Liesure.

Clearly, I haven’t posted in quite a while. I’m going to start trying harder to update more often than every 5 months. Maybe I’ll put ideas in a hat.

Anyway, it’s summer (well it’s summer on Guam all the time) and everyone who works at/goes to school has been mostly nothin’ doin’ for the last two months. Now, I never had the kind of teachers who gave me summer reading. But with a nerd like me, they wouldn’t have gotten a complaint. I like books. I like people who like books. I like people who like people who like books. I wish I take more time to read books. But if you know me, I try to bring reading material with me everywhere I go. It used to be a messed up novel stuffed at the bottom of my backpack but since I’ve gotten a kindle (and the app on my phone), it’s a little easier to take a library with me.

So, if you’re reading this and you’re anything like me and are hungering for some material, here’s a list of some of my personal favorites. Or maybe you don’t like reading and you want to enhance your literary skills — that works too! Or maybe you hate reading but you keep getting nagged by your parents about how “reading makes you smart”…well…I don’t know what to tell you but I hope this helps?

1. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

“In order to learn how to live, you must learn how to die.”

This is probably my go-to book. I keep it on my nightstand, I make sure to take it when I travel, and I read it at leaset twice a year. If you’ve never read Tuesdays, it’s about an elderly former college professor who’s on his death bed being visited by one of his former students. Essentially, this is one of those “the greatest lesson” kind of books. It sounds cheesy, I know, and I can say it does bring a tear to my eye but this book has given me the most profound advice I have ever received. It’s sweet, nicely written and it really envelopes your senses the way a book should. It’s certainly worth picking up.

I honestly wish I had a copy with me.
2. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

“Learn this from me. Holding anger is a poison. It eats you from inside. We think that hating is a weapon that attacks the person who harmed us. But hatred is a curved blade. And the harm we do, we do to ourselves.”

Now, I don’t want to drown you in a list of Mitch Albom novels, though he still reigns as my favorite author. However, I think this book is important to me because at a time when I was struggling to, I learned to forgive not only others but also myself. It’s such a tough lesson and it’s quite a skill to really be able to forgive fully and completely. I like to read this when I need a bit of a reality check. The reminder that nothing is permanent and that we are all connected. “…the world is full of stories but the stories are all one.”

3. Wasteland by Francesca Lia Block

“You were just a boy on a bed in a room, like a kaleidoscope is a tube full of bits of broken glass. But the way I saw you was pieces refracting the light, shifting into an infinite universe of flowers and rainbows and insects and planets, magical dividing cells, pictures no one else knew”

This novel tells the story of two people, their relationship and a journey after tragedy. The reason I like this book so much is because of the writing. It’s not an extraordinarily unique story but the way the author dictates the story is nothing short of beautiful. With metaphor, allegory, and a little bit of magic this is a book I like to turn to when I’m trying to inspire myself to write.

4. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

“What I have since realized is that if people expect you to be brave, sometimes you pretend that you are, even when you are frightened down to your very bones. ”

The first time I read this was in a literature class in the 7th grade. While the rest of the school was forced into Direct Instruction, I was fortunate to have been so well read that I and those like me could not be placed in one of those classes. We read it aloud and I still think about this one on and off. You’ll notice as you go through this list that I like books that accurately portray the roller coaster that is life every day; in Walk Two Moons you’ll experience it all – happiness, laughter, fear, sadness. I think this a perfect balance of “real” for a young adult reader and the characters have so much…character. To this day, I hope that when I get older I’ll be something akin to the grandmother of Salamanca Tree Hiddle.

5. Where She Went by Gayle Foreman

“I’ve become to realize there’s a world of difference between knowing something happened, even knowing why it happened, and believing it.”

The Sequel to If I Stay, the novel in the which movie counterpart starred Chloe Grace Moretz. I don’t know what it was, but I took to this book more than its predecessor, though most people I know who were fans of the first didn’t care a whole lot for the second. Perhaps it’s because I grew up at a time when teens were probably the most outwardly angsty – the millenial’s version of “emo” – and the novel is ridden with angst. (I find it hilarious that we’re all now attempting to be adults) But honestly, I like the way Foreman wrote this much more than If I Stay. I personally found it to be a lot more engaging and developed, and overall felt more relatable. I’m getting choked up thinking about it.

6. Summer Sisters by Judy Blume

“Not everything has to have a point. Some things just are.”

When I began reading this book back in high school I found it kind of bizarre. It’s just that I’d grown up reading to Judy Blume’s books like the Fudge series or Deenie so I didn’t quite expect it to be the way it was. The book follows the friendship of two girls, from when they are children to when they are fully grown adults trying to navigate their way through life. It talks about things like sex and disease and death and friendship and relationships and parenting and love overall. It’s not a hunky dory story about how two girls overcome obstacles in their friendship.  It’s a story about experiences and themes that are just as real to me as it is to them. That level of realism really resonated with me, and I can’t quite capture it in words.
7. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

“Be sure thy sin will find thee out.”

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a detective. Be it from Clue, the Box Car Children, Carmen Sandiego or the Barbie Detective game for PC; there was something about solving a mystery that really lit up my day – probably my innate thirst for knowledge. Even after an adult told me that it was stupid (at 8 years old, mind you) which prompted me to find a new dream, I still couldn’t help but feel drawn to any kind of whodunnit I could find. Enter Agatha Christie. I remember staying up until 2 in the morning, with a combination of too much fear and curiosity to go to sleep. In a way, it was me holding onto something I was certain I couldn’t have. Though, I eventually found that a mystery can be found anywhere if you look hard enough.

8. Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen

“The historian must have no country. —JOHN QUINCY ADAMS”

I read this book as a part of my Advanced Placement History Class in my junior year of high school. This was our textbook and whatever McGraw-Hill text we had in our classroom was used as reference. It was my formal introduction to the idea that nothing is black and white —not even historical events. It reminded me that there’s always more to something than what you read and heard, that there’s always something deeper beneath the surface…or at least in many cases of anything. It’s the reason I make sure to create well-rounded arguments when I respond and the reason I’m not so quick to speak on sensitive or controversial topics. If you’re trying to set the mood for an oncoming school year or just love knowing things as much as I do, this might be the direction to go.

9. Little Girl Fly Away by Gene Stone

‘Hickory, Dickory, Dock
The hands fell off the clock
Run from the man, and get away
My legs are gone, so I have to stay’

I vaguely recall picking this book at a used book sale, the spine coming apart and the front cover looking like someone had bitten it. It’s a retelling of the story of Ruth Finley, a woman who was struck by a dissociative disorder (after a series of childhood trauma) and had the entire world following her case with her stalker referred to as “The Poet”. In the end, the pain both emotionally and physically that had been inflicted on her had been caused by herself. It’s more a story than a textbook and it’s not particularly well written but she existed as did her story. There’s a lot of mixed reviews on this book – from people who were captivated by her story to people who believe that she was just super self involved and that there was nothing wrong with her. The latter is quite bothersome to me because the topic of mental health is almost never dealt with properly, and historically has never been which is a disservice to our fellow humans. Nevertheless, I found it haunting and a testament to the possibilities of what the mind is capable of. 
10. 1984 by George Orwell

“Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.”

As I got older and found myself on more liberal ground (not a development but rather a realization), I began taking sincere interest in Marxist theory. So naturally, when I began my expedition on it, Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984 were the first places I hit. Now, I know in modern day America the words “communism” or “socialism” are generally taboo and being classified as one hurts your patriotism; however, I spent a great deal of my late high school and early college years researching and…it turns out that communism ≠ dystopia. I was intrigued. I wanted to know more so when I was 18, I read the Communist Manifesto (I’m pretty sure I have a copy somewhere) and I subsequently dove into more research into this misunderstood system. But I’m veering a bit off track and I think I’ll have to get into it on a different post. I think Big Brother is watching.

Side note: The Giver by Lois Lowry explores similar themes so I would consider reading that as well.

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As you can see, I don’t necessarily have a particular taste or preference in genre. I just like something coherent and engaging enough that I’d read it again. There’s an added bonus if I find it quotable. Anyway, the summer only has a few weeks left so you might as well start get used to reading pages-worth of words again.

And no, watching the movie doesn’t count. Teach yourself some discipline and pick up a book.

 

Adventures in #SCIENCE (w/ pics!)

I remember my first science fair. I was a shy, long-haired 6 year old who was dipping tea bags into fruit juice to see if they had iron (fun fact: if they got cloudy, they did). It was an experiment out of my ‘Science Experiments You Can Eat’ book, which I still use to this day. Though I don’t aspire to be a scientist now, until the first time I picked up a camera that was what I wanted to be when they asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. I like to attribute this to my immense curiosity and desire to know everything – a trait that has only intensified as I grew older and the internet diversified.

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This filter is called “year 2000”

So once I got the phone call from my sister asking for help on my niece’s Kindergarten science project, you bet your socks I was going to get on that. As an hommage to my glory days (laugh) in elementary school science fair, we decided on a juice density project.

Originally, I pulled from pinterest and saw this “juice layering” project and I thought it would be cool for Soap to see juices layered over each other. I explained that the heavy juices would sink to the bottom and the lighter ones would stay to the top. So she guessed which juice would sink to the bottom in grape vs. apple and so on, and then tested that by pouring two juices in each cup. It was really neat to see where the juice was going to go after pouring it in. Click to see it in action. 

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Pouring juices.

After that initial experiment, we tried to layer the juices in a cup by density…to no avail. After much trial and error (including 2 days where I did it on my own), I couldn’t even figure out how to layer water on top of grape juice. So, I nixed that aspect of the project and had her focus on two juices in multiple cups. This turned out in our favor and simplified the project, which was to understand that some juices are heavier than others and some might mix together because they are the same density.

 

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There was a little struggle in getting her to connect all the dots when explaining her experiment. However, I think that might come with the territory when a child has never been introduced to the scientific process before and I’m not sure that she had. Honestly, I was kind of skeptical that a child should be required to go into the science fair in Kindergarten, especially if there had been no introduction to science experiments prior. She seemed to second-guess herself a lot and ended up not wanting to answer questions because she was scared to be wrong. So I did have fears that she would be too scared to talk to the judges but after some practice she seemed comfortable enough in her answers.

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Did she end up taking a place in the awards? No. But she was happy and sooo excited about the experiment. She told me about talking to the judges and after school, I went and took a picture of her with her board. I think all in all, it was a good experience and I would like it to lead to her becoming more curious about science. Perhaps, we’ll spend this summer working on a few more experiments or just exploring science in general. And maybe she’ll have a career in STEM one day…or maybe she won’t…but at the very least she will understand how important it is that girls become interested in STEM. That’s really all I could ask for.

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SCIENCE is COOOL!

How to Make 2016 Better

I’m not really a new year’s resolution type person – more like a don’t wait to change type – but with the recent additions to my life, it just so happened to coincide with the beginning of the new year. So I figured to motivate myself more, I’d get some of my personal goals in writing and continue to come back to it throughout the year and see how much I’ve progressed since. I’m hoping it’s a surefire way to remind myself that I have reason to be proud of the person I’ve become and will be.

Ladies and gents, the things I plan to do this year:

  • Feed my website

Over the course of the last year, my activity on my website (which should be a testament to the potential and achievements I’ve accomplished in the last 23 years of life) has begun to dwindle. The outcome is that the most visits in the last year have probably been the ones from the last two weeks when I posted about my website on Instagram. This is not to say that the last year has been uneventful for me but it certainly has not been a priority. So I’m going to change that by not only continuing to write on my blog but to make sure I continue to freshen it up with more creations for the portfolio aspect of the site. If I could just settle on a  website look for more than 2 months.

  • Stay Creative

In order to make sure that I always have interesting content, I have to create interesting content. This means I’m going to keep writing creatively – even if I feel like I can’t. Hopefully, this leads to submissions to periodicals or websites that I feel confident about and even more hopefully, acceptance of those submissions. This also means that I intend to end out the year having worked on two films – regardless of position on project and length of film. I want these to be quality soul-touching, eye opening pieces so you can believe that I’ll be giving my entire heart to them.

  • Continue Learning

This is a pretty broad goal but I have this eternal thirst for knowledge, in almost every aspect. Whether this means continuing my courses at UCLA, making sure to find new techniques on being awesome, working under the guidance of great people or finding out more exciting things about my faith and Saviour; I want to keep my mind active and running.

  • Keep Running

I probably ran once in the last year and it was about two weeks ago. I jogged for two miles and I have no idea what the time was, nor do I care to know. So I would like to get back into the groove of things. I feel like I have a lot of pent up energy from not running and it’s driving me to do push ups at midnight, which I’m not sure is effective in any regard.

  • Achieve peace of mind

Anyone who knows me more than in passing would know that I’m a little bit – or a lot a bit – neurotic. More recently, I’ve been seeking the ability to manage my stress and anxiety better and I’m not sure how that’s going to happen but I know I’m going to make it happen. It’s not about finding a complete calm, it’s about trying to get my heart beat to a normal pace and be able to focus on what’s in front of me without worrying about what I’m about to forget.

Perhaps these seem like lofty goals but the great thing about this is that I don’t have a deadline. It’s not a bucket list of things I need to accomplish at the end of 2016 (with the exception of the 2 films). It’s a few aspects that I want to touch and keep working on starting from now. I want to see the progress I’ve made at the end of the year and assess what I need to keep working on and tweak it from there.

I have to admit how excited I am, though, and I’m hoping it’s not that kind of “new year resolution high” that fails almost immediately after it starts. Maybe it’s because I’m excited to see what I create or maybe it’s just the energy that’s been waiting to be spent.

But you know, I think it might have a lot to do with the fact I’m about to do it all in a place that I’m absolutely in love with, that I’m happy to call my home.

Day One: It’s Not You, It’s Me

Dear Writer’s Block,

I understand that this isn’t the easiest to hear but it needs to be said: I can’t keep you around anymore. This whole experience has been too long and difficult for me so I need to let you go.

It’s been quite a ride, hasn’t it? And a long one, at that. But I’m looking for something and even though I’m not sure what it is, I know I won’t find it within you. Another year has started and it’s about time that I do or at least get a little closer to it. So, I’m starting this boot camp in order to forget about you. I know it won’t be easy and it’s going to take some work and practice but it’s going to be worth more than all this time I’ve been spending with you.

I want to know of the thrill of my fingers gliding over the keyboard with ease again. I want to be proud of the ink drying on the notebook I’ve left open to make more tea. I want my feel my heart flutter and eyes tear when I read the words over again and again and again. And I want to be able to write about that and experience what I’m writing, even if it never really happened.

I know this isn’t easy but I’m sure you’ll find someone else to hang around, someone who might be willing to let you stay a little longer. It just isn’t me and it never could have been.

All the best,

Ruzelle

Overtime

I’ve become increasingly aware of the amount of time I will put into any and all of my work, no matter how much I get paid (if I get paid for it at all). Of course, it’s nothing new. Not too long ago, I jumped at any chance to work in anything and everything for little to no compensation. Did I mind? Absolutely not. Do I regret it? Not even a little. But after too many hours of sweat, tears and man power, it came to a point in which I was about to lose my mind out of pure exhaustion. Sound familiar? I’m sure. Essentially all of the people I’ve ever worked with put in at least 1.5x the amount of time they get paid for. But this isn’t industry specific, of course, which probably isn’t the least obviously thing in the world.

I used to work tons of freelance hours for people who either didn’t pay me or weren’t paying me enough or that I never saw the money for. It didn’t bother me at the time and it sure as hell didn’t bother me now but there’s a certain point that you reach where you realize that you must know your worth. I used to get scolded by a friend of mine who was tired of watching me stay up all night getting things done for people who weren’t paying me. Now, in this particular instance, it definitely wasn’t healthy and I definitely had to establish working hours were for those who wanted my time. I didn’t mind it at the time but I look back at myself with my currently deteriorating bone structure (exaggeration) and my inability to be up past 10 and coherent and I’m considering the idea that it was not the best thing. Yet, I still do it today. Maybe I won’t always get paid for my extra time and effort and maybe I will. But in a world where time is money and money is food and rent, you get to the part where you realize you can’t work that way forever, or at least not as long as you would like.

What I’m not quite sure of — and I supposed what I’d like some thoughts on — is the reason why we do it? Is it our humanly obsession to get it as perfectly perfect as possible, if possible? The ever-growing pile of stuff on our desks? The expectations for more things to get done with smaller and smaller deadlines? The constant need to prove something to someone – anyone?

Surely, these are my eternally rambling thoughts…but how else do I get anything done?

Phase II

As the summer begins to a close and people are going back to school, I feel it’s time to go forth to build/rebuild myself— officially, anyway. This means that I enter the next phase of this journey, which is not to find myself but, rather, to brand myself and figure out who I want people to see my as. It’s time to figure out who I want to be in terms of what I want people seeking me out for. My niché, if you will. I don’t really have a plan or a place (or at least one that would be ready to share) but all in God’s time it will come and I will be ready to assume it when it is.

In the meanwhile, here are some pictures of how my summer went: 

I took up knitting….hopefully I can make a decent scarf before the fall. 

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I visited Dubai, representing University of Guam while I shared my senior thesis (“Media para Mo’na) with the world. 

I hung out with these nuggets (and took another picture with the Chick-Fil-A cow)

And I started working at Alchemy at AMS, with an attempt to tell stories and instate #funkypantsfridays.

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Yeah, definitely not shabby at all. Onwards and upwards!

Truly, Truly, Truly, Outraged.

Generally speaking, I don’t like to voice my full opinion on things like books, games and movies. I feel like there’s a special kind of place that warrants stuff like that and I usually leave it for essays, because it’s become difficult to find someone who will agree to disagree when you voice your opinion on just about anything.

That being said, when I saw this, I just had to put my thoughts somewhere.

I’m trying to understand why this happens, I really am. I just can’t figure out how people justify taking original work and supposedly “remaking it” into something completely different while keeping the name. It happens with books, comics, and games all the time. Usually, I don’t get so upset about it but so far no one has ruined something that was so close to my heart.

I may not have grown up in the 80’s but Jem was a part of my childhood, as most of my friends would know. I used to sing the songs, I used to put my dolls in a Rockin’ Roadster, and I would rent the tapes at blockbuster. Heck, I dressed up as Jem a couple of times for a costume —partly because I found hot pink pointed pumps. So naturally, I made it a point to follow the status of the Jem movie when they announced it a few years ago. Today, I watched the trailer and I can’t even tell you how much my heart hurt.

I’m all for the crazy colors, the outrageous costume changes, the music, and Molly Ringwald but from what I can tell this is not the Jem that I grew up with. Where are the holograms? The Misfits and their homicidal tendencies? Jerrica’s backbone? I don’t see any of that in this trailer and I cannot help but be severely disappointed that I’m about to witness some serious destruction. Especially, since it seems that Jerrica isn’t as empowered or confident as she was in the original series. Seriously, that girl thought she could do anything and she flippin’ did.

I get the appeal of a person’s rise in the time of self-doubt along with all the other generic struggles this character will be going through, but that’s not what Jem was about. Jem was about a girl who struggles with: keeping her different identities separate (and secret), keeping everything her powerful father left her out of the hands of horrible people, supporting and running a foster home (not being in one), stopping the Misfits from killing people (literally), and this awkward love-triangle that included both her identities. Therefore, I think it’s okay for me to feel like they just disrespected something that so many people loved watching.

Still, I’m hoping that Jem saying “it’s showtime Synergy” in the trailer might mean that there is something that they aren’t telling us. I guess we’ll see what happens in October. In the meanwhile, I’m going to cry for my dead childhood while I binge-watch this show on Netflix.

Anyway, here are some videos:

Jem fanvid:

Original Jem singing Truly Outrageous

Also, picture of my heels:

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