Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Now Playing:

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays!

(Jumbled, incoherent post coming. After all these years of blogging and I still have no idea how to organize a blog post. I just...wing it).

I'm drowning in books right now. I think I was the only person in the family not to get some sort of electronic or technology-ish thing. Even my mother got a JRPG from my father, for...some...reason. (Or wait. I got a watch. But still! I got more books, so...I win?).

It's been a quiet Christmas, which I am surprisingly thankful for. There was something terribly off about last year's Christmas. I don't think we had a dinner, everyone was tired Christmas day and still I forced them out of the house for no reason, and it was overall...dead. I got a lot of great books then too--in fact more than I got this year--but it still didn't feel quite right.

I thought the same might repeat this year. For the last few Christmases, it's been starting to feel less and less...erm...festive? I mean, when I was younger it was much more fun. The house was big and warm and fifty family members and friends came to eat and celebrate together. Plus, as shallow as this sounds, there were mountains of presents.

My parents made it a point to never, ever, ever get my brother and I gifts at random points in the year. I have fond memories of going to Toys R Us and admiring the toys--maybe even playing with them through the packaging--but I can't recall a single time I walked out of that store with a toy in hand. That's what made Christmas and my birthday so much better.

On my birthday I usually got a Barbie (always brunette and white). Sometimes I got baby dolls or clothes. When I turned eight, on my first and last birthday party, I got a diary from my dad's best friend, (probably because my parents knew and had told him about my wishes). I can't recall any other gift being more meaningful and influential than that one. I know I'd been dying for something like it, and finally I had it.

When we moved to the United States, it was obviously different. This Monday, with Mom and Dad off to their last day of work before their breaks, I was sitting at the main desktop while my brother played on the PS3. I think I was debating whether or not I wanted to launch Skyrim, but I got distracted. Instead, I sat there for a long while and started browsing through the pictures. I found the ones of our first Christmas here. We must have gotten up at six in the morning because it's pitch black with nothing but the glow of our tiny Christmas tree. My dad kept the camera on the whole time so you see my brother and I diving through gift wrapping papers and emerging with toys in hand. I squeal when I find both an Asian and black barbie dolls, and my brother starts jumping sometime after finding a huge Hot Wheels racetrack. Since we believed in Santa Claus, it made sense that we'd found so many presents. We were young, but we knew coming to America meant a lot of money. We had to be broke. Now I realized my parents had probably saved up for more than a year to get us so many things. It was fitting, really, since we didn't really have many toys in America. I think I arrived with a teddy bear and my diary, and my brother had maybe two plushies and one action figure. Most of our toys stayed behind, never to be seen again.

It's no surprise that my best Christmases happened during my childhood, as is often the case. It's not just because of Santa, but because we had friends and family, big houses, dozens of kid-cousins. That first Christmas here probably takes top spot because it was the first time in a long time my brother and I had seen our father during the holidays. The magic started to fade quickly after that. I don't particularly miss my extended family--I don't think I ever really got to know them enough to miss them--but I do think the holidays might have still felt more alive if we'd been near them.

Most of yesterday was uneventful. With my brother and dad taking up all gaming systems, I settled for taking over my brother's laptop to find something to do. I realized he still had Sony Vegas installed, so I managed to edit together the blooper reel of the AP Environmental video I did earlier this year with some classmates and friends. I'd been promising Giselle and Anthony forever, so I got that out of the way. It was strangely uplifting.

I really realized this was going to be a much better Christmas when my mom started preparing the ham with pineapples. The timer died halfway without us noticing and she forgot to turn it off after the specified two hours, but it still ended up really good. My father's been feeling a little down lately--because of work, and distant family, and like ten thousand other things I can't mention or he'd stab me for disregarding his privacy. Yet he seemed to feel a little better once Christmas dinner happened.

After eating, my brother and I spent a lot of time cleaning--sweeping the floor, washing the dishes, taking out the trash, tiding up the living room and kitchen. I did it mostly because I didn't want to have to worry about dishes early Christmas morning, and because I wanted the apartment to look pretty today. I realized cleaning right during Christmas Eve sounds annoying. Since I pretty much forced my brother to help me even though he was dying to go to sleep, it could have been torturous for him. But it was actually kind of fun. He texts me the least while I'm off at college, but it hasn't really distanced us. We managed to spend a lot of time laughing and acting like idiots.

We went to bed at around 11 p.m, though I was still wide awake at midnight. I texted Giselle and fell asleep soon afterwards. I woke up periodically, having maybe three to four dreams specifically about waking up Christmas day. Even at the age of eighteen, I still have trouble sleeping the day before Christmas.

I got up first, like always. I sneaked in more presents under the tree and then settled down in the living room texting everyone I could think of. Silvia was the only one awake, so we spoke for a little while before my brother woke up. We made a deal not to wake up our parents at an ungodly hour, so I was going to wait till 9 or so to go get them. They woke up at 8 in a panic because it was eerily silent. I ended up cooking breakfasts after we exchanged presents.

It's still calm and quiet. When I think about it, it's not really that different from last years. Admittedly, the days leading up to it have been different--I got to spend more times with friends these last few weeks--but on Christmas day? Not a lot has changed. Yet still I'm happier now than I was last year. Maybe it's because I finally learned to appreciate that Christmas has changed, but maybe for the better.

I think it's natural that I've been spending a lot of time thinking about (and dreading) the future, seeing how college is suppose to be that transitioning stage. I hate worrying about my career and life, mostly because I've been worrying about all this crap since I turned thirteen.

Christmas doesn't exactly make me feel hopeful, but it does erase that worry. It freezes time for a little while and makes me think only of the past. On December 25th, I never think of the future, just of today and a hundred yesterdays.

So maybe a bit of the magic is gone, but at least memories and serenity have replaced it. I'm glad Christmas is always going to be a special day, one way or another.
~Becky

I don't have too many pictures to share D:
I know. I take too many selfies now.
I'd blame Giselle, but I'm the one who won't get SnapChat.
We communicate like this; the evidence remains.
I kept adding empty boxes as decorations.
Except for the pretty one with the ribbon. That was Emzy's gift to me.
(Undying animal: fake, beautiful jellyfish)
Gaby and I, walking around Coconut Grove last Wednesday
The view outside my mom's office. Brickell district.
Silvia's house. We all brought chocolate. Nobody passed out, somehow.
My terrible picture of Berny and her Badass Santa
(we were listening to the Metal Christmas station on Pandora. It was inspirational)
This morning

Unexpected gifts. From Ren, Silvia, and my aunt Priscilla.
Have a happy holiday :)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Grateful

I really just wanted to show off a drawing my friend Berny made.

(She specified "girl" because we know a Boy Bernie. Granted, Bernie cannot draw, while Berny is a master D:<)
She got my nameless pink-haired doll in there (with an extra limb!) which makes me really happy.

It's been so, so nice to be back. The night right after my parents picked me up from the bus stop we went to an Asian cuisine restaurant. I ended up paying dinner--first time I've ever done that. Somewhere on the way there, my parents started panicking because they realized I'd turned eighteen, but I guess there's also huge relief that I made it this far with a pretty sound mind.

I had dinner earlier today with Carla and her girlfriend. She got me a red leather notebook. I almost tackled her out of a balcony--it's just such a perfect present!

I think I just wanted to ramble off how grateful I am to be back and to have all these friends here just within reach. I always heard that you made your true friends in college, and all the high school ones were destined to fade away. When I realized I was going to FSU, I tried to accept the idea that I'd probably never speak to my HS friends again.

I just started college, so maybe these friendships will fade, but I'm starting to think they don't necessarily have to. There's so many myths about college I believed less than ten months ago. I'm glad they turned out to be untrue.

I have little plans and outings set for this break. I'll take Emzy out for coffee, go to lunch with Gaby, have a Breaking Bad marathon at Silvia's house with Berny and Ren, watch Frozen with Gise and Anthony, and then go see 47 Ronin with a whole lot of people. Plus I'm so excited to finally give my parents and brother their Christmas presents.

Few years back, when I got told the Earth-shattering truth about Santa, I couldn't understand how adults could deal with Christmas once the magic was gone. I guess I'm starting to feel it a lot more now, as corny as that may sound.
~Becky

Friday, December 13, 2013

Eighteen!

Now Playing: 
  • My roommate - Sweet Transvestite
  • Spiderbait - Calypso
THAT'S RIGHT. IT'S THAT TIME AGAIN.

I'm celebrating. I passed my classes. I get to work on my school's literary magazine next semester. I'm going home today. I wrapped up all my presents. I get to see my family. I get to hang out with friends. And more importantly-


HELL YEAH. I've turned eighteen. Yeah, it's an arbitrary number, the only legal thing I would ever do is vote and donate plasma, and I'm still the same naive idiot who just barely moved away from home a few months back.

But that's not going to stop me from shouting I'M AN ADULT every hour on the hour D:<
~Becky

RANDOMPICTURES











Painting done by my friend, Maria Gabriella




This was at my library's Starbucks - ten minutes before I fell asleep


(Cute Google Doodle!)


(And Dream and Spirit pictures because it's almost the three year anniversary? YEH)

Drawing done by Carp's friend

Pretty people everywhere. Sigh~

Saturday, December 7, 2013

And so...

Now Playing: Noriko Matsueda and Takahito Eguchi - Eternity (Memory of Lightwaves).

Friday morning I woke up early enough that I could lounge around before heading to my last day of Fiction Technique. Silvia and I were texting each other, and she mentioned having put a poetry collection together which she wanted me to see. I checked my email and saw a message from the Kudzu Review.

That's my school's literary journal. I have all my school emails redirected to my main account, so I've been receiving a lot of: "Our intern applications are filled up," "We do not accept remote internships," not to mention the rejection from the workshop class that nearly made me explode.

Whenever I open writing related emails, I try and tell myself there's no point having any crazy expectations. It is more than likely that a form rejection awaits me. But I can't help it. I always get hit with a little bit of hope, no matter how much I try to contain it. That's what makes opening them and finding said form rejections so much worst: I should and do know that it's coming, and yet I can't help but hope and hope and hope.

And so when it's ACTUALLY AN ACCEPTANCE IT'S LIKE TEN TIMES THE USUAL HAPPINESS.

I hope my squee-ing and cheering and jumping around didn't wake up my roommate. This is what the letter said:

Congratulations, Rebeca!

You have been accepted as an Editorial Assistant for The Kudzu Review 2014 Spring staff!

Plus information about registering for it as a class. That's the best part: I didn't even know we could get credits for it, which means I'm looking at 18 hours in total for Spring semester. If I'm lucky, working on the magazine will also give me enough experience that someone'll actually accept me for a remote internship during the summer, when I'll be the most free to do work.

FINALLY SOMETHING GOOD HAPPENS.

I hope I don't disappoint the staff and all the contributors.

Only one week left of Fall semester. Then quick finals and I'm back home the day I turn eighteen.

I'll probably be spending the week studying, revising Ataraxia, and wrapping Christmas presents. I'm getting a few in the mail and sent Carpathia's hers today. Plus after months of pestering by me and university people, my mom finally decided to send me a care package.

Only problem is I don't know when it's getting here....hopefully before December 13th, when I'm still here Dx.
~Becky

P.S: Additional happy news, my professor really liked my fairy tale. I like to think it wasn't just because she was battling a crippling cold while she read it >.>

Thursday, December 5, 2013

By the way...

I didn't want to bitch about this on twitter, so I'm going to do it here.

WHY DIDN'T I MOVE TO NEW YORK GODDAMMIT WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME I'VE KNOWN THAT WAS THE PLACE TO GO SINCE I WAS ELEVEN EXCEPT NOW I HAD MORE OF A REASON BECAUSE JESUS CHRIST AWEHAWERAIOWHEROAIWEHR[AWEHR-

I'm sorry. It's just...if I hear one more "Oh thank you, but we don't accept remote internships," I'm going to break something. 90% of these agencies are Manhattan based. One very nice agent said he wasn't taking applications just now, but he asked me if I was going to be in New York by next semester where he would maybe consider something. And it was like...like just...like I could just do it. Just call my mom, talk to my counselor, be all "lolyeahgoingtoNewYork" then fly off.

But the only thing I could do was write a polite email while inside I was screaming-

I
WISH
GOD
DAMMIT
AEO;RHA;OWERHARHAWEROHAWER

Wait...can I do distance learning at New York?
Ughhhh why do I only have two years to do this. I'M NOT EVEN AN ADULT YET. WHY AM I MAKING THESE DECISIONS.

Oh god world just let me screw up without it feeling like there's going to be lasting consequences on the rest of my life.

If...that's...possible.
~Becky

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Attached (Fixated?)

Now Playing: Martin O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori - More Than His Share, Deference for Darkness, Traffic Jam, and Halo: Reach, Overture.

So I tanked NaNo this year. Badly. I have never written so little in a month in my life. I have no idea what happened exactly--I had it in my head, little scenes, moments here and there, and I care a lot about Anne. But I felt like I was dragging. All I could think was God just get out of the town already. Sweet jesus just start a navy battle. Just SHOW THE MERMAIDS BY THIS POINT. Wait, where the hell is Jane?

In a fit of desperation, I started jumping around, writing the scenes I knew were going to happen at one point or another, but not really sure how they led to one another. When all the essays and studying and panic hit me, I slowed down badly. I kept thinking, I'll write the Run Lola Run essay today, then I can write a little for NaNo. But no, I still have another essay. And another. But then I have Thanksgiving. I have family, and friends who I've missed, and Skyrim--and for some reason, I suddenly feel like doing the Dark Brotherhood questline with an archer Wood Elf named Valianna, who has such beautiful mod hair I refuse to put a helmet or hood on her for like 80% of the time. (Though no problems with that--she just sneaks around and picks people off with arrows before they see her).

So yeah, okay, I procrastinated on a lot of things. But I'm fairly certain there has to be a reason for it. Yeah, I didn't win NaNo last year either, but even though I had college applications, Young Arts, and more school homework than I do now, I got 30k words into Ataraxia. It wasn't a lot, but I was way more focused.

I don't rely on inspiration, so that has never been a problem. In fact, I'm most inspired when I'm not writing. That may sound a little off to some people, but inspiration usually hits me when I'm world building, or when I'm sitting or laying down with my eyes closed, listening to music. That doesn't mean I don't enjoy writing, it just means I've never waited to get hit by inspiration to do it. It's not a chore to me, but it's not super easy either.

While I was writing Ataraxia, some of the trailers for Man of Steel were coming out. Music has always been the purest form of inspiration for me. I do usually get inspired by movies and video games and books, but it's only by listening to music that I start to imagine my characters in more concrete ways. If it wasn't for the song The Way Out Is Through, the central conflict of Ataraxia would have probably never come to be. It was the same with Man of Steel--when I got a hold of the first trailer song, An Ideal of Hope, I started to see Anne's story more clearly. But they were just scenes. I still don't and didn't have anything solid in place.

I know I have to give it time. I'm not planning to give up on it.

But every now and then I catch myself thinking about Ataraxia again. Like a conversation I should have refined, or a scene that still looks cooler in my head so I should probably rewrite it. That novel has so much flaws, and I felt so burned out after finishing it. But maybe I'm not done?

I miss Caesar and Sonya, and I don't think I did them justice. Am I ready to let go of Ataraxia just yet? That's the thing, I'm not sure.

Sigh. But if I start focusing on it too much, in a few weeks, when I'm covered in Christmas wrapping, lights tangled at my feet, and modern British literature spread out because Brace Yourself: Finals Are Coming, I'm going to be one of two things: 1) really frustrated or 2) really hopeful. I'm going to think Ataraxia is good enough to be published. And it's not. This, in fact, is a reminder that it's totes not ready and probably won't be three weeks or three months or even years from now.

Not sure about revising yet. But maybe I shoulder consider it. Or wait for something else? Hmm...
Becky

P.S: I know this is going to sound offensive, but I mean this in the most sincere way possible because the reaction of my classmates is confusing me: I can't tell if Christians or Scientologists have been coming to preach at the school.

I can hear their prophetic chanting from across Oglesby Union, from the bookstore at the end of the street to the library up the hill. And yet I have no idea what they're saying. I know the guy with the banner regarding evolution was a Christian, as was probably the dude who got into an argument with three students about...Abraham, I think? But what preacher-guy shouted "Let's get drunk and fornicate!" which elicited cheers? And who was that odd woman this morning? And the dude who got approached by a guy in a horse mask? I don't know. I've only seen that last thing happen with Scientologists. (Okay, once. I saw that once).

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Progress

Now Playing: Run Lola Run soundtrack - Running Three and Believe

Things that went wrong last week-ish that made me rage:
  • My friend and I got harassed at a bus stop. Multiple times.
  • I got rejected from the workshop class I wanted.
  • I realized "Reaper" makes no sense as a threatening title in the context of Anne's world. It's the personification of Death in our world; our reaper is meant to be the harvester of souls. But why would the same meaning apply to a fictional world, especially when the mythologies are so vastly different? Answer: it doesn't. So the most fearsome pirate who has ever lived might as well be called Jane the Farmer.
  • For my three drafts for Fiction Technique, I keep turning in stories with characters whose (who's?) names start with a K. First it was Dr. Kathleen Monroe in The Companion Unit, Kaede Kinomoto in The Way Out Is Through, and Katerina Kuriyama in Rhyme and Reason (working title). WHERE IS MY IMAGINATION
  • My hair rejected color treatment that it desperately needed. It was looking a sickly green because of a faded blue dye--plus the bleach that had gone under it--and refused to go to a normal color.
  • I fell behind on NaNoWriMo
  • I forgot to read a book for Fiction Technique class.
  • I attacked my hair and chopped it off in a fit of frustration
  • I got sick on Tuesday for going out to swim when it was 40 degrees out, which meant I had to skip the pool on Wednesday.
  • My microwave had a weird odor. I cooked some weird Jamaican noodles on it and no amount of washing would get rid of the smell.
  • I have nothing to send to either Carp or Emzy for their birthdays.

Things that are going to go wrong, making me rage some more:
  • I will get rejected from the internships
  • I will get rejected from the magazine
  • I will fall behind on NaNo again.
  • I will fail at least a couple of finals
  • I will not have any money next semester

Things that I somehow corrected:
  • It was a lot of money and the end result wasn't perfect, but my hair is a somewhat even dark brown now, with specks of lighter hair at the front. At least it's not so greenish now.
    • I'm over this...neon hair phase. I'll go back to it when I have enough money to pay a stylist every six weeks to keep my hair healthy and pretty.
  • Sitting at the salon for a few hours meant I got to finish the book for Fiction Technique
  • After missing out swimming on Wednesday, I swam for an hour on Thursday. There was a group of old men there who I think were trying to race me, which was pretty hilarious on its own.
  • I signed up for an online class next semester involving child development, and without the workshop class on Wednesday, I can take Japanese film.
  • I scrubbed my microwave with lime, which helped the smell.
  • I wrote three essays in a week.
    • One of which I managed by pulling an all-nighter with Gise.
  • I renamed Katerina (temporarily) Auralee, after one of Jordan's characters.
Things that make me happy/give me hope:
  • Thanksgiving break is coming up.
    • I miss my parents, little brother, and high school friends, and actual food not cooked in a microwave.
    • It's weird, but I am eagerly awaiting the journey there. I love spending hours upon hours inside a vehicle. And that's not sarcasm. Six hours in a train, car, bus, or plane + sitting near a window + laptop and book in hand = happy, relaxed Becca.
  • I forgot how much I love being in the water as long as I'm not competing or getting yelled at by asshole coaches. The smell of chlorine reminds me of my childhood and I'm happy to be exercising regularly again.
  • I wrote a fairy tale.
  • After months of virtually no contact and a fear that we'd never really get to speak again, I got in regular conversations with Carpathia.
  • Though I'll continue to take all kinds of film classes, I may talk to an adviser about possibly switching my minor or getting a certification in Child Development.
  • I know it probably didn't mean a thing, but the professor who sent me a form rejection about the workshop classes added this: (PS: On a slightly more personal note, I very much encourage you to try again in future semesters. Thank you for letting me see your work!)
    • Which...I have no idea what it means. Did she reject me because I put down "Freshman" instead of "Junior" (damn credits making me both) and needed to give priority to those who are close to graduation? (that's what the form rejection said, at least). Or was it because I actually do suck at writing but she thinks I'll get better in the coming years, meaning I'll have a better shot at the classes then? Who knows...but it's okay. I know I have a lot to learn.
  • I'm almost eighteen, which means next semester I get to donate plasma.
So...I guess it's not as bad as it could be.
~Becky

P.S: Here's a collection of my oddly changing hair:


And how I waste my time with awesome dress up games (credit to Rinmaru Games)
Valentine and Kaede, my mechanic and pilot.

Rhyme and Reason (Katerina Kuriyama) from my fairy tale

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Disappointment

Now Playing:
  • Ennio Morricone - Il tramonto and L'arena.
  • Luis Bacalov - Summertime Killer
Quick post because I have homework and had about five hours of sleep last night (for some reason I woke up at four and couldn't go back to sleep) but I gotta get this out of my system.

I should have known better than to read an article discussing the many genres agents just can't sell anymore, but it was probably the wake up call I needed. Fantasy with creatures is a no-go. No werewolves, no fairies, no vampires, no witches, no mermaids.

Back in planning, I think I thought I'd get away with it in Anne's story because the mermaids don't really play that big of a part. Or they do, but they're very much just like any other creatures? I don't know how to explain it or why it made sense in my head, but none of them are named, and there's no way Anne can even interact with them. It'd be like trying to talk to sharks.

The novel is more about Anne's life as a pirate, her relationship with Captain Hali, Ru, Shin, and Jane the Reaper, and the Brothers' influence on the mortal people. Plus all this other stuff involving the other nations and some random feminist undertones I was playing around with. It's also technically high fantasy, not paranormal. It isn't part of a trilogy, which I had heard some agents were pretty sick off--and thank god because I don't think I'll have the energy to write a trilogy till I'm in my thirties.

But it's not going to be enough. A few minutes back, I sort of tried to accept querying Anne's story somewhere in the near future would just not bring anything positive to me. When I accepted that I also accepted that my writing is nowhere near ready for publication, and it probably won't be in the next year either.

So I've been sitting here thinking, maybe after I'm done writing and revising Anne's story, I'll write and try to publish The Band/Still Life, a YA contemporary. It's been in my head for a little while and I adore the voice of the main character. It has a diverse cast in terms of sexuality, races, gender, and class--main character is Asian, her best friend is asexual, one of her two male friends is black, the siblings are lower class while her love interest is upper class, and a bunch more LGBT and POC characters. It's a coming-of-age story and involves a group of teenagers trying to form a rock band. I don't think it'd be a New York Times best seller but with solid writing, a good voice, interesting characters, and an entertaining premise, it should do well, right?

Except the market is already seeing a huge wave of YA contemporaries. This book wouldn't be ready till at least two years from now. And that's assuming my writing's improved enough to be publishable. It probably won't be.

I know it's not a race. These things take time. I won't be a failure if I publish my first novel at the age of 67. And I'll still write and revise these unpublishable novels because being a story-teller makes me happy.

But I hate that I keep pushing it back, because I'm not ready, or because of things that are out of my control.

I'm trying not to let it get to me, but it makes me nervous. What if I'm never ready? What if I just keep falling behind? I guess it won't kill me if it takes me twenty years to get an agent and a book deal, but I can't shake off the disappointment.

I guess that's life.
~Becky

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Internships Might Eat My Soul

...and I actually kind of hope they do.

Now Playing: Nine Inch Nails - The Good Soldier

(Forgive the following nonsense. I'm just trying to map this out).

I miscalculated big time. For some reason, even though FSU accepted my A.A. they didn't exactly seem to take all 60...something credits (64? I can't remember how much I finished with) and so technically, I could be falling behind. I got 6 credits on the summer and 12 this semester, which accumulates to 73 credits. Even though FSU requires 9 credits acquired through summer semesters, I heard students with A.As technically don't have to do that, so I won't need to stay for summer 2014 to get that extra class/3 credits. Which...please, god, let it be true.  I can't keep taking out loans to pay for the dorms and I haven't had a free summer since before 9th grade because of year-round dual enrollment classes.

But because of that, I'm in trouble. If I'd taken five classes instead of four this semester, I'd be in the clear. But I didn't. I sort of panicked so I could take it easy. Which means I still have 47 credits to go. I want to graduate by Spring 2015, which means I'm looking at a variation of this:

Spring 2014: 15 credits.
Fall 2014: 18 credits.
Spring 2015: 15 credits.
Total: 121 credits, cleared for graduation!

GHA. I'm going to dieee. How am I going to handle six classes in one semester, particularly because I'm trying to do a dozen other things?

See, the problem with graduating in two years is how little time I have to get extra credentials, and how young I'm going to be when I enter the work force. Especially because...no grad school. I can't do it. No way. No money and not enough motivation to keep studying for a thousand more years.

Back in orientation, the first time I spoke with my adviser, she recommended I stay for all four years even though I didn't need to. After all, FSU doesn't immediately kick A.A students out as soon as they hit 120 credits. If not, stay at least for three years. She said I might as well get two majors with two minors, travel abroad, do crazy internships in random fields, just spread everything out because nineteen is too young to graduate. According to her and several people, a) I'll be missing a lot of the college experience and b) no job or grad school would want to take someone so young.

BUT I REFUSEEE.

I like college so far but I have plentyyy more reasons to graduate early than to stay. One, I'm apparently already in debt even though I'm trying to take as little loans as possible. (And goddammit, why did I take out unsubsidised loans? Stupid impulses). Two, the pre-paid money my parents saved up for me can take care of four years of classes, but my brother only has enough pre-paid to last him for two years. Even though he's also graduating with an A.A, as a biology major with current hopes of becoming a vet, he probably WILL have to get a Masters and PhD. He needs the money more than I do. If I don't use up all the money on my pre-paid, whatever's left will be transferred to his account. And if he gets a scholarship that pays for everything, the money will just go back to my parents, so they'll be able to pay off bills and maybe even finally save up for a house.

And three...I honestly don't care that much about the college experience. I can already hear it: ten years from now, you're going to regret it! You're going to regret not going to parties and being able to live so close to friends and getting to study abroad and a hundred other things.

Meh.

It's not that I don't appreciate the education I'm getting. My classes have been a delight and I've gotten to meet some really cool people, but I'm not exactly feeling the total liberation that's supposed to come with college. Too many of the opportunities require money I don't have or time I can't waste. Yeah, college is ten thousand times better than high school, middle school, etc, but I'm not in love with it. I just like it. I don't think a long term relationship is really going to work out.

I'm dying to graduate, have my own job, my own apartment (please god, no more roommates) in a super populated city that has more than just clubs, my own money and financial security--which is admittedly not totally possible since my ultimate goal is to be a writer but whatever, it's still my dream!

The only problem of course, aside from the credits thing, is that 19 is really young to graduate. Not only that, two years is hardly enough time to build up credentials that will impress future employers. So what am I planning?

Basically, I'm going to overload myself. I just sent my resume to my school's literary magazine since they had an editorial assistant position open, and I emailed the fashion magazine because they recently opened up positions for writers. And no, I don't really know that much about fashion but I can learn. And I will learn! I hope one of the magazines consider me.

Not to mention, I recently found that a ton of literary agencies allow for virtual/distance internships. Since the agencies pretty much need people to read through slush piles, some partials, write reader reports, etc, it means the English department will let me earn credits if I get hired.

That said, applying is intimidating. My resume is kind of...boring-ish, I don't know the first thing about writing a cover letter, and some of these agencies ask for the last few books I've read. I can just imagine the thoughts of the person going over that list: "Mediocre YA, cliche fantasy classic, mediocre YA fantasy, book from a literature class, cliche sci-fi classic, another cliche sci-fi classic, unknown book assigned from another literature class, more YA, and cliche sci-fi classic again...next."

I should really expand the genre of books I read.

But getting an internship for next semester might be a dream come true. Especially if I get the workshop class I want and an editorial assistant position for the magazine!

Sigh. I guess I know where my luck lies, and those three things probably won't happen. So for now, here's what I think I should do: ideally, Spring 2014 I'm taking two lit classes (signed up for), Hispanic cinema (also signed up for), 4000 level Fiction Workshop (ughhhh gotta go through loops to get approved and signed up for), internship at a literary agency, and a position with one of the magazines.

Sadly, that probably won't happen, so I'll plan accordingly. If I don't get a position in one of the magazines, I'll add an extra class, probably Chinese or Japanese cinema. If I have the internship, that'll be 18 credits.

For sure, if I don't get the internship, it won't matter if I get to work for one of the magazines, I'll add the extra class nonetheless to end up with 15 credits. Plus, I refuse not to get that workshop class. If fiction technique won't take me this semester, I'll force my way into a non-fiction workshop.

And that's the plan.

Oh god wish me luck.

On lighter news, I got my NaNo page updated. I had to change my hometown so not to get bombarded with messages about NaNo events going on in Miami and found some pleasant, local upcoming parties. I'm still sketchy about Tallahassee since everything except clubs and burger places close after 6 p.m on weekends and Friday night and being underage, broke, and in fear of the Freshman 15 means I can't enjoy those things. But turns out the place where the Tally NaNo kick off party is going to happen is like a ten minute walk from my dorm. And it's not on a super scary street. And I've been there before. Woohoo! I'm excited, but also getting a little restless. October's been a busy, stressing month. I can't wait for NaNo and Thanksgiving and then just two weeks left before the semester is over.

I really miss Miami, especially the public transportation. When I get back for December, the first thing I'm doing is taking the bus to Downtown, going around in loops on the metromover, then walking through the lovely Brickell district to go visit my mom at her job.

And maybe I'll get to live in that neighborhood some day.

(HAH, with what money?)
~Becky

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A to Z book survey!

Now Playing: Nine Inch Nails - Hesitation Marks (album)

First, a quick update: I should be writing (yeah, what else is new?). I have a short story due tomorrow to be workshopped next Friday. A ten page maximum limit is going to kill me, but I think maybe I can squeeze in a couple of more pages and my teacher won't explode and fail me. (I mean, someone posted a seventeen page story so...clearly if I drift into twelve or thirteen pages, I won't be committing an unforgivable crime).

I barely started Anne's story before having to stop to work on the two short stories needed for Fiction Technique. Not to mention I was hit with school related papers. If I can't get anything done in October, I'll use NaNoWriMo to get it off the ground. It helped Ataraxia and Redemption, after all, and October seems to be the month I gotta produce the most essays. Maybe it won't be so bad to put off a novel till I've got more time. I realize this sounds like one of those dreaded, "You're making excuses D< you're not acting like a real, dedicated writer!" but ehhhhhh. Finishing Ataraxia was a massive boost of confidence, even if it did take me forever and a half. I'm not worried about not being able to finish the next work. Plus, by November, I should be able to figure out if I want to write the story in third or first person >.>

So anyways, because I hadn't updated in a while, I decided to do a little book survey! I saw it on Julie/Swankivy's writing blog, so I decided to go ahead and fill it out here.

Author You've Read The Most Books From
I was thinking about using my Goodreads to figure this out, but I haven't managed to really rate all the books I've read. I'm fairly certain it's Daniel Handler, if I'm counting his Lemony Snicket books. I read all the A Series of Unfortunate Events, most of the bonus material (such as The Beatrice Letters and The Unauthorized Autobiography), as well as his (young?) adult novel, the super awesome The Basic Eight.

Best Sequel Ever
This is also kind of difficult because I almost never read full series, but I'm going to say The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman.

Currently Reading
A classic! Dune by Frank Herbert.

Drink of Choice While Reading
Coffee if early in the morning, hot tea in the afternoon, or cool lemonade at nighttime.

E-reader or Physical Book?
Blame my brother for wrecking my poor mother's kindle; we used to have an e-reader. Now, I have the little Kindle reader thing on my computer, though it sadly doesn't have a lot of books. So physical books, even though I read a lot of classic, public domain books on the e-reader.

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated in High School
Instead of high school dating, can I have a childhood crush/sweetheart thing with Ender, Petra, or Valentine from Ender's Game instead?

Glad You Gave This Book a Chance
It's between two Stephen King novels. I read his debut, Carrie, first, despite hearing he'd written much better works later. It's one of my favorite novels now. The second is Christine. I started reading that one without knowing what the premise was--and I would have probably left it alone if I'd known. It managed to grab me pretty early on and I surprisingly like it a lot.

Hidden Gem Book
THE BASIC EIGHT. I've never personally met anyone else who's read it :( Which sucks because it's like one of the most perfect novels everrr. Granted it's a little weird.

Important Moment in Your Reading Life
So when I was a little kid (four? five?) and entered my first years of schooling, I was really proud of the fact I could read things, like signs on the street, comics around the house, or the little warnings underneath cigarette packets. One random day, I was sitting with my dad as my mom finished preparing dinner. We had the first few Harry Potter books in the house (in Spanish) and my dad picked up Philosopher's Stone and was like, "Hey, since you know how to read now, why don't you try reading this book?" So I did! I quickly realized I could read the whole thing if I wanted. Whenever I spaced out or didn't understand something, my mom would read passages out loud to me while I followed along on the page. And so my love for Harry Potter and literature in general began.

Just Finished
Err...Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, and a buttload of Yeats poetry. But that's mostly because of my Modern British Lit class Dx

Kinds of Books You Won't Read
YA Paranormal Romances bore me to tears, not to mention they often have the most abusive, disgusting relationships and boring, push-over heroines. And after giving Legend and Divergent a chance (and really only liking Legend), then trying and failing to get into other novels of that category, I'm done with YA Dystopians.

Longest Book You've Read
Does the Bible count? I read the King James version and I think the Reina-Valera version at the same time, since the text my mom and dad gave me had the Spanish and English translations side by side. I switched it up whenever I didn't understand something in one language. I read it when I was eleven to thirteen, though I probably skimmed a lot and don't remember much.

Major Book Hangover Because Of
Whenever Giselle and I spoke about the awesomeness of Ender's Game, we got hit with massive anger+sadness because we remembered Orson Scott Card is such a jerk. I guessing that counts. Whenever I reread Ender's Game, I get really happy. Then when I put it down or just pause halfway through, I get hit with that angry sadness again @_@

Number of Bookcases You Own
In my dorm? Zero T_T In my parent's home? One and a quarter? I only got my parents to buy me one after the little shelf above my desk started falling apart because I was piling up too many books on it.

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, which is surprising because I didn't really like the protagonist until the end and the book made me physically ill. I'm not even kidding, I actually ran to the bathroom to throw up after reading a particular passage. I can get through massive, super detailed scenes of carnage and rape without as much as a wince, but I have a weak stomach when it comes to anorexia, bulimia, and self-harm. However, I was still fascinated with the writing, so I read a lot of the scenes over and over again.

Preferred Place to Read
Sitting at the back of a bus.

Quote that Inspires You
Uh... Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus (I love that motto >.> Andddd I'm really bad at finding good inspirational quotes and remembering them Dx)

Reading Regret
I read all of the Twilight Saga in eighth grade despite knowing it wasn't going to get any better. And no, I don't know why I did it. I can't call it a guilty pleasure because I certainly didn't even get any pleasure out of it Dx I guess the cliche about not being able to look away from the train wreck applies here.

(Completed) Series You Started and Need To Finish
Even though it technically shouldn't be here, I'm going to say A Song of Ice and Fire, since I didn't stop because there's no more books, I stopped because I haven't found the time to go through the rest.

Three of Your All Time Favorite Books
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, and The Basic Eight by Daniel Handler.

Unapologetic Fangirl (Filthy Stalker) Of
Stephen King! Ever since On Writing I've been pretty obsessed with watching and reading his interviews and the essays/introductions he has in some of his novels.

Very Excited for This Release More Than All the Others
Premeditated by Josin L. McQuein has, hands down, one of the best written blurbs of all time. The subject matter is super tricky, so it's got potential for greatness and potential to crash and burn. Either way, I'm so excited for it!

Worst Bookish Habit
Buying a ton of books at once and failing to finish them all before going out to buy (or start reading) more books.

Your Latest Book Purchase
I don't want to count all my school related books so I'll chose Cinder by Marissa Meyer.

ZZZ-Snatcher Book (last one that kept you up way too late)
It's actually been a while since I've stayed way up late to finish a novel. But when I reread Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince a few years back (and read it for the first time in English), I did the classic hiding-under-the-covers-with-a-flashlight thing.

~Becky
P.S: Yes, I did post the link to the NIN store >.> I love the album, I love how different it sounds from some of his other albums, and I'm sadfaced I can't go to one of the concerts. So...this is my contribution? I know it's lame.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Ataraxia completed!

Now Playing: Kill Bill soundtrack - Battle Without Honor or Humanity

Title: Ataraxia
Genre: Science-fiction
Protagonists: Caesar Blackbird and Sonya Serova
Started: November 1, 2012 (part of NaNoWriMo)
Finished: September 1, 2013
Word count: 133,000
Chapters: 20
Microsoft word pages: 445

This was a few hours ago, so I did my jumping around/crying/babbling to my parents and friends already. I'm a bit calmer now, though I do feel...weird. It's the first time since I was eleven that I'm not working on a project, so I'm trying to process everything. (Note: Up until this novel, I had a bad habit of working on multiple projects at once, which did the opposite of keeping me motivated.) This is sort of similar to the summer before junior and senior year. I'd finish my projects at the nick of time, then spent the next few days drained but confused. It's like my brain can't really process when I have nothing else to do.

I guess that's sort of a lie. I already have another fantasy story somewhere in my head, so it's not like I've got no ideas. There's still work to do in the near future.

And I know, it's weird, I started it on the first of a month and ended it on the first of another month. And I totally lived up to hipster stereotypes by finishing the book in a cafe. My friend and I decided to go to the library today and just park ourselves there for 90% of the day. It's Sunday of labor day weekend, and it's a college campus, so either everyone with a car ditched or everyone who went out the night before is suffering from a hangover or catching up on sleep, so it was pretty empty and nothing was opened. Luckily, there's a Starbucks right there in the main library, so it kept us fed and caffeinated for a few hours. My friend sat in front of me with a romance book (and shared all the awkward but apparently awesome bits) while I wrapped up the climax and epilogue of Ataraxia.

Because we were there for a few hours, both my friend and I got to the end of our respective stories at around the same time. I was in tears because I was drained and sadfaced at what I'd written, and she was in tears because THE DUKE HAS DECIDED TO REMAIN WITH HIS LOVE, AND NOTHING WILL SEPARATE THEM. It's so beautiful. *cries*

So yeah. We both walked out of the library to go grab a bite to eat with dazed-off looks.

I'm happy that I finished, though. This was an unexpected little thing, in the same way that Redemption was unexpected. I didn't spend weeks and months dreaming about the characters, didn't come up with them as a child then develop them the older I grew. This popped into my head because I saw a cover of a movie called Safe, where a grown man protects a little girl. I thought the relationship looked absolutely adorable and intriguing, and I switched up the genders and came up with my thirteen year old prodigy and his eventual friend and guardian.

I got a lot of things wrong at the beginning, and so many details that took a while to discover. I wrote a brief scene somewhere at a BestBuy on a Mac because all the PCs were taken and I've always liked leaving pieces of dialogue in foreign computers. Then NaNoWriMo came and I decided this was as good of a project to work on as ever. I was disappointed that I only came through with 30k words, and that then it took me nearly nine more months to get 100k more words. But I managed. And I'm happy with it.

So...what now? Do I rewrite it, rewrite it another time, rewrite it a third time, edit it till the end of time, gather critique partners and beta readers, edit it another time, then start up with the agent search?

No.

I know the strength of my writing. I may not know what is publishable, but I know what isn't for sure. Ataraxia is not publishable. The science is sketchy, the prose is mediocre, and while I love my characters, I think I could have developed people like Haider and Maria (especially the former) much better throughout the story. Plus my fight scenes need some serious work.

I will probably work on it and fix it in a few months, when I'm procrastinating on my next novel or avoiding studying for midterms. Maybe ten years from now I'll dig it up and rewrite it so to properly tell Caesar and Sonya's story.

One thing is for sure, though. No sequels* and no focusing on this in the imminent future.

I do think I should move on to the next thing. I hope, for sure, that I'll be able to crank that one out faster and then polish it through a longer period of time. Fantasy isn't easier than sci-fi, but it does require a different approach at researching (and the implementation of said research), so I think I should suffer a little less with this.

That and after starting novels I'd been looking forward to and then being disappointed in a matter of pages because of the protagonists (looking at you, Throne of Glass >>), I'm gonna try my best to write the YA leading heroine I've been eager to find elsewhere. (Even if she is a bit...young).

Hopefully I don't screw it up. Hopefully. There's nothing more eye-twitch inducing than writers who think they've created strong, memorable characters and yet write the most uninspiring cardboard cut-outs.

But...for now, a few days of rest and reading should do me well!

I'll miss you for the time being, Caesar and Sonya. I hope I'll see you again some day.
~Becky

*I'm surprised at how much I seem to be inwardly against sequels. I've yet to truly write one, and I've only ever planned one (Salvation). I can't even imagine the day I'll have the energy to write a trilogy (or...even something longer than that O_o). But I guess the older I grow, the faster these things will come to me....and the longer the stories will become :D

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Beauty in the Grey

Now Playing: Alice Smith - She
I almost never describe faces. I think it should technically be easy because my characters are a constant presence in my head. I can't fall asleep without at least a fleeting thought of what they're doing, what's about to happen to them, or how they're feeling. But I am, sadly, not a very visual person. When reading and writing, I see only vague features/actions, like I'm recollecting a childhood memory rather than watching a movie. When writing, I remember to point out some things. I remember Jacob's hair is a chestnut brown that'll forever be messy (must be in the gene pool because Deirdre's got it too), and that Arkana's got a square jaw while her mother, Beatrice, has a heart shaped face.

But as of lately, even little bits of detail like that haven't popped out in Ataraxia. I remember to describe eye color and that Sonya almost always looks amused. But that's kind of it.

So then comes the weird part. I was clicking through tumblr, procrastinating on some real writing work, when I went to a blog dedicated to Lillian Gish.




I'm kind of ashamed the only movie I've seen of hers was The Birth of a Nation. That said, her photographs always put me in a bit of a trance because she's such a peculiar beauty, like her face alone defines the entirety of the silent film era (though yeah, I know she also did talkies).

And I got to thinking how weird it would be if Rosegrave--my 5'11, vaguely muscular, cocktail-dress-and-combat-boots wearing redheaded serial killer--sort of looked like Lillian Gish.

If it was narrated by Whiskey, my god would she never shut up about it.

Seeing her up close now, without blood and dirt staining her mouth and coloring her cheeks, made me realize how little I knew of this woman. Her past was a mystery to me, a mystery to all of us, and that was to be expected. It was strange, however, to realize her voice, her smile, her features were just as unknown. The police sketches were way off. Her eyes were delicate now that they weren't glimmering with murdering, maddening thrill. Her lips were dark against her white skin and small, so much that they looked slightly pursed. Her face was long, oval shaped. Her auburn red hair flowed down her shoulders, her bangs and wavy locks framing her face. I was tiny and freckled-faced, forever stuck in a juvenile body, but I knew that my features were somehow more mature than Rosegrave's. Hers was a face of delicate innocence that, with a curve of her lips, a tilt of her head, or a raise of her eyebrows, could drift into one of a dangerous seductress.

Okay, sorry >.> Just wanted to get that description out of my head. And it sucks, I know >:( It's not that detailed. Plus I think I almost went down the Lolita route.

But anyways, moving on.

This isn't really a good update. I'm writing an actual one as I begin planning Anne's story and get ready to start fall semester at FSU so I'll post that one later. Just to add a bit more: I've been back in Miami for two weeks. I've dyed the right side of my hair blue, gotten enough catcalls around the city to make me want to start a killing spree, and had a bit of fun at the movies with some old friends last Friday. The Conjuring was fine, but not great. Maybe it's because I haven't seen how bad current horror movies are, but I'm not really understanding the praise the film is getting. Maybe it being slightly above average is a bit of an oddity?

That sounds condescending. I actually really did like the movie, especially because it followed the ghost hunters/mediums/demonologists just as much as the haunted family. Plus it was a necessity that my friends and I act like idiots and laughed/screamed as loudly as possible at whatever minor thing happened in the movie, so that made everything 10x more enjoyable.

I'll be back at FSU by next weekend. I think going for the summer semester was actually a good thing--I'm not plagued by the usual jitters. Especially now that I'll be able to store my stuff with the UPS office whenever I come home via bus (it's that or making my parents drive 7+ hours to pick me up each time). I guess I am nervous about starting a job and who my roommate/suitemates will turn out to be...but I'm hoping for the best.

One thing: Since a lot of kids came back for a brief break after freshman year, summer semester, I saw a lot of posts on the internet talking about how different things are in the hometowns. One girl was surprised at how different she sees things now after living on her own for just a few weeks at her university.

>.> I'm not feeling it. Disappointing turn of events since it's all pretty much the same to me. I got a weird reminder of what it was like to go back to Ecuador last summer after being gone for six or so years. Things were smaller, speaking Spanish 24/7 was a nightmare, and I was more keenly aware of DANGER, but honestly, that stuff seems pretty minor. Everything was familiar and recognizable, and I found that neither I nor the people I'd known as a child had truly changed that much. It was like I'd never been gone.

Maybe I'll get hit with that "oh man this place is so different maybe I've changed so much" when I come home for Christmas. Six weeks is hardly enough room for a radical change, no?
~Becky

P.S: I think once I finish Ataraxia, I'll switch up the color scheme of this blog. When I was in my steam/clockpunk phase with the Night Kingdom and the early 100 themes version of Enkindled With Chains, the blog had warm undertones. With Ataraxia, I honored the violet planet Irkalla with this little scheme. So when Anne's story begins, I'll change it again.

Granted, I was sort of planning to change the entire blog, but I don't wanna mess it up >> Maybe I'll do it. I'll leave those narcissistic selfies of me up on the side, though, because I like showing off my changing hair :P ...though granted, I am annoyed that I took the pictures of me with my blue hair wearing the same dress as the one on my profile picture o_e

...and here's one more picture of Ms. Gish just because we can.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Circuits and Nerves

Now Playing: Billy Idol - Cyberpunk (album)
Backdrop
In the sporadic years where we managed to be a traditional nuclear family, Saturday mornings in my house would be still and silent until my mother’s hunger and impatience somehow overpowered her tiredness and pushed her to the kitchen. The fridge door opening and closing, oil sizzling in the pan, water running over dishes, the microwave beeping at the end of its countdown, and silverware shaking inside drawers—these were the sounds that would make my eyes fly open on weekend mornings. I would stay in bed until the smell of fried eggs or bread baking in the oven slipped into my room and urged me to slide out from underneath my mountain of blankets. I would tiptoe out to the living room so not to wake up my baby brother. I’d go past the kitchen and say good morning to my mother (or endure a five minute lecture if I’d rudely walked by without greeting her) and then head to my parents’ bedroom.
My dad usually woke up five minutes after my mom, and so I went to see him in the mornings so we could wait together for breakfast. In that waiting period, he would head over to his CD player and fish around for an album. I know for a fact he never had a large collection, but in my memories, there were hundreds of CDs, from rock albums by Soda Stereo (his favorite band), to the soundtrack of the original Star Wars, to Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. To me, there was infinite music at our disposal.
When I was six years old, I woke up and headed over to see my dad, as usual. My parents’ room always seemed to be operating on a different time than the rest of the house. The heavy curtains shielding the windows kept the bright sun from lighting up the room. There were birds chirping in the garden and breakfast simmering just outside the door. It was warm enough to be morning, filled with all the right sounds and smells, but it was dim and soft enough to be twilight. I sat at the edge of the bed, kicking my feet back and forth against the mattress, my hands clutching onto the blankets as I waited for the right moment to start talking his ear off about the heart-pounding adventures of my Barbie dolls, how much I’d read of Chamber of Secrets, my visit to Erika’s house, and the game I’d played the day before with my little brother.
The album he selected was technically nothing new, though he’d never played it for me until that day. I’d seen it lying around and the cover had caught my attention before. It was the face of a man. The left side showed his features as colored by a grainy purple, while on the right side his flesh disintegrated into green dots and dashes, like codes running down a computer. Above the man, in yellow letters with splashes of orange, the musician’s name read “Billy Idol”. Underneath, in significantly smaller font, the name of the album: Cyberpunk.
My dad slipped it into the player then went back to lie down on the bed. I bounced up next to him, my mouth open in anticipation to release a stream of incoherent words only patient parents could vaguely comprehend. Then the album began to play.

Opening Manifesto, Wasteland, segue of LA riots, Shock to the System.
First, rippling waves coming from a machine. A deep voice began to narrate. In English. I couldn’t understand a single word. I asked my father to translate.
My father knew basic, basic English. At that point, his education on the language mostly consisted of the elementary concepts taught to him in primary and secondary schools and things he picked up from subtitled American movies. He had no idea what the narrator was talking about, except maybe for key words here and there. Something about information no longer being free, megacorporations, and a nuclear war. He could have admitted that. But I would have asked dozens of questions, interrupting the music till I grew bored of it. The only thing in the world that could shut me up and settle me down was being told a story. So he lied. Or technically, he improvised. Armed with a growing knowledge of computer programming and a love for sci-fi works like Neuromancer, Ghost in the Shell, Akira, Blade Runner, Terminator, and The Matrix, he began to create a cyberpunk tale. He told me it was a story set in a not so distant future where a nuclear war had torn apart the world. A new, unified government ran by an unknown but powerful leader was gathering humans and plugging them into a perfect virtual world while Earth fell apart. People were unknowingly prisoners inside their own minds. “No religion, no religion at all,” echoes against the first song, so my father explained to me that the hero was trying to bring about structure and faith to the last free humans. On the side, he was working with the resistance.
Tomorrow People, Adam in Chains.
I assumed, early on, that this was going to be an action packed adventure with thrilling explosions, rebellious leaders, and great triumph in every battle. I didn’t expect more. After Shock to the System’s defiant and upbeat battle melody, Tomorrow People drifted in slowly, a melancholic voice echoing along. Here, the nameless hero’s motivations became clear—he was afraid for the children born in the apocalypse, those who would suffer and die for their freedom or be captured and enslaved in a perfect world that didn’t exist. He had a son, a blue-eyed boy who had been born during the nuclear war. This boy was a young-man, maybe sixteen or so, but he was still just a child in the eyes of his father. Somewhere during Adam in Chains, the man fell in love. The woman in question was a resistance fighter like him, strong willed and brave, but beaten mentally and physically by the battles of yesterday and today.
He had people to lose. The hope he held onto grew weaker each day. I was frightened for him. He sounded so fragile now. I understood that this was not an adventurous, fun battle of the ages—this was a dark era of humanity. There were families born in the vast ruins of great nations, children who knew nothing but the debris and ashes of old cities. Whenever the man closed his eyes, he tossed and turned through his nightmares, terrified that there would not be a tomorrow.
Neuromancer, Power Junkie, segue prayer.
Then the antagonist was revealed: a mind within a machine. It was the one imprisoning the humans and forcing the planet to crumble in ruins. The hero learns of the core of this machine, the one area he must attack. It resided and operated within Earth’s last functioning, high-tech city, composed entirely of circuits, vast computer hardware in place of buildings, and neon lights that shone brighter than the sun. Everything within the city is controlled by the artificial mind. It enlisted the help of traitor humans and fabricated automata to defend and fight against free humans.
When I asked for details about the battles, my dad steered my imagination into things I’d seen in video games. I pictured armored men, impossible physics, and weapons bigger than the people carrying them, blasting enemies into chunky red pieces. It was perfect.
Perfect until the man and the woman were captured. When a battle went wrong and dozens of resistance members were murdered, the man and the woman remained as the last few survivors of their unit. They were sentenced away to the world within the machine’s fabricated cyberspace. They would never escape.
Love Labours On, Heroin, segue injection
I was a tiny ball of distress by that point. I wanted to bounce on the mattress and demand my father to tell me the man made it out okay, that he wasn’t really imprisoned, that this was all part of his plan! But I couldn’t move. I was shaking but waiting for more. The man was now plugged into a fake world where there was no war, no starving children born in the wasteland, no ruins of futuristic cities that had withered away in the last great conflict of humanity. Earth was at peace and the population was thriving within a paradise. The woman was there with him, her smiling face free of the scars and bruises that had marred her in the bleak, real world. He had no reason to question it all. This was the world he’d been fighting for, and now, he could truly live in it.
There’s a heartbeat in the music, followed by solemn words sang by a tranquil voice. The pulse is calm. Then the beating heart is replaced by the beating of drums, and the tempo increases. The voice grows louder, determined.
He could not be fooled. He knew his world was in ruins, and he would not abandon it.
Resistance members were planning to free him and the woman, but they wouldn’t get anywhere unless he initiated an attack from inside. It meant driving his body to a breaking point, somehow, in his sleep, turning the very wires that enslaved him into his weapons. He fried his nervous system, severing his connections to the virtual world, breaking free and tearing down the facility with him. He began to wake up. When the resistance members got there, they finished the job, freeing everyone from the outside. My hero was at death’s door. His friends gathered around him and put him back to sleep to operate on him.
Shangrila
This was a silent period, a moment in time where my hero was allowed to rest. My father said as the operation was going on, the man was granted a temporary sleep. He dreamt of a lifetime with his son and the woman, a time where the battles had come and gone, and a home with warm colors and peace. These thoughts came to him with the underlying knowledge that they were hopes and wishes rather than reality. He would finish the fight later. For now, the adrenaline was wearing off. I drifted with him. It was the only time my eyelids fluttered to a close.
Concrete Kingdom, segue galaxy within, Venus
It didn’t last long. He woke up with a wounded body but the will to continue on. He learned that the last free humans were being imprisoned or killed, the resistance growing smaller each day. The artificial intelligence grew stronger. With the aid of the remaining resistance members—as well as the woman and his son—he would destroy the machine. He had failed once, but he would not fail again.
Then the Night Comes, segue electronic presence, Mother Dawn
It’s impossible to describe the final battle. My father barely spoke during this song. I was no longer picturing things detail by detail—I just felt it all, simmering underneath the surface of my imagination. I was no longer watching the man’s story, I was there. I could hear my heart pounding in my ears, my lips curling up into a grin as I realized, somehow, someway, that he was taking down the machine. He was liberating everyone.
The world awoke as the battle came to an end. Both the man and his son were narrating this part. I could see colonies of people descending from facilities to witness a glowing orange sky. I asked my father if the man was alive. His voice echoed in the music, above the voice of the young man, distant and warm. I wanted to know if he had survived. My father had no answer. He said it didn’t matter, that the man’s journey was over. He said I mustn’t worry whether or not he had died because that did not lessen the greatness of his bravery and sacrifice, nor did it undo all that he had accomplished.
It was not uncommon for me to hate stories where heroes died in the end. Thick tears would roll down my cheeks, and I’d refuse to speak to my dad for not warning me such injustice was about to happen. But I did not feel that way about this ending. It truly didn’t matter if my hero had died. He had saved humanity.
Closing Manifesto
The machine was withering away, trying to hold on. It screamed—an action that should have only been capable from one of flesh and blood—then disconnected. But it had not been truly destroyed. It didn’t seem possible to kill something as complex as a mind without a mortal body.
But for now, it was gone, and humanity was safe.

Aftermath
My father had kept his eyes closed until the end. I had stared at the ceiling, a statue of a little girl whose mind was overloaded with the neon battlefields of humanity rising against a machine and the grey wasteland of Earth warmed up by a new dawn. I couldn’t move because every ounce of energy I held within me had been utilized to bring color to the story, to have the battles, the riots, the conversations, the embraces, everything come to life. I’d stared at the grey ceiling as if it had all been projected in front of me.
Then my mother poked her head in and said breakfast was getting cold. The story lingered with me, but I didn’t ask questions. I think I just assumed my dad didn’t know what happened next—he had told me only what had been narrated by the music.
My father left to the United States a year or two later, sent away by the computer company he worked for. In his goodbye to me, he handed me books, toys, and albums he wanted me to keep safe till he returned. Cyberpunk was amongst them. On days that I missed him the most, I’d put on the CD and lay down on the floor, staring at the grey ceiling with my hands against my stomach. I’d become a statue again, wide awake, barely blinking, the images pouring back to me.
After two years of being apart—connected only through the words exchanged in the early AOL chat and long distance phone calls—my mother saved up enough money to fly us to America and see my father. Her plan had been to spend the holidays together and then return as a family to our country. My little brother and I were allowed one backpack each, and my mother only took with her two suitcases. I don’t know why I packed away Cyberpunk when we were going to return for it and I barely had enough room for my toys and clothing as it was, but I shoved it into my bag and took it with me to Miami. After two weeks of being in the new country, my parents decided the future was bright in America even if the present was paved with hardships and struggles. So we stayed, never to return to our old home.
I didn’t speak and write English fluently till I was around eleven. On a whim, when I was twelve, I put Cyberpunk on for the first time in years to relieve the memories. It was going to be perfect. I could finally understand it all, hearing details my father might have missed in his translation.
But of course the story was not there. There was a structure to the album, little transitions that tied some songs together, but it was not the well fabricated narrative my father had presented to me. My hero was missing. I tried to read about it on the internet, wondering if I just wasn’t listening closely enough. The most I found out was that, enamored by a new science fiction genre and the rapidly changing technology of the world, Billy Idol had composed music that departed from his traditional style and then gone above and beyond in promoting it. He used his personal e-mail and early online communities to advertise it—something no other major musician had done at the time. Then it was released. It crashed and burned. Critical reviews that dubbed it forgettable were the highlight of its short career. Only his most loyal defenders purchased it. It took him thirteen years to bring his career back with another studio album.
I couldn’t help but see that Billy Idol’s fascination of cyberpunk science-fiction mirrored my father’s admiration for the genre and culture. I knew his admiration had begun early on in his life. While he was a fan of sci-fi as a child, at eighteen he enrolled into university and was granted the chance to use a computer for the first time in his life. His love for mathematics and the sciences (particularly physics) sprouted a love for technology. While attending university, he learned computer programming. Though both my parents were great students with promising futures, a lack of money and complicated personal lives prevented them from earning their degrees. Nonetheless, even if he doesn’t have a shiny piece of paper to prove it, my father continued to educate himself on the subject and seems to learn new things about programming and computers to this day.
Maybe Billy Idol hopes he’d never composed Cyberpunk, but I’m not exaggerating when I claim it means everything to me because of my father’s tale. I don’t think I ever understood the structure of storytelling or the impact it could have on people until that moment. My dad may barely pass 5’8 when he bothers to stand up straight and hasn’t even hit the age of forty as of this writing, but he is as much of a wise giant to me now as he was when I was a child. I still remember the many times he sat with me for hours, improvising characters and their adventures, while oftentimes even encouraging me to add in details or come up with new narratives on my own.
When I spoke to my father about it at the age of eleven, he said he remembered listening to the album with me and improvising a narrative, but he had no recollection of the actual contents. When I was twelve, I decided he needed to be reminded of it somehow, to know why it lingered in my memories after all those years. I set out to write it as my first sci-fi novel. I spent the next two years planning and crafting it, but I couldn’t recapture it completely. My writing made it too plain and vague. There was not enough world-building and the emotion was not the same. I steered that novel to another direction, using a slightly different plot and shifting the focus to the post-apocalyptic aspects rather than the cyberpunk elements. I didn’t try again after that.
           Oftentimes it feels like the story he told me can only exist in fragments inside my head. I cannot properly retell it with the impact it carries to me. It’s like the only way to free it at its purest form is to dig around my brain and watch the vivid imagination of a six year old girl, to listen to the music without truly understanding the language. It makes me sad that no one will ever see it the way I got to experience it. But I will never forget my father’s story of the nameless man and his battle against the machine. I’ll always be thankful that he chose to imagine such a tale just to entertain his daughter while waiting for breakfast one mundane Saturday morning.

~*~*~*~*~
Note, I really hated trying to come up with a title for this. Since I saw I mentioned circuits in one of the descriptions, I figured I'd use the title for my attempted short story/possible future science fiction novel, Circuits and Veins. Problem was I didn't have any references to veins and had a reference to the nervous system--and I realized then that nerves are better metaphorically compared to circuits. So I switched. But I like how Circuits and Veins sound when compared to Circuits and Nerves >.> There's just something off about that one :P
~Becky

P.S: I didn't add it to the top, but I listened to a bunch of Queen, Soda Stereo, and Gustavo Cerati albums while writing the first and last sections.
"Science and science fiction have done a kind of dance over the last century... The scientists make a finding. It inspires science fiction writers to write about it, and a host of young people read the science fiction and are excited, and inspired to become scientists...which they do, which then feeds again into another generation of science fiction and science..."
- Carl Sagan, in his message to future explorers of Mars.