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I read this book in particular for a writing project I'm doing. I've read one book on astrology, one on personality psychology, and this one. I still have -- wait for it -- NINE more books to read for research before I even start the writing project I have in mind. It's a fanfic, which I contend can be just as cool and meaningful as regular fiction books. I will keep you updated on which books I read for the fanfic I'm researching. See the "fem Naruto story" tag at the bottom.

Anyway, I'm reviewing this book on yokai. It's called "The Book of Yokai: Mysterious Creatures of Japanese Folklore" by Michael Dylan Foster. I read all 244 pages in less than two weeks. It's a really great read. I recommend it.

What is a yokai?

It's a Japanese demon of sorts -- more broadly, a Japanese mythical creature that can perform dark acts. I began my fascination with Japan through watching manga and anime as a kid. From there, I branched off into learning more about the culture behind these fictions I loved so much -- I read up on Japan and took on several Japanese pen pals at one point or another, read and watched blogs and vlogs on Japanese travel, tried cooking Japanese meals, researched various aspects of ancient Japanese culture, read interviews of famous Japanese artists, watched Japanese films and sampled Japanese music. I know at least something of typical Japanese religions and philosophies. I plan on starting Japanese language classes this summer. The more I learn about Japan, the more I love.

Especially given my love of fantasy in Japanese anime, it only made sense for me to buy a book on yokai.

It was a fascinating read. A lot of elements from modern Japanese stories that I had always thought were random or made up -- it turns out? They were actually deliberately referencing ancient Japanese folklore! And I've probably only just scratched the surface. Isn't that great?

Even for people who are skeptical of why ancient Japanese folklore is important should read this book, however. Foster really gets at the importance behind yokai -- their various meanings, their cultural relevance (both ancient and modern, national and international), and how they help us see the world differently. He talks about yokai history and philosophical categorization, and only then does he actually go on to discuss the yokai themselves. He gives you good background reading before diving into the various yokai there are. I really liked that part of the book.

I think this would be a good textbook for a class on Japanese culture. That was one thing that really struck me as I was reading. And it was written in 2012, so it's pretty recent. He references a lot of Japanese scholars and has a native Japanese artist render his yokai drawings, has lived and studied in Japan for a time, yet is Western himself and so can explain Japanese culture to us in a way we would understand it.

That ends the "personality research" section of my writing project. I know how this female Naruto is going to be and how being (spoiler alert) part kitsune fox demon would affect her. Now comes the "experiences research" section. More fun times ahead!


Jan. 2nd, 2016 12:38 pm
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I broke up with Cowboy Bebop Dude today. It was really for a multitude of reasons:

- I didn't really trust him. I never felt like I could trust him with any personal details of my life. I don't know why, it's not like that with all guys, but I just never felt like I could trust this guy in particular.

- I never felt supported by him. I would tell him about bad things that were going on in my life, and he never really supported me, or even said anything against me -- he never really said anything.

- He was pushy. In a nice, subtle way, but still pushy. I told him I was not comfortable being physically intimate with him yet, but he would do things like move closer to me on dates, ask me for a time-frame for when we could be physically intimate, and invite me over to his place for the night after dinner dates.

- He wasn't big on family. This was a down side for me, because I'm HUGE on family, and unless your family mistreats you (which his didn't) I'm not impressed if you don't seem to enjoy spending time with them.

- He sometimes struck me as a bit whiny and dramatic. I canceled plans with him once during finals week, and he gave me a phone call -- right after he knew I'd had a huge, stressful final -- complaining in kind of a whiny voice that I never had any time for him. Sorry, dude, school comes first.

- And that brings me to my last reason: I might just be too damn busy with school to successfully carry on a relationship. At the very least, I need someone who understands that school comes first, like me. Maybe I'm just not ready for a serious relationship yet? Because this one very quickly began to feel like a burden on my time and energies.

Basically, he was attractive -- in an aesthetic sort of way, at least -- but problematic. Whereas my last boyfriend was blissful but physically unattractive.

My best friend and my sister didn't like him, either. My friend (the married one) gave the assessment that he seemed "clingy and immature, and only cares about being physically intimate." Not the first time I've attracted a clingy guy, funny enough.

My sister also never liked him, and she has good instincts. She thinks that might be why he was a boy in the feminist club in the first place -- and why he talks about how important women’s studies classes are to him so much -- to get sex. Well he won’t be getting any from me!

I waited until the holidays were over -- breaking up with someone over the holidays is a shitty thing to do -- and then I called him over the phone (he gets this really sad, pathetic face on when he gets upset, and I thought if I had to look at it I might not be able to go through with the breakup) and said this:

"I’ve realized something. I’ve been telling you that I’m not comfortable being physically intimate with someone I don’t know well, and I’ve also been too busy to have much time to get to know you better, and I’ve realized that’s not fair. That’s not fair to you. Or to me. We both deserve a better relationship than that. But I don’t have anything better I can offer at this time. I think the time is just not right for me to be in a relationship right now. I also think we seem to be looking for somewhat different things in a relationship. I’ve tried to tell you what I need, but I think our pacing in a relationship just seems too different for it to really work out. It’s not that I don’t like you, or aren’t attracted to you, or anything like that. It’s just that I feel this relationship isn’t healthy for either of us. So I’m breaking up with you.

"And I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be rude, but there’s really no negotiating on this. I’ve made up my mind."

I’ll give him this one, he took it better than I anticipated. He said, “I don’t agree that we should break up, but it sounds like you’ve made up your mind, so.” And then it got really awkward. We hung up soon after.

Honestly, I just feel so relieved. This huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. It's a good start to the year, not a bad one. Breakups have never really bothered me. I'm not a big cryer. I have a pretty huge "life goes on" attitude when it comes to losing people -- through death or through separation. It takes a really close person being torn from my life for me to get really emotional about it. I guess it helps that I'm usually the dumper -- not the dumpee. I've been called a heartbreaker -- jokingly, but still. I guess you could say I don't handle bullshit well and I have pretty high standards.

My Mom put it the best: "You, more than anyone else I have ever met, need to find an intellectual equal. Like Jane and Mr Rochester. And finding Mr Rochester is going to be hard."

In any case, what's done is done. We all have to just keep going and not look back, don't we? I'll quote Reba McEntire: "I'm pretty sure it's not the end of the world tonight."
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I have dedicated myself to writing one poem each day, on everything from political opinions to things going on in my life to media I enjoy. So far, my typical volume is two or three per day. Most of them are free-form, though I do have the occasional rhyme-and-meter poems and haikus.

Writing poetry every day is so much easier than I expected it to be. I always go back and edit later, and this, also, is going amazingly smoothly. It's so relaxing and it makes me feel so accomplished.

Once I have a big enough collection of poems, I may try to send them off to different magazines and see how they are received. They're very vulnerable poems, so the idea makes me a little nervous -- poetry for me is a lesson in vulnerability.

Me and my sister are also thinking about writing songs together once we get better at singing and the guitar. (I'm teaching her music based off my own years of experience taking lessons -- and I'm practicing basic technique in the process.) We already have eight or nine song ideas written down. Every time we come up with a mutual idea or experience, I jot it down for future reference. One thing being a writer teaches you is to learn when to recognize an idea when it comes to you.

Our future songs will have a particular slant, because I know that's important in marketing and selling your work. You've got to have a sound. If there's anything I've learned from studying other musicians, it's that. Our sound so far is encapsulated by what I call the three Fs: Fearless, Feminist, and Funny.

So much creativity going on. Fun times!
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Merry Christmas everyone!

Here's a list of the gifts I gave to other people:

- My boyfriend got a Cowboy Bebop coffee mug

- My best friend got Hunger Games jewelry and pins, and a 25-dollar Amazon gift card for her birthday

- Her husband got a basket of Russian and Ukrainian chocolates

- My mother, when she comes up for New Years, will get a winter vest and a stuffed elephant

- My father, when he comes up for New Years, will get some new gadgets for his iPhone and a funny little vampire bat Minion figurine

- My sister got a video game T shirt (she likes Comic Sans from Undertale)

And here's a list of the gifts I got from other people:

- Shitloads of new music (Adele’s “25”, Cage the Elephant’s “Tell Me I’m Pretty”, Mindless Self Indulgence’s “Pink” -- plus 65 more currently unused dollars in iTunes gift cards)

- a giant bottle of hazelnut syrup to put in my coffee

- a Harry Potter themed Hot Topic gift card (which I used to buy a new “I Solemnly Swear That I Am Up to No Good” Marauder’s Map Harry Potter backpack, and a big brown coffee mug that says “Coffee Makes Me Poop”)

- new clothes

- 150 dollars for clothes shopping

- 2 books: The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters, This Raging Light by Estelle Laure

- a black MCR (My Chemical Romance) sweater

- lots of Christmas cards from my Mom’s side of the family

On Christmas Eve, I Skype called my boyfriend, who was off visiting family in the Bay Area. He said we should get together and go out to dinner after he gets back -- and I agreed that sounds great, and said we could even go to a movie -- and then he said, "And maybe after the date we could go back to my place, and -- I mean, I've seen your place but you've never seen mine --"

We all know what "let's go back to my place after our date" means.

"Yes, I have seen your place," I said. "I saw it once when we went inside to get helmets and go out on your scooter."

"Yeah, but not for very long," he said hopefully. "Just -- can't we --?" He saw my face. "Okay, never mind," he muttered.

I was in a good mood, so I said, "Let's just go on the date, wait, and see how we do."

It's been a little over a month and he already wants me hanging out and spending the night at his place? This guy is so pushy. And he's so nice while he's doing it, but he's still so pushy. It's weird, that he considers himself a feminist.

Anyway, after that my sister and I got a giant pizza from the local deli and had pie with hot cocoa. I had warm milk. We turned off all the lights and watched A Christmas Carol with George C Scott, enjoying the lights and ornaments shining on our tiny little single apartment-sized Christmas tree.

We stayed up till midnight, just so we could stay up until Christmas hit.

Then on Christmas Day, we slept in and had a pajama day. Immediately upon waking, I texted my parents, best friend, and boyfriend a Merry Christmas.

My sister and I exchanged gifts, sitting around the tree and ripping off the wrapping paper and finding what we had gotten each other underneath. We were both so happy with our gifts. We hugged and said Merry Christmas. We joked that my wrapping job looked like a blind T Rex had done it.

Later, we're going to make a fancy dinner together -- home-made burgers, starting from scratch with a pound of ground beef, with salts and spices and portobello mushrooms. Yum!

What are you doing with your family and friends for Christmas? In any case, I hope you have a very Merry Christmas. May your cup always be full and your presents always be satisfying!

With Love,

Grimrose Eilwynn

In the spirit of the holiday season, here's a TED talk on the connection between happiness and gratefulness:
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
So I was in a shitty mood. I'd just finished with all the stress of finals, which isn't good for my disorder; I was having relationship frustrations; I was menstruating and moody (my meds stop working on my period); I wasn't happy with any of my writing projects.

And then me and my sister decided to watch Begin Again with Kiera Knightley and Mark Ruffalo to cheer ourselves up, and we got to talking about music.

And we just randomly decided: we have two guitars. We're going to learn music together.

See, I took guitar lessons for about a year during my Ultimate Low Period talked about in my very first post. (See the top of my memories list.) It was a way to vent, pass time, not stare at the walls and feel depressed. But my teacher kind of sucked. He was obviously only in it because he couldn't make any money in a band. That's not to say he was a bad guitar player, it's just to say he wasn't a very good teacher. And I had no one to practice with, and I felt like I was learning little, and it was very frustrating. Guitar fell by the wayside.

But my sister revealed tonight that she's always wanted to learn music, so I gave her one of my two guitars. I taught her how to tune up, and it was just so rewarding, doing music back and forth with someone. The buzz when you get it all just right!

We have everything all set up. I have an online tuner and guitar chord-book bookmarked, as well as books I've bought on the guitar. I even have a capo, and several different kinds of picks. I'm all set to go because I was doing this a year and a half ago. We will practice guitar, and diaphragmatic breathing for singing (I took choir for a few years) until summer hits, and then we will take lessons -- with a GOOD teacher -- over the summer. Even if we have to get jobs to pay for them.

I'm hoping some of my sister's frankly incredible work ethic will rub off on me. I'm also hoping being in a partnership will help with songwriting, which we've already discussed as a possibility.

You never know. Maybe nothing will come of it, and it'll just be a fun thing we do together as a hobby. But you never know where life will take you, and I would love to be in a band. Even one that never went anywhere -- although of course going somewhere would be even better. I would be willing to put the time in, I think, not only because I would have something to fall back on (college), but because I genuinely love music. I do. I love music like I love breathing, or water.

And I don't know. I just feel so much BETTER. I'm riding this wave of enthusiasm. I've always loved music in this really intense and incredible way, and to be able to play it with someone else who I know also loves music -- that would just be the most incredible thing for me.

Maybe the enthusiasm will fade in the morning. But maybe it won't. Maybe all our plans to learn every chord in the online chord-book will actually come to something, and we'll start practicing together tomorrow. Maybe this is just the beginning of something great.

Music has always been my solace. Perhaps playing music can also be my solace. It seems I always turn back to playing music when I'm feeling really down.
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Yesterday, Dad handed my sister something. "These have been in the safe for a couple of months," he said. "Should we get rid of them?" My sister looked at it, stared... and then slow disbelief came over her face.

"These are tickets to an Imagine Dragons concert," she said softly.

We looked wildly around at our parents. They were smiling. Surprise! We were going to an Imagine Dragons concert that very night! Me and my sister started freaking out.

When we got to the arena, tons of semi trucks and tour buses were parked outside. This was going to be a big to-do -- the amount of equipment they must have brought is amazing. There were long lines to get into the arena, and local radio stations had set up tents outside the doors.

I bought an Imagine Dragons tote bag as a souvenir, and a hot dog and some water at the concession stand. The water was so I could take my meds, according to my alarm, at nine o'clock. I was not allowed to keep the cap for the water bottle, as a rather strange request from the band.

We sat down, and at 7:30, all suddenly went dark. The screaming immediately began. And then Halsey came out on stage, with flashing lights accompanying all of her singing. She wasn't bad. She had lots of positive messages accompanying her singing -- something about a generation born of diversity that isn't afraid of change, and something else about how no one owns you but yourself.

When Halsey was finished, the lights came back on as equipment was moved around on the stage. I had the time to ponder just how many different kinds of people were out to see Imagine Dragons. I spied kids, preteens, teenagers, young adults, and older adults, all coming together.

Then Metric came out. Metric positively made me deaf. Another girl was the lead singer, which I thought was interesting. More positive messages about staying true to yourself, and more flashing lights.

There was another, longer pause, and then at 9:30 Imagine Dragons came out. And they. Were fucking. INCREDIBLE. Mom and I every so often looked over and grinned incredulously at each other throughout the absolutely insane performance. They pulled out all the stops: They made their silhouettes appear behind a screen before the screen fell to reveal them, just as Linkin Park had at Projekt Revolution. There were lights, smoke machines, lasers, and leaf colored confetti that fell from the ceiling when they were singing about fall leaves.

One moment was kind of funny. The lead singer was introducing the bass player, who was dressed all in white. "He was his high school class president, just in case you were wondering," he joked. "He also took a chemistry scholarship and used it to go to music school. And now look at him. What a disappointment."

People waved their cell phones around, stood, sang along to the music, clapped, screamed, waved, and danced around. I was up on my feet for most of their set, dancing and screaming and waving my arms around. The lead singer was a great showman -- he was all over the place, jumping around, getting the audience involved. He teared up a few times when people kept cheering in the middle of his song -- he said the band had come a long way in four short years, and he made sure to thank everybody for coming out tonight. He also said he'd struggled for years with depression, which I thought was interesting.

All in all, it was an incredible night. I'm so glad we went. We didn't get back home till midnight.

Fun Times

Jul. 12th, 2015 03:47 pm
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So far, my most important blog posts have all been fairly depressing. So this time, I'm going to reflect on fun memories and things I enjoy doing.

I've indulged in many hobbies throughout my lifetime. Musically, I've taken guitar and swing dancing lessons, and sung in several choirs. (My vocal range is closest to the range of Hayley from Paramore and Florence from Florence + The Machine. I've sung both soprano and alto.) I've also engaged in a multitude of sports: yoga, pilates, ballet, tap dance, horseback riding, ice skating, swimming, rollerblading, and karate. I like to hop from activity to activity, getting a little bit of everything. Even now that I'm not involved in any sports, I enjoy taking invigorating walks.

In high school, I spent a year in NJROTC. That's right, I once considered a career in the military. I found the other members of my squad to be far too focused on winning competitions and far less focused on comradeship, so that didn't last long.

(My commanding officer was my favorite. Once, during our mile runs, I threw up and passed out. He backed away from me quickly, commanded me to throw up far away from him, and then didn't help me back to the classroom -- he waited until I'd woken back up and could walk myself. Another time, a mock torture interrogation was given. The interrogator kept asking the commanding officer to stand up. Said commanding officer hid in the back, because he considered his life much more important than ours'.)

I spent one summer taking acting classes, and indulged in plenty of creative writing classes even before college. I took a photography class once. I was for a while as a kid involved in a Christian youth group. In middle school, I was in the honors society.

I've been to several concerts.

My first concert was a Hilary Duff concert, all the way back when I was a little girl. (I loved the Disney show Lizzie McGuire, and admired Hilary Duff for being a strong, human, three-dimensional girl without feeling the need to act like a bitch all the time. She was sweet and wholesome, but not weak or docile. Or at least, that's how she always came across to me. I really respected that. I admire Taylor Swift for the same reason.)

My aunt took me. Everyone else was just standing still in the dark, listening to the music. (They were mostly adults, there on the behest of their young daughters.) I couldn't understand that at all! How could people stay still when they listened to music? I was dancing and jumping around like crazy, having the time of my life!

My next concert was a rock festival in high school. I had a best friend in high school; she was very into dyed hair, goth fashion, morbid humor, and rock music. She invited me and we went to see the very first iteration of the Projekt Revolution festival. I got to see My Chemical Romance, Linkin Park, and Mindless Self Indulgence all in one day.

Certain memories stick out. At the Mindless Self Indulgence show, which was on the small stage during the heat of the day, Jimmy jumped up on top of one of the speakers while singing. It began swaying precariously and some roadie had to run out in a panic and hold it in place. Jimmy had tall, huge hair I could see from all the way at the back of the audience, and he wore a long, shiny coat that had "As Seen On TV" on the back of it. Lyndsey was wearing noticeable, skintight hot pink pants, and she had girl thighs, which meant she was a girl playing at a rock concert, and that was SO COOL.

After MSI, we bought Projekt Revolution T shirts and bags, and made our way to the big stage where all the major bands were playing that night. I still remember how hilariously people were dressed -- dark clothes and eye makeup. It was all so cliche. (People who dress to fit a certain style make me giggle inside. They look funny.)

That night, we sat away from the main part of the show, on a grassy hill above the stadium. We lay back in the grass and could see the stars as the music played. On one side of us was a group of teens smoking pot -- a security guard kept coming up to them and scolding them; countless times, they would move to go away, and then when she left they just sat right back down and started smoking pot again. On our other side was a couple making out on a blanket.

At one point, we looked around and they'd disappeared. My friend and I stared at each other. "Oh my God -- they exploded from lack of oxygen!" We both started laughing hysterically.

Taking Back Sunday was godawful, but for the most part the shows on the big stage were really good. My Chemical Romance stood out as the best of the night, a bunch of black-garbed skeletons jumping around on the faraway stage. At one point, a girl threw a pair of underwear at Gerard on the stage. He picked it up to show the audience. "Huh huh -- cool," he said, thus proving himself to be every man playing at a rock concert ever.

Linkin Park were probably the best showmen. They started out behind a screen, the flashing lights turning them into ghostly silhouettes -- the screen slowly raised to reveal them standing there. They played videos full of nature footage on the stage behind them as they did their set. They thanked their fans for sticking with them, because they'd just changed their entire sound recently.

("BOO!" my friend called as they spoke. She hated their new sound.)

All in all, it was a pretty incredible day.

I also saw MSI separately once at the House of Blues. I stood on the ground floor in the back, shadowed, away from the crowds, wearing a long black coat, watching underage teens grab bottles of beer from off to the side and no one stop them. (One pair of teens had come from hours away just to hear MSI in concert.)

One man dressed like Jimmy was so high, he kept stumbling to the back of the audience and passing out. Then he'd just get right back up and throw himself into the fold to dance again. A thirty-year-old man once asked my high school aged friend to dance. (She said no -- over and over again as he kept asking, pretending not to hear her.)

MSI's predecessors were funny -- "I'm gonna throw up all over this keyboard and it's gonna be really fuckin' funny," said one musician with long white hair, grinning as he chugged water.

Jimmy was particularly outrageous that night. He took a soiled pair of underwear thrown at him onstage, and tied it around his head like a bandana. He also invited a girl in a Tigger costume to come up on stage and dance with him. ("This is going all over YouTube! I'm really gonna get a job at Kinko's -- yeah, like a fuckin' tigger!" Jimmy shouted gleefully.) At the end, he led everyone in a mock prayer for all the drunk and high people not to get pulled over tonight.

I've also been to San Diego Comic Con twice. Both times were with my sister and an aunt and uncle, though for one of the cons I met my friends there and went off to spend most of the day with them. Comic Con is incredibly crowded -- I once was physically carried away by a mob -- and has incredibly long lines -- one line once had so many twists and turns it made me nauseous; we got to the front only to be turned away because the auditorium was already at full capacity. But the excitement in the air is so palpable, the convention center so vast, that it's pretty hard not to enjoy yourself, decked out as you are with your bags and badges.

Some images stand out:

A necklace made out of clock parts. A bunch of fairy art. Countless little comic booklets. Shelves full of manga volumes. A massive LEGO statue.

I met Chandra Free there, and also Jhonen Vasquez. Jhonen signed things for a friend and for my sister. He rarely looked up from his signing, so he never actually physically saw me, and frankly he seemed pretty bored (though no one seemed to notice that but me). One teenage girl with blue pigtails asked him to sign her sandwich. He seemed rather bewildered and amused. He tried to sign the sandwich, but ended up dotting his name because it was surprisingly hard to write on wheat bread.

So don't get me wrong. I have had fun, too. An incredible amount of it, actually.


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Hopeless Dreamer

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