Thursday, 20 December 2018

If You See Me (Introversion/INFJ)

If You See Me

If you see me
wearing a poker face
while listening to music and staring into space,
I'm indulged in my own mental world,
reflecting on past actions and experiences,
and thinking about what I should do 
to improve myself and
to make my future self proud. 

If you see me
locking myself in my room after a tiring day at work,
I'm like a phone that just died. 
Solitude is my charger:
social media, warm cup of tea, favourite tunes, and comfy bed.
This way, my physical, social, and mental batteries can be recharged. 

If you see me 
scowl at music or noise that I hate
I hope you'll understand that I'm sensitive to unpleasant sounds.
If I avoid large groups or social events,
I wish you would acknowledge my cold attitude,
for I can't fit in this verbal society. 

If you see me doubting on why I'm different,
I hate being in this extroverted world,
because I feel that my speech doesn't cooperate with your hearing
and my view of the world is far different from yours
so why would you force me to think like you
or even be like you?

If you see me
hiding in a corner,
I want you to leave me alone for a little while
for I'm contemplating whether my flaws are as valuable as my strengths
or whether my appearance is as glowing as yours.
Your criticism is like a spear piercing my confidence away,
and I can't help but belittling myself.

If you see me
consoling a dear friend,
I'm that person who is there to hear complaints and troubles,
and I'll lend my shoulder for him or her to cry on,
or I'll wrap my arms round him or her to hug.
I'll do my best to give advice,
and it's an introversive trait I'm proud of.

If you see me
writing or drawing,
that means my creative mind and soul are activated.
Inspiration vitalizes me to rekindle imagination that was once lost,
and that's why I want to reach out to people with my inner voice.

So if you see me
in a cafe
with a cup of matcha latte, a notebook, and a laptop,
please do not invade my bubble,
for I'm just being myself. 

*           *          *

Being an INFJ...
Hey all! Long time no post! >.< The poem above is inspired by Debbie Tung's graphic novel called "A Quiet Girl In A Noisy World", Myers Briggs's personality test, and a good number of videos about introversion from a YouTube channel called "Psych2Go". Thanks to all these awesome online sources, I'm able to understand more about myself. When I got my result from Myers Briggs's test, I thought I'm the only INFJ (advocate) that exists in this planet. But it turns out that a good friend of mine is also an INFJ! And Debbie Tung, the author of the graphic novel, is also an INFJ. Even though the description from Myers Briggs's website says that only 1-2% of the world's population are INFJ's, I have a feeling that there's a lot more INFJs that I expect, because I have a feeling that we're hiding away from the chit-chat society, but at the same time, we want to share our opinions and masterpieces with someone. We're starving for constant improvement. We don't want to doubt ourselves all the time, and so we want to keep on growing and changing so that we can be a better version of ourselves. 

I honestly feel like the world is expecting all humans to be extroverts. What I mean is ever since I was young, I think people don't understand my introversive self. Whether I'm in school or social events, everyone expects me to be social. In school, every student is to raise their hands whenever they know an answer to a question, or a question they're not afraid to ask in the middle of a lesson. The worst part is group activities and oral presentations are compulsory, and even though these things are one of my worst nightmares, I have no choice but to suck it up. I make sure that I've prepared at least a script or a set of flash cards so that I can be reminded about my key points and supporting points. What I find discouraging about myself is that I'm not as intelligent as all of the other students, because everyone around me have facts and impromptu ideas absorbed in their heads and are always ready to share with the class. I, on the other hand, is the only one who listens and stares at my chicken scrawls. This is somewhat embarrassing, because I think I don't know how to contribute verbally or better word, socially, in front of a group of people. And I think I'm always the abnormal one in class. Same goes to social events. I've tried to avoid big parties, clubs, and church conferences as much as I can, because even though I can do small talk, I don't know how to extend those casual conversations. Every single time. Plus, I have no interest on hanging out in these public places, or should I say, an extrovert's ideal getaways. I can't even squeeze in a group discussion, because I can't think of anything to say, or if I do, I can't find the right time to blurt it out even though I've repeated my words in my head more than five times.

Some people even hurt my feelings, because comments about me being quiet and not social enough are just as painful as a stab in the heart. They told me that they were shy when they were young, but as they got older, they force themselves to be more social so that they can break free from their fear of speaking. They even ask me why I'm too shy, too scared to speak, not even asking questions, not having a good sense of humour, or not even saying anything. I think they don't want to feel left out...maybe that's why they've became extroverts. I wish I can be like them, the kind of people that are brave enough to destroy their silent selves and to blend in the loud, cheerful, enthusiastic, energetic, talkative planet Earth. And for those people who criticize on the way I behave in society, I wish I can just erase them away from my head...or even my life. However, those criticism stays as wounds of my past.

"One size fits all" doesn't exist in an introvert's dictionary. Introverts prefer to be in a quiet, serene environment. Like nature. Or for me personally, I love allowing my creative juices flow when I'm in a cafe with both interior and food aesthetics. And when there's noises hovering around the room, I'll put my earbuds on and play whatever songs that please me. Introverts need space and time to reflect on their thoughts and actions. They want to spread their wings in fantasy realms whirling in their heads, and spilling creativity onto canvas. They may be uncomfortable to speak in front of people, but they want to show to the world that their opinions matter. They will find a way to reach out to people with their written words or visuals. Our minds are made up of a constantly expanding puzzle, because there will always be a new slot saved for a building block of idea to be inserted into. And that building block will inspire us to develop new skills for us to improve ourselves.

There are times when I think that I'm a mistake and a failure, because I'm not as extroverted as the others around me. But...I'm still living. I'm still breathing. I am writing this post (a super personal post) on my blog right at this hour. And I'm still growing even though I'm already...ahem...25. Looking back to where I am now, I remember the times when I listen to a friend's story and I give the best advice/opinion I can think of to that friend, because I want to help that friend. What this extroverted world is missing out of is listeners, and introverts, including myself, should be proud that they are listeners that can be depended on. Hearing is sharing, and sharing is caring ;). I shouldn't feel pressured by people that I should "speak more" or "be social", because being me is normal. Being me makes me feel special.

Lastly, if you're interested in finding out about your Myers Briggs personality, you can take the free 16 personalities test here: https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test. And as always, see you in the next post! <3 

Monday, 13 August 2018

Whether you're a Yappie or not, you just have to be you. (My dream of meeting Wong Fu Productions has come true!)

I am still in awe that I've got to meet the creators of my number one favourite YouTube channel, Wong Fu Productions  on August 8th, 2018. I've been a big fan of their videos for 6 years now, and I can't believe my dream of meeting them has finally came true. I was stoked about this event ever since I bought a VIP ticket three weeks ago. 

I arrived at Vancity Theatre an hour before the event. One girl told me that we weren't allowed to enter in the theatre until 1pm, so I decided to wait at the back of the six-people-queue. To my disappointment, there was no free Wi-Fi available (unless we were inside the theatre), so I listened to the new K-Pop songs I downloaded on my phone for a few minutes. I made sure that I had plenty of phone battery for photos and videos. One hour passed, and the queue was almost at the end of the building. The door wasn't opened yet. I was spaced out in daydream realm, picturing myself meeting Wong Fu Productions in the flesh. Suddenly, cheers and screams made me jump. I turned to see Phil approached from the bushes with a camera close to his face. I nearly dropped the big paper bag of snacks I was holding. (The snacks were a gift for Wong Fu Productions. I included a card as well.)




As he jogged past the queue while holding his camera to get a good view of us, I covered my mouth with my right hand to control myself from shrieking. Worst case scenario would be me losing my voice when I did shriek. I was stunned that Phil was literally in the same area. Jen and Wes were there too! Wes was holding a camera as well, and he high fived the first two fans at the front  of the line. When the three representatives of Wong Fu Productions went inside the theater, I could feel myself shaking with excitement. A volunteer, who seemed to travel along with them in their tour, told us to form two lines. One for general admission, and one for VIP. So I moved in the VIP line. 

The doors opened fifteen to twenty minutes late. I handed my ticket to the volunteer so that he could scan the bar code. Another person, who was a friend or colleague of Wong Fu Productions, stamped two red stars on the back of my left palm as a sign that I've bought a VIP ticket. Wes and Jen were setting up "Yappie" merchandise on a table at the other side of the lobby. Phil said that they were just getting everything ready, so please be patient. I nodded in reply, and I swore I could hear my heart beating nervously out of my chest. Holy crap, my Wong Fu fan mode was on fire! Good thing I managed to maintain my composure. Anyways, I was first in line to buy the merchandise. I bought two of the "Remodel Minority" shirts, because I wanted to give one to my friend, Angela Hu. She is also a big Wong Fu fan, and I wished she could come with me to the event. Sadly, the tickets were all sold out in a week or so. Plus, she wasn't sure of her schedule. I wanted to give her something from Wong Fu Productions, so I thought the shirt would be perfect. 
Angela, if you're reading this, hope you like the shirt! And your welcome! ;) 



After buying the two shirts, I entered the theater which was a big room with comfy red chairs and a gigantic red curtain covering the cinema screen. Once all of the seats were filled up, Phil and Wes welcomed us with a friendly and funny speech. It turned out that they arrived in Vancouver two hours ago. They looked tired and jet lagged, but they kept everyone pumped up and ready to watch all five episodes of their latest show, "Yappie" in one setting. Phil was even surprised when the curtain rose up automatically once the lights went off and the Wong Fu Productions logo flashed in front of us. I think he said "Whoa! This is the first time we are in a theatre with a curtain!" or something. 



Phil was happy that we all gathered together to indulge in the experience of watching a Wong Fu series on a cinema screen, and I agree that it's different that watching at home. All our eyes were fixed on an independent YouTube creation displayed on a rectangular canvas. It's just wonderful technology magic. Plus the sounds were just much clearer. Best of all, I found myself laughing with the audience as we reacted to the funny scenes together. 

The screening ended more than an hour later. Phil and Wes started the Q&A session, and they were hit off with some pretty deep questions. One of the questions is about comments from some people who thinks that the show "Yappie" portrays the negativity of Yappies. My favourite line from Wes is "Your career doesn't define you. Your relationship doesn't define you. You define yourself." This struck me the most, because from what I see, we humans are identified through our status in our family, circle of friends, school, work, and anything else that makes us commit for the rest of our lives. We think we should follow expectations from people around us and the world we live in. However, if we can change that mindset, we can instead define ourselves through our personalities, and not merely just our priorities. We all have passion for something. We all have interests for something other than just the labels relating to our race, religions, and jobs. We all have traits that make other people want to stick with us, to be inspired and motivated, to be involved in future memories with us. 

One of the things this new Wong Fu show touches on is interracial relationships, and I applaud Wong Fu Productions for revealing this on YouTube. I think interracial relationships are beautiful. Even though interracial couples may face difficulties in culture acceptance, communication with their parents, and whatnot, I highly respect them for talking their concerns with each other and finding ways to prevent misunderstanding. They choose to be together, because they love each other. They fall in love for their likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, and just all of the little jewels that make them shine as a human being. And it's these things that make their relationships long-lasting and compatible. Brett and Jessica are the example of this. After Brett realized that he has yellow fever, he couldn't stop worrying about it. His idea of setting up a blind date for Andrew and one of his white friends was kinda ridiculous, but in the end he was happy that Andrew decided to date Kaleena, a half black and half Japanese dance instructor. It also opened a path for Andrew, because he learned that it didn't matter if he's dating someone from a different race. Kaleena did want Andrew to "care for [her] being black", but she also wanted him to love her as a person ("Yappie" episode 4). 

This show also shows the importance of people from all backgrounds to come together. The third episode of "Yappie" reveals Andrew who realizes that Asians of different ethnicity are separated, especially in his own workplace. Andrew encouraged his colleagues to combine their budgets and work together to make the Asian Pacific Heritage Month event possible for all Asians to celebrate the histories and achievements the Asian community has contributed. And in the last episode of "Yappie", Andrew wished that he could take action to encourage people to understand one another. Kaleena's line touches me deeply, which is "We need to listen to one another more" ("Yappie" episode 5). I wholeheartedly agree with her, because I believe that we need to hear each other out, to root for each other, and to work together to make our community better. I wasn't aware of the inequality Canadians face until I took Communication courses in Capilano University. I regretted for not contributing a lot in discussions or verbal activities about racial and political issues, but I was amazed by how open and passionate everyone else were in talking about their concerns and how they want to make a change for a better Canada. I thought I wasn't really a part of these things since I have only lived in Canada for six years, but the more I hear about these issues, the more I become aware that Canada is still in the works of making all nations feel equal and respected. And even though Canada is a multicultural country, there are still news about people being mistreated. If more of us in this country are willing to voice out and fight, maybe we can make a change. 

"Remodel minority" is a term created by Andrew in the series. Instead of labeling us Asians as the model minority, I agree with Andrew that we should be called "remodel minority" instead. We can be the change makers who care about reaching out to people and having a voice to fight for what we believe is right. If I have the chance to go back to school, I would be very much obliged to write a scholarly research paper about this, because I think introducing this term would be revolutionary for people to know that the Canadian community has to change. 


Okay that's enough of my scattered thoughts about my impression with the series. XD

At the end of the event, Wong Fu Productions had a meet n' greet session. I was in the VIP line, and I tried my best to control my excitement. The shorter the line got, the more I felt my heart was going to explode. Finally, when it was my turn, I passed my phone to the Wong Fu volunteer with my shaky right hand. Phil was about to shake my hand when I handed him my gift. His face lit up and said, "Aww thank you! You're so sweet!" Eeeeep! That was my inner squeal. He placed the bag of snacks on a chair nearby and shook hands with me. #fangirlinheaven. I then asked him to sign my "Yappie" card, and Wes signed it too. He didn't say a word to me, but it didn't really matter, because I know that he's a shy guy. I could tell that Wes was happy though. And after they signed my card, the volunteered took a photo of me sandwiched between Wes and Phil. It felt OMG so surreal! When they thanked me and moved on with the next fan in the lineup, it took a while for me to collect myself and to remember everything that happened at that very moment. The moment I met one of my biggest inspiration. 

There's so many things I love about this YouTube channel. Each member in the Wong Fu team is very talented and genuine. They all know how to tell good, real, and relatable stories through videos. But most importantly, they represent the Asian commmunity as a group of people who transforms creative ideas and untouchable, interesting topics into enjoyable and meaningful content. They really have inspired me to never give up on my dreams of being a creative person and to use my own creativity to inspire others. I will continue to support them. <3 Wong Fu 4 Lyfe! 

Thursday, 22 February 2018

It All Started With A Notebook (Tips on how to get started to write and how to be a writer)

"You're so talented."
"I don't think I can write. I have no talent."
"I wish I can be like you."
"I used to write, but I don't think I have the skill."

These are some of the responses I got from several of my friends after I tell them that I write poetry and fiction whenever I have time. I'm flattered whenever they comment on how good my writing is, but my face fell when they say they can't be good in writing. I know that not all of us are born with a creative mind. However, I honestly feel that anyone can be a writer. Whether you're a student who is terrible at math, a single mother who wants to pour your feelings out, a traveler who wants to record down every single moment of your journey in words, or the reader of this blog post (yes, you!), you can be a writer! Even when you used to write and you don't feel like getting back on track, it's not too late for you to start all over!

So you may ask. How? Before I give you my tips on how to get started to write or to get back to writing, you need to promise yourself that you will commit yourself to write. You need to tell yourself that you want to write. Cassey Ho from Blogilates (fitness instructor on YouTube) once says, "Don't think of working out as a chore. Think of it as a commitment." So I take her advice and apply this to my writing. Don't think of writing as a priority. Think of writing as something that you love and want to do, and you may want to squeeze as much time as you can in your schedule to write.

So without further due, here are my tips/steps to help you get started to write or to help you get back on track in writing!

Notebooks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


1. Get yourself a notebook 
I love notebooks! Every time I go to a bookstore, I would not only browse through novels at the teen section and sometimes the manga section, I would also look at the notebooks. Once I look at a notebook with a decorative pattern or an inspirational quote on the cover, I can hear my debit card screaming at me to buy it. I urge myself not to buy any more notebooks, because I literally have seven notebooks (two of them are not in the picture above). But I can't wait to use all of these notebooks to write whatever that comes to my mind, even when I travel after I graduate (very soon!). 

Anyway, a notebook is a very important tool! If you get a notebook with a good amount of pages (and not those cheap, small ones), you will have plenty of space for you to transfer your thoughts and ideas from your head to paper. A notebook is your canvas for your inner voice to ignite.  

Put your notebook and pen on desk!

2. Put your notebook and a pen on your desk. Don't put it away!
If you want to start writing, you have to do this! Even if your Macbook and textbooks take over your study table, at least save a space for your notebook. This baby of yours needs a companion anyways. ;) Unless if you REALLY don't have enough space, then you can put your notebook on top of your things in your desk drawer. Just don't abandon it! 

Time for a writing warm up!

3. First write-up! Impromptu time! 
Whether you have a packed schedule or not, I recommend you to open your notebook and start writing! Give yourself three to five minutes to write whatever you're thinking of. Whether it's about your shitty day at work or a scene from a recent drama you've binge-watched, you can write whatever you want! Don't mind the grammar and word length and how messy your handwriting is. Even the punctuation! Make it into a long run-on sentence!This is a free write, so don't stress yourself too much! If you're stuck during those 5 minutes, reread what you've written and try to continue, or flip to a new page and start a new paragraph. Ready? Set! Go!


List your ideas on a new page!

4. Go to a new page and jot down whatever ideas you have. 
Now think about your future writing. You may need a list of ideas so that you can keep track on what are you planning to write in the next few hours, days or weeks. What kind of ideas? It can be poetry, fiction, personal narrative (creative non-fiction/memoir chapter), dialogue for a play/film, blog entry, etc. Or it can be a few pages on random thoughts about a certain topic such as what if you won the lottery or what would you do if you want to travel to Korea. Ideas are endless, and once you write them all down, you can expand those ideas one by one to a longer piece of writing! 

But before you expand your ideas, look through your list of ideas and choose the ones you think you can expand on. Some ideas may not work for you, and some make you feel excited that you want to get started. So gather those ideas that you want to write in the next few pages! 

5. Set a time on your calendar 
Calendars are a lifesaver! They help you to track time and the tasks that you should do! So if you have a busy schedule, but you want to commit to write, set a writing time on your print calendars, agendas, or the calendar app of your phone. Give yourself a writing period, whether it's 3 to 5 minutes or even 10 to 20 minutes. You can have a writing time once per day, twice per week, or even once per week. As long as you promise yourself to keep your writing days consistent, then you will certainly take your writing seriously. 

And also, you can do baby steps! Start with one sentence or a few sentences per writing time. Then, you can move on to a paragraph per writing time. And then, one page. And then, several pages. You'll find yourself writing longer as you progress! One suggestion I can give you before you start writing is to create an outline. Break down your writing idea into points so that you'll know what things you want to include in your piece. 

6. Edit what you've written. 
Read what you've written on your first page. Look for grammar errors or anything else you think you should add or fix to make your writing better/easier to read. If you're unsure with grammar, ask someone who can help you to edit. Don't be afraid if you have mistakes! We all can learn from our mistakes! #life 

One thing I've learned from all of the creative writing classes I've taken in Douglas College and Capilano University is it takes lots (and I mean lots) of time for a writer to get his or her work published. The reason is it requires a lot of steps. After you've come up with a writing idea, you may have to create a draft first. Then, you will have to edit (or find someone to edit for you) more than once, because you'll have to reread your writing several times to make sure that there are no errors at all. You may also have to rewrite to make your writing sharper, and final edits to make it polished. Getting approval from a publishing company is another big hassle. I have not published a real book yet, so maybe when I finally do, I'll write a blog post about my experiences on how to get my book published. But what I've heard from my creative writing instructors is that you'll have to send your final piece of writing to as many publishers as you can till one of them loves your writing and wants you to be his or her client. Not everyone has similar tastes. A writer should not give up hope until one publisher will give you the call (but I'll save this for a future blog post XP). 

Schedule Inspiration!


7. Set a time to seek inspiration
If you still haven't think of how to start your writing idea, then you should find inspiration. As you can see from the photo above, I'm inspired by the "Schedule Inspiration" chapter in Lilly Singh's "How to be a Bawse" book. And I find this so true! It is possible to balance between priorities and leisure, because not only you can work and play at the same time, but you can also be inspired for your writing. In Lilly's chapter, she says, "I am busy creating my own content, but watching shows and movies has become part of my work (#blessedlife)...Watching the show wasn't JUST helping me relax-it was also helping me become better at my craft" (Singh, pp. 97). So you don't have to make an excuse that you're lazy or bored (unless you're procrastinating too much till you're cramming for an exam on the day before), because entertainment/relaxation is for inspiration for your commitment. 

Even if you don't have time to watch a movie or a drama series, you can just watch a short YouTube clip, read lyrics of a song you're curious about, or take a short stroll down the park in your neighbourhood. You will find yourself appreciating the little things in life, and you will eventually find inspiration to write. 

Here's one trick I use to get inspiration whenever I have writer's block. I would go to a cafe, order a cup of green tea latte and a pastry (green tea tiramisu/ coffee bun/ ice cream coffee bun/ vanilla-filled Stuffies (mini stuffed pancakes)), sit down at a table by one of the cafe's windows, have a sip and a bite, and allow the flavours sink in my system so that my soul can be satisfied and an idea will automatically appear in my head like a light bulb. Unlike writers who like writing while drinking coffee, a cup of tea and a plate of pastry are like fuel to my inspiration. 
So what are you waiting for? Grab your calendars and plan a time for your inspiration hunt now! 


Read, read and read!

8 Speaking of reading... 
Read as many books as you can! I know it's cliche, but it's a crucial tip! Whether it's print or online, books will help you see various styles authors use. Just like things that give you inspiration! You may have to pay attention to what words/phrases they use to help you visualize a scene or what kind of structure they use. Some follow rules of a format (e.g. a Sonnet) and some write freely. I recently am obsessed with fan fiction (guilty pleasure spilled. Thank you, K-Pop XD). I read a chapter of a story on Asianfanfics.com every night, and I would get so inspired by the plots and the writing techniques from hundreds of fanfic writers all around the world. Some of them write novel-length chapters, and some of them write simple one-shots. And thanks to them, I've written several fan fiction. The positive comments I receive from my subscribers encourage me to keep going. So feel free to explore as many genres as you can, so that you can see which genre suits your writing voice, personality and interest. And in this way, you will create your own writing style! 


9. Get help from writing buddies. 
Getting a group of aspiring writers to read your stories will help you tremendously, because they will share what they like about your piece and what they think you should add or fix to make your piece better. Having someone to read your work can be intimidating, but keep in mind that you will have an A-HA moment if your peers point out things that will get you excited to revise your writing. Even if someone can be nit-picky on your grammar mistakes, it's more important to take note on the suggestions to make your sentences more concise and your storytelling more believable

I thought I would be a shoo-in when I choose creative writing as my major in Douglas College,because I was praised by my mother, my English teachers and my friends for my writing. But guess what? I nearly give up on writing during the first few weeks of my first creative writing class. I had never received so many criticism in my life. The students in Introduction to Poetry class were so smart and talented. They seemed to know what they're writing about, and they were so knowledgeable in what makes a good poem. I didn't get to give feedback to them, because I couldn't think of any suggestions and their poems were way better than mine. However, one of my close friends in secondary school gave me a valuable slice of advice, and I still hold on to it today. She said, "Use your criticism as your weapon." Criticism may be a knife that is stabbed to your heart, but it's also a wand that will transform from your sandals to a pair of glass slippers. Once you apply your peers' feedback to your edits, you will be surprised by how much your writing has improved. When you register for a creative writing course, a writers' group online, or even a three-day writers' workshop, you have to go with an open mind and a humble heart. If you're too proud of your writing and your peers suddenly attack you with nothing but criticism, your confidence will shatter. You help each other in your writer circle to share the best suggestions and ideas as possible so that you will know what to edit and what to use in your future writing. That's killing two birds with one stone!

And it's not too late to keep on learning something new to experiment in your writing. When you want to try writing a completely different genre, don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Find someone or something that will inspire you to get started! One of my favourite quotes is from Cassey Ho which is "always try to be better than you were yesterday." If we change and grow constantly, we will one day look back and see how much we've worked to become who we are. Never stop learning! Never stop improving!

10. Have fun! 
You're inhaling inspiration, and you're exhaling words on paper. Writing helps you to spill whatever you're thinking or feeling. But most importantly, writing is something that you should enjoy, because you're setting your imagination alive. Writing comes naturally! You'll just have to keep on practicing and practicing until you've earned the skill. You will get better in writing, and you will see yourself grow as a writer. One last quote I want to share with you is from Henry Lau, Taiwanese born Canadian who is a member of the Mandarin sub-unit of Super Junior. He says, "There are no geniuses in this world. It's all about effort." You don't have to be a genius at writing. You just have to work hard on your writing so that you can be better. :) 

I'm rooting for you! Good luck! <3 

Michele Hii. 

References
Singh, Lilly. How to be a Bawse. Doubleday Canada, Canada.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Super Junior, my indescribable heartbeat (Final Essay for a Communications class)

Super Junior, My Indescribable Heartbeat
Written by: Michele Hii

       It all started when I took Basic Japanese as an elective course at Douglas College back in the year 2015. I had a crush on one of my colleagues, who was a Korean. I thought that I would get to know a little more on Korean culture so that I can get his attention. That was when the name of a Korean pop boy group, Super Junior, came to my attention. I remember watching one or two of their music videos when I was a teenager, but I wasn't familiar with the group at that time. I decided to watch a music video I've seen once before. This time, one of the members of the group caught my eye. His eyes were as big and bright as a puppy's. His hair was a beautiful soft brown. His voice was like a Cupid's arrow that was shot straight to my heart. As I looked through several fan sites, I got to know his name: Cho Kyu Hyun.

        As days went by, I got into more of their music. The more Kyu Hyun appeared on my phone screen, the deeper I fell in love with him. He had hypnotized me with his looks, vocals and humour. Within a few months, I did my homework on familiarizing myself with all thirteen members of Super Junior as well as studying as many facts of Super Junior as I could. I grew to love the whole group a lot more; I could even recognize each of their voices, faces and heights.

       Weeks later, I told my crush about my love for Super Junior. He didn't respond to it until the time I talked to an exchange student from Japan. He was also a Super Junior fan. We were raving about some of the Super Junior songs we loved in front of a group of friends, including my crush. In the middle of our conversation, my crush's laugh cut us off.

        "What's wrong?" I asked.

        "This is embarrassing!" he laughed as he shook his head. He even said it in Japanese. Both the student and I exchanged glances. Why would he say that? Liking a group namely Super Junior is embarrassing? I wanted to tell him that he's being rude, but I kept to myself. I realized that I shouldn't have discussed anything about Super Junior with him.

          After familiarizing myself with as much information on Super Junior as I could, I thought meeting other fan would help me to learn more about them. So on March 3rd, 2016, I created a Super Junior fan account on Instagram called michhiielf93. During the first few months, I searched for accounts that have Super Junior related usernames, and I followed them one by one. I set up a goal of reaching a thousand followers within a year, and I knew that I had to make a good impression from other fans on Instagram. So I searched for Super Junior images on Google and fan pages on Facebook and Twitter before I saved them in my phone's gallery. Then, I chose which image to post on Instagram. I also brainstormed as many creative captions as I could to go together with the images I planned to post. My captions vary from a sentence to a paragraph and even to a poem. One of my favourite captions is "Rising from the abyss is a squad of heroes. They marched down the aisle with poise. The one and only, Super Junior, 15 Supermen, the last men standing!"; it's posted above a screenshot from a YouTube video of Super Junior performing one of their hit songs called "Superman". I shared three to five Super Junior images per day, and this eventually became a daily routine. No matter how busy I was, I made sure that I had a little bit of time to compose a new Instagram post with a perfect picture, an eye-catching caption and a sufficient number of hashtags. Surprisingly, I had 4391 followers within the same year, which was beyond my expectations. I also turned my inactive Twitter account into a Super Junior fan account called MichHiiELF.

        I've been updating my Instagram account and connecting with my followers for nearly 2 years now. As I get to know my followers more, I've learned a valuable lesson. A few months ago, I noticed a slow decrease in my number of followers. Was it because my account had gone boring? Was it because I lost touch on some of the followers who I used to talk to? As I shared this concern with some of my followers, our discussions make me realize that having a fan account was not about gaining followers, but it's about gaining new friendship with people who share the same love of Super Junior as I do. I realized that all this time I was greedy for aiming more people to follow my account, and because of this I felt a little too proud of myself. Super Junior has worked very hard to come up with the best music for people to enjoy and to make their group name shine in the Korean pop industry and abroad. My job as a fan is to love and support them till the end. I also will always be grateful for my followers who have became my new fellow ELF (short for Super Junior fan club name, Everlasting Friends). We are friends who are always there for each other, and are always there to support all members of the K-Pop group.

        One of the reasons why I'm grateful that I choose to be a fan of Super Junior is the feeling of anticipation and excitement when Super Junior is having a comeback. To me, the anticipation for a Korean pop idol's comeback is higher than the anticipation for the sequel of a favourite novel. When articles from K-Pop news sites announced Super Junior's comeback on July15, 2015, I squealed like a 5-years-old. I jot down the dates of the music video release, the album release, the live stream sessions, the variety shows they will participate as guests in, the live performances, and any other promotional activities on the calendar app of my phone. I woke up at 3am just to watch the live stream for Super Junior's introduction to the new album, and I waited for an hour or so till the music video of their new song, "Devil", was dropped on YouTube. Once the first few notes of an electric guitar was played at the beginning of the song, I was immediately hooked by the rhythm. Even when I watched their first live performance of the comeback, I was blown away by their clear, distinctive voices. Each member wore a suit with a different colour; I especially adored Kyuhyun who looked handsome in a beige suit. If he ever danced with that suit in front of me, I would probably die with happiness!

          The joy of seeing the group together, however, doesn't last long. There are times when the members have responsibilities to take care of or be involved in an unexpected problem. Two of the members, Shindong and Sungmin, were serving in the military during the Devil comeback. Three months later after the "Devil" comeback, more members enlisted to fulfill their mandatory military service. Every time I watch fan cams of a Super Junior member got his head shaved and made his way to the army camp, I couldn't control myself from sobbing. It's like sending a loved one away to a faraway place, and I won't be able to see that person in a long period of time. And the more the members leave for army service, the smaller the size of the group looks like. My bias, Kyuhyun, is the youngest member of the group, so he's the last member to enlist. When his enlistment day, May 25, 2017, arrived, it was difficult for me to maintain my composure. I couldn't imagine myself scrolling through social media without seeing Kyuhyun's big, black eyes and slightly chubby face in a Super Junior photo. It is a struggle for me as an ELF, because I won't see him as an idol for two years.

       The remaining Super Junior members distract themselves with their individuals careers. Leeteuk, the leader and oldest member of the group, as well as Heechul, the second oldest member, host a big number of variety shows. Yesung, one of the oldest members, focuses on acting and singing as a solo balladeer. Shindong, who finished his soldier duty on December 23, 2016, pursues his dream in directing music videos. They work hard in their personal passions not just for their own benefit, but also to represent Super Junior as a group that is still existing. Their hard work and dedication as either an individual worker or a group member have touched me and inspired me to do the same for my own goals in life. Even when rumours of several members spread like wildfire, the rest of the members put all of their heart and energy into their careers.

       Speaking of rumours, my ex-crush's comment on how embarrassing he thought Super Junior was reminds me of people who look down on Super Junior. Ever since Super Junior debuted back in 2005, the members are heavily criticized for being a part of a group with 13 members. SM Entertainment, the entertainment agency, originally made Super Junior a project group; the members were the remaining trainees at that time, and the company used them as an experiment to see whether a big-sized Korean pop group would work. Thanks to the support from a small number of fans, Super Junior has yet to disband. And it doesn't look like they will anytime soon. The group has a lot more comebacks than expected, and the amount of fans grows year by year till their popularity escalates to the whole world. In fact, Super Junior is listed as the music group with the most members in the Guinness World Records. Despite the fact that Super Junior has accomplished so many things that make themselves icons of Korean pop and role models of future Korean pop sensations such as numerous awards and qualified positions as brand ambassadors, there are haters who enjoy bashing Super Junior.

         As years passed by, news become a lot more negative. Sungmin, who is one of the youngest members of the group, was boycotted by a Super Junior fan community ran by a Korean ELF in June this year due to rumours of him not caring about the fans and the group just because of his wedding preparations with his wife, Kim Sa Eun. Kangin, who I describe as the black sheep of the group, unintentionally crashed his car against a lamp post while drunk driving in May last year. Siwon, who was supposedly participating in the promotion for the comeback last month, is in recovery from his neighbour's death caused by his dog's bite. Such rumours caused controversies to rise, and as a result, these members were unable to participate in the comeback schedules. To me, the worst case scenario is these men, who are in despair, are not given another chance to resume their jobs as idols. Leeteuk, the leader of Super Junior, even has to apologize for his fellow bandmates no matter what issues they're blamed for. Super Junior may be the group that are despised by people, they don't understand the group as much as the fans do. As an ELF, I feel like I'm connected to Super Junior, because the more I understand their situation and feelings, the more I'm concerned about them.

          On a bright side, Super Junior's comeback last month got me even more excited than before. I was blown away by the tremendous surprises they had prepared, including a documentary series entitled "SJ Returns" that was screened on an smartphone app called V Live for six to seven weeks. Their new double title tracks, "Black Suit" and "One More Chance", proved fans that they'd set the bar high with improved vocal training and music arrangement. "Black Suit" wowed me with its smooth combination of funky retro pop, piano and brass melodies. I was instantly smitten by all seven members who were dressed up in black suits for the music video, including Eunhyuk who looked absolutely sexy in a black and white striped dress shirt that went well with a black blazer and a pair of gold-rimmed glasses. The music video's storyline of a missing million-dollar black suit from an auction fitted so well with Super Junior's classy and manly fashion. "One More Chance" was a ballad mixed with a balance of pop and rock elements. This song portrayed Super Junior's message for ELF, which was to not "leave like the rain" as shown in the first line of the chorus; the music video showed each of the members, dressed up in sweaters and jackets for an autumn vibe, in different settings that signified their deepest burdens. For example, Leeteuk trapped in a room with fire blazing at the corners, which symbolized his inability to escape from past memories.

           My followers on Twitter have inspired me to do something that I have never thought of. Frankly, Twitter is one of the worst apps in all of the Internet. When it comes to negative news on Super Junior, people retweet them within seconds, and malicious comments always appear first. Those kind of comments are from Twitter users who are biased. They only care about their favourite artists, but not other artists who other people admire. So to show themselves that they are proud of their favourites, they will bring something up that either never happen or have happened years ago such as "Super Junior is flop." or "Super Junior should disband". I'm astonished to see a lot of ELF on Twitter defend for Super Junior by saying things like "obviously you don't know who Super Junior really is, so why don't you just leave them alone". At the same time, I'm worried that the more people see ELF as a rude fan club, the worse Super Junior's image will be. Therefore, I don't want to be one of those people who only cares about gossips, and not showing sympathy towards members who are facing difficulties in their idol life and personal life. I want my account to be a source where Super Junior fans can be enlightened with words of encouragement concerning gossips and malice. One of my favourite advice for all ELF is to ignore the haters and to spread positivity.

          This is where the idea of getting myself out of my comfort zone comes in. On June 20, 2017, I've decided to create a fan base called ELFCANada. I've met three Canadian ELF who are now admins of the fan base, and we've come up with a motto which is "ELF CAN do anything". As months pass by, our fan base is recognized by a good number of ELF all over Canada, and we've just reached 423 followers on ELFCANada's Twitter page. I'm proud that I've made this happen. I've turned from a fan to a leader of a Canadian fan base. Together with my other three admins, we will keep on sharing our love and support for Super Junior and connecting with Canadian fans. One of my favourite tweets from our Twitter account is "Super Junior doesn't deserve [people who disrespect] them, they deserve those who [value] them as a [Korean pop] phenomenon. #SuperJunior #KingsofKPop" Korea calls them the Kings of K-Pop, because they're the first group that influences the global K-Pop trend today.

         Super Junior has overcame difficulties as a group for 12 years now. They treat one another like brothers, and their bond is like glue. I never even regret of choosing them as my ultimate favourite music group. Thanks to my ex crush, I've found a group of unique, talented, down-to-earth, genuine, and hardworking artists who have delivered more than a decade of amazing content and tremendous love to their fans. Thanks to Super Junior, I've made friends from all over the world. And someday, I hope to meet them all in person. I want to thank them all for following and supporting my account, and to continue my fangirling on Super Junior with them. If I get to describe Super Junior in two words, I would say they're an "indescribable heartbeat". Every time I hear, see and talk about the name Super Junior, my heart beats in a pattern I can't describe in words. And I will not let my heart stop beating for them.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

The Path I Want to Take

Hi all! It's been a while since I've posted in my blog! I hope you all have a great summer this year!

So this is what I would like to share today. I chatted with an old friend of mine on Messenger this morning, and she asked me about my plans after I graduate next year. I told her that I want to teach English in Japan. When she asked me my reason of choosing Japan out of all countries, I told her an answer that I'd never thought of till that time: "Because I've always wanted to try living there. I've taken Japanese classes for a year, and so I thought I wanna make it useful by improving my Japanese in Japan itself and I also wanna teach English there. Just as an experience." I also told her that I plan to live in Japan for a few years (probably move to some parts of Japan where several of my friends live), and then I want to try living in Korea. She sounded surprised and happy that I'll be "living in [countries] where [I'll] find languages...challenging".

This got my thinking, because I guess I want to help Korean and Japanese people to break the language barrier with English speakers. After being a fan of Japanese culture since young and a fan of Korean culture for more than two years now, I've found out that a lot of people in both Korea and Japan are not fluent in English. And that's kind of sad, because Asian culture is now popular worldwide. They need to improve their English so that they can not only communicate with foreign fans, but also to appreciate that foreigners get to love their cultures. I recently watch Korean variety shows, and I laugh so hard when they attempt to speak English (heck! Some of them have lived in English-speaking countries before, so it's a relief that they can speak English well). At the same time, I feel bad for those who try their best to speak English, because I know that English taught in Korean schools focuses more on academics rather than communication. I've watched a Buzzfeed video on Americans taking a Korean SAT test, and the questions look just ridiculously difficult! D: I've even seen videos of Koreans who are challenged to talk to foreigners; they got shy and nervous, yet they tried to at least speak out a few phrases they know.

So I really want to help these people to learn how to communicate well in English. I mean, I have to admit, I may still be a terrible editor. Because every time I hand in an assignment, I always get red marks on grammar errors (psst...because I often don't have time to edit since I hand in a few seconds before the deadline arrives #procrastination :P). However, I am familiar with grammar, and I sometimes help Japanese students with their homework by editing. I once helped a friend with an essay. She actually was upset, because her lecturer told her to redo the whole essay which was due in just two days. I was pissed! I felt like giving that lecturer a piece of my mind! Like what the heck? Can't he extend the deadline or something? She's only been living in Canada for a few years, and she has tried her best to write in English! Why can't teachers give pity to students who are struggling with the second language? But anyway, I gave her tips and checked her grammar. She managed to get a good mark in her essay in the end. And that's when I realize that I want to to do the same thing to my future students.

I also am surprised that I've ended up deciding on becoming a teacher. Since I'm young, I've always been scared of teachers. I'm always known to be the girl with the zipped lips. Even until now, I still don't get to open up often with my lecturers. I only talk to a few teachers, including the Japanese lecturers who I honestly am most comfortable with. Since the Japanese lecturers keep encouraging me to practice talking Japanese with my peers, I become comfortable talking to them as well. I've even got to get permission from a former Japanese lecturer to tutor some of her students with basic Japanese. I've known her since she was my conversation lab instructor in Douglas College three years ago. She transferred to Capilano University (2016) for two semesters only. Even at this short period of time, I'm happy that she let me to help her students. She has inspired me a lot, because her way of teaching was based more on communication. She believes that it's important for students to have a bond with one another, so that they can be comfortable and confident in helping each other with their Japanese. And that's what I want to do with mine in the future.

I have doubts of my dream, because first of all, I'm a cowardly person who is scared of teachers, and now I've wanting to become a teacher. Absurd huh? I'm a nervous person and I want to be a teacher myself. *picturing people snickering at the corner* And two, Japan is a place that is an earthquake zone. I've never experienced an earthquake before, and I'm going to a place that has frequent earthquakes. Wow, Mich, you're dead! But when I push those thoughts aside and focus on what I want to do to make a change for the people, I realize that I want to make my dream happen. Japan is my next destination, and I want to go there. I know I have to go there.

So what's your dream or plan after you graduate? If you're still unsure, don't be afraid to give yourself time to reflect on your life and explore new ideas. I already have a plan, and I hope to make my plan a reality. So can you. :) See you in the next post! <3


Thursday, 13 April 2017

Cosmic Love (New Fiction!)

Poetry, stories, opinion, and anything that comes to my mind are all here!

Title: Cosmic Love 
Author’s note: I was inspired by the Japanese adaptation of the story of Vega and Altair. Vega and Altair are two stars that represent a star-crossed relationship between a seamstress and a cow herder. Vega’s father only allowed her to see Altair once a year. She had to cross the Milky Way in order to meet him. In the Japanese version, Vega is known as Orihime (Oh-ree-hee-meh) and Altair is known as Hikoboshi (Hee-koh-boh-she). Instead of the Milky Way, Orihime has to go through a really long river to see Hikoboshi who lived at the very end of the river. The reason why I choose this folktale as an idea is because I want the two characters as a symbolism for my story. 

Street lights lit up the city of Osaka. The night sky reminded me of an Obsidian; the volcanic rock’s glossy black surface could be a rare material to make jewelry. People walked past me with smiles on their faces, the perfect emotion for Tanabata, the Star Festival. The pedestrian lanes on both sides of the river were embellished with colourful yukatas, which were a loose and simpler version of a kimono. Buzzing chatters and clicking wooden clogs were the background music.
I made a bee line through the crowd, hoping to find a bamboo tree. The tall bamboo trees arranged in a neat row by the lanes were clumped with countless rectangular paper strips. Each strip had Sharpie writings of different languages. Everyone in the festival loved the Tanzaku, the tradition of writing wishes on paper and tying on bamboo trees.  I may be a local, but I still find it fascinating. We all may have been working hard to achieve our dreams, but we also hope that we will be given at least a tiny miracle when things go downhill.
I was about to give up searching when suddenly a tree shorter than the rest caught my eye. A thin, bare branch was sticking out of it. I unzipped my satchel, pulled out a paper strip that matched my violet yukata, and made a bow around the branch with the ribbon that was attached on top of the paper. My wish was written in blue ballpoint pen; it said “I wish that love is like a constellation.” It sounded weird at first, but I knew that it was a message I hope the spirits can help me with. All I wanted in my life was a chance to love a guy. If only the gods can give me a person to love to the fullest, my life will be as wide and bright as the stars.
“Nomi!” a voice made me jump. I turned to see my friend, Hana, coming over. From the look on her face, I felt bad for letting her to walk all the way from the shrine in wooden clogs. She preferred sneakers and heelless boots. I could imagine her searching frantically for me in those traditional Japanese shoes which made her feet ache like hell.
“Where have you been? I thought you went to buy your Tanzaku paper. ” Hana frowned.
“Sorry! I’m not gonna calm down until I’ve found a tree to tie my wish.” I replied.
“Well, you could have called me or texted me where you’re at.”
“I should have done that. I’m sorry…again.”
She sighed and looked up to see the paper with my handwriting which was hung around the tiny branch. “Don’t you think the wind’s gonna blow it away? You tied it way close to the end.”
“I’ve tied it securely. I’m sure it won’t be carried away.” I replied.
“If you say so,” she shrugged, “anyway, I think the light show is about to start. Are you ready to go?”
“Yeah! Let’s go!” I nodded. I took one last look at the tree before following her further down the river. A large crowd gathered at both sides of the river. They stood in several long lines. Each of them was holding a baseball-shaped LED light. The first rows of people moved forward and slid their balls through a row of long wooden slides attached to the fences of the river.
Hana tapped me on the shoulder and handed me a light ball. I looked at her in surprise.
“What?” she asked as she raised one eyebrow.
“When did you get it?” I pointed at the other light ball she was holding in her right hand.
She blinked before letting out a laugh. “I just bought them! What? You didn’t see a woman coming by with a bag of light balls just now?”
“Oh! Really?”
“Gosh! Nomi! You should be more alert!”
“Whatever.” I shook my head, “By the way, I wonder why you all have to drop these balls into the river?”
“It’s an Osaka tradition.” she replied, “Every year, we create a Milky Way pattern on river water with these light balls. I guess this tradition is inspired by the festival’s folktale.”
“You mean the story of Orihime and Hikoboshi?”
She nodded. “You know that they were in a star-crossed relationship, right? Orihime’s father allowed her to meet her lover once a year. But she doesn’t get to meet Hikoboshi every year because if it’s raining, she couldn’t cross to the other end of the river to meet him. And so, we throw these balls to represent the Milky Way. The stars are like a guide for lovers to find each other.”
“Wow! That’s cool!” I exclaimed.
When it was our turn, I placed my ball on top of the wooden structure and gave it a little push. It rolled down the slide and plopped onto the water. After everyone else had thrown theirs, the light balls shortly lit up in bright blue. They were scattered all over the river, like watercolour splattered on the world’s longest canvas. I looked at the beautiful view in awe; it definitely looked like the Milky Way. A galaxy of artificial stars on water.
I was about to take pictures with my phone when suddenly a silver twinkle between two of the glowing blue spheres caught my eye. I realized it was a reflection from the sky; I looked up and saw a couple of stars much bigger than the others. To my surprise, one of them peeled itself away from the sky and fell down like a meteor. It came closer and closer. I quickly turned back to run, but I felt something really heavy collided against my head. Everything went black.
                             *                               *                                *
I was welcomed with fluorescent lights that nearly blinded my vision. I recognized Hana who sat by the bed. She immediately got up from her chair.
“Oh! Thank goodness! I thought you’re dead!” she smiled in relief.
“W…where am I?” I asked.
“The hospital.” she answered, “You passed out all of a sudden. I thought you’re suffering from claustrophobia or something.”
“I don’t think I remember what happened.” I said. I was about to sit up when I immediately felt dizzy. Hana gently placed her hands on my shoulders and pushed me back against the pillow. “Don’t get up! The doctor said you had a concussion.” she explained. I sighed and stared at the ceiling. “I’ll get the doctor, okay? I’ll be right back.” she patted my shoulder and went out of the ward.
Unlike my house where I usually chase after my 6-years-old twin brothers, Toya and Taki, and give them lectures on not to leave a single grain of rice in their bowls, the hospital room was more of an empty barren with neither books on the shelf at a corner nor TV in front of me. Now I know why many people hated hospitals. The atmosphere was pretty much lifeless. I shielded my eyes with my left arm while thinking of going back to sleep when suddenly I spotted small black letters written on my forearm. I squinted my eyes to take a closer look.
I will search for you in the stars.
My eyes widened. I reread it for what seemed like three minutes. Who the heck wrote on my arm? Writing on a piece of paper would be just fine. I got out of the bed and slipped into a pair of slippers Hana had left behind. Great…even the slippers were white. I peeked through the door; luckily, no one was lingering around or passing by. I made my way to the washroom which was just a couple of doors away. Once I stopped by one of the porcelain sinks, I quickly wet my arm with cold water and rubbed the writings with a thick layer of soap that smelt like cheap perfume. I rubbed and scratched my arm for about five minutes. Unfortunately, not a single letter disappeared. What did the writer use? Permanent marker?
I turned off the tap and frowned at the mirror in front of me. Scenes flashed in my head. I remembered looking at the strange star that fell towards me. Wait a minute…could it be I really got hit by the star and now I’m under some sort of curse? The words on my arm must have something to do with it.
“Nomi! Come on! The doctor says he wants to do a checkup on you.”
“Oh…okay.”
                                  *                                      *                                       *
“Nomi? Nomi!” a male voice called me. I opened my eyes and found myself standing in the exact spot by the river. I was surprised when I saw that I was wearing my yukata again. Wasn’t I at the festival last night? How come I was in my yukata again? “Nomi!” it called again. I searched for the people that were admiring the ornament-like lights from the other side of the river. I finally saw a guy who looked around the same age as me. He was wearing a sky blue yukata and he was cupping his hands over his mouth, calling my name over and over. I didn’t think I had seen him before. He had bangs that nearly covered his big, dark brown eyes.
“Are you calling me?” I shouted back.
“Yes, I am,” he replied.
“Why?”
“I want to ask…”
BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!
My body was all tangled by my bed covers. I grabbed my phone from my side table to turn off the alarm. The reminder shown on the screen said:
Art Sale at cafeteria! Be there before 9am!
“Looks like I’ll be on campus the whole day today.” I mumbled to myself.  As I got myself off my bed and did my morning routine, I couldn’t stop replaying my dream in my head. His words were like a clue to something I was to look for.  Even when I walked my way to the train station, I couldn’t concentrate listening to One Republic songs I shuffled on my iPod.
                                           *                                *                              *
“Good morning, Nomi!” Hana chirped.
“Good morning!” I waved.
“Thanks for coming to help! Lee, Rini and Kiyu will be here in five minutes. In the meantime, can you help to set up these paintings?” she asked, “I’ll do the ones over there.”
“Sure.” I nodded.
It took fifteen minutes to arrange the paintings on portable racks. I didn’t know how Hana find the time to host such an event. As an art student, she had a tremendous skill in creating watercolour and oil pastel masterpieces. Some of her artwork won first place in Osaka University’s art contests. And when she was offered this opportunity to be in charge of a 3-hours sale of second-hand paintings donated by her professor’s art shop, she wouldn’t say no.
I was about to hang the last painting when suddenly my left foot tripped over the bottom of a rack. I was expecting that my whole body would crash onto the tile floor, but to my surprise, a firm hand grabbed onto my right wrist. I turned my back and saw a guy pulling me back onto my feet. He was around six feet tall and his dark brown eyes stared into mine with worry.
“Are you okay?” he asked. His voice was deep but gentle. My heart did a somersault. He was by far the most attractive guy I had ever seen. I quickly pushed my girly thoughts to the back of my brain and cleared my throat. “Yeah! Yeah…I’m okay. Thanks.” I nodded.
He relaxed and let go off my wrist.
“Ah! Kiyu! You’re here!” Hana beamed.
“Hi Hana!” he waved.
“Oh! This is my friend, Nomi!” she patted me on my right shoulder, “She’s helping me out with the sale today.”
He looked at me with his mouth slightly open. I couldn’t tell why he had such an odd expression. He quickly switched back to a smile. “Nomi-san, huh? Nice to meet you.” he said as he put out his hand.
“Nice to meet you too…Kiyu-san.” I replied. I shook his hand; his palm was smooth as if he applied a good amount of hand cream every day.
“Lee and Rini are getting the cashier counter ready over there. Let’s do our best to sell as many paintings as we can, okay?” Hana pumped her fist in the air, “Ganbatte!”
“Yeah! Ganbatte!” Kiyu agreed.
“Nomi! You can help assisting customers and resorting the paintings with Kiyu.” she suggested.
“Sure. Okay.” I nodded.
I thought that the whole morning was gonna be really awkward when I was working with Kiyu, but it turned out that he was actually a comfortable person to be with. We took turns sharing our interests and brief funny stories whenever we had no customers to help with. He welcomed customers with a friendly wave and high-fived children who came with their parents to look for cartoon portraits for their rooms. Whenever I glanced at his side profile, I could feel my heart stirring with curiosity and excitement. There was just something about him that made me want to know him more.
The sale ended at around 5pm. Hana was impressed with the total number of paintings that were sold. I had to admit, this was actually fun. I wasn’t much of a painter but I liked the fact that there were still people who appreciate traditional art.
“Would you be helping out in next year’s sale?” Kiyu asked. He seemed to have read my mind.
“I think I would.” I smiled.
“That would be wonderful!” Rini, the girl with a French braid grinned as she came towards us. Lee, who wore a green oversized shirt with a happy Pikachu in the center, walked beside her and gave me a thumbs-up.
“Hana told me that you’re more of an aspiring writer, but she also said that you have a good taste in art.” Lee chipped in.
“I totally agree with them.” Kiyu said.
“Gee…I’ve never received such compliments before. Arigatou!” I bowed. From my peripheral vision, I noticed dark letters peeping out from his right forearm. The colour of the wordings looked so familiar. It immediately dawned at me. I was having a good time until memories from last night and the dream this morning came back to me. It was a good thing that I was wearing my favourite black silk cardigan so that no one could see the spontaneous tattoo. Even my parents would freak out because they didn’t want me to look like a rebel.
“Nomi? Nomi? Are you listening?” I realized that Hana and the others were staring concernedly at me. Kiyu’s lips were in a tight hyphen, but his eyes seemed to tell me something else.
“Is everything alright, Nomi?” Hana asked. I shook my head and forced a smile.
“Nomi-san,” Kiyu said, “you live near Sakuranomiya station, right? I live around there too. Maybe we can take the train together.”
“Sure.” I nodded.
                                                 *                          *                        *
Come on come on come on hurry up hurry up hurry up! How much longer?
Kiyu and I were sitting two seats away from each other. I scrolled through the photos and notes on my phone just to keep myself distracted. Unfortunately, I kept feeling chills crawling down my spine because I could sense Kiyu’s gaze fixed constantly on me. Oh God! Everything turned out well until I saw the words on his arm. I shouldn’t have done that! Did I do something wrong? Why can’t he just look at his phone like everyone else?
Finally, the train arrived at the station. I got up from the seat and paced through the doors of the train. I could hear Kiyu’s sneaker footsteps behind me. I stopped and turned back which startled him.
“I…uh…I’m actually going to the park for a bit. I…it’s nice meeting you, Kiyu. Good night.” I stammered and bowed.
“Wait!” he pleaded, “can…can I say something?”
I paused and slowly turned back.
“I’m sorry.” he blurted.
“For what?”
“I think I’m making you feeling uncomfortable.”
“What? Why would you say that?”
“It’s just that…there’s something about you…that I can’t seem to get off my mind.”
“That is?”
He ran his fingers through his hair. His eyes wandered to a distance; he looked like he was searching for the right words to say.
“I…I don’t know. I think I’ve seen you somewhere before, like in a dream or something.”
I gave him a blank look.
“How about this? We’ll go for a walk in the park and I’ll tell you all about it.” he said.
“Okay.”
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The park was the exact place when the star festival was held. Unlike the lively atmosphere last night, the lanes on both sides of the river were empty and quiet. The river was in its usual, calm state. The wooden slides were gone. The only thing that remained was the paper strips that were tied on every tree. I watched the street lights casting white shadows over the earth; paper strips that were tied around the bottom branches of the trees could be seen.
“I think I was here last night.” Kiyu said.
“I was here too,” I replied, “It was the last day of the star festival.”
“No wonder it was really crowded.” he nodded.
“I know right?” I agreed, “I even had to find a tree to tie my wish.”
“So was I!” he chuckled.
We decided to stand by the river. As my attention shifted to the starry sky above, the falling star incident came back to me.
“You know,” I said, “when I watched the light show that night, I looked up to the sky and a star fell down onto me.”
“What do you mean?”
“I was looking at a couple of stars that was slightly bigger and brighter than any other stars. Suddenly, one of them literally dropped from the sky and hit me at the back of my head.” I explained, “I know it sounds ridiculous but it’s actually true. I woke up in the hospital right after and I found that no one but me saw the falling star.” I waited for a laugh or even a gasp, but as I turned to him, his eyes were glued intently onto mine.
“That’s not ridiculous at all.” he said, “because I saw them falling from the sky too.”
My eyes widened. “Y…you saw?”
“Yeah,” he replied as he waved his fingers in the air to draw a slanted line, “I was standing at the very front of the river bank when it happened. One of them zoomed to this side. The other one went to the opposite side where I was standing and hit against my forehead. The next thing I knew, I was in a coma for a few hours.”
I couldn’t believe my ears. How come he had a similar story to mine? Was he following a script or was he telling the truth? And then, I remembered the black ink patterns I saw on his arm earlier. Could that be the answer to this mystery?
“I also woke up to this some sort of tattoo, but I had no idea who wrote it.” he gradually showed off his right arm. The quote was in curvy handwriting, yet it looked so familiar. It said:
I wish that love is like a constellation.
“That’s my wish!” I exclaimed.
“Huh?”
“I wrote this on my Tanzaku paper last night! My wish must have been copied onto your arm!”
“But do you know who actually did it?”
“Hmm…it couldn’t be Hana because I was with her. Plus, no one could possibly copy my handwriting.”
“What about yours? Do you have something like this?” he raised his arm in front of him.
“As a matter of fact, I do.” I answered and raised mine next to his. His face lit up with amusement.
“I will search for you in the stars” I read the words, “This is your wish, isn’t it?” He smiled in agreement. He reached his hand out and drew an imaginary line underneath the words on my arm. This touch of his caused my heart to beat irregularly, just like the time when he saved me from falling. Unexpectedly, the tattooed wishes slowly faded and disappeared off our skin like ashes. Kiyu and I stared at what we just saw. In the blink of an eye, a glowing star the size of an actual diamond hovered in front of us.
“Is it UFO?” Kiyu gasped.
“I don’t think so.”
The star bounced lightly in midair and flew away. We seemed to read each other’s minds instantly because we chased it down the lane. It finally stopped in front of one of the bamboo trees. From its brilliant light, I recognized the violet, rectangular paper, which was still intact. What was new to me was a light blue paper tied at the end of a branch next to mine. Both of the papers apparently touched each other like magnets.
“How come our wishes are next to each other?” Kiyu questioned.
“Could it be this star?” I guessed.
“I mean,” he glanced at the sky, “Since we both got hit by a star, I wonder if it has something to do with a ghost.”
“Or,” I added, “it could Orihime and Hikoboshi.”
Kiyu raised one eyebrow as if I were insane. I laughed and pointed at the guide star that was still floating at our faces, “They’re right here! Both Orihime and Hikoboshi are joined together into this star to get us together.”
Kiyu stared at the star for a good minute before he finally snapped his fingers. “Ah! Hikoboshi must be the star who is after me and Orihime must be the one who is after you!” he realized.
“That’s right,” I giggled, “I guess they see us as something more than just acquaintances.”
“Something more, huh?” Kiyu smirked.
My cheeks burned. I quickly looked away. The star shortly flew up back into the sky and turned back into the two special stars in their exact positions, just as Kiyu and I remembered. It was cool to see that the cosmic lovers used such magic to tell us that we will find one another to love for the rest of our lives. Somehow I wished Orihime, the seamstress, and Hikoboshi, the cow herder, were still alive, because I wanted to thank them for making me believe that destiny in love does exist.
As Kiyu and I left the park together, I could never forget how his almond-shaped eyes twinkled in the moonlight, how his smile made my heart go crazy, how his inquisitive aura never failed to amuse me, and how his vision on creativity expanded my views on life. There was so much more I wanted to know about him. I wanted to get closer to him, just like how the Milky Way led the two long-lost characters to eternal love.