Friday, December 7, 2012

If You're My Real Friends,
You'll Read Every Word Of This.

I did not write the following piece myself, but it so accurately transcribes the thoughts already in my head. I challenge you, my blog readers, to really take in every single word of this speech. And really think about it. Think about yourself. What do you feel or how do you react when someone with this particular appearance crosses your sight? Do you assume something about them that really has no credible basis? Are you automatically scared even though you know just as much about this person as the next stranger? 
Why do you cringe? 
I'll reveal the two amazing authors and the title of this piece at the end. 
Please get there without cheating. 
- Mika

"Tattoo Taboo"
By: Namwan Sittisuntorn & Micah Gentry 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Post Exam Week Me

          I always think that I would sleep most of the day after exams away because of my need + opportunity for sleep by then. WRONG. I'd go to bed at 3 in the morning after celebrating with some series marathon, and not before trashing ALL the alarms on my phone, and then my body clock would wake me up at 7 a.m. Greattt. 
          But truth be told, a lot of things are different now that I don't have to stare at unclear PowerPoint handouts during witching hours anymore. For one thing, my sicknesses have fled with my stress. I swear my cold, which started 2 Fridays ago when I had to start studying for exams, disappeared right after my last exam. I had even prepared a thermos of hot tea for myself in the morning because I WAS sick in the morning. By afternoon, poof! Gone! My indigestion is reverting back to digestion too. Yay, that's always nice to know... I Googled, apparently this is what I had: Sleen Qi Deficiency. All symptoms accurate. I read somewhere too that the condition can be worsened by consuming too much diary and raw fruit. Well, there go my staples. Thank God, it didn't say cereal... Thank God. 
          I'm back to doing artsy fartsy stuff spontaneously too. The first freedom thing I did after exams was go to the bookstore without an agenda. I left, purchasing a stunning graphic novel, hard-covered, on sale. I say it's worth a lot more than it cost, but who am I to judge the bookstore. This reminds me that I have to find my way to IKEA or Index soon to buy shelves or a bookcase. The awkward moment you have way more books than shelf space.

Other art-related tendencies I've exhibited for the past 72 hours:
  • Fingers drawn to piano.
  • Strong desires to transcribe drum parts when listening to music on my iPod.
  • Constant decoration ambitions for my Charlie Brown's of a Christmas tree.
  • Next photography outing planned.
  • Did my nails - twice.
  • Embellished my electronics with stickers.
  • Updated my mini-me.

Definition 4 is the one you're looking for. 
       Ironically, the purpose of updating my mini-me was so that I could have one that had my long straight green or my dead-grass hair, but I just went to the salon to change my hair yet again. Can't keep up with myself. And yes, despite the break and obvious temporary change of routine, my life's level of busyness has not changed one bit. I am somehow always able to find work, or work is always able to find me. I need to practice my dodging skills. But who am I kidding? Work and I have a love-hate kind of relationship. What work is going to have to understand though is that Christmas season, to me, means time for friends. Those who are here. And those coming home.  =]


Monday, November 5, 2012

The Last FaT

"All good things must come to an end."
"It's better to end something at its peak."
"This is the last FAT FEST."

          Bullshit, I thought. How can this be the last one? I just started going to Fat Fest 3 years ago, and I'm not fat enough yet! Since 11th grade I have gone with friends every year to get a tee, maybe some CDs, and most crucially to get as close as possible to the front when The Richman Toy were up on stage rocking it. The year I started attending was the year they were on top of the charts.
          But to me, Fat Fest isn't just about The Richman Toy or buying band stuff. It's also that one time of year I am able to gather all my Thai friends who love music together. No matter how far and INCONVENIENT the venue is from the practical side of town, or how gross and exhausted your body gets from behaving like lunatics for hours and hours, you never look back on a Fat Fest without smiling and being grateful you went with your crazy friends. I've always secretly thanked Fat for giving me a reason to call up these people that I might not see or talk to everyday. To think that it all started in art class in the 11th grade, when Charlie who sat back to back with me turned and said, "Hey Mika, are you going this weekend?" - provides the very picture of how such an event brings people, who might be sitting at different tables, together. Even when last year's was sort of a fail in gathering people to go because of the floods and how J and I were abandoned by our taxi in the middle of nowhere and had to get there "indie-style", I still say it was perfect hanging out with just Charlie, Earth, and J that night.  Taking weird astronautic pictures. Watching Charlie and J have the time of their lives catapulting themselves into the air on some space jump attraction. Holding onto each other's shoulders while singing a song we all know. Catching a ride home with Charlie's parents. 

          I had hoped for memories as poignant as these this year. Before the night began, with the emotional weight of the word "last", I wasn't ready it all to end. But unexpectedly, last night I didn't stay for the last band.
          I wasn't able to convince my friends this year of the importance of the festival over work, fatigue, sickness, and other petty things. So I ended up going with a senior I somewhat know and 2 seniors I had never met. Fortunately, they are very pleasant folks and let me do my own things, which tends to be ideal given that I'm such a lone-wolf. But browsing through booths by myself made me realize that I do indeed get something out of meeting my friends in the middle, going with their flows sometimes and not mine all the time. I felt guideless and out of place now. A lost, washed out rock fan among the blur of a new generation of enthusiasts. Girls sporting high-waisted denims, native American details, faux vintage, and hippy hairstyles. Boys with thick black framed glasses, folded up skinnies, suade shoes, and flat "hipster" mohawks. They should call this the Instagram or Tumblr generation, really. When did mainstream invade the sanctity of rock?
          Another difference for me this year, and probably the reason why I didn't last til the end, was that The Richman Toy came and went so early, so fast. They're usually the grand finale, which is good for me because I am not able to hold back on them and I can just die right after. But this year, they were out of sight by 8 p.m. I didn't know what to do with myself for the 4 remaining hours then, and I was already exhausted. So I crawled out of the crowd and listened to the rest of the performances from a distance under some fancy lights.
          Disappointment? Initially perhaps. But now I see that this really was the perfect year to end "Fat Fest". 12 years. That's like school. You wouldn't want it to keep going after senior year, even though senior year was the best. You simply outgrow things you'll still love and always love. You're ready to move on to new things. Doesn't mean you'll never see your friends again. (Or your favorite bands again.) It'll just be under different lights and through a new perspective. Fat Fest is just an atmosphere. Like middle school or high school. 
I look forward to the next atmosphere.

"All good things must come to an end."
"It's better to end something at its peak."
"This is the last FAT FEST."

Hear, hear.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

          I don't think I'll be able to bring myself to promote this post on my Facebook by the time I'm finished writing it. I'll be too embarrassed of what I've written to consciously have the relevant people read it. But somehow I'm okay with possibility that they'll find this post by themselves, without my help, and read it, knowing that it mentions them.
          I don't know how I got to where I am now, but I couldn't have asked for a better way to turn 20. I was so sure it was going to be the most miserable birthday I've ever had that I had tried eradicating any indicator of my birthday. This included hiding my date of birth on Facebook and strictly instructing my parents not to do anything out of the ordinary for me this month. Figured that if my life was gonna suck, I didn't want to remember it was sucking on my birthday.
          The biggest reason for such critical angst now was that my treatment of myself, as a result of my commitment to others, had finally reached a very visible status of abuse. I had deprived myself of health, pleasure, and most importantly my attention. To the point that I was sick and all I wanted for my birthday was to stay home. Alone. In silence. And peace. The problem was, I absolutely couldn't. I had to leave Bangkok, and of all possible reasons why, the worst: to debate. It's the one part of my life that probably gives me the most headache and heartache. I cried four separate times the day I was to get on a night bus with about 80 other people to Khon Kaen (Northeastern Thailand) for the tournament. I felt childish for crying because I wanted something I couldn't have that badly. At that moment I also hated my personality for being so introverted, so scornful, and ironically so goddamn responsible to others. For 5 out of the 7 busride hours, I hid myself under a sad iPod playlist and the guise of sleeping.
          The blessing of my curse of responsibleness however is that when it comes time to perform I never give less than my all. My team shined throughout the tournament. The greatest bit about it was that we were the discarded of our institution. No one cared about us. We were treated as the other teams' punching bag, summoned to training sessions only to test out their purchased or otherwise externally acquired cases. Moreover, as a team of 3 communication arts majors, we were always labelled the "dumb blondes" per se. Perhaps it was never seriously meant, but it has always stung. To be able to debunk all those criticisms by doing nothing but excel in the tournament - on our own wits - was incredibly empowering
          On October 15th, I gave possibly the best debate speech I've ever given. I was in support of LGBTQ rights, justifying the allowance of LGBTQ schools in our society. By the time I was done, the opposition's institution could not help but cheer for my team. I'll never forget the eyes of the audience looking back at me. There were children, adults, and some in-between-aged in that room. And in a rare occasion, all of them demonstrated that they were listening, understanding, and being persuaded. It was a golden moment, and I suddenly, for the first time since arriving there, appreciated being where I was, doing what I was doing.
        To skip to the ending, my team really only lost one thing in the tournament: the cup. The loss is incomparable to all the things we had won by the end. We made history for our institution (and our faculty) by reaching the grand finals. We beat teams that were ranked higher than us - multiple times. We had the highest win margin out of all teams. I made top 10 best speakers.  We made real friendships (though some based on common enemies). We proved those who said we couldn't wrong. And most importantly we won the love and respect of those who watched us. 
        To top it all off, I ultimately failed at forgetting my birthday. I blame my sentimental but respectfully subtle parents, a grand hall of debaters singing happy birthday, and a few amazing friends for this. Not only that, the happiness doesn't seem to be over yet. I'm back in Bangkok now, back to the boring life of a 2nd year university student you could say; yet there were so many pleasant surprises today which happen to be attributed to the fact that I was born two decades ago. It feels taboo to say so, but today was a perfect day. My friends managed to get me the most meaningful gifts. A little philosophy: a thoughtful present is one you can give to no one else but the one who you intended it for. Here's where I hope one of you stumbles across in this blog: I can be considered handicapped at displaying my true emotions in public, so I want to say that you guys made me feel so loved today by all the little things you did for me that I can't be convinced to hate myself right now. 
        Lastly, I did even get what I had originally wanted for my birthday too. I got my time to myself. My moment of peace. That was tonight. Sitting in a dark room among strangers, watching a movie I had waited so long for. The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The story of my life. At this time, I am infinite.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Real Time Update No.1

Taking a short (short I swear, Aim and New!) study break to update about where I am and what I'm doing. I'm at Too Fast To Sleep on this gray-skied but not-raining Saturday. It's this 24 hour study-cafe across the street from my university. Pretty popular place for students here. The atmosphere is cozy, designed for book worms and hipsters no doubt. The drinks and snacks are pretty good too. So far today I've had hot peach tea, hot chocolate with condensed milk, and a peach smoothie - which is making me really cold now. I've been here with Aim and New since 8:30 and it's 4 in the afternoon right now. I think we're all on our third drink. 

Oh, Kasif has just arrived. Looks like he got a haircut. 
Now Peach is here. "Peach" now appears in this post 4 times. Cool. I like peach (5), obviously.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Homemade Redscale Film + My iTunes =

The most time-consuming photography project I've undertaken so far.

The Process

  • Step 1: go into pitch-dark bathroom at witching hour and pull out the film of an unused roll.
  • Step 2: cut the film, flip it over, and tape it back up.
  • Step 3: wind the flipped film back into the canister, and don't forget to cut a new leader.
  • Step 4: load into film camera.
  • Step 5: shoot without regret.
  • Step 6: carefully remove finished roll of film from camera and run to the print lab.
  • Step 7: do something interesting for 2 days.
  • Step 8: pick up prints and react.
  • Step 9: scan prints into computer.
  • Step 10: choose sacred lyrics of real music to match prints.
  • Step 11: creatively overlay lyrics onto the pictures. 
  • Step 12: upload!

The Final Product

          The redscale didn't turn out as I expected. To be honest, I had hoped for more variations with oranges and yellows, but the areas in the photos are basically just black or red. Also, I obviously wasn't in control of the lighting. Many images were underexposed. Some were overexposed. Some I can't even tell what happened... Nevertheless, I am extremely proud of the raw outcome because they don't just look damaged, they are damaged. Yeah, I'm looking at you, Instagram.
          Even the digital overlaying I did is based on how they would have done it in the past with magazine layouts. The point was not to retouch the picture but do the minimal amount of editing, which was simply adding statements to the raw images. 
          I particularly like this project because it merges and reflects many dimensions of my interests - film, lomography, rock music, story-telling, typography, etc. - and because it strongly reminds me of my closest friends.

Happy birthday, Micah.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Little Help For All You Mean/Rude People Out There...

If you don't think you're mean or rude, you should have a look at this anyways because
78.3958% of you who are mean or rude don't know you are.
Now before you pass this post off as a cocky proposition that underlines some sort of self-perceived superior moral conscience, let me be the first to say that I too have the mean symptom, and that 100% of percent of these lessons continue to aid my existence in humanity.

  1. Don't say to others that your hobby requires more skill, is more meaningful, or is more anything synonymous to superior than theirs. If you must express the divinity of what you do or else you'll die from a blood clot IN YOUR EGO, then talk about your hobby in its own game. What do I mean? Say something like this: "Hip hop dance takes a good understanding of groundedness and improvisation - things I'm good at. I would never make it in ballet like you." See what I did there? If you can manage, extol them in their field a little bit. 
  2. Don't be so quick to blame others and exonerate yourself when shady incidents occur. Keep that pointed finger in your pocket. Of course it's fair to say you didn't do it if you really didn't do it, but the execution of this speech is crucial.  Don't get all high pitched and defensive when no one has even said anything against you. This might sound obvious, but think about how many times you've done that. If you suspect someone - definitely not out of prejudice - refrain from saying these 3 words: YOU DID IT. The more respectable way to express your suspicion is to describe what you saw/heard in the most objective manner or to ask the suspect questions about his whereabouts/actions in an understanding tone. Examples: "I remember leaving an uneaten taco there before I left to grab some soda from the canteen." / "Did you perhaps mistaken my concert tickets for scrap paper?" And try not to sound sarcastic when you're doing that. 
  3. When someone complains about or mourns over their life, don't compete with them. Telling a suffering person that the worst experience he has ever been through can't beat your worst experience is like kicking him when he's already down in the dirt. Don't you understand that in such state of despair, winning at anything can cite the tiniest glimmer of satisfaction? But what did you go and do? You took away his dream of being the victim of the most traumatic/tragic event to ever occur in history. Geez, let him have his moment. Be the bigger baby.
  4. They say honesty is a virtue, but I am pretty certain these philosophical experts didn't mean for you to go around pointing out people's flaws 24-7, like you're some patrol officer for a perfect world. I want Thai society in particular to listen real closely here: telling someone they're fat is NOT how you begin a friendly conversation with them. "Fat" is just always derogatory.  Even people who want to gain weight don't want to be fat. If you must tell someone they seem to have put on weight, say it like that. But be aware that even that can be very unpleasant to hear over and over again, so just try to stick to the "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything" rule of thumb.
  5. Don't voice all the corrections your brain conjures. RULE: you can only call out a maximum of 50% of your peers' inaccuracies. SO BE SELECTIVE. I know the urge to share your superior knowledge with the less informed is so biting, but you have to fight it. Be selfish with your intelligence sometimes. Next time someone incorrectly recalls the order of which Voldemort's horcruxes were destroyed, restrain the Hermione in you and just let the loud mistake go. 
  6. Make sincere efforts to find out how someone is doing. I stress the word sincere. Don't just ask how are you, wait for the I'm fine, and then leave it at that. If you do get the default answer, specify your question. How's your internship going? So how are you and Ryan doing? How did your big audition this weekend go? It will strike them as thoughtful that you had listened and remember what they might have mentioned ever so briefly in your last encounter. And don't ask with the expectation of them asking how you back so that you can share your "wonderful story". If it's really that wonderful, it'll find its own way of getting told; don't worry.
  7. Prone to cursing? I am a bit too, and to be honest I'm not aiming to give it up completely. I do however strongly advocate for moderation. I'm telling you to reduce the usage of your F, S, and B for your own good.  You know that overuse just wears off the impact of those words, which you probably don't intend for because once you've hit that stage you just look a pretentious wannabe with pathetically limited vocabulary and rhetoric. You also want to test your off-switch because there should be occasions in your life when you shouldn't swear. 
  8. Don't cut lines. 
  9. Don't be late. You know what you're saying to the person waiting for you when you are late? "You. Are. Not. Worth. My. Time." So if you're ALWAYS late, what do you think you are saying?
  10. Hoho, and the last one: don't name names in posts like these.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Developments [A Light Version]

  • My Blackberry committed suicide. 
  • Teaching career went national for a week. I kid you not.
  • Been enlightened and entertained by high school debaters.
  • The Girl Who Played With Fire is hot. (Yay, finished a book.)
  • Finally invested in a scanner and a natural-colored lipstick. Don't know how I ever lived without them.
  • Cried my brains out once this month. 
  • Got an "ICS" Android - today. If you know what high school I'm from, you'll understand how that acronym really throws me off.
  • Ran 10.55 km within time constraints (i.e. made it before the event ended), so I'm proud.
  • Marketing professor noticed that one day "the girl with green hair" didn't show up. I'm proud.
  • Gave into my irritation and got Aim to cut my bangs. I'm proud?
  • Found things in common with a girl named Shayan and a girl named June. Yay, new friends.
  • Can legally be on the road now. Yes.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Things I Don't Find Amusing

  1. Math.
  2. The Economist.
  3. Stereotypical characters on television. I want to see real people thank you very much.
  4. Academy Fantasia.
  5. Lin Ping. (Does anyone, seriously?)
  6. Macarons, though I have a lot of respect for people who make them.
  7. LMFAO (the acronym and the obnoxious "music" duo).
  8. Club dancing.
  9. 9GAG.
  10. "YOLO". Well, maybe you only live once, but I'm gonna keep coming back to life.
    This is the only form of YOLO that I will allow for (they don't even say YOLO in the song) :

If you feel the same, please reach out to me and know that you aren't alone.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Kansai, Ojamashimasu [Part 3]

3 Locations In 3 Days
Day 3: Kyoto
          You can't fully understand how culturally significant Kyoto is to Japan until you have seen it for yourself. The city is full of the old temples, classic artisan shops, and historic natural sites that we envision when we daydream about traditional Japan. But I always suspected that the real thing would not be as majestic as it appeared in my imagination. Well, guess what? I have been proven wrong. 
          Out of the city's 2000-something religious sites, there are two particularly outstanding ones that you must make sure to journey to and through: Fushimi Inari-taisha and Kiyomizu-dera.  
           I'm almost certain you recognize the photo above from Hollywood and travel ads. (The photo however is mine.) This iconic gateway that leads up to a Shinto temple is actually composed of many individual gate frames, each bearing the name of the business which donated it. I found this enchanting on so many levels. Besides raw aesthetics, this monument makes such a vivid statement about the belief in earning fortune and well-being. After that, I had to get over how systematic and cooperative the centuries-old custom of donating a uniform gate frame is. It says a lot about Japanese culture. And then there's the reality that this gateway has been growing longer over the years, and that walking through it is basically like walking through time... Just an absolutely stunning experience.

. . . . . . . . . . 

           Kiyomizu-dera - to the best of my translating abilities - means temple of pure water. It's a Buddhist temple known for how and where it is built... Kiyomizu-dera stands on the edge of Otowa Mountain, on some pretty complex stilts. There are no nails in the entire structure; rather, genius Japanese architects of the 8th century crafted large wooden beams to fit into each other perfectly. Sorta like legos.
           Among Japanese people, there is a common expression: "leaping off the edge of Kiyomizu" 
(kiyomizu no butai kara tobi oriru), which I believe is equivalent to "taking the plunge" or "taking the great leap of faith". I challenge you to use the expression. ;]
[photo by my friend, Oye Jarusilawong]
        Kiyomizu not only attracts foreigners, but Japanese people as well. Confirmed by my mother, it is custom for Japanese school students to take a class trip to Kiyomizu to receive blessings for their education. One of the ways you get your blessing is by drinking sacred water. I sat on some cool moss-covered rock and watched junior-high students line up and take their turns at catching the sacred water in long wooden ladles. In my opinion, you can appreciate the beauty of the ritual no matter what your religion is. 
Bought this orange umbrella on a whim that sunny day.

        The fun part about visiting Kiyomizu-dera is that the uphill path up to the legendary temple is flanked by two seemingly endless rows of homey novelty shops. TIP: do your best to ignore the shops while going up to the temple; enjoy every bit of them on your way down. And look for a totoro. It'll lead you to an inner cove of Ghibli.

Stopped by Kyoto Station for lunch before heading to the final stop in our adventure... 

        The last stop: Arashiyama ("Storm Mountain"), a peaceful, scenic district in Kyoto that contains the Sagano bamboo forest (among other notable natural sites). Strolling through the bamboo forest is a suspended moment too beautiful for words to accurately portray. You are surrounded by tall shoots that seem to penetrate the blinding sky and have no end. The only sounds you hear are subtle chirpings of crickets and birds and the silent awes from you and fellow travelers.  Your eyes can't escape the purest greenery that you thought had gone extinct by this century. It was another dimension that I wished I could have lingered in a little while longer.
You can opt for this too.
"Arigatou gozaimasu" (Thank you.)
Forest nymph.
Man in the forest who makes postcards.