a playground: that childhood self in you will come out and take form. I watched this happen as about seventy percent of our class ended up arguing about going onto the six-seated swing set. Ah, the freedom of being a little kid.

I also got to talk to some old friends of mine too, that I sometimes see at school but can't talk to often. We talked about one of my friends who had moved away some while ago and how even if it has many months since they have left, it still feels strange, like a void in the spectrum of life. Funny, how when you talk to people you actually listen and the same way goes around, swapped.

I like talking to people in my grade sometimes, even when I am younger than the majority. I spend my time talking mainly to little kids for their openness, college-aged instructors for their daring spirits, and the elderly for their wisdom, but to speak to someone from your own grade is a different story. I don't usually converse the same way that others do, but it was a nice change, for once.

My middle school friends and I have been planning a reunion, and well, expect to see some playground madness photos that may pop up at the end of May. The world is an odd place with the ability to give to you the good and the bad, but you know, I'm working on it.

What have you all been up to lately?

20 April 2015

The Hard Truth About Blogging

"Morning, why do you post things differently compared to other blogs?" This was a recent question which someone had asked me a while back. For some time, I pushed the question aside until I read one certain post and gained a little more perspective. Today I will be my thoughts with you. Yes, this is one of my more serious posts and I know that probably not even half of my readers would comment, but you will understand why I am doing after reading it all.

I've been writing on average about two posts a week ever since I arrived home from my Disney World trip. The two posts would end up being entirely different from each other; one of the posts would be writing and the other would often be thoughts, my life, or photography, and out of all of the categories I post, "Thoughts" is the least popular one, probably because of the downing serious tone I make.

I'm not always a serious person, and to people who know me in real life, it may have seemed like it at first when I met them. But when I'm out with friends "in the real world", some people in my life call it, I'm honestly not as serious. I sing out loud in public at the most inappropriate times, and when I try to play charades I always associate what I am acting out with yoga movements. (My Ancient Civilization teacher warned me to not to hit or drop something while doing this.)

I'm a weird kid, but I don't mind. It is better to be weird and unique even by just a teensy fraction, than normal but just ordinary.

Here's the thing though: when I started blogging, my goals were to get my voice out and to potentially inspire someone, a sort of motivation that a dreamer would have. That goal has, and still is, being reached today, but I notice that I get less but more meaningful comments on my thought posts compared to the plentiful but simple comments on other posts. And that's when a tough thought comes in:

Do you value quantity or quality? (And when I mean quality, that doesn't necessarily mean DSLR gorgeous photos. I mean something deeper within that.)

If you're like me, you would want both, but the decision is more complicated than that. The two won't always balance each other out. The decision suffers Goldilocks syndrome: too hot, too cold, and just right.

There was a blogger from the last of the tight knit blogging communities, as she tend to call it, who wrote about how the blogging community's fire has nearly gone out, how now we aren't writing, we are just sharing; how we are now leaving small comments than huge thoughts on blog posts, and that's only a summary of it. I won't link her blog, since it's been awhile since she has posted and the fact that she has mixed feelings about blogging now.

I was deeply affected, in a good way, and so I decided to contact the blogger and they have replied back, and the insight that they gave me, in all of the messy shebang of words (which I love completely; order within disorder is my sort of thing sometimes) was very deep. Finally, I understood.

It's easy to lose sight of the reasons you originally wanted to do something because you are so caught up in reasons that you never realized had existed before. It reminds me of the song "Top of the World" by Greek Fire; it sings about how this person seems like they have everything they ever wanted in the world but in reality they don't. The intentions in which you once had are now being clouded by the thought of "More."

I envy new bloggers only by a small fraction. I know that envy is bad, but  they have it easy: they are new and young, trying to make a name for themselves in the blogging world. They have so many new ideas and aspirations for what they want to do, and most of all, they are the one's most resistant to the urge of wanting a huge gain of followers. I constantly visit so many new bloggers' blogs and they always ask me, "How do you get more followers?"

The answer is: There is no guarantee formula that will get you followers at a rapid pace. There really isn't. Ultimately though, did you not start blogging because it was your choice to do so I the first place, for the fun and the freedom? We all started with quality. Now we crave for quantity. I shall quote at some of the advice the blogger of the last blogging community has given to me which I think you should all read:

"You in the general sense as in any blogger shouldn't care too much about their numbers, but also you specifically because of your personality, because the people following your blog will be like you and you'll have those deep connections with your readers and that will satisfy you. It should go without saying but i don't know you so this could be totally wrong, but that's just kind of the vibe I'm getting. If you work at creating those deep connections, your blog will be completely satisfying to you even if you never get 10,000 followers. Hope that makes sense...?"

She also said to go for something different. Some days I have to admit I am guilty of dumping photos, but or these summer months I am going to strive to create something more for the raw but deep authenticity to shine through. You can kind of think of it as, "Art is only true of art when the creator feels the emotion too."

So, this summer I will be striving to write posts that will not just satisfy you all, but posts that will satisfy me too. I'm glad to say that I will be collaborating with some of the most talented people I know; you'll see some of our posts during June and July.

Let's try to create something new, something different, something innovative, raw, and authentic. Because we as writers, bloggers, and photographers, are capable of much much more.

17 April 2015

"Watch" -- The Conclusion

My eyes flit open and I took the time to adjust to the bright lighting coming from out the window. Physically, I was knackered. Mentally, I was drained. My eyes searched for the owner of the voice, and right there, next to my bed, was Jenna, sunbathed in the morning rays. “Jenna?”
“W-what are you doing here?”
“We’re looking after you. By ‘we’, I mean…” Jenna gestured to Riley, George, and Nate, sitting on the couch facing my bed. The three of them scooched in closer to Jenna and sat there. I began to panic. Last night, the fights, my wishes… My eldest sister must have sensed my confusion, because she spoke again. “Your friends told us about your wishes when you were younger.”
“Is that—“ I said no more as Jenna uncrumpled the piece of paper balled in her hands, and smoothed it thin.
Nate murmured, “’Wish number 28, be just like Jenna, George, Nate and Riley.’ Yes.”
“Oh, pickles.” I turned towards them and hid my face under my pillow, to hide the utter embarrassment that was going through my face. An assortment of tangled emotions strung together. My final wish came true, but how was I supposed to react? Happy, because the dream was a reality? Frightened, because I was being judged based on actions I did when I was younger? Confused, because of the current situation my body was in, the old screws and bones? In impulse, I said muffled, “Well, I suppose it’s too late. I grew up long since the days I wrote those words. You can leave, and I’ll be here, alone, ready to die and—Hey!”
My two sisters pulled the pillow away from me. Their faces were plastered with pure shock. “How could you say such a thing? You’re three years older than all of us!”
I tore the pillow away from their grasp and sat straight on the bed. “You know, staying in a hospital makes you think. Babies can die sometimes during the process of childbirth, even days after their conception. Death teaches people may things, and…”
“No.” My brothers denied it. They must have known what I was trying to say.
“After thinking about it, I know I’m one of those people.” Tears began to trickle down my face, and I wiped them away with my medical gown. “I’m one of those people whose only purpose in the world is to… t-t-t-teach something. My purpose in this world is not to live and be a solid concrete person to walk the earth, but to stand here as some sort of saying, or lesson. 
“Stop saying that!”
“I won’t survive the surgery, I know I won’t, I can’t, I shouldn’t. Whoever placed me here, may it be some higher deity from above, perhaps God, or maybe the universe, they know my purpose is done. Love and death are the only two things that can prevail.”
“Stop, you’re being melodramatic!” Jenna’s warm hands wrapped around my own wrists and shook me senseless. “Yes, we weren’t here before for all of those years. We did a sloppy job of being your older sublings, but we’re asking for that second chance now.
“Maybe you won’t survive that operation. Perhaps you will. But you shouldn’t think of yourself’s sole purpose to be defined as a lesson, and a lesson only. Girl, you lived a beautiful life, and the four of us were too caught up in our own realities to see that. Those babies might have lived for several days, but like you said, they teach their mothers more. So what I am—we are—asking you is for our forgiveness. Don’t waste your time on bitterness.
I looked at the four of them with glistening eyes. They truly were sorry, they were! I stood onto my knees and gave them all a big hug, sobbing heavily. They might not have been the most perfect people, but I love them and I now know that they loved me. The four of them patted my head and held me in close for a long time.
I laid back down. “Promise me you won’t leave or forget me?”
“No.” I watched my sisters fluffing up my pillow and Nate and George adjust the thermostat I think and I am grateful for this imperfect family I have. "We'll be right here." With Riley smoothing out my hair and my brothers smiling softly, alongside Jenna’s humming cascading the room into a tender lullaby, I knew with the four of them watching me, I can now rest in peace.


And that, my friends, is the end of "Watch."

You may possibly be wondering about one question I did not address: Does Melody survive or die? My friends, I wish I had a simple answer to that, but if I told you my thoughts on the subject, you guys will either be like, "You're being too soft the characters!" or "YOU HAVE DESTROYED MY FEELS." (If I haven't destroyed your feels yet, then I will be surprised.) I will leave you with this thought, if you need to hear my opinion on the ending:

The story's synopsis has always been about a girl who has strove to reach her brothers' and sisters' love, respect, and affection, and that was the main thing I wanted to reflect in the story. The truth about real life is that not sometimes, you may go under appreciated by others or you might under appreciate someone. Life isn't always a fairy tale. But we can always strive to be like Melody's friends-- Monique, Amy, Luke, and Peter-- and appreciate those who are in our lives right now. Those are the sort of people we need.

14 April 2015

Green Dresses and Vocal Stresses

 "I'm not a character like Rapunzel or Cinderella; my story looks like any other." -- Malala Yousafzai

"Perspective is everything when you are experiencing the challenges of life." -- Joni Eareckson Tada

Yesterday I was able to compete and perform against some of the top choirs in the school district. I could describe how magical the evening was, with wearing a very much princess-like green dress and how our songs went down flawlessly, but to say those things wouldn't entirely be true.

First off, I was terrified for the day. One of the songs that we were to perform contained multiple solos originally left for the Concert Choir. In the choir class I'm in, Mixed Choir, I was assigned to only sing as a backup for the class. This was a fact until Friday, when my choir teacher came up to me at the end of the class and said, "You're going to be performing as one of the soloists at the actual competition." To sing for a small class is easy, but for a competition against other schools? Scary.

If you are wondering as to what solo or song I'm talking about, listen to this opening of the song Safari. I had to perform two of these "wah-na-no-le"s; one at the beginning of the song, and one at the end.

As for the green dress I was in, though beautiful, I had many problems with it. I kept stepping on the hems and nearly tripped several times as I walked up to the balcony and series of stairs. I would be walking and then, BAM! My face is on the ground I am wondering why it couldn't have been the afternoon of that day when I was discussing with a friend of mine on the way back home from school that our middle school group was weird and still is, as shown below when we are trying to plan a reunion:

The performances were amazing, ours and others. A lot of the songs that other schools performed were very choral like, whereas our school's songs were very wild with much body percussion and animal noises. The great thing about it was that I was able to see some friends of mine that I have not seen in quite some time, and to compete against them was such an honor and an excitement for me.

The competition's results haven't come out yet, but I really hope we won! I'm also glad to have heard from someone I know that my elementary choir teacher watched and was estatic to see me-- knowing her and having not seen her in awhile, I know she would. I'm kind of glad about it, too.

(Still haven't filled out my survey? Please do; I need the feedback!)

10 April 2015

"Watch" -- Part 5

This is it, the one you've all been waiting for: the climax of my story Watch. I am quite proud of how this chapter turn out; though it does have its flaws, the amount of intensity that it holds is all there. If you have not read the first four chapters, I strongly suggest for you to catch up before reading this. 1  |  2  |  3  |  4 


I woke up to the greeting of a feverish feeling in my forehead. It has been about eight days since I had entered the hospital, and in that time span I was informed to have a large tumor in its final stages of development. “We will have to perform surgery on you, however, there is a chance you might not survive, should something go wrong.”
The response that came out of my chapped lips sounded nothing like me at all. “All right.”
The days were set in a monotonously dull setting: wake, be checked by a nurse, weave in and out of consciousness, and do the same thing the next day. The only variety that I got in my time was when my friends came over and visited me.
I wasn’t feeling good, and whether it was due to the tasteless food spoon fed to me or the intense smell of window cleaner, the reason was unclear. My head was throbbing through a hot pain—though not as intense as the day I passed out. My entire body swelled with heat, and worst of all, my vision consisted of miniature pixels forming a low quality view of my surroundings. I pulled the sheets closer to my body and swaddled myself like a taco wrapping.
What wasn’t hindered by my feeling was my sense of hearing, and I strained to listen to a conversation happening outside my door.
“… Seven days. It look all of you seven days to get here.” Monique’s voice thundered outside my room. Uh-oh, I thought, whoever she was talking to should not be squabbling around and taking things in a joking matter.
“Mother and Father said that we were to meet here to check on sis’s condition, but honestly, this feels like a waste of time. I’m sure that the others are having similar thoughts.” Riley. Riley is here. If Riley is here, then—
The other four are here. Oh Lor, am I going to have to go through this repetitive pattern with a distraught ending all over again?
“Waste of time?” Peter bellowed. “Dude, Mel has been one of the greatest people I have met in my life! I may not have a close relationship like she does with Luke, but a waste of time? Biggest piece of bull in my life. Don’t you care about here?”
“Of course we do,” George, the younger of my two brothers, snapped. “But don’t you understand that we can’t pause our life for her? I have a wife and a five-month old baby to look after! Why is it the younger siblings of the family always spoiled? Melody is spoiled; that’s all she is.”
At this point my rising fever surges up, and I curled up into a ball. The shock of my brother’s affect me, but I am too distracted at my condition at hand to mope about the comment.
“Spoiled? Spoiled is what you think of her? Gosh, that’s dumb. It’s frustrating! Have you even met your own sister? She was the girl who always strove to be kind and helpful, who wanted to live her dreams, but the one thing that Melody truly wanted could never be received. For years, she has balled up inside of this eating desire. If Melody wasn’t one of my best friend, I’d think of all of you as knuckleheads, and that’s only the beginning of the long list of things I could think for you four. This is worse than in the City!”
There seemed to be a small fight breakout. I couldn’t see past the door, but the yelling volume escalated rapidly. Monique threw out the worse curse words she could have thought of in the moment. Amy’s voice squeaked, “Monique, calm down!”
“I can’t calm down! Don’t try to restrain me, Peter; I am going to lash out all I want! Do you know what Melody wanted? Do you four know what she had always yearned for? If you know her and answer this question right, fine, I’ll let you go back to your pathetic little lives.”
My brothers and sisters stay quiet. “SPEAK!” Monique screamed.
“I don’t know, nor do I care!”
“You cretins! She want your guys’ respect and approval! She wanted to feel that you loved her, and not once in her darn time she grew up with you she felt that!” With those words, my stomach lurched forward. There is was, my secret was out, and there was no way it could be taken back now.
“I think it’s so aggravating, that she loves you so much, people who could never truly love her back!”
“Look, I am going to speak for everyone related to her-“
“Have you wondered why she stood up against you on that day we first clashed heads in middle school? Have you even bothered to see what Melody, the valedictorian, said during graduation? It was about you, you for sniveling people. It was always about you.
“She used to cry to me at night about how much you four wouldn’t notice her, how discouraged her felt. Don’t tell me you knew her, or you knew how lucky you are to have her, because I know darn well that you don’t have a darn clue about how much she loves you.
“You have no idea how much a person truly loves you until they are… until they’re gone.” Monique’s voice creaks, and she wept, stumbling to the ground. In the background, I hear Luke weeping as well. Some of the closest people in my life were weeping for me. Jenna, Nate, Riley and George are rendered speechless.
Meanwhile, as the tears of my friends were shed, I cried into my disinfected scented pillow, crying out tears of the same pain that I felt as a five-year-old spirited girl. 


So, what do you think? Please go on ahead and leave me a critique in the comments, and if they are lengthy, that's okay-- it helps a lot and makes it easier to have conversations with you all! Also, if you don't mind, would you take the time to fill out my survey?

07 April 2015

The Power of Storytelling

"After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” ― Philip Pullman.

Recently my Ancient Civilizations teacher gave out an extra-credit opportunity in which we would listen to a storytelling microphone night hosted and presented by some students at our school. At the time, I thought that the idea would be great—great for my grades. If extra-credit is being offered, it’s one of those things that needed to be snagged off the bat like a blotchy-faced, sweaty palmed six-year-old. All right, it was just an hour long of listening to stories. It wasn’t that bad.

Boy was I so wrong.

Imagine the scenery that I was placed in before the actual program began. I am inside a theater which seated about 100 people in plastic yellow chairs whose cold bottoms folded up and their legs bolted down the floor, lined up in rows that are reminiscent of a performing arts theater. The lighting in the room was a warm one—not too red or too green, as the gym’s lighting unfortunately was—and a girl seated behind a lady who needed a microphone stand and headphones to assist her listening. She helps the woman as a program of the night kept slipping to the ground. “Butterfingers!” the girl says.

That girl, if you haven’t figured out yet, is me.

Enough with the third person narration. To be back at school at seven o’clock in the evening would be absurd to some people, but I loved this night of it. I loved the feeling of being out of my house past seven and doing things that I usually don’t do. I felt as if a part of a mysterious cult, but a good one, for being out. After seven when I’m outside makes this excited rush go through me, something that I have not felt in a very long time.

The emcee introduces the audience to a local school folk band. As the band places, seven storytellers slide onto the stage and sit down in black chairs located to the right of the band. One thing that I noticed of the storytellers’ faces was that they were frowning. Some frumpy people, I thought.

Then it was time for the stories to be unfolded. The speaking commenced, and I have got to tell you, I was shocked and moved. The stories that were told were evoked with such powerful and raw emotions: sympathy, laughter and sincerity flooded through me. I won’t say what some of the stories are or the summaries of them, but to try to convey to you, readers, the power of storytelling that these guys had at that moment is indescribable. At the end of the program, I applauded and cheered.

Unless you yourself have been to an open mic night of stones before then the feeling would just be hard to relate to, but I will try my best to say what I felt. Going to this event made me realize the power of storytelling vocally. I’m rubbish at speaking stories. Writing my thoughts in words seems to be more fitting. When I speak for people, I think. I cough. I chug my water bottle and sputter. I will continuously do this cycle until people are fed up with me or I somehow miraculously manage to get to the end of the speech.

The story about this video that I took a photo of above is weird.
Eccentric, but so much happened in the video (I won't stay why one of the guys is covering up their eyes). The photo is blurred to try protect their identities.

I was also be able to begin to fully comprehend not just the power of storytelling, but the amazingness of moments, miracles, and really, just life. There were some people who came to the event but didn’t like the stores because they weren’t compelling or weren’t their tastes. Not everyone likes everything, and that’s the way it us. Our lives are all different, but I think that is why the world is beautiful.

I’m going to incorporate math into what I am about say. Just bear with me, I shall attempt to not make your brains hurt. Let’s use an example and start off with you. Then, let me place you in a room of 500 other people. If you talked to every single person, would you have the same lifestyle as they do? Probably not, but there are some similarities that you may share with people, and there are other parts of your own life that you uniquely got to experience. You may have experienced a time when you were scared out of your wits and ran away, but you might have not had your coach’s car pull up in the middle of the workout causing you to run back to school screaming and laughing.” (I unfortunately got to experience this, but it’s seriously hilarious.)

I just talked about experiences that involved interactions with other people! What about experiences with inanimate objects, like a mountain, or a love for a pet? Stories of our lives are just intricate delicate things. That’s why I enjoy blogging so much, why I laugh every time I tell a story that happened last Easter. There is nature, but to narrow things down to some of the simple human experiences can be unforgettable.

So, tell me, what’s your story?

05 April 2015

Easter Ties and Pesky Flies

Life has been blossoming well! The final patches of snow have melted away and the sun shines about eighty percent of the time-- which leads to the return of the flies! These creatures manifest my family's backyard, and though irritable, they are not as bad as the moths and two inch mosquitoes that lurk around. Sadly, there aren't many bunnies where I live, so no sign of the Easter bunny or any eggs. 

04 April 2015

"Watch" -- Part 4

“Well, well, well. Melody, is that really you?” I looked from working desk to see Monique leaning her back against the doorframe. The feeling of elation ran through my veins as I got up and greeted her with a hug. “How have you been?”
“Amazing, now that you’re here. Everything else, sort of amazing. I can’t believe the lobby let you in! They are often strict and picky. How’s life for you in New York?”
Monique flicked her hand dismissively. “It’s not how it is in the movies, you know, where it’s shown that the subways aren’t crowded and people always find love. The City is all right, I guess.
“Look at you! Grown up so pretty since graduation! Never thought you would land in a high rise office building working in some square office, though. It takes away all creativity.” The two of us look out the full length widow, which was the size of a wall, and observed the many pedestrians lurking in the streets below.
“Yes.” I rapped my knuckles against the wood plastic hybrid surface and look at the floor solemnly. “I get to be a graphic designer for a lifestyle magazine, just as I said I wanted to be, but the dream sometimes doesn’t feel alive, at times. There’s actually a problem on my mind, lately…”
Monique slid into a chair and said, “Spill. Is it relationship dilemmas?”
“No! No. Luke and I… Luke and I are great. We keep in touch.”
“It is so much like literature and books to end up dating and possibly marrying someone you have known since one’s school days! Literature and media these days, getting romantics all hoped up only to have their spirits and expectations let down. You may have noticed I’m much more verbal than before. If you’re in the City, you’ve got to vocalize your opinion, you know? Like this—“
“My family is having a reunion.”
“Oh.” My friend’s chipper mood dims to the point that even her glossy red hair, which I envied as a child, lit down like a lightbulb. “Melody, what I said to you during graduation about your brothers and sisters—“
“No.” I stir the last remaining ounces of coffee in my cup that I had not touched since that morning. “You’re right. I should probably just move on. There are just some problems in this world that can’t be fixed, some things that we cannot gain. There are just some things in this world that are… I don’t know, impossible.”
Silence grew around us. Finally, Monique has the courage to speak up. “Oh my gosh… you’re not who I remember. You aren’t the girl who wished for Barbie’s body proportions to be more diverse, who decided to act out the dumb things that occurred in the writing club, or who decided to stick Post-it notes on the walls of the school as a prank. If you’re not Melody, then who are you?”
“I’m still me,” I assured her. “I’m still that girl you met a long time ago. I’m not just living my life in this reality. When one takes on the responsibilities of life, it will make you changes in ways you may not like. I once was na├»ve, but now here I am, a lot older and a bit sourer, but you know what? The world shall not bother to changes a darn thing about it?
“Here!” I draw out from my cabinet an old list of wishes I had at ten years old. “The last wish to reconcile with my siblings—it’s crossed out. I’m completely over it.” The words that were spoken out loud were all downright lies, outrageous outbursts because I was too angry to see, or attempt to see, anything with a level-head.
“What are you going to do with the reunion, then?”
“I’m not planning to go—“ Before the end of my sentence, a sharp pain goes through my skull, and I collapse down on the ground. This pain, this little salamander of fire, crawled and writhed through me. My body is curled in fetal position, and I am on the ground screaming, unable to bear the pain. Sweat beads harbor my body, but all I felt was the pain.
Monique gets up from the ground and shook me. “Melody? Melody! Somebody, help! She’s down on the ground!”
Everything I saw following that moment happened so fast, in blurs. An ambulance takes me to the hospital. A numerous amount of nurses and doctors all unidentifiable by their faces takes me to a room.
Voices kept echoing. Whether they were truly in my mind or around me, the difference could not be torn apart.
“Only 40% chance of survival—“
“Rare, symptoms had never appeared before, no history….”
“Melody, Melody, I’m going to call your parents, Luke, Amy, Peter, everyone. Oh my gosh, Melody, I swear I will call them, but please, 
Don’t let go.”