May 19, 2016 § Leave a comment
Hello again – for the last time on this domain. With the help of a dear uncle, I’ve started a new domain at inkingon.com. Okay, so it isn’t really a new blog since all I’ve done was transfer most of my posts there and change the appearance quite a bit. But from now on I’ll be posting all my thoughts there. To everyone who’s been following me on this blog despite its lack of substantial progress, thank you so much! I won’t promise to post more frequently on the new one (we all know how that’s been going), but I will be posting. More. Soon. Hopefully. :)
July 11, 2015 § 1 Comment
I never expected to have John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” looping through my head to the point that I can’t help but hum it as I type this. But it is. And I am. So there. Or maybe more accurately, I would say I’m humming Olivia Newton-John’s cover (which plays out in the beginning). Or even more accurately, the movie’s Japanese version, Country Road, performed by Yoko Honna and written by Mamiko Suzuki. Whose lyrics, I should say, are much more poetic than the original. I often find that the same is true with most Japanese translations I’ve come across (no, I don’t mean to sound condescendingly academic — I’m talking about manga and songs, of course). But I digress.
First of all, an explanation is in order. Of course. I’m looking for movies for Mial to watch in the future — her film education must start with the classics; I won’t condone anything else — and I’m trying to watch them in advance. Also, I absolutely adore Studio Ghibli. I most certainly was not using this research as an excuse to catch up on my childhood and watch some of the awesome films I missed out on. Cough. Anyway, I was watching Whisper of the Heart (in Japanese, Mimi wo Sumaseba, or “if you open your ears”) and there were a few coincidental things that caught my attention, so I thought I would mention them here. And then I thought, hey, why not just make a whole post about it? Which would basically be a movie review in essence, I guess. So here. This is the blog’s first movie review.
The film was created under the direction of Yoshifumi Kondo, a brilliant animator who sadly passed away of aortic dissection in 1998 before he could direct any other major projects. He was truly talented, with expectations placed on him to be the the next great Ghibli director. And he was. Whisper of the Heart is a masterpiece.
Fans of studio Ghibli films, especially ones directed by Miyazaki, might expect a different world with spirits and monsters and creatures out of the ordinary.
But what’s so refreshing about Mimi wo Sumaseba is that the setting is so… average. Although it still has a pinch of the trademark Ghibli surrealist elements (as shown in its movie poster above), these still only exist within the world inside the main character’s head. Otherwise, the movie is straightforward, simple, and heartwarming.
I’m not really big on writing summaries because when I try to, I always end up explaining the entire plot. So I’ll make it a personal rule to stick to a limit of two or three sentences without giving too much away. Shizuku Tsukishima is an imaginative junior high school bookworm who follows her instincts (or in the movie’s case, a fat cat) into her own little self-realizing — is that a word? — adventure. Along the way, she finds an enchanting antique shop, a good friend, the library-card boy she’s been searching for, and her passion in writing. And love, of course. Now wasn’t that a nice messy summary that told you almost nothing at all about the movie?
Really though, this deserves to be watched. One of the things I loved so much about Mimi wo Sumaseba was its amazing attention to detail. Each gesture, each facial expression, each movement — all of these make the characters so much more relatable, despite them being mere animations. Through all their quirks, they come to life. They have their awkward moments and corny moments, but true to life, those moments are what make them human. I love how Kondo tried so much to bring out these details, making the film as intricately realistic as possible. One particular instance that caught my attention was during the musical performance when one of Nishi’s band members tried to sing along to Shizuku’s lyrics but didn’t know the words other than “country road” and so substituted the rest with “lalalala”. Another quaint minute detail I can’t forget was Shizuku trying to turn off her bedside lamp, feeling for the switch, not finding it, and having to get up to turn it off.
It won’t be much, but still. On to a short analysis. The following paragraph has spoilers. Highlight over the white text to reveal them. Hey, I’ve always wanted to say that.
There are certain themes the movie addresses that make it really interesting. Parts of the story show the relationship between fate and control over one’s future, as well as coincidence and choice. An example is when it seems like fate connects Shizuku and Seiji through the library cards and the books they borrow, but later in the film it’s revealed that Seiji actually saw her in the library a few times before and purposely borrowed different books so she would notice his name. The movie also teaches, however, that in fact there are things beyond our control that no matter how much we try, we just can’t do anything about. This is illustrated by Nishi’s story about him returning to Germany to find someone after the war and not being able to locate her no matter how much he searched. And in relation to when I talked about the importance of choosing the next step you take, that’s also a theme I see in Whispers. It’s shown in the major decisions (such as Shizuku choosing to try her hand at writing a novel when Seiji leaves for Cremona) and in minor ones (Sugimura acting honorably when he accidentally runs into Shizuku on the way to school, even after his awkward confession). These decisions are also used to show us each character’s growth throughout the film (Shizuku choosing to push the bike up the hill instead of letting Seiji do all the work — an interesting transition from her usual lazy attitude).
Growth. That’s what this movie is all about. It’s not unusual at all; in fact, it’s a very common theme for stories and movies. But unlike other coming of age films that tend to blow their characters and situations out of proportion, Mimi wo Sumaseba shows growth skillfully and realistically. On a semi-related note, because I can’t stop raving about all the film’s wonderful details, the growth in the relationship between our two main characters is also shown in the names they call each other (that is, in the Japanese audio version, of course). In typical Japanese manner, they start out with last names and honorifics and throughout the course of the movie start warming up to calling each other by their first names. In case you’re confused, calling people by their first names is a pretty personal thing in Japan. It’s like a personal space thing, kind of like people and toothbrushes. When you use someone else’s toothbrush, you’re either married or you have a death wish. Same with Japan and first names. I have no idea what made me use that analogy.
I watched Mimi wo Sumaseba for the first time yesterday, and I fell in love. For the duration of my work on this particular post, I’ve been playing it nonstop — especially repeating the few minutes in the middle with the violin/lute/tambourine/flute/cello cover of Country Road. I’ve probably watched the film five times in 24 hours, and for some reason I’m just not tired of it. Of course, the fact that Shizuku’s a writer makes it all the more awesome, and I can relate to her in more ways than one — ehem. But the real clincher for me was this particular scene in Shizuku’s imagination where the Cat Baron invites her to ride the wind, which is remarkably similar to my concept for the inksylph. And just like that, I dubbed Mimi wo Sumaseba as my spirit movie. Ah, what fickle creatures we humans are.
There are more themes and messages I’d like to try and analyze, but maybe I’ll save that for a later post. Just maybe. There are a lot of symbols I’d like to look into as well: the clock, the cat — I’m sure Moon (and whatever else the cat is named in the film) means something, but right now my brain is mush and duty calls. Also, I’m procrastinating on my 100 Day stories again.
Moving on and finishing up, I have to say I’d definitely recommend this movie to everyone, even those who are still cautiously exploring the anime waters. It’s a normal story about growing up, running after your dreams, and finding love. You won’t see any startling action or stunning adventure scenes, but you’ll get a great dose of simplicity and warmth and truth. To borrow from the movie, Mimi wo Sumaseba is a gem cut out of a rock. So yes, everyone should watch this — though I guess Mial’s gonna have to wait a few years more. ;)
July 10, 2015 § 5 Comments
There’s this ache in the pit of my stomach I just can’t get rid of. It’s the same feeling I get the second before the roller coaster takes off. It’s the same feeling I get when the speaker before me leaves the podium and I look up nervously and try not to crumple the papers I’m gripping tightly in my hands. It’s the same feeling I get when a thought pops unbidden into my head and I know I have to write it down and not stop writing.
Something’s about to happen, my gut tells me every time I get this feeling. Something big.
But this time, the ache doesn’t come from a thrill ride or a speech. It doesn’t even come from any specific idea I’ve got in my head right now.
This is the feeling you get when you’re at the edge of a precipice and you know you have to jump.
I’m jumping off a cliff.
I’m back. It’s five in the morning and my heart was pounding and the blood was rushing to my head and it was too much, so I got up and brushed my teeth.
Where was I?
Oh yes. The cliff.
The metaphorical cliff of life.
This feeling in the pit of my stomach really isn’t going away. I’m excited. Too excited. There are so many things I’m starting now, that I’m dying to start right this very second. I’m back to writing. And I’m loving every single second of it. I’m renovating this blog, in a way, as well. Fixing loose ends, revising pages, thinking of changing the site’s theme. Not too sure about that last one but the other things are definitely happening. I’m writing more and getting ideas every day. It’s like a sudden blast of thoughts in my head after the months and years of writer’s block. I’m applying for programs and praying that I get in. I’m searching for competitions and contests and things to enter and things to do. I’m looking for opportunities to work and make money. I’m starting to make tiny baby steps toward my career, as a writer and as a psychologist.
As my title states, my life is starting.
And I’m so darn glad it is.
There are so many things driving me. Alessa is number one. My daughter. Mial. I want to be the best mother I can possibly be for her. I want to be able to provide for her, give her a good education, feed her, clothe her. Well, basically what almost every parent wants for their child. But at the same time, there’s another side to that motivation. I want to prove people wrong. I want to show them that my life isn’t ending here. It’s just beginning. I still have dreams. Huge dreams. And starting now, I’m working hard to make them come true.
Everything is starting with this gut feeling.
But it’s also the achy feeling I get when my professor asks the class a question and I know the answer but I’m too scared to raise my hand and speak up.
And that’s just the thing. I’m not in any position to be giving advice about life at all. I’m young. I’m naive. I’m a dreamer and an idealist and a romantic. But I need to say this, because I believe that everyone confronts these feelings at different points of their life.
It all depends on the step you take next.
When I feel the swerve of the slope, I can choose to open my eyes and scream and take in the moment – or shut them tight. When I’m up to speak, when it’s my turn to debate, I can choose to suck it up, stick my chest out and say what’s on my mind or not. When I get an idea, I can choose to note it down and start writing or think, nah, I can write it later. When I know the answer to my teacher’s question, I can choose to speak up or not.
When I get the feeling that I can turn my life around, I can choose to act on it or not.
So what I’m choosing to do now is write. And write and write and write and go on and do my best and never stop dreaming and never stop working towards my goals, overcoming and overthrowing everything life hurls at me. I choose to be relentless. But not without purpose. I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.
I’ve said all these things about perseverance and hard work, but there’s still the most important thing. I’m doing all of this with my family and my dreams on my mind and heart – and a prayer on my breath. I firmly believe that even with all my goals and ambitions and dreams in mind, I can do nothing, nothing, without God.
So I’m taking back the words I wrote and rewriting them speak to the truth.
It all depends on the step you take next and on the will of God.
No matter what’s going happen next, I acknowledge that I never could have gotten to this point of my life without God. He has been here throughout everything, all the trials, all the chaos, all the heartbreak. I wouldn’t be alive today if not for Him. So I’m praying that what I’m doing is in His will, and with His blessing and His guidance, I can go wherever life takes me.
I’m writing my heart out, I’m working for my daughter, I’m inking on, and with His help, I’ll try my very best to get to my dreams, and beyond them.
Soli Deo gloria.
When you get the feeling that your life is about to start, what will you choose to do?
Me? I’m taking one step forward with a pen in my hand, my daughter on my lap, my dreams in my head, and a prayer of gratitude in my heart.
July 5, 2015 § Leave a comment
It’s Sunday and I’m trying to catch up and write all the stories I need to write for now. Sleeves rolled up, hair tied back, keyboard ready. Get ready for short (maybe) and messy (definitely) writing. Here goes.
The girl took one look at the contents of the box and her eyes grew wide. It was more than she’d ever seen her whole life and all she’d ever wanted. The card said nothing. She didn’t care. All she wanted to do was use every single color and draw worlds. And so she did.
The girl ran outside the house and picked the cleanest spot on the pavement. She smeared the paint all over the ground then took the pencils and drew rainbows. And flowers and duckies and sheep. And cats that went “Baaaa!” instead of “Meow.” She drew a sky around the sky and painted the sky yellow and painted blue over it then yellow again. She spent the whole afternoon painting and doodling there, on the cement, turning cold unfeeling gray into warmth and pure joy.
Finally, she felt that she had done all she could. There was nothing else she could add. The paints and brushes and crayons and markers and pencils were scattered all over the place. She started going around and picking them up, gingerly putting them all back into the box. She was proud of herself.
The girl had just kept the last of the tools when a voice from inside the house interrupted her thoughts. “Time to go home, darling!”
“Alright, I’m coming!” she yelled and ran back in to return the box and get her things.
June 21, 2015 § 5 Comments
Cue the Andy McKee guitar solo. Hey, it’s a great piece and it’s one of my favorites. So anyway, here’s my second story. I want to experiment with writing a bit. So mehehe. Here. Happy Father’s Day to all dads out there. And to my daddy, I love you sooo much. I’m afraid you and mom might be the only ones who’ll get this piece. But still… that seems appropriate. Love you, dad. You’re my infuriatingly stubborn rock. Well, you and mom both that is. ;)
My daddy is awesome. He fixes things and made me a thingy to hang my necklaces on and the other things that mommy gives me to wear when she doesn’t – huh? I didn’t hear yooou, what did you say daddy?
That’s him, he’s saying tell me your name well my name is Ellie and –
Okay, okay. Four. Fooouuur. Th – four.
Yes, milk. And pancakes! Pancakes!
Please. Yes! Please. Okay, please.
Sorry. Please. Pancakes and milk please.
Daddy’s bossy, but I love him. Mommy’s bossier though, and I love her too. Daddy lets me play more, and he always laughs and then the video, he –
Can I see myself now? I wanna see myself! No! Noooo! I wanna see myself, now! I –
I’m sorry. Milk?
This is my red umbrella and my red – red rain – raincoat. Boots. Red boots. Tralalalala.
Daddy’s videotape – recordi – videotaping this here – me. Daddy’s funny, he’s making his eyes big.
Mommy, mommy, should I –
Is it time? Now? Can I now?
Yayyy, give it to me, I’ll tell him now?
Daddy, daddy, surpriiiise! This is for –
This is for you and this will make you – make you happy and you just blow the candle and tell me your wish and I’ll give it to you – no, a fairy! Yes. After – After, blow the candle first! Alright, gift. One, two, threeee – pillowwww! Fluffy, it’s soft, see? Mommy said your back hurts lots so we got – no. Yes. You’re welcome. Love you daddy.
Noooo, daddy, nooo hahahaha daddyyyyyy! Too high, too high! I’m gonna faaaaalll! There, better. Daddy’s what’s that?
What about that?
Where’s mommy? Oh there! Daddy, she – laughing, mommy’s laughing! Daddy you look funny, hahaha. Umbrella? Umbrella.
And there, what’s that?
I can see eeevveerythiiiing!
Daddy, I’m on top of the woooorld! Whoooooo! Tarzaaaaaan! Awhooooo!
Don’t want it, daddy. I want you. You and mommy, always.
Happy – what was it, mommy?
Father’s – father’s day! Happy father’s day daddy!
Happy Father’s Day, daddy.
Hmm. That felt refreshing, again. And that was completely different from everything else here. I guess it was a combination of the need to write, the rush, lethargy, and enthusiasm. Sheer happiness, of course, most of all. When I tell Mial this story, I imagine I’ll be the silliest I’ve ever been. But then for her smile, anything. :)
Dad… thank you. I love you.
June 21, 2015 § Leave a comment
First piece for #The100DayProject is here. It’s only my first day and I’m already struggling not to procrastinate – help! What was my mantra again? I want to do this. I want to do this. I want to do this. Okay. So this story now. And later, because it’s Father’s Day today – and a happy dad’s day to all the fathers out there :) – it’ll be a Father’s Day story. Yesh. My brain might melt under the strain of actually meeting deadlines for once. But I’m ecstatic. PS. I’m not aiming for perfection here. I might edit the story later, but this is the raw.
Once upon a time –
Because this is my very first story for you, sweetheart, and starting it classically seems to be the most appropriate for an introduction – once upon a time, there was a little girl. That’s right. A tiny little gem of a girl, just like you. She had eyes that were always glued to the heavens, and her mama never scolded her for it. In fact, whenever the girl went into her reveries, her mother watched her, full of love for her daughter, as she remembered the dreamer she had also been – and still was.
One day, the girl was out on a grassy field, gazing, as always, at the sky she loved so much. She kept her eyes on the blue, the gray, the ever-changing patterns of white fluff. The clouds lazily drifted across the blue expanse, and she stared, already used to picking out all sorts of shapes and patterns and faces in the white formations. She saw a cat with a fluffy tail, and a wolf with an elephant’s body. There was an apple next to a giraffe, and a monkey with two heads.
And then there was something else. The girl saw a tiny speck – a silver something that was moving through the sky at the same pace as the clouds. Or maybe it was just a bit faster?
The girl squinted hard and strained her eyes to see the speck better – or rather, her mind was put under considerable strain to make sense of what her eyes were seeing. For doubtlessly, she saw a boy. A boy who was pulling the clouds.
All of a sudden, the unimaginable happened.
There, on that bright and beautiful morning, a bolt of lightning flashed across the sky. The girl jumped, blinking. Lightning? She waited seconds, minutes, moments, for the roar of the thunder to follow. It never came. Instead, the small silver dot seemed to grow bigger and bigger and bigger as it, no, he – the girl saw that indeed, it was a boy – came hurtling down in her direction. With wide eyes, she followed the falling boy’s image even as he fell with a deafening crash (ah, there’s the lightning, the girl thought, dazed) into a patch of grass not that far away from her. Without hesitation, she scampered over to the site and first saw the enormous, steaming hole in the ground. And when she saw the boy in its center, the first thought that entered her mind was that this was ridiculously similar to some movies she’d watched with her mama before. The second thought, which came at almost the exact same moment as the first one, was a question of whether there was a child who came crashing into the earth for every strike of lightning that happened.
She came closer and saw that the boy was sitting down, muttering to himself and grumbling and dusting off his white shirt and shorts. He was sliver indeed, with silver hair that seemed to glow. He was barefoot, the girl noted as he stood up. And shorter than her. He looked to be about five years younger, maybe five or six years old – in human years, she thought, and then well yes, he obviously isn’t human. Still muttering, he lifted his head and looked at her for the first time, and she saw that his eyes were silver too.
“Well,” the little boy said grumpily, in a voice the girl thought sounded like ringing bells, “you need to help me get back home.”
Okay. That was faaar from good. It wasn’t good, actually. But just writing my ideas without thought felt amazingly refreshing. I also realized that this story – which I’ve had in my head for a few months now – is a lot bigger than I thought it would be. There’s so much of it to be told. I’ll cut this first draft off here first and continue (and revise and edit and revise again) soon. I have a feeling that by the end of these 100 days, I’ll have a mountain of unfinished stories. :D
June 20, 2015 § Leave a comment
And I’m two months late. But I’m really interested in this whole project and I want to go about this at my own pace. The project I’m talking about is #The100DayProject, jump-started by Elle Luna and The Great Discontent, and it’s basically something where people all over the globe participate in making/doing something for 100 consecutive days, then posting and sharing their works on Instagram.
I just learned about this today, even though the whole thing started last April 6th – two months late, yayy! How fitting for a procrastinator of my caliber. Ha. But anyway, I particularly want to do this because I feel it’ll be a good start to getting my thing back. My writing thing. Keeping a schedule hasn’t really been one of my good points lately, and I need to learn to discipline myself if I want to accomplish anything at all (woah for me – harsh, but true). So yes. Here. This also signals my return to blogging, as I want to become even more productive and post an extended version of all my Instagram posts on my blog everyday. Idealistic, I am, yes. But…. yeah. I want to do this. I want to do this. I want to do this. Now I just have to remember to repeat this mantra every single day, especially when I feel like not doing anything at all. Ha.
The project requires my own personal hashtag, so I’ve decided on #100DaysofStoriesforMial. Yayy. And yes. That’s my subject for this whole project. I’m going to make stories every day for my daughter. :) That’s actually part of why I’m so excited. I’m brimming with ideas right now, and most of all, I’m also doing this for her. My Alessa Micael. Yayyy!
So to anyone who’s still keeping tabs on my blog, thank you so much for the support. Like, thank you. Thank you. Thank you soooo darn much. And keep posted. Heh. I feel alive right now and extremely happy, for some reason. Productivity at last! And motherhood at the same time! I really am happy. :)
Okay, so I guess that’s it for the weird, rushed announcement. For anyone who’s interested in the project, I encourage it. It’s never too late to start. Let’s start together, shall we?
PS. I’ll post my first story tonight.
PPS. Another perk of this: I’m discovering that I actually like Instagram. I never thought I’d say that. Wow.