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Oh yeah!

I must pat myself on the back and cheer; I’ve been making extreme progress with my day-to-day eating habits. I’ve already mentioned my favorite breakfast dish, but I feel I must share another one of my fabulous dishes I’ve made on my journey of conscious living.

Food truly is art! Every time I complete a dish, I admire its array of bright colors and its diverse range in textures. (Actually, I may need to take pictures of my food projects.) So today I must share a dish I created recently, and I call it “A Taste of Spain by the Sea.” (And yes! I am streaming with fun, wacky labels for everything I do – haha!)

Basically this dish is flavorful fiesta rice topped with crispy fresh salmon. As you can see in the photo above along with the countless recipes online, you can use any method you want to create your own cooking masterpiece. Holding your hand and writing another “Easy Cooking for Dummies” recipe will only rob the fun out of taking scraps and turning them into gold. With that said, my ego wishes to share a little alternative method to generating the rice. It saves a lot of time if you have to throw a party in two hours. (I’ve actually witness these last-minute catastrophes).

First steam a hardy amount of plain white rice with a cube of chicken bouillon in the usual pot. While the rice is thinking, chop up a satisfying amount of tomatoes, onions, and the most loved and equally hated ingredient of all, fresh stinkin’ garlic. It is the link that fills your house with an enticing aroma, which will easily make your neighbors dazzle with envy. Use a second skillet to fry the onions first, then after they loosen up, add the garlic. After the garlic does its job, then throw in the plump, easy-to-please tomatoes. The rice should be done by now. Seriously! The rice should be soft, hot and ready to eat, but you won’t just yet. Toss the rice in the skillet with the bathing vegetables and herbs. Use those muscles and mix it all together really good. Add your favorite seasoning like Thyme, Black Pepper, and Ceyanne, and Ka-BOOM! You have yourself a plate of delicious, Picasso rice. It’s beautiful.

Hahaha — UGH!

Easy, fresh cooking is now a permanent part of my life. We are a very happy couple, but I must add. There is that weak part of me that can’t resist a love affair with the sin of all sins, Reality Television!

I found myself stuck back where I started. I was drawn back into Tyra’s Wicked Reality with ANTM Cycle 18, British Invasion. After the last cycle, I began to roll my eyes at the manipulative plot twist and uncrafty outcomes. I vowed never to watch this dried-out series again because I figured, there is no where to go but back down just like a tidal wave. Tyra is full of surprises! She jumped back into her ridiculous bag of ideas, and pulled out another media whoring tactic. She infused international girls from the English motherland. GENIUS! Not only will she draw in blind pride viewers from American fans, she will also draw in blind pride “Brits” fans. I can not resist, so here are my first impressions of yet another cycle of Tyra’s Reality Volcano.

I will not lie. It’s fascinating to study the manufactured differences between American females and British females. The American team has a fluid nature about them. Not fluid like water, but fluid like fire. (It will make since as I continue).  They take on tasks head first relying on their passion, drive, and determination to achieve ultimate results. They’re more risk takers, and it is apparent when you view them in the side-by-side “Cultural Clash” photo shoot. So some may say the American’s have an advantage because they have this spontaneity about them, but the British will say they are lacking depth.

It is painfully obvious that the British Team have a regal aura about them that is portrayed with striking confidence. If the Americans are fire, the British are definitely earth. They posses a strong mentality and physique, and no matter how many times they get burned, they use their natural appeal to brush themselves off and begin again. A subdued radiance is the British strength, and since they are trained observers, the British will be powerful competition.

 

Striking Stand Outs!

Jasmia

WHHHY! She has a very striking look from the get-go. And yes, her picture was so-so but it still stood out in my mind compared to the others. She has this powerful mix of edgy vixen yet sweet damsel. I still think she was dynamic, especially paired with her modest yet self-assured personality. Oh well, no use crying over lost earrings.

Ashley

Okay, so it was between my initial favorite Jasmia and Ashley to pack up and head back to the Queen. Even though I instantly see Jasmia’s potential, I prefer to watch Ms Scottish Ashley. She really is the personality of the show that sparkles amongst the crowd of cardboard cut outs. She is very natural; she’s herself. At first I was worried that she was going to be the longing mother type, but she’s more versatile than that. Sorry, Jasmia! I’m glad Ashley gets a second chance.

AzMarie

This is so obvious. She’s very interesting simply because she is shining with both feminine and masculine beauty. Her androgynous appeal automatically makes her mysterious, although the challenge will be if she can pull off the more sweet and sexy version of herself. Something tells me she is more that meets the eye.

Seymone

She blended in with the salad, at first. Seriously! I had to look up her name just now. However, I definitely remember how she used her cheer leading talents to take risks and make her photo the most wanted at panel. She definitely deserves to make it on this list. She’s very beautiful and very curvy, which is a nice change up from the usual skinny archetype.

One day I will be done with Bad Television once and for all, but until then, I am tuning into another awfully good show, Chef Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares. Can you say British invasions?

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Message Behind the Magic – Cinderella and Peter Pan – Part One

Message Behind the Magic – Cinderella and Peter Pan – Part Two

Note: Below is the script for my Peter Pan video analysis. Click here to view my Cinderella analysis.  Enjoy!

“All children grow up,

Except one –”

Peter Pan is a prized fairytale about the parallel worlds of fantasy and reality, of the vast imagination and the societal norms, and of being a child and being an adult. I treasure this coming-of-age story since it challenges you to ask yourself, when is it time to abandon your child-like self and take your place in society? What does it mean to be an adult? What are the consequences of refusing to grow up? These are just a few central themes in this classic story of a boy who refuses to grow up. And as you suspected, we will explore these themes as we enjoy glimpses of the film.

Aunt Millicent is the enforcer of false ego. The false ego is primarily based on how others perceive you. It feeds on the need to be accepted based on shallow pieces of life like image, status, and power based on image and status. As the false ego queen, Aunt Millicent is the entity who appeals to the other characters’ insecurities, especially the father Mr. Darling.

Mr. Darling desires a picture perfect lifestyle, or to be blunt, he desires a lifestyle based on the false ego. Mr. Darling is a textbook definition of a conformist, so it is only natural for Mr. Darling to accept the aunt’s advice and rehearse ways to “climb the ladder” at his job at the bank. So I am sure you can guess what happens when Wendy contributes to Mr. Darling and his colleague’s physical downfall.  Mr. Darling is instantly embarrassed. And yes! You should already know by now. Embarrassment is a direct emotion stimulated by that oh-so-sneaky false ego. It is a shallow emotion that creates shallow reactions. Observe Mr. Darling’s actions in this next scene.

After Wendy is told she will sleep in a room separate from her brothers, which is in an attempt to force her to become her father and aunt’s perception of a young lady, the king of childhood arrives.

Wendy is entranced by Peter’s whimsical spirit and innocent charm, which are the very traits that she cherishes in herself. Wendy is more than excited to be given the chance to visit Neverland. But notice a small detail when Wendy and her brothers learn to fly for the first time.

Remember the powerful saying from the very beginning of this film, “For what troubles a grown-up will never trouble a child.” Wendy and her brothers suddenly become concerned about leaving their parents, their dog, and their life in London. In this instant moment, Wendy and her brothers tap into their adult selves. They slightly understand that their child-like desires to explore and experience life beyond their own realm comes with a heavy price. They are concerned that their actions will cause stress for those who love them. They are concerned that they may never return to their conventional lives. Basically what I am trying to get at is, Wendy and her brothers are concerned that they may not turn into the type of grow-up individuals they are meant to be. However, Peter, who has abandoned his adult self with no regrets, used his persuasion to convince Wendy and her brothers to do the same. Peter promises pirates and mermaids, and many other fantastical elements that will guarantee non-stop entertainment. They cannot resist; Wendy and her brother turned to their innocence and never look back.

Now we are in Neverland. Neverland is exactly like Wonderland in Lewis Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland. It is Peter Pan’s subconscious mind. It is his hopes, it is his dreams, it is his fears, and to sum it all up, it is him. Wendy is given the chance to visit Peter Pan’s mind and way of life, and since she is a storyteller, she is very fascinated with the opportunity.

In Neverland, we meet Peter Pan’s arch nemesis, Captain Hook. Captain Hook is the darker aspect of Peter Pan, but I will dive deeper into this fact once we reach the end of the review. Captain Hook recognizes that it is spring time in Neverland, which means Peter has returned home. On a deeper level, spring represents a new beginning, or in Peter’s case, a new idea that has promoted growth in his way of thinking.

Let’s take a quick detour. Think about the formation of Egyptian or Western astrology. Aries, which is the astrological sign of the time dates March 20th – April 19th, is the first sign on the charts. This may be strange on first sight since the New Year begins for us (Western Hemisphere) in January and for others in February, but take another moment to think. On the very basic level, astrology is based on the positioning of the sun. Since the sun rises during the spring, it only makes sense for Aries to be the first sign.  In addition, spring is a time of new beginnings for animals coming out of hibernation. This is the season of heated romances and a bundle of new born babies seeing the world for the first time. Spring is a time for the plants and flowers to get a taste of warm air after a long period of a chilly autumn and a bitter winter.  It is spring time in Neverland because Peter Pan is experiencing a new beginning, and the person who triggered this new beginning is, of course, Wendy. Wendy loves Peter’s untamed imagination and Peter loves Wendy’s enthusiasm and appreciation of all things fantastical. However, their love is not equal.

Wendy’s feelings are growing beyond Peter Pan’s comprehension. Though to give Peter some credit, he does sense that Wendy is acting less like Tinker Bell, his forever playful, fairy friend, and more like her own mother, Mrs. Darling.  Peter then admits that he is just pretending, which means he is just having fun. Wendy is shocked by his statement and taps into of her adult self once again. She starts to realize that their relationship can never grow into the type of romantic exchange she sees in her parents. Wendy begins to realize the limitations of remaining a permanent child. She begins to understand the type of adult she wants to be, and she is noticing that what she wants does not match what Peter wants. Wendy is disappointed that Peter does not want to grow up with her, and through this disappoint, she begins to despise her feelings toward him.  This is the perfect opportunity for Captain Hook to use Wendy’s dark feeling to his advantage.

Remember I said, Captain Hook is the dark side of Peter Pan? After all, it is no accident that Hook is in Peter’s Neverland…Peter’s subconscious mind. He represents Peter Pan’s potential future. He is an adult who never grew up and is consumed by his own limitations. Hook is a hateful, jealous, selfish being who will stop at nothing to end the light around him, especially Peter Pan.

Now Hook does like Wendy, but not the way that Peter does. Hook likes Wendy for selfish reasons. He wants Wendy to tell him stories in an attempt to make him feel whole just like she does with Peter and Peter’s band of followers, the Lost Boys. Wendy does accept Hook’s offer to become a mother pirate just to get back at Peter because she is still bitter.  Through Hook’s manipulation of course, Wendy is still bitter about Peter’s lack of maturity. However, Wendy comes to her senses when she sees Peter in trouble. She helps Peter defeat his villain.

It is so rare for me to say this, but Peter and Wendy are granted a very genuine and a very real Happily Ever After. They learn from each other and become stronger because of it.  Peter learns there are aspects of adulthood, like being open to change and considering others’ feelings, which can help him build a stronger Neverland (or mind). Wendy learns to keep her child-like self close as she transforms into the adult she was meant to be, a star novelist. She is growing into a woman of her own passion, talents, and will. Wendy’s new found strength even convinces Mr. Darling and Aunt Millicent to abandon their false egos and embrace their new beginnings with their adopted family, the Lost Boys. Wendy, I believe, learns the most from Peter. It is somewhat sad to conclude, but Peter and Wendy are officially a part of two different worlds, but it is apparent that they accept each other as strong friends.

~The End…

And another beginning~

Two years ago (wow! time just flies by), I wrote a brief article on the dangerous side effects of my favorite college snack. Once again, after studying the videos below, I found myself rethinking my eating habits.  This article is a quick reflection of my health and well being.

 

 

When I visited Japan in 2010, I seriously was  a bundle of energy. I leaped out of bed every morning at 7am sharp, I was interacting with anyone and everyone around me, and I walked aimlessly for miles upon miles in an attempt to soak in all of Tokyo’s wonders. I was an energetic machine, and I loved it.

Some can argue that my stamina raised due to the fact that I was in a new environment. This is very much true. I always dreamed of visiting the land of the raising sun, and I turned that dream into a reality. I made sure I had the time of my life there. However, limiting my access to artificial and fatty foods definitely kept me in high spirits.

My daily meal in Tokyo consist of milk tea, bread, and/or fish and rice for breakfast. Lunch was always a free-for-all. I would enjoy many tasty snacks in the area. For example, I inhaled fresh, grilled eel at the Tsukiji Fish Market, I munched on seaweed flavored rice crackers from the Asakusa Shrine, and I ate a mango pudding made to perfection along with divine sea salt ice cream in Harajuku. Every snack was paired up with lots of water and bottled green tea due to the non-stop walking. For the finale, I always had a heavy dinner like spicy curry with streamed rice, thinly sliced beef with fluffy egg, or vegetarian ramen. My dinner always included tea, miso soup, and a small vegetable side dish like cucumber. All this delicious, low sugar, moderate in sodium, low calorie selections paired up with hot herbal tea and consistent exercising caused for golden results in my overall physical and spiritual health. As you already guessed, you don’t have to be in Japan to adapt a healthy routine.

 

 

Now I really put all the pieces together. One cold winter night, I was scarfing down large hand-fulls of chips before coming across the video above, and BOOM! It hit me like a large bag of crusty, old Halloween candy. I knew right then and there. I needed to change my eating habits. Right now! and that’s exactly what I did.

The key to good health is consciousness, plain and simple. I must think about what I am eating and why I am eating it as well as how the food effects my mood and energy levels. This is why I really paid attention to some very useful words of wisdom. I was told that eating addictive foods like Hamburgers and french fries can become even more hazardous when drinking cold liquids. Just think about it for a moment. When you add sugar to cold water, the sugar takes longer to dissolve in the solution. Most likely, the sugar will maintain its form and sink to the bottom of the cup.  However in hot water, the sugar dissolves instantly. The same effect occurs when fat enters your body. Therefore, drinking hot tea with your meal always aids the fat, or any food type, so it is easier to digest. Therefore, conscious decision number one is for me to drink natural, hot tea every day.

As you can tell from the time I wrote my first article on junk food, changing bad habits is a process. However, it becomes so much easier when you feel instant results. Seriously, I feel great. I have been taking mental notes of what I eat, and my energy levels went straight back to my time in Japan. Of course, I am not Mother Teresa (nor do I want to be). I still enjoy favorite snacks like chocolate and chips. I just don’t eat as much as I used to. Actually, I am honestly enjoying many of the dishes I added to my diet.

The dish that I am most proud of is as simple as you can get. I will have a mixed fruit bowl in the morning,  and this is not a bland, ordinary fruit bowl.  This is a powerful fruit bowl because it is made with delicious love, so let’s start from the beginning. I sliced a ripe banana and neatly laid it at the bottom of a small bowl. Then I diced up a sour, crunchy apple and place the pieces on top. Here comes the fun part! I tossed in some dried cranberry, a variety of nuts — pecan, almond, and pistachio — and top it off with salty sunflower seeds. Yum! I cannot forget the creamy taste that links the ingredients together though. In the end, I pour a smidgen of rich coconut milk that slowly spills onto the heavenly dish until it reaches the bananas. This is pure joy. One bit of the savory mix of nature’s candy keeps that wonderful smile on my face all morning.

So follow reader, you shall see more blogs about easy yet magical foods that I have happily fused into my diet.

~See you in the kitchen~

Alrighty! I am having a hard time ripping video footage of Disney’s Cinderella because the all-mighty Disney is a step ahead. There is anti-burning properties on the re-release, special-edition discs, which is completely understandable. Therefore, I am going to display my thoughts here and just find an alternative method for my video project.

 

Time to just dive right in!

In the very beginning, it is explained how Cinderella’s mother dies, and her father felt is was in Cinderella’s best interest to have a replacement mother. I can understand this premise to some extent. I mean, he can be the best father in the world but it is close to impossible to teach Cinderella how to be a woman, since  of course, he is not a woman. Or may be the situation is deeper. May be the father worked all day and Cinderella was left alone. As you can see from the screenshot, Cinderella is definitely not poor, but she is nowhere close to being as rich as the king. So, I do see a slight justification to why the father shopped around for a new wife, but on an emotional level this is the recipe for disaster. Cinderella’s mother just died, and instead of the father adjusting to the life of a widow and being strong for Cinderella, he decides to bury the past – literally – and moved on to marry Lady Tremaine.

Lady Tremaine is a stern woman with two daughters of her own. What happen to her children’s father is never explained, but does conjure up more suspense for her character because it is revealed that Lady Tremaine despises Cinderella. We are talking about a devilish type of hate. She cannot stand the thought that Cinderella is so naturally beautiful. Cinderella, being so naive, couldn’t even fathom the thought of anyone being jealous of her, so when the father died and left her in the demon pit,  Cinderella simply accepted her new life with her step family.  Of course, this raises up more questions about the father.

I can understand wanting to find a new bride, but why pick Tremaine? I’m sure she was nice at first. I know there are people who are masters of deception, but one thing is clear. It is extremely difficult to hide your true self for long. It comes out in clues. For example, I’m sure if Cinderella came into the room, Lady Tremaine would give her a specific look. A look designed just for her. Why wouldn’t the father pick up on these subtleties?  Kids are more keen on these situations, so why didn’t Cinderella pick up on them and tell her father? Okay two steps have to happen before I can move on with my analysis. First, stop making excuses (or filling in huge plot holes) for the father. Second, analyze Cinderella’s beauty as power because it is. Beauty, power, perception are all inter-related. Cinderella’s power will win her a Disney ending.

It was no time when we see Cinderella in her life of heavy chores and heavy demands. Of course, this is set up so you feel a sense of sympathy and side with the protagonist…or at least thank the heavens that you’re not in her situation; (this is a taste of how the step sisters think). However if you really challenge what you see, you’ll catch that Cinderella is very strong minded. She cooks full course meals for four people including a cat, she cleans the entire house (which includes upstairs, downstairs, at kitchen, four bedrooms, a barn, and so much more!), and she babysits the animals in the barn. She does all this, and still manages to stay grounded. This is what Lady Tremaine especially despised. She wants to see Cinderella burn because Tremaine is a weak woman.

By the way…

There is a bunch of mice sprinkled throughout the movie to, I guess,  liven the mood….AHHHHHHH! Okay, breathe! It’s for the kids….kids of the 50s. Moving on!

Unlike the mice, the cat and the dog actually serve a purpose to understanding the story. The cat is the pet of Lady Tremaine’s and of course carries her attributes. Just like her master, the cat clearly does not like Cinderella yet loves what Cinderella can offer her. (This is one of the many reasons why Tremaine is weak, but I don’t want to waste time dissecting her since this article is an attempt to better understand Cinderella). The dog is the pet of Cinderella’s, and you guessed it! He carries Cinderella’s attributes. Much like the dog, Cinderella has this odd sense of loyalty. Why do I say this? Hello! The light are out, everyone’s asleep – runaway and never turn back. She must know the neighborhood and the people in it since she grew up there. Run! But she doesn’t. Cinderella stays put. She accepts her life even though she is now very aware that she becomes a slave. Oh yes! You must remember that Lady Tremaine is living in Cinderella’s house. Cinderella’s loyalty is tied to taking care of her house, where all her memories lay…

Even though Cinderella is able to stay grounded through her blind yet loyal obligations, she still feels the depression that she should feel. Notice the color scheme when she is looking out her window at the castle. Her location is very dark and almost haunting. The castle is very bright and colorful. This doesn’t mean that the castle is a wonderful and peaceful sanctuary. It just means that Cinderella perceives the castle to be a wonderful and peaceful sanctuary, which is why she makes it her dream to visit one day.

Cinderella gets her wish. With the help of her fairy god mothers, she is able to get all dressed up and go to the ball at the palace. Of course, the Prince takes a liking to her, because as I mentioned before, Cinderella is a strong mind -well  metaphorically speaking. The Prince is attracted to her uniqueness. Cinderella admires the Prince has well, but I get this feeling that her attraction to the Prince is no different from the other women in town. She is attracted to the fantasy that the Prince can offer, but regardless! Cinderellas knows that marriage is her golden ticket to happiness…or is it?

Let me take a detour for a moment before we reach the conclusion. It is clear that Cinderella fears her step mother. One look from Lady Tremaine, and Cinderella falls into submission. It is my belief that Tremaine did something very traumatic to Cinderella…well beyond the psychological abuse. I’ll let you use your imagination to what happened, but the fact is Cinderella is petrified by her step mother. Therefore, she makes sure she marries the Prince. You’ll notice in the ending that Cinderella will  stopped at nothing to try on the glass slipper. In Cinderella’s mind, the Prince is her only way out of her hell.

So does Cinderella finally have her Happy-Ever-After? In Disney terms, she does. In actuality, this question is up for debate! The fact is, Cinderella went from one supporting role to another. In her marriage, she doesn’t have to cook or clean or complete any other household chores. Now she as other pressures. She is in the public’s eye because of the Prince. She is expected to maintain the traditions of the royal family and maintain a strong image for the political  gain. This is not pleasing. After all, Princess Diana was rebellious for a reason. Basically, Cinderella seems to have sacrificed her individuality for a slightly better life. But her sympathy card has run dry since she chose this life.

 

Overall Nostalgic Impressions:

I surprisingly enjoyed this film. I popped the movie in the Blu-Ray player expecting to dread it, but no! I even found myself in a trance as I watched Cinderella’s character slowly develop around itself. This is the big shock because I HATE Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. It is my least favorite Disney film simply because I hard to watch Beast interact with both Belle and her father. However, Cinderella was tolerable. It could be because the movie is short and vague and someone like me, who bursting with creative analysis, can make story to fill in the gaps. Hmmmm, I wonder….

An epiphany fell on my shoulders as I *purposely* played a video game not to long ago. I found myself starting Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 from the beginning again yet was stomped when creating a name for the protagonist. What name do I like? What name do I like? This question pounded my head as I paused the game to think of all the possibilities. On the surface, this makes absolutely no sense. What does it matter what name I choose? It’s just a game…right? Wrong. Like choosing a name for a your business or choosing a name for the characters of your best selling novel, the name is important.  You’ll see the name you chose throughout the game, and this is when it clicked! The game is apart of my identity.

 

In the book Conscious Parent, author Shefali Tsabary stresses how babies already know who they are in this world. I agree. Every single item you own, every single song and book and movie and tv show and/or video game you like, your favorite color, your favorite food, your favorite place, the clothes and accessories you wear, the characters you create,  the type of pet you want or have, the car you have, the people you hang out with, even all the things you hate is all apart of the identity you have chosen for yourself in this reality. It’s all YOU!

Wow! This does put a new spin on the *items* around me.

 

 

Tarra and Bella is an inspiring tale of a genuine friendship between a courageous Golden Retriever and a loyal Asian Elephant. The unusual pair met in an instant moment of shared acceptance. Basically, Tarra (Retriever) felt comfortable enough to sleep next to Bella (Elephant) one day. After Bella woke up perplex by the situation, she simply stood over Tara and began her day as normal.  Surprise! Tarra followed her every step of the way, and Bella welcomed her new companion’s company.

To no surprise, Bella actually had a hard time interacting with the other elephants in the reservation. She does have an unusual upbringing. This Elephant was brought up in the zany world of show biz where she worked hard as an animal actress. As she grew older, Bella’s caretakers at the time allowed the unique Elephant to retire in a simple life at a reservation in Tennessee. Due to Bella’s background, it is only expected for her to find a best friend in stray dog. (I am sure Tarra had many adventures of her own.)

Tarra and Bella may look different, but they share the same interesting spirits. (I will even say that they were connected in their “past lives,” but for the sake of this report, I will not deeply explore this possibility…at least for now). The friends cared for each other, even in the worst possible situation. Once Tarra sprained her leg, Bella waited patiently next to her mate until help arrived.

 

 

Sadly, Tarra experienced another unfortunate event. She was brutally attacked by coyotes, and Bella carried her bruised body back to their regular play location. Tarra eventually died, and Bella was present for her funeral to mourn for the lost of her dearest friend. The touching story of Tarra and Bella displays the simple fact that you can find companionship in others even if they do not look like you – just focus on the beauty of the spirit.

 

It is very difficult to locate pure a friendship because many people, including myself, tend to have a hazy fantasies of how life is supposed to be, how they are supposed to be, and how others are supposed to be. Through this fantasy, most find friends who maintain the perception of themselves. Just to put it simply, most use relationships for selfish purposes, which explains why it is hard to locate a genuine friendship.

 

 

Here’s a wonderful example. In the video above, Audrey O’day and Aundrea Fimbres met in a challenging competition to join a girl band called Danity Kane. O’day and Fimbres shared the same love and respect for each other as they strive for the same goal. Then a problem arrived. They both get accepted in the band by music producer Sean “Puffy” Combs, but sadly as the group becomes popular, the ego took over. The world of mainstream music is CUT THROAT.

At that time, both ladies have different perceptions of how to handle fame. Since neither is willing to conform to the other’s fantasy, the friendship is doomed. This is a common situation for many people; it happened to me as well. There is ALWAYS hope though. O’day and Fimbres learned from their faults and joined forces again to create a song that perfectly displays their downfall. So, I do appreciate their 360 turn-around.

 

 

From the wise words of this pop song, I will strive to tame the ego and achieve beautiful friendships like the bond between Tarra and Bella.

 

In this journey, Samuel experienced a series of unfortunate events from witnessing the death of his parents to being trapped in a heartless forest in Norway. Of course we know the protagonists of modern children’s literature are almost always granted happy endings, so the question is…What extraordinary events will fall upon Samuel, and how will he escape the forbidden forest?

 

A Few Metaphorical Messages

 

Death

Death is a running motif that strings the plot together, and based on the author’s previous book titled The Dead Fathers Club, Matt Haig is all too familiar with this heavy subject matter. Haig acknowledges how death robs you of your present. With no warning, with no guarantee, with no sympathy, death rips apart your current reality and rebuilds another one, and you are expected to sit there and accept it. If that is not enough, the aftermath of this horrific experience can make you feel disconnect with the world around you, which inevitably causes many to challenge the meaning of life, if any, in a state of grief. Samuel and his sister Martha experience these symptoms. Samuel becomes extremely negative, seeing everything and everyone as pointless, and Martha becomes mute. Based on the siblings current state; Samuel and Martha have a few choices to make. They can remain how they are, they can try to find happiness, or they can let the trauma overrule their life. The latter is exactly what happened to Professor Horatio.

 

The Most Devastating Outcome of Death

Haig made sure that Samuel and Horatio’s back stories were parallel to each other because Horatio’s current state could have been Samuel’s future if he did not make the best choices.

In Horatio history, his father passed away at an early age which caused him and his mother to move to Norway to escape their own pain and emotional backlash. While in Norway, the forest creatures of course lurked around and their spotting caused Horatio and his mother to become outcasts. (No one believed their claims.) Horatio’s mother then grew ill and died, and Horatio was passed along to his relatives who dismissed his presence. Horatio then became obsessed with the mythical creatures of the forest as loneliness and depression become a heavy weight on his mind. In the end, Horatio’s unfortunate past led him to be consumed by his own emotions, and as result, he become the perfect ruthless antagonist of the book. Horatio represents how good people can easily become evil if they are not able to conquer loss of loved ones.

 

Pro-Vegetarian

Speaking of the horrors of death, this book reflects the perfect perspective on the horrors of eating other living beings.

One of the many outrageous events is Samuel’s transformation in a rabbit by Horatio’s henchman. From here, rabbit Samuel is captured by trolls with the intention of being sliced up for dinner. Stop and think about this for a moment! The reason why it is easy for us to eat other animals in a casual manner is because we lack empathy. We don’t understand how it feels to be hunted, and Haig tries to put you in that mindset as Samuel tries desperately to save his life.

However, the cherry on the top if this experience is when rabbit Samuel learns the name of the very rabbit he ate the night before when he was a human, and immediately felt sick to the very core of his soul. He became sick because he learns that he ate a rabbit’s child; he ate a rabbit’s brother; basically, he ate a piece of himself.

 

The Bunny Cult?

The other captured rabbits have accepted their fate since their spiritual adviser has convinced to do so. He mentions that the trolls will take the “chosen rabbit” to Thubula’s paradise, which a place where the grass is always green and rabbits gain peace-of-mind. This may be Haig’s direct attack on the politics of religion. Thubula presented as the all-knowing spiritual idol, and paradise is presented as a type of heaven. The rabbit advisor is even able to convince his followers that the rebellious Samuel is resisting his fate, that humans are just confused bunnies. Let’s entertain the idea for a moment.

It’s very true that both humans and rabbits are communal and possess the follow-the-leader type mentality whether it’s a small scale (you do what your parents ask of you) or on a grand scale (you abide by the national government). As the adviser rabbit mentioned, humans are sometimes confused of their purpose in life. And this can be a fact since we pump up our egos with careers, material possessions, and artificial intelligence to compensate for our lack of understanding. However, human are unique in the since that we are design to create, survive, adapt, and re-create. This means, even though we are creatures of habit, we can break that and old habit and recreate a new habit. We can create a reality for ourselves, and erase it, then create another reality. So I guess, humans are special rabbits. But my point is, the rabbit scene in the Samuel Blink story is a direct reflection on communal thinking minds verses individual thinking minds.

 

Dualism

There are many opposites in the story starting from opposite personalities between Samuel and Martha to the opposite worlds between the Forbidden Forest and Norway. However, the most obvious (in terms of color) is the relationship between the Snow Witch and the Shadow Witch. Neither Witch is evil. They both co-exist as powerful entities much like the concepts Ying and the Yang. Because the witches are powerful, they are both admired and they are feared. Their contradicting nature creates balance and   harmony, and this is the very power that humans possess. Balance is needed for happiness, and going back to Professor Horatio, he only focus on his power with the Shadow Witch, so I’m sure you can guess what fate lies for him.

 

 

Samuel Blink and the Forbidden Forest is written by Matt Haig
Puffin Books

http://www.penguin.com

You Are Me, and I Am You!

Good evening, readers!

I have been exploring ideas of destiny through Chinese astrology and now through past lives and multi-dimensions since I am trying to write a story based on these concepts. However, I consistently push the idea of one’s upbringing aside. Why? Well, the reasoning for this is simple. I have strong beliefs that an individual’s mind is extremely powerful and as a result shapes how you are. Then I used concepts of astrology and choices to shape this idea. But I began to realize, there is a puzzle piece missing. Just by living and breathing right now, I know for a fact that the human mind is capable of achieving epic success, yet obstacles do hinder the mind’s capabilities and these obstacles can force the mind to achieve nothing but epic failure. So, I began to expand my perspective. I now believe an individual’s mind is shape by their upbringing, and that upbringing will determine the person’s fate because after all, you will become the person who has raise you. In a way, it is inevitable.

Born with an explosion of artistic talent, Jane Lane is the spicy roll of Lawndale High. She has a rock solid self image, and it is matched with pure confidence. Quinn may have won the gold for Miss Complicated, but Jane has won the title for the most interesting character on the show. She knows what she wants and chooses the path of outcast at Lawndale High just to achieve it. This means Jane is destined to befriend Daria (“birds of a feather…”). Though, Jane is more original than Daria because she lives by her own rules. She is her own teacher, and by taking a brief look at her upbringing, it’s not hard to understand why.

 


Jane is born to a herd of cats. Her mother, father, and siblings are all independent thinkers who are blessed with their own talents and live life based on those talents. So the Lane family lifestyle is a free-for-all, which heavily contributes to Jane’s unusual way of thinking. Jane has spun a web of her own ideas, and those ideas has built thick armor for her to expel the negativity around her. On the contrary, Jane’s ideas do cage her and prevent her from seeing the bigger picture. Luckily, Daria holds the key to unlock that cage as we learn soon after they first met.

 

In the very first episode “Esteemsters,” Jane meets Daria in a self-esteem class held for people who truly lack self-confidence compare to the rest of the student body and people who purposely don’t conform to the mainstream ideals. Of course the latter describes Jane and Daria, but Jane chooses to repeat this class because of her that colorful mind of her. Daria asks, “I don’t get it Jane, you got the entire course memorized, how come you can’t pass the test and get out?” Jane then sarcastically replies, “I can pass the test, but I like having low self -esteem. It makes me feel special.” Jane is implying that she enjoys observing the politics of high school. She submits herself as a pawn and watches closely as the social structure labels her as a certain character and expects her to play the role of that character. And she plays that role quite well. In simple terms, Jane is stimulated by Lawndale High’s social hierarchy, but why? Remember, Jane is an artist. Being submissive in this situation allows her mind to explode with concepts for her creative projects. Daria, on the other hand, is the opposite. She finds her school, especially the self-esteem class, oppressive since she constantly thinks in the future. Therefore, Daria convinces Jane to do the same.

 


If you haven’t guessed it already, Jane lives in the moment. Like a true artist, she observes the emotions and outcomes of the present. As a result, Jane repeats the self-esteem class because, in the moment, it gives her pleasure to know that Lawndale’s “officials” recognize that she is different (even if they see being different as a negative characteristic). Also the class gives her pleasure to see the idiotic methods used to indoctrinate outcasts. However as I mentioned, Daria is able to convince Jane to expand her perspective. Daria says, “You know all the answers to the questions on the release test, right? Why don’t we just take the test tomorrow and get out of the class once and for all.” Once again Jane gives a cynical response and answers, “how would I spend my afternoons?” And Daria brilliantly replies, “UFO conventions.” Basically in this very instance, Jane realizes that she has found a like-minded companion and becomes open to the idea of quickly sailing through high school with a friend, instead of observing the sharks alone.

 

Now if the sharks were as observant as Jane, they will notice that Jane’s main weakness is romance, which is not surprising. Her older siblings have a history of multiple romantic encounters, so it is inevitable that she is victim to the same fate. First, Jane holds a shallow crush on her brother’s friend, Jesse. The Jesse fling is based solely on appearance because Jesse’s one-track mind is incapable of noticing Jane’s feelings. But Jane and her morbid humor doesn’t seem to mind this small detail. I would not be surprised if she wants the beautiful Jesse as her sex slave much like the love dynamic between Dr. Frank-N-Furter and Rocky from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Anyway, her obsession with Jesse fades as she meets Evan in the episode, “See Jane Run.”

 

You’ll begin to notice as I run down the hall of men in Jane’s life that she is attracted to guys solely based on interest. This is an extremely bad habit and the consequence of this type of relationship is perfectly illustrated in the movie, 500 Days of Summer. It can never work out because a relationship demands more than an exchange of likes and dislikes. So at the end of “See Jane Run,” Jane learns that Evan is not worth her time. Her relationship with Evan ironically foreshadows her more serious relationship with Tom Sloane.

 


Jane meets Tom at a club, and after an exchange of cynical jokes, they become glued to one another. They enjoy their days spontaneously while mocking their one-dimensional, small town. Everything seems perfect on the surface, but both candidates begin to grow bored with their relationship. And what is worse,  Jane is extremely idealistic. She naively thinks she can somehow save her romance with Tom by ignoring her feelings and occupying their time with frequent outings to the local movie theater and pizza parlor. Her efforts did not work, and the relationship ended in the most painful way.

 


Feeling vulnerable, Jane reverted to her old ways. She isolates and distracts her herself, and it chips away at her relationship with her best friend. This is when Nathan comes in the picture. Nathan becomes Jane’s rebound date. Jane already knows that he is not her match, but her break up with Tom drove her to careless behavior. It is to no surprise that this relationship ended immediately after it started. Though on the positive side, Jane deliberately focused on her art, which will soon end up as her career.

 

Wow! Jane is more complex than I initially gave her credit for. She is a walking canvas, which people cannot help but notice. (Even in the episode “This Year’s Model,” the model scouts spot Jane immediately, but Jane is too wise to fall victim to their clutches.) She lives day by day, and it causes her to live life through trial and error. Thank goodness she has Daria to keep her grounded; otherwise she would be floating on the cloud aimlessly without a cause. Or Wait! May be it’s the other way around. Anyway despite the romantic faux pas, Jane is still a strong stand-out character. Therefore, thank goodness Jane is in the series. The show would not be the same without her.

The Beginning – December 2, 2010

I was hustling trying to get everything packed and ready for my first trip overseas. I remember telling myself, just make sure to have the passport and tickets. My mind was fixated on traveling; I guess I have a one-track thought pattern in this aspect.

My energy was high. I drove to Los Angeles (LAX) and ate at a fascinating, country-style waffle house. Of course, I ordered the classic waffles. The meal was irresistibly good. The waffles were golden brown, a moist cake-like center surrounded by a delicious crispy exterior topped off with thick whipped cream. Those waffles set the tone for the excellent food to come.

The International Airport…I have arrived. I walked around aimlessly since I have many hours to kill. As I wondered around, I noticed the rich diversity of people the airport had to offer. All of them were waiting to visit another land, just like myself.

Finally the clock was heading toward midnight. It was time for me to redeem my official airline ticket, but suddenly I was struck with a bolt of bad luck. I missed my flight. It turns out my original flight left at midnight the morning before. It was extremely confusing, but nothing was going to stop me from seeing the new world. So for an embarrassing fee, I eased my way on the flight that was leaving now.

My first flight to Beijing, China was 12 hours long. Being in a small place (although this was the biggest plane I have ever been on) for a long period of time is enough to slowly drive me insane. Luckily, I met an interesting, cute fella who was sitting next to me. He was from Venezuela, and I learned he was quite the traveler. He was on the flight to meet his girlfriend who was dancing in a competition in Xi Ann, China. Anyway after hearing many fun stories from my neighbor, going through China’s security, eating a scrumptious Chinese dumpling breakfast, and catching another 3 hour flight to Japan, I was finally in the large city of Tokyo.

Tokyo was chaotic with people in every direction, but it was still very orderly. This oxymoron was my best impression of the big city of Japan. Thank goodness though, many of the locals were studying English and were interested in practicing it. This did emphasize how many of us English-only speakers are spoiled when it comes to worldly communication… or maybe not. The huge downside is that we cannot easily learn other languages. Seriously, I tried to studying Japanese for a month straight and I still cannot say a proper sentence in the language. Sad! But this was beside the point!  Many Japanese citizens were learning English for business purposes since the English language dominates the global market. However, Japan is keen on customer service. Learning English is also used to accommodate many foreign visitors. Relief!

Japan’s customer service wins the gold in my eyes. When I got lost in Asakusa, my home away from home, I came across an older gentleman on a bicycle. He was kind enough to take me straight to my destination, Khaosan Tokyo Inn, which was quite a distance. I wanted to offer money to show my gratitude, but thought it was rude, so instead I stressed the phrase “Arigato Gozaimasu” while bowing heavily. He was definitely a life saver.

I must admit, I was very disappointed with my sleeping quarters. This is because I never been in a hostel before, but sharing a dining and bathing area was all too familiar. Hostels remain me of college dorms, and that was not the experience I was going for when staying in Japan. But I was over reacting. I immediately got settled in and strolled through Asakusa’s nightlife, which lead me to my first Japanese dessert, creamy almond custard. It is to die for.