“Her curiosity was too much for her. She felt almost as if she could hear the books whispering on the other side of the half-open door. They were promising her a thousand unknown stories, a thousand doors into worlds she had never seen before.” -Cornelia Funke, Inkheart
I know I have been MIA and inconsistent on this blog for a while now. But I realized my love for blogging has been waning these past 2 years. I realized this when I found out that I was taking more than 2 weeks just to finish a blog post and everytime I would come back to it, I would have this feeling of dread. I’ve wanted to make videos for so many years but always excused it because I didn’t have the right equipment, the right timing, the right setup, etc. but I finally took the plunge because I’ve been making too many excuses and it was starting to bother me. Plus, I needed some place for all my thoughts to go instead of bottling it up and having it bounce around in my head without throwing it at someone and starting discussions that I love. Anyways, I’d love it if you could check it out, it’s a review of Pan’s Labryinth!
2017 was the year I finally realized how much insecurity I’ve always struggled with. I always knew they were there but I always thought they were a part of me in so much as that weird birthmark that you’ve always had on your skin. Ironically, I berated myself for even having these insecurities which was the exact opposite of what I should be doing. I think I had enough of these inner demons this year and I wanted to quiet them. I started trying to love and forgive myself more and truly learning from my mistakes. I tried to remember that everywhere I go, I deserved to be there and if I find myself shrinking within myself, I ask myself why? and remembering that the insecurities I have are so small in the long run, I might as well show my authentic self. I think that’s what I wanted most, to be able to be happy and comfortable in who I am. I make a lot of mistakes but I accept them and ask myself what can be done better and move on. I even had moments this year when I realized old me would have never done something like that. Usually when I did that last year, I would have had way more self loathing. I am proud of myself for how far I’ve come in 2017. There is still so much more left to do but I’ve come miles last year. Looking back on where I was at the beginning of the year and looking now at where I am, I never thought, for a second, that this is where life would take me but I’m so grateful for it. Of course, a good year cannot happen without the help of my amazing friends and, for the first time ever, an amazing boyfriend(I know y’all are reading this). Having a job really proved that I could work through adversity and that I am capable. I should trust myself more. I can’t be anything else other than who I am so why not embrace it? This year, I’ve also come to realize how important my health is. I had wisdom teeth surgery this year and I had post surgery infections and a lot of side effects after I took antibiotics and it just showed me how much of my health I’ve been taking for granted so I want to make my health more seriously. 2017 was definitely a growing up year but it was the best year I’ve had in so long. The big things made me happen but so did the small things. It was if someone was looking out for me last year. I hope the good streak continues to last in 2018. Cheers to a new year and new adventures! =)
Find more creative and self improvement outlets.
My creative outlets have always been Youtube and my blog but I want to find more diversity of creative outlets like podcasts, movies, games, makeup, fashion, and graphic design. These are places where I have always found passion but this year I want to hone in on more of my creative side with them and basically broaden my creative horizons.
Eat more vegetables and exercise 2x a week.
I realize when I’m making a health goal I have to start small, otherwise I will not go through with it so I think this goal is pretty feasible.
Journal at least once a week.
The consequence of being busier than ever is that I don’t get as much time to self reflect which is something that is foreign to me. I think telling myself to journal at least once a week will help me center myself more and create a space for myself.
Focus on what I can do in the present.
Too often, I focus on what I do not have and what other fun things people are doing. I realize there are certain things about my circumstances that I can’t change right now and I hope I can channel that restlessness into productivity and doing what I can do instead of self pity.
Read for at least 20 uninterrupted minutes a day.
I realize that whenever I read now, I had to keep checking my phone every 5 minutes and even that took away from my reading experience so I hope that in 2018, I can read for at least that allotted time without distractions.
Read 40 books
I’ve literally cut my end goal by half so I don’t put as much stress on myself this year.
Continue to read short story collections/essay collections.
I had a goal every year before this to read a diversity of formats and so far it has worked out very well. I think after this I can stop doing this and hope that I can just read diversely on my own without having to set a goal for it.
Post at least 2x a month.
There are several reasons for this. This year, I’ve found that my blog posts have been too sporadic and I realize that I’ve been sacrificing quality to post up content. The writing itself has probably suffered, my banners and headers have definitely deteriorated and by the end, I hadn’t included them at all. I just want to produce content that I am proud of this year. Not to say that I wasn’t proud of my content this year but it could have been better so let’s say I want to do 4 reviews this month, ideally it’ll force me to write all four but I think realistically it will at least force me to write better about two of the ones I pick.
Go back to posting up quarterly “What I’ve Been Watching” posts and “Monthly Favorites”
I realized this year that I really miss doing the Monthly Favorites post and I miss having this record of the highlights of the month. Part of the problem for Monthly Favorites was that I didn’t have a good phone to take pictures with but now I do so I have no excuse not to do this post.
I also miss keeping track of what I’ve been watching for the past few months. It gave me a chance to analyze the movies that I don’t want to review so I’m going to try and do more of those this year.
I’ve recently become fond of the essay format and read an especially well written one, “On Self Respect” by Joan Didion and it inspired a musing of sorts:
I try not to talk about my self esteem. Mostly because I think it’s obvious on me. It hangs there like an undeniably obnoxious sweater. People can see it. As recently as a year ago, when they joked with me, they must have seen the quick hurt on my face and quickly tried to assuage my fears and I think to myself, is it that obvious? I wilted under the slightest criticism. Everything I did was a test of my competence and any failure fed this monster of self doubt. I stuttered over words and had no conviction in what I said even if I wholeheartedly believed what I was saying. I wasn’t afraid to speak, but I was afraid to speak. And trying to understand my sense of self felt like grasping at straws.
Self esteem has always been a tedious and insidious thing for me. I have never known a time when I didn’t have low self esteem until maybe 3 years ago when I saw an inkling of who I could be without that crushing self hate and doubt. It started slowly, first believing that my opinions were worthy of being voiced. Of course, there are still many days when I don’t want to develop it, when I feel almost safe in my self pity and berating of myself. And there are just days when the criticisms of past and present threaten to overwhelm me. And for years, I didn’t know that the little criticisms that always pervaded my brain had a subtle but invisible effect on me so I constantly felt this heavy burden on me that I didn’t know was even there. That every time I told myself I couldn’t do it or every time I mentally degraded myself for not doing it as well as I thought I should have done it, I was slowly but surely eating myself away. But I thought I couldn’t do it because I was not smart enough or just not enough.
That enoughness is what I kept pursuing. This feeling of being good enough. Whatever that meant and I was sure when I found it I would know what it meant. But foolishly, I kept trudging through trying desperately to find this imaginary line. During this quest to find, when I fell, I fell hard and told myself I deserved to fall. And when I was happy, I didn’t think i deserved this happiness, because I don’t know, it was just because I was me and that was that. And being me just was not good enough. Not interesting enough. Not funny enough. Not enough of anything. Maybe if I tried to be more social, I can be funnier. Maybe if I tried this, I could be less awkward. Maybe if I studied harder, I would be less stupid. And without realizing I started to associate my self esteem with what I did instead of who I was. When I didn’t perform as well on an ochem test as my peers, I grew bitter and angry. When I couldn’t think of a snappy comeback to a funny joke, I thought about it for days. When I was at a loss for words or when I failed to think of something my friends had but I hadn’t, I angrily thought I was stupid. I felt like a fake person who was “trying to cross a border with borrowed credentials”. And then despairingly, I thought maybe there would always be a disconnect between who I am and who I wanted to be.
If we do not respect ourselves…we are peculiarly in thrall to everyone we see, curiously determined to live out–since our self image is untenable–their false notion of us.
I don’t know what specifically changed this year but I realized how intense the problem was but I was tired of it just inching forward. I wanted something more drastic to change. When before I sought that feeling of being enough, now I was more desperate to find an inner peace within myself.
Of course, when I am in doubt about anything or need any kind of help, I always consult the internet first. I read dozens of essays, books, and articles on self esteem in the hopes that I would find an answer.
And I think I found part of the answer in the pages of the internet and started to apply it. I started consistently journaling about the things I liked about myself no matter how corny I felt. I started repeating daily affirmations to myself everyday. I started to push myself to speak as honestly and as clearly as I could. I started thinking about other people and tried to give back more than being self absorbed all the time. I started to believe in the best outcomes instead of the worst. But there are two important things about building self esteem that I’ve learned are the most important. The first is to forgive yourself.
It’s a foreign concept–forgiveness. It demanded that I gave myself the time and space to grow and learn without crushing myself. But it makes the world. Instead now when I make a mistake or did something I didn’t really like, I forgave myself, told myself how I could improve and moved on. There’s a lot of comfort knowing that whatever I can’t change about my situation, each day starts clean and making improvements has no start or stop timeline.
The second factor was knowing that there is no give or take in this universe. Just because I had one good day does not mean the day after will be bad or maybe it will be. And just because an amazingly wonderful thing happened to me does not mean I have to sacrifice something to maintain that gift. Believing this helped me believe in the best possible outcomes for myself. To start focusing on what can happen rather than what cannot. And of course with that came the conviction that I deserved this happiness.
You never know how important self esteem is until you have it. As Joan Didion so perfectly describes in her essay, “to have that sense of one’s intrinsic worth…is potentially to have everything: the ability to discriminate, to love, and to remain indifferent. To lack it is to be locked within oneself, paradoxically incapable of either love or indifference”.
I might have more moments of self despair and feeling as though I lack so much than is warranted from an average person. In fact, I had that moment today as a friend was delivering delicious, custard and strawberry filled croissants to me. I spent an inordinate amount of time annoyed at myself for not saying things I should have. The old me would have spent several more inordinate days thinking about what I should have done. The newish me spent a few, agonizing minutes. But as I finish this post, I realize I am who I am and even so, tomorrow, there is always time for improvement. I got this.
The source of my inspiration and all the quotes in this post (including the header): Joan Didion’s, “On Self-Respect“. Parts of it is racist and slightly off putting but her musings on self esteem resonated a lot with me.
When I’m looking up book reviews on Amazon, I can’t tell whether reviewers are being serious or trolling me half the time. But reading the negative reviews are so fun because they’re sometimes just really funny because they’re just..plain..wrong. But anyways, I compiled a few of the funniest ones I’ve encountered recently..
Cress by Marissa Meyer
Girl, if this book doesn’t promote health, positive relationships, I don’t know what does. Also, are you saying I should stop reading this book because it has cooties?? Also, I didn’t know “kissier” was a word.
Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
Well…that’s unfortunate. I The spider probably crawled in between the pages while someone was packaging it and the person got scared so they just closed the book on it lol. Glad you enjoyed the book though..
The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman
Well first of all, I’m insulted, I haven’t heard from your people yet. Second of all, EFAAAL sounds like a cult. And lastly, I really want to meet these “frieds”.
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The only thing I got from this was how he/she spelled hell.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
VICTORIAN KEEPING UP WITH THE KARDASHIANS I CAN’T
but also, Jane Austen was satirizing the social norms of her time; it wasn’t necessarily meant to be a romantic book but come on, how can you not like Elizabeth and Darcy together.
I’m pretty sure making Pride and Prejudice a 3D movie is not going to change your attitude about it. I mean maybe if they served you tea in the theater or if you could somehow feel Darcy’s coat? Oh wait, that’s 4D..kind of..
Please calm down..
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Please stick to picture books then
Have you lived in this world before?
I hope you took a time machine and saw a movie from 1924 because this book was written in 1925
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
Yup this book was the whole reason why you felt like throwing away your virginity. And this book contains a lot of rape so I really hope rape does not make you think in a lustful way..
Have you read any funny reviews lately? What are some ridiculous reviews you’ve stumbled across in your years as a reader?
I’m beyond excited to announce that I will be participating in the Comment Challenge for June! If you don’t know what the comment challenge is, bloggers are paired up and encouraged to comment on each other’s posts for that month. The bloggers will be paired by the hosts Alicia @ A Kernel of Nonsense and Lonna @ FLYLēF. I believe today is the last day to sign up for the month of June but this challenge will go up all the way to the end of August so feel free to sign up for July or August or both! If you’re interested, all the information on how to sign up can be found on Alicia’s post.
I decided to do the 5-10 post option because let’s face it, my commitment levels on book challenges and readathons are like a fuckboy’s commitment to relationships. I should really stop with the analogies..BUT I’m determined to see this through because I love commenting on other people’s blogs and discussing books and all that but I also love it when that orange circle appears on the little white bell sign and I see someone has commented on one of my posts. It honestly kind of makes my day. I do blog about all age categories of books especially YA and adult but I decided to say that I blog most about Adult fiction because I have been reading a lot of Adult fiction lately and I don’t see that changing anytime in the month of June.
I think that’s all I have to say for this post..I will see you again in my next post which will probably be a book review or a What I’ve Been Watching post. I don’t know, which one would you like to see next? Sigh, I think it’s very apparent in this post that I’m a VERY indecisive person..
Looking at all these lovely bookstagram pictures makes me want to start an instagram. How hard can it be? I just have to copy some of the famous types of book pictures and add my own twist.
For example, I know that everyone loves sock pictures with cute kneehigh socks and books.
Why stop there? How about ankle socks? How about all the socks??
I think bookstagrammers also like to take pictures of books with cups of coffee or tea at shops and cafes.
And I really wanted to do that too! But I forgot to take a picture before I drank it so I’m just gonna show an empty Starbucks cup. Same thing. I don’t know it how it fell on its side but whatever it just adds to the aesthetic.
Wow, fine, ok so I’m not at a coffee shop so you say it doesn’t count. I’ve seen people take pictures of books when they travel around to cool places.
Hmm, I’ll do that. I like to read near bags of plastic water bottles because it’s just so calming you know?
I think my favorite kinds of book pictures is the one where they artfully arrange different things around the book. Sometimes random. That shouldn’t be too hard.
Everyone likes books and food. So I’ll use marinara sauce to complement the red from the book cover and I found some buttermilk pancake mix and honey mustard dressing so why not?
I always see stacks of pretty books together. But that’s just limited. Why don’t I stack everything? I mean, isn’t it discrimanatory to only stack books? Are books the only stackable things out there??
And, of course, I didn’t forget about filters and lighting. Who do you take me for?? You have to take pictures in bright light.
So like this one?
I can totally see behind the book clearly. What? You can barely see the book? Well, damn, I can’t control the way the light hits. Gosh.
And let it not be said that I don’t know how to be dramatic. Just add a black and white filter.
Simple. Here I combine both an artful arrangement with the black and white filter. I mean I don’t get why people are saying it just looks like a messy desk. It’s not, it’s called a beautifully artful arrangement like this one.
In all seriousness, I love bookstagram and I love looking at pictures of beautiful books. Actual beautiful pictures taken from these bookstagrams (who are way more talented at picturetaking and editing than me) and that you should definitely follow:
From top to bottom:
Some of these bookstagrams were featured in my favorite bookstagrams post a while back so feel free to check that out if you want.
Starring: Song Joong-ki, Song Hye-kyo, Jin Goo, Kim Ji-Won
When I first started watching Descendants of the Sun sometime last week, I had no idea how popular it was. During its original run in South Korea, it broke record ratings with a 28.5 percent viewership surpassing another insanely popular kdrama from two years ago called My Love From Another Star (that one was so popular, there’s going to be an American remake, although I don’t know what happened with that project) in only six episodes. It then continued to surpass its own ratings as the show went on. It currently has over 440 million views in China on legal and not-so-legal streaming sites and has been sold to 27 countries and translated into 32 languages. Even the prime minister of Thailand encouraged people to watch it. I should have known because it was getting a lot of buzz even outside of the sphere of kdrama lovers. It was on all of my friends’ snapchats and a lot of people I knew had at least heard of it even if they didn’t like kdramas.
I was skeptical at best mostly because I’m just not a kdrama person. My mom is so I’m familiar with a lot of them and I didn’t really think anything could equal Reply 1997 in my head.
But I watched the first episode and at about maybe 20 minutes into the first episode, I had fallen head-over-heels in love.
The funny thing is, the synopsis is not one I would immediately be drawn to. It’s a romantic drama following a soldier (Yoo Shi Jin) and a surgeon (Mo Yeon) who fall in love. Because of circumstances, they are separated for 8 months. They meet again in a war-torn country called Uruk where Mo Yeon is heading a medical mission and Shi Jin is stationed. Trouble and chaos ensue.
And the other funny thing is, it’s a show with glaring faults and usually I can’t look past those. A lot of the dramatic events end way too early for there to be an emotional punch; they are convoluted and random and the plot has basically no sense of realism. There are some questionable medical practices (STOP GOING INTO THE QUARANTINE, THERE ARE INFECTED PEOPLE IN THERE; WHY ARE YOU PUTTING AN IV IN HIM WITHOUT STERILIZING IT FIRST), I would have liked more backstory for Mo Yeon, also the transitions are very confusing and maybe more a little more depth to its themes would have been appreciated..
Wait, wait, hold up, Carolyn, you literally just said you had fallen in love with this drama. Why are you starting the damn review with what you didn’t like about it?
Because you know what, I didn’t really care about all stuff when I was watching it, for once, it allowed me to mute the critiquing side of my brain, which is actually becoming increasingly hard for me to do and just be swept up in a love story between two people. It allowed me to revel in a touching story. A story that’s full of action, drama and humor. And that’s really the highest praise I can give it.
The best thing about this drama are the characters. You love all of these characters almost from the get go and the actors have such natural chemistry with each other that you love all their friendships and interactions as well. But there’s also a layered complexity to the characters and outstanding character development especially from Mo Yeon. In a lot of ways, she is the main character.
She starts off as an idealistic doctor who believes in saving a human life no matter what. However after being passed up for promotion by other doctors because of connections, she becomes discouraged in pursuing her dreams of opening her own clinic. Her love interest, Shi Jin, on the other hand, kills people for a living and believes in the power of patriotism and commands yet hides his insecurities about his past through sarcasm and jokes. But aside from the magnetic power of the main leads, I also equally adored the side characters. The tough and assertive military surgeon, Myung Joo and her stoic love interest, Dae Young. I love Mo Yeon’s medical team ensemble, pretty boy, Lee Chi-Hoon, sassy and no nonsense nurse, Ha Ja-Ae, and the cynical yet humorous doctor, Song Sang-Hyun to name a few. Their easy rapport with each other is helped by the fabulous character writing and the brilliant actors who know about the art of subtlety down to a T. I loved them all so much that however melodramatic and cheesy it got, I never minded, which is a testament to these characters. And it is the characters that make you stay till the very end through the absurd plot from unrealistic mafia gang fights and random natural disasters, the viral epidemics and earthquake aftershocks, evil bad guys and creepy hospital managers.
Speaking of the characters, can we please just talk about the romance? I know, I know people are going to be turned off because it’s a romance. But don’t forget that romance is about more than the angst and the cutesy (although if I got even half a penny for how many times I died when Shi Jin looked at Mo Yeon with loving eyes, I could have taken over Apple and Microsoft. Twice. And have some left over to bribe Trump not to continue the presidential campaign..someone’s gotta stop him)
Anyways romance is about revealing more of the character and who they are. I am so, so happy that a couple that I love so much has one of the least problematic relationships in a kdrama I’ve seen. Between the hair grabs (Master’s Son) and the forceful, stiff kissing (Heartstrings, Gentleman’s Dignity), and all around lack of female agency and deleting of female personality, a plethora of assholey main love interests and sexist tropes that saturate many, many kdramas, I was so worried this one was going to end up with me trying to claw out my eyes. Not so with this couple. I just adored their respect for each other. Even when they’re not together, they still cared about each other and never pushed the other person to accept their point of view. It’s just so refreshing to have two people cut the bullshit and say they like each other and not deny it. Shi Jin is able to believe in the value of life because of Mo Yeon and Mo Yeon learns to believe in her ideals again. And omigosh, the girls are sometimes the ones initiating the kisses and the hugs? Omigosh what is this the 21st century?? It is so shamelessly romantic. There are so many cute scenes of witty back-and-forth, boundless flirting, and loving glances against the backdrop of a setting sun. But it never, ever forgets that these two characters are individuals in their own right. It actually physically hurts how cute the two main couples in this show are. And hey, hey, don’t forget the equally cute bromance and girl friendship. It just makes you want to cry. And a side note: all these people are so good-looking, it’s actually a crime. Just putting that out there.
All these interactions are wrapped in stunning cinematography and gorgeous lighting. And it is a very stylized drama portraying violence like in the movie Gangster Squad where the focus is on the slow motion of a bullet instead of the grittiness of war. I mean, just look at the damn poster. I think it elevated this drama to new heights since this drama is so reliant on the actor’s subtle expressions and in any other actors’ hands, it would not have been half as good as it is. Some of the shots are just so beautiful you can’t help but feel swept up in the moment and it does give a little edge to the engaging albeit weak plot as well. There’s no spinning of the camera and a surprising lack of medium shots focusing mainly on close up shots that really highlight the emotion of the scene combined with the gorgeous use of landscape and space. The use of space especially when the two characters are in a room just makes you so aware of their every little gesture and I think the details add so much to the characters.
And to cap it all, I adore the soundtrack too. My favorite one is K. Will’s Talk Love which has been on repeat for the past hour.
But in the end, all I know is that I loved these characters so, so much and I haven’t come across a show that has made me so unabashedly excited and fangirly (the obsessive tumblr kind) in a very, very long time. Let me know if you’ve seen this drama, what you thought of it, if you’re going to watch it, what your favorite Korean dramas are. Tropes that you’re sick of ? And also if you just want to fangirl, don’t even hesitate to comment because I’m still squealing.
Also, I’ll leave a link to the trailer with English subs. And if the trailer interests you, you can watch it on Dramafever or Viki (apparently it has a better translation).
Also, I realize this is a sudden departure from book-related posts but when I feel passionate about something, I just have to write about it.