Only at a Convention Apr21

Only at a Convention

San Diego ComicCon, MegaCon, and DragonCon are just around the corner, a long with many other conventions spread across the country. For a weekend, geeks flock from all over for unadulterated fictional fun at these events. And while attending them, I’ve found my mindset changes. I act in ways at conventions that I wouldn’t elsewhere. It’s weird and wonderful. Here are some things you might find yourself saying when you’re at one of these fan-centered events. 1. Elsewhere: “I’m not parking in the back forty to get into the supermarket. I’ll just do my shopping somewhere else.” At a Convention: “I don’t care how far I have to park, nor how far I have to walk. I’m going to see Nathan Fillion if it’s the last thing I do!” 2. Elsewhere: “If I’m not comfortable in it, I’m not wearing it.” At a Convention: “This costume may take two hours to get on and cause me to overheat… it may be hard to walk in and wearing these coloured contacts hurt my eyes, but I look epic and that’s all that matters.” 3. Elsewhere: “I never spend more than ten minutes on my makeup, except for maybe weddings… Maybe…” At a Convention: *Spends almost three hours doing elaborate contouring and erasing eyebrows to look like L from Death Note.* 4. Elsewhere: *Passes by stranger. Says nothing.* At a Convention: “Oh my gosh! That costume is amazing! Can I take a selfie with you?” 5. Elsewhere: “I maybe take two pictures a day and they’re usually of my cat.” At a Convention: *Fills up memory card within the first two hours, frantically deletes bad photos while waiting in line to free up space for more because there’s an awesome Obi-Wan Kenobi cosplayer over there and must get 30 photos of him.* 6. Elsewhere: “I’m not waiting in this line...

When Life Begins with Fear Apr07

When Life Begins with Fear...

My comfort zone is my safety zone, and it’s my favorite place to be. I have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, in order to do something outside of it. I’m not a risk-taker. I like playing it safe. I hate the idea of gambling, because there’s such a big risk of losing. I like staying in my own little world with my laptop and the internet where my life is unexciting most of the time. It’s where I’m comfortable. When I saw Tangled for the first time in theaters, I immediately related to Rapunzel. She’s a girl with many talents and interests I share, including art and cooking. We both have long hair. Mine’s not that long, but still. And we both really like our comfort zones. Rapunzel longed to leave the tower and see the lights on her birthday. Anytime in her eighteen years, she could have left on her own to see them. Mother Gothel persuaded her to stay by telling her about all of the scary things beyond the tower, but she still had a choice. She chose to listen to fear. There are so many things I want to do in life, but often fear holds me back. There are so many things I want to do in life, but often fear holds me back. Whether it’s fear of a new job, talking to someone I’ve never met at a party, or even trying a new ride at an amusement park, it keeps me from doing things I want to do. When Flynn arrives, Rapunzel gains the courage to leave her home and see the world. At times she regrets leaving the tower, because doing so made herself vulnerable and she gets hurt. But if she hadn’t stepped out,...

The Paris of My Childhood Mar24

The Paris of My Childhood...

The live action version of Beauty and the Beast does character backstory well. One subplot concerns what happened to Belle’s mother and why she had to move to this “poor provincial town.” In this version, the Beast has a magical map that can take people to the place they truly want to go. He allows Belle to use this item to take the two of them to a windmill attic on the outskirts of Paris where Belle was born. Belle remembers this place with fondness because this is where her family was together and happy. This is the Paris of my childhood These were the borders of my life In this crumbling dusty attic Where an artist loved his wife Easy to remember, harder to move on Knowing the Paris of my childhood is gone. In this simple song, I felt Belle’s yearning for wholeness in her life, especially as she discovers the true reason why her father fled Paris and had to leave his dear wife behind. When I think of the home I grew up in before my parents’ divorce, I tend to elevate that place. I remember days in my childhood when drama between my parents and how I’m going to pay my bills weren’t at the forefront of my mind. Like Belle, I also left my home abruptly without the chance to say goodbye when my parents separated. I suppose we both needed closure. Home doesn’t necessarily mean the four walls around me. When Belle returns to the crumbling attic, devoid of life only filled with shadows of what once was, she realizes that this home she had in her head, the place she wanted to go back to for years, is no longer her home. She makes this clear...

Through the Mist: Patience and Ronja Mar20

Through the Mist: Patience and Ronja...

I want to have good friends, but sometimes I forget to show my friends the same virtues I wish they would show me. One of those is patience, specifically when a friend is going through a hard time and they start acting unlike themselves. They stop laughing at the same things, they’re more sensitive about certain subjects, and maybe they’ve even taken up harmful habits. It’s hard to be around someone who is suffering. I just want to swoop in and fix all their problems. But most of the time, those problems aren’t something I can fix. They might be dealing with an external issue, like a fight with a family member or stress at their job; or they might be facing an internal problem that only they can change. A particular instance from Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter, a new animated series co-produced by Studio Ghibli, illustrates similar frustrations with friends. If I respond with patience, maybe I can help a friend avoid getting caught in the mist. When Ronja, the child of a bandit chief, and her friend Birk, the son of a rival clan chief, traveled through the forest one fall day, mist clouded the way. Mist children danced within the fog, tempting unsuspecting travelers with their siren song to become forever entrapped in the fog. Ronja fell under this spell and started to follow the mist children. Birk tried to stop her, but she fought him. Instead of letting her go because of her harsh protests, he held on and finally embraced her to hold her in place. Ronja scratched and bit him, but he still held her through the pain. Later when she snapped out of this trance, she didn’t remember what happened and asked him where his injuries came...

I May Fall: RWBY and Isolation Mar06

I May Fall: RWBY and Isolation...

At times I fall apart. Sometimes I feel so beat down by life I just want to curl up in a ball and cry “a million tears.” Just like the lyrics from the RWBY soundtrack (“I May Fall,” sung by Casey Lee Williams), the “skies rain blood”, “the moon is gone,” and the “sun won’t rise.” Creatures of darkness seem to triumph in my life, taking the form of doubt, worry, and fear; my shields are shattered in the fight against them. Sometimes they all seem to beat me down and I “succumb to fear.” I feel like “help won’t arrive” to mend a problem that seems unfixable. Ruby, Yang, Blake, and Weiss reach many low points during their adventures. When Beacon Academy is destroyed, instead of leaning on each other, the girls separate. Yang loses her arm, Weiss’s father forces her to return to a toxic family life, Blake runs back to her home, and Ruby travels with another team, feeling shunned by her sister. Team RWBY has spent three seasons nigh inseparable, doing everything together. They’d survived many rough times, but this one finally broke the camel’s back. Instead of coming together, team RWBY races apart. When we lose our faith and forsake our friends, the song lyrics say. Funny how those two actions can go hand in hand. Instead of coming together, team RWBY races apart. Yang suffers from depression because of the loss of her arm. She feels so down that she even rejects a very expensive replacement her father found for her. Blake rejects help from Sun as he tries to be there for her as she adjusts to being with her family again and feeling ashamed about the loss of Beacon. I know I’ve reached low points where...

Corruption Everywhere but Within Feb22

Corruption Everywhere but Within...

“He saw corruption everywhere, but within,” sings Clopin as he introduces Claude Frollo in Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. This line particularly stands out to me because Frollo is a villain who believes he’s right in every way. He believes his treatment of Quasimodo is just, he believes the gypsies should be dealt with revilement, and he believes he must shepherd others in his professed righteousness. He sings: You know I am a righteous man Of my virtue I am justly proud You know I’m so much purer than The common, vulgar, weak, licentious crowd. Since Frollo gives to the poor, takes in a scorned and ugly “monster,” pursues injustice, prays, and attends mass, he believes he’s doing good. He thinks God and the saints should be pleased with him, because he’s checked all the boxes. But he fails to notice all the virtues he’s neglecting—mercy, compassion, and love, for starters. Claude Frollo is abusive, cruel, and above all arrogant. In trying to become a better person, there’s always the danger of pride. Pursuing virtue is a noble endeavor; I believe kindness, selflessness, charity, patience, love, and honesty should be encouraged. But I know I must keep in mind the danger of being so caught up in the right that I stop recognizing when I’m wrong. Many people in the film such as Esmeralda, Phoebus, and the Archdeacon recognize Frollo’s wrong actions and they even call him out on it. However, whenever Frollo is confronted, he gives excuses and tries to justify himself. Archdeacon: See there the innocent blood you have spilt on the steps of Notre Dame. Frollo: I am guiltless. She ran. I pursued. Archdeacon: Now you would add this child’s blood to your guilt on the steps of Notre Dame....

I Want it to be Over: Suffering and A Monster Calls Feb03

I Want it to be Over: Suffering and A Monster Calls...

Suffering makes me so tired; lugging physical and emotional burdens is draining. It makes happiness hard to feel and strains relationships. It makes me feel heavy, even on days when I’m not distracted by work or projects. Or perhaps especially on those days. “Pain is the gift that nobody wants.” That’s what Philip Yancey writes in his book, Where is God When it Hurts? He’s talking about the fact that pain keeps us safe; it warns us not to keep our hand in a fire and tells us when there’s something wrong with our minds or bodies. But it’s hard to see it as a gift when that pain becomes unbearable. Conor O’Malley is a twelve-year-old boy who watches his mother’s life drain out of her due to cancer. For over a year, he’s witnessed a vibrant, hopeful woman wither into an emaciated, fragile shadow of her old self. Anger and fear consume him, and that comes out in how he interacts at school and with family. It is human for us to want suffering to end, even at the expense of others. Conor’s negative emotions also manifest in a reoccurring nightmare. In it, he sees his mother falling off a cliff. He races to grab her hand and catches it before she plummets into an abyss. For a long time he grips her wrist with all of his might. She yells his name and for him not to let go. But every night he lets her fingers slip out of his, and she falls into a pit of darkness. He claims he could have held on longer, but lets go instead. Why would he give up? Why would he let go? Why wouldn’t he fight for her? When a great monster comes walking,...

Lonely Like Naruto Jan27

Lonely Like Naruto

Feeling alone in a crowd is the worst. At events, parties, or even just walking through a mall, I’ve watched people laughing with their friends and wished mine were there with me (my two best friends live hundreds of miles away and I only see them twice a year). I’ve watched a daughter holding hands with her father, and wished my father had behaved that way with me. I’ve seen families play together at the park and wished I was the daughter with the grin on her face, looking up at two parents who are still together. Many people believe that loneliness means you don’t get out of the house much or you’re craving a romantic relationship, but the sort of cure for loneliness I’ve wanted in my heart is simple, innocent companionship. This is a desire that Naruto understands. Naruto grew up surrounded by people, but not by friends. He became an orphan within the first hour of his birth. He longingly watched families happy together. He wished for friends, but the kids around him neglected him. He was shunned for a past he had no knowledge of. They treated him as a parasite. In retaliation, Naruto began acting out to make people stop ignoring him. He played juvenile pranks and became the outspoken class clown. This gained him attention, but it didn’t gain him what he truly wanted: friendship. “The pain of being alone is completely out of this world, isn’t it? I don’t know why, but I understand your feelings so much, it actually hurts.”  —Naruto Uzumaki I didn’t act out for attention as a child, but I wanted friends. I had a few in middle school and high school, but after we moved I lost most of them. When distance...

A Quiet Suffering Jan23

A Quiet Suffering

Happiness is more attractive than sadness. This was an idea instilled into me from a young age. No one should know my problems, so I should hide them behind a smile and dodge answers when someone asks how I am. Growing up, I tried my best to keep up appearances. When my friends were on the way over and my dad had just been verbally abusive, I had to mask my feelings. If a friend called on the phone, I tried to cover the fact that my dad was bullying my sister in the background by moving to a different room. On the way to church, I had to listen to my parents scream at each other, then dry my tears and sing in worship and read Bible verses like it never happened. But it did happen, again and again and again, and it hurt so deeply. Pretending everything okay was destroying me. No one should know my problems, so I should hide them behind a smile and dodge answers when someone asks how I am. Lady Bishamonten is a very tenderhearted god of fortune in the anime Noragami. She has taken in more regalia (former wandering spirits now bonded to a god) than any other god, giving them a home safe from phantoms. When a regalia sins or feels negative emotions, it affects their god, therefore one of Bishamonten’s spirits, Kazuma, urges his fellow regalia to hide any bad feelings they have for one another. The regalia disguise their fears, sadness, and worries behind smiles. But instead of creating an area of peace, this incites even more discord as they tried harder and harder to cover up how they feel. Eventually, these bottle feelings poison Lady Bishamonten. Ironically, their attempts to stop a...

Her or the World

Many people joke about the end of the world, but the concept of an apocalypse frightens me. I shudder at the thought of humanity falling into depravity. I cringe at a devastating loss of cities, nations, and people. I feel empathetic towards the pain humanity will experience. The human race is a confounding, yet beautiful thing, which is why the ending of the Last of Us made me stop and think. Joel witnesses an apocalypse firsthand. As a disease that turns humans into fungal monsters plunges the world into ruin, his daughter, Sarah, dies in his arms, and humanity degrades. He becomes bitter towards humankind until he meets a girl named Ellie, who is about the same age as Sarah when she died. A woman hires Joel to deliver Ellie to a group called the Fireflies. Over the course of their journey battling infected humans, cannibals, and murderers, he begins to see Ellie as his own daughter. If we force someone else to give up her life to save ourselves, are we worth saving? When Joel and Ellie finally reach their destination, Joel discovers that to acquire a cure for the disease that plagues the world, Ellie must die. After hearing this news, he breaks Ellie out of the operating room and escapes, but not before killing all of the Fireflies to make sure they can never come after them. When Ellie wakes up, he lies to her; he tells her the cure wouldn’t have worked. Later, she asks him to look her in the eyes and tell her the truth. He swears that it was the truth, and she accepts that. The game ends there. This finale took me aback. I was appalled at Joel’s actions. He left humanity to die? That felt...

Fear: The Demogorgon Dec02

Fear: The Demogorgon

Fear prevents us from letting go of something that makes us bitter. Fear of losing someone else or of being inadequate makes us jealous. Fear is something that threatens to tear apart the friendship of four middle school boys and a mysterious telekinetic girl in Stranger Things. Mike, Dustin, Lucas, and Will have been friends for years. They go to school together in the small town of Hawkins, Indiana. In their free time, they love experimenting with science-projects and playing Dungeons and Dragons. They’ve had years of experience in cultivating friendships. On the other side of the scale, Eleven has lived in near isolation her entire life, never knowing what having a friend feels like. She has only experienced abuse under scientists in a top secret government lab. When Will disappears, the boys unite to save their friend. However, after El escapes the lab and comes into their lives, the boys’ friendship is shaken by fear of who or what she is. But Mike wants Eleven to be accepted into the group. He teaches her in the best way he can how to be a friend. Eleven hurts their fragile friendship because she is afraid of telling the boys the truth about the origins of the Demogorgon and of herself. Lucas becomes jealous of Mike when he sees that Mike is paying more attention to Eleven than him. This fear strains their friendship. I’ve always been afraid of saying the wrong thing that would chase a friend away. I’ve definitely experienced fear like this in my relationships. I don’t have many friends because I struggle with being vulnerable. I’ve always been afraid of saying the wrong thing that would finally chase them away, of sharing secrets or feelings with them. Scared I will ruin...

A Vision of Loyalty Nov16

A Vision of Loyalty

Is there ever a time when loyalty could hurt? Loyalty the glue that bonds relationships together. Without loyalty it is difficult to have a friendship at all. Many of the Avengers are profoundly loyal to each other. Steve Rogers and Bucky come to mind as prime examples. But as for Vision and Tony Stark—I believe their loyalty to each other is dangerous. Vision is a mix of human and machine, the body made by Ultron and the consciousness created by Tony Stark. Vision is loyal to Tony, mostly since half of his identity is made from Jarvis, Tony’s artificial intelligence butler. In Captain America: Civil War, he sides with Tony, not necessarily because he believes that what Tony believes is right, but because of loyalty. He does what Tony wants because they’re friends. There’s an ongoing saying that we become who we spend time with. We tend to pick up our friends’ character traits—from their way of speaking to their morals. But loyalty shouldn’t mean conformity. Our friends shouldn’t define our beliefs. After Bucky was turned into the Winter Soldier, he completely changed from the loyal best friend of Steve Rogers to a cold-hearted killer. If it wasn’t for Cap’s loyalty and perseverance in their friendship, he probably would have continued down a dark path. One of the most powerful scenes in Civil War for me was when Cap grabbed onto the helicopter and pulled it back onto the landing pad. He was not going to let Bucky go. He was not going to give up on him, and in the end, his influence won Bucky over. I want to be liked. I want to please. Therefore, when I’m around other people I try to fit in. Throughout my life, I have let my...

Losing to Win: Doctor Strange and Fear Nov09

Losing to Win: Doctor Strange and Fear...

I despise losing at important things in life. I hate failing people, failing at jobs, failing to follow certain rules that end up getting me in trouble, and especially failing myself. Sometimes I am my worst enemy. I kick myself far worse and far longer than any outside consequence or berating. When I went to the movie theater to see Doctor Strange last weekend, I expected another typical superhero film focusing on the final battle between the villain and hero, not in a bad way at all, but that’s how most superhero films tend to go. Instead, I left the theater recognizing how crippling my fear of failure has been this past year. Doctor Strange didn’t focus on the epic battles between a villain and the hero, it focused on the battle between the hero and his own inner demons. Sometimes you have to lose in order to win. Stephen Strange was an excellent, albeit prodigy, surgeon. He succeeded with every patient he accepted, and this fueled his ambition and arrogance. Despite this exterior, he still refused patients, ones that weren’t challenging enough and ones he thought were unfixable. The latter surprised me because refusing patients seemed contradictory to his utter confidence in his abilities. Ironically, after looking away from the road for but a few seconds, Doctor Strange becomes the unfixable. The devastating accident robs him of his steady hands, ending his career as a surgeon. Doctor Strange completely falls apart. Desperately, he spends his savings trying procedure after procedure to regain full mobility. Every effort fails, leaving him with incurable tremors. During a physical therapy session, he hears about a patient who miraculously recovered from paralysis—by unconventional methods. As a final resort, Strange spends the last of his money to travel to...

Understanding Mental Illness: My Journey with Effie Trinket Oct26

Understanding Mental Illness: My Journey with Effie Trinket...

Ignorance is bliss—but only for those who are ignorant. I’m a strongly opinionated person. When I believe something is right, it’s hard for me to consider the other side. Only when I am confronted by hard evidence will I believe a new truth, especially when it’s a fundamental truth, something that’s part of my moral standpoint. At times, accepting the truth takes me a long time, just like it does with Effie Trinket in The Hunger Games series. In the first film, we meet Effie as she is traipsing down a dirt road in District 12, wearing a pink dress and high heels. Her lips are pursed in distaste and her eyes coated in mascara. When she conducts the reaping, she does her job with a cheery flair, despite her obvious discomfort at her surroundings. It’s apparent she doesn’t care anything about this district or its citizens and regrets being assigned there. She’s apathetic to their poverty and the brutality of the games, and she doesn’t seem to clue in to the hardships the tributes are going to endure. The changes I go through help me to understand others. Effie’s behaviour reminds me of my younger self. Her attitude towards the tributes reminds me of my attitude towards mental illness. I saw commercials that warned of their seriousness, but I ignored them. I thought things like depression, anxiety, and even post-traumatic stress were all imaginary. I believed it was the sufferer’s own fault for not being strong enough to conquer too much sadness or shifting moods. Effie’s opinion changes after she gets to know Katniss and Peeta. Training them is all duty, but after the two win the games, she begins to care for them. They’ve won, after all, therefore she can become emotionally attached. In Catching Fire, when President Snow announces that the new tributes are to be reaped from the existing victors, she realizes this isn’t a game anymore. As she reaches for the paper with Katniss’s name on it—the single piece of parchment lying at the bottom of the jar mocking the “randomness” of the selection—tears glisten in her eyes. Effie realizes that the Games aren’t fair or right. This time, she is even more committed to her team (to Effie, this means colouring her hair gold and buying trinkets for the others). This time, she’s emotionally invested in her tributes. This time, she hopes and prays that they will win. Ignorance is bliss—but only for those who are ignorant. Though it may seem like a shallow difference in her behaviour, what’s being triggered inside Effie is real change. By Mockingjay, she joins the rebels and wholeheartedly involves herself in the fight for Katniss and Peeta. She becomes a completely different woman. In the past five years, I’ve struggled with my own mental illness. I was confronted by the reality of depression and I felt weak, hopeless, and beyond repair. I came to realize the emotions I saw people deal with in the commercials were real. I can’t say I enjoyed having my eyes opened in that manner, but now I understand. Now I can relate to friends who have dealt or are dealing with depression. I’ve been able to encourage them. I’ve been able to ask for help when I’m struggling myself. Like Effie, my view of a subject was completely changed and it didn’t happen overnight, but gradually. Effie was the comedic relief at first. She was snooty and cared only about fashion and gossip. Though her love for clothes and quick wit didn’t change, her passions did. She gained compassion for others and that enriched her life. I’m glad I’m not that ignorant person anymore when it comes to mental illness, because I think if I had stayed that way, I could have hurt many people with my misinformed opinion. Sometimes change happens quickly, other times it happens gradually, but if the changes I go through help me to...

Standing Out in a Pack of Wolves Oct19

Standing Out in a Pack of Wolves...

I grew up in a land of extroverted sports fans. As an introverted geek, I didn’t fit in. My love of writing, drawing, fangirling, reading encyclopedias, and spending the day engrossed in fantasy novels didn’t score me a lot of friends. Growing up, many of my friends and family told me my interests were weird and pushed me to like other things. I felt like an outcast, much like Mowgli  in the 2016 movie, The Jungle Book. Mowgli is a man-cub living among wolves. He has a talent for creating things from the materials around him (he makes ropes from vines, a pail from a turtle shell, and a knife from broken rocks, among other things). Bagheera and the pack urge him to desert his “tricks” and be more like a wolf, forcing Mowgli to suppress his interests. He does his best to try to conform, but it just isn’t natural for him. I listened to the Bagheeras around me and tried pursuing different interests. I attempted to be a veterinarian assistant, a skeet shooter, and a softball player, but they just weren’t me. They didn’t feel natural. In fact, the more I looked into them, the more they felt like the opposite of who I am. It’s hard feeling like the only man-cub in a pack of wolves that are telling me I need to be more like them. I have a friend who is the only writer among a family of sports players. It took her years to convince them that writing is a worthwhile career. I lived with a father who didn’t like reading at all. To this day, he still doesn’t understand my passion for writing. Since I’ve started pursuing writing as a career, hearing phrases like “Are you still writing?”...

I Have Strings Sep19

I Have Strings

Before Age of Ultron released, I never noticed much depth in the song “I’ve Got No Strings.” I thought it was just another silly Disney song. However, when I heard the eerie version in context of Age of Ultron’s trailer, it gained an entire new meaning. For both Pinocchio and for Ultron, this innocent-sounding piece is a song of rebellion, of throwing off strings of control and conformity. “I’ve got no strings to hold me down. To make me fret to make me frown. I had strings but now I’m free. There are no strings on me.” Our society often encourages me to yank off the strings of how we’ve done things in the past, to embrace new ideas and desert traditions. This is evident in new political movements, shifting of media, and changes in lifestyle. Sometimes this is a good thing. Society is moving away from racism, poverty, and recognizing things that were swept under the rug, like the sex industry or mental illnesses. However, in exchange for our newfound enlightenment, traditional values of basic morality are dying. What wasn’t okay a hundred years ago is commonly accepted now. This is evident in nearly any TV show or movie or even the news. Once upon a time, commonly relationships were kept chaste until marriage, now it’s common to be sexually active whether you’re in a relationship or just having a one-night stand. Swearing used to be considered lower class, but now it is common. Crude humour was considered impertinent and vulgar; now it’s in every sitcom. With this cultural shift, I’m prompted to join the masses and conform. I don’t want to feel excluded; I don’t want to be left behind. But are these strings that tie me to tradition and the old-fashioned bad?...

No More Jurassic World Domination Aug29

No More Jurassic World Domination...

I like being in control. This doesn’t necessarily mean I want world domination (that’s only every other day), but I do desire to control my future, my schedule, and sometimes even other people. I feel like life would be easier if I could dictate everything that happens in it. I’m not sure if this is just because I’m a detail-oriented person, or if everyone feels this way. I tend to make goals every New Year’s Day, plan out each week on the weekend, make lists and schedules. I even make contingency plans in case something goes wrong. Unexpected events that come my way, such as sickness or other emergencies, can throw me off balance. It’s hard to accept that I can’t control unforeseen circumstances. The staff of Jurassic World also have this desire for control, especially Claire Dearing. She likes to predict future events, schedule her life, and do everything she can to steer the company into a profitable direction. This isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, however, her endeavors often cost spending time with the people she cares about, hurting her family life and her love life. Owen: It’s all about control with you. I don’t control the Raptors. It’s a relationship. It’s based on mutual respect. That’s why you and I never had a second date. I feel like life would be easier if I could dictate everything that happens in it. Because of Claire’s obsession with control, she loses respect for the people around her and even for the animals in the park. She treats everyone like the means to an end and not like they have lives and feelings. And does her success in making other people do what she wants make her happy? No, she is always...

Superman, Nakama, and Me Aug17

Superman, Nakama, and Me...

The last person I thought I would be able to relate to is the Man of Steel. I’m not inhumanly strong, nor fast as a speeding bullet, nor have I x-ray vision or super hearing. For the longest time I didn’t care much for Superman. When my sister and I were kids, my parents bought us a DVD containing a bunch of vintage cartoons, including the original 1940s Superman. Even from a young age, I recognized that he was overpowered and always won the day with barely any opposition. Years later, I watched the show Smallville, a program that focused on his growing up with an adopted family and learning about his Kryptonian origins. However, not until the release of Man of Steel did I truly care for Superman, mostly because of his parents. I am adopted. Though my birth mother is living, my birth father passed away shortly after I was born, just like Superman’s. My adopted parents couldn’t have children, just like the Kents. Growing up, many people have asked if I knew my “real parents.” I don’t like that question, because it undervalues the ones who raised me. My adopted parents are my real parents. Just because I don’t share blood with them doesn’t mean they’re not as important as my genetic mother and father. My adopted parents are my “real parents” because they shaped me. Like Clark, I sometimes felt like an alien among my family. I could never relate to my friends when they spoke about how they inherited their parents’ features or quirks or when their mothers spoke about their pregnancies. Often I kept the fact that I’m adopted hidden until someone asked why I didn’t look like my younger sister or my dad. My birth father’s life was...

Light like Ori’s...

When I first came across the video game Ori and the Blind Forest, I wondered, “Why did the creators call it ‘The Blind Forest’? Why ‘blind’?” Thus I began my journey as a young forest sprite named Ori. When Ori was born, a terrible storm separated her from her father, the Spirit Tree. The benign beast Naru found and raised her to be intelligent and kind. After Ori had grown to a young adult, the Spirit Tree called back his child. However, when she arrived, Kuro, a gigantic she-owl, attacked the Spirit Tree and stole his lighted core, blinding the Forest of Nibel. As the ecosystem decayed, so did Naru and Ori’s food supply until eventually there was nothing left to eat. In one last act of sacrifice, Naru gave her adopted daughter the last peach she could find, then died of starvation. Weak from hunger, Ori traveled through the mangled and twisted forest. Eventually, she too, died of hunger. It would be awful if the story ended there. Since the game was only beginning, I knew there would be more. But I’m reminded of how, sometimes, caught in a hopeless place, I feel like there will be nothing more. Hard times have blinded me and left me hollow. I have lost my light many times, my little spark, the piece of me that keeps me hopeful. “This is it!” I’ve cried. “There’s nothing left. I’m done.” But I wasn’t actually done. There was light up ahead; I just couldn’t see it. I’m pretty sure I hurt some other people because of my focus on my own suffering. In Ori’s case, the Spirit Tree used its meager strength to grant her new life, and tasked her with restoring the light in the three great...

A Level Up in Perseverance Jul18

A Level Up in Perseverance...

Perseverance is difficult enough when it’s short term. Running a five-kilometer race, surviving an illness, applying for jobs until you finally get hired… these things take determination. But what about persevering over days, months, and years? Kirito, Asuna, and the other survivors of Sword Art Online know exactly what this feels like, having to persevere when they were trapped inside a virtual reality game for almost three years. Imprisoned by the creator of the VRMMORPG, many of the other players who logging in that fateful day couldn’t handle life away from their families, their friends, and the outside world. They had no hope the game’s 100 levels would be cleared and they would be able to return. Thousands jumped off virtual cliffs in despair, killing their bodies in the real world. Many more accepted that they would never leave the game and it became their new reality. Others let their entrapment taint their hearts and turned to destroying others to fill the void. A tough time we persevere through will level us up for trials to come. But not Kirito. Kirito was determined to return home. Though he began this herculean journey in pursuit of beating a game worthy of his skill, he grew to know other players who were determined to help each other escape the game, and he joined them in their goal. Kirito persevered through impossible battles, through losing his friends, through times of discouragement, through betrayal by his guild members, and even through near death. At one point he even considered just settling down in the game and living a life with Asuna, accepting that he’d never leave, but they both knew they had to go on. The task was daunting. Clearing 30 of the 100 levels took SAO players...