“The Perfect Gift”

As you get older, you begin to realize that finding the “perfect gift” is near to impossible. It’s not because you don’t know what someone likes or what would make someone happy, but with age, you start to settle your mental list of likes and dislikes. In contrast to how each birthday you never really know what you want when someone asks you, when you’re young, every year there’s something new that you’re into. One year it’s boy bands, the next it’s guitar, the year after that is a phone – etc. etc.

Mom, I regret not knowing even now what to get you for Mother’s Day. In the past, it was always, “Sweetie, this gift will be from the both of us” because as a child, you look at your parents as people who have everything they need because you never stop to consider what they want.

So this post is not just an open letter to my dad for Father’s Day – but a thorough look into why I love my parents and why they helped shape me into the person I am today with what seemed like little to no effort. This is for both of you, Mom and Dad. This is for all the parents in my family. This is for all of you.

As children, you never really think about how hard your parents try. They come home from work, they kiss you goodnight, they make dinner seem like it’s just always meant to be there – that’s what life was. Mom and Dad have everything you need and they hand it to you because that’s the life they’re giving you – that’s the life they believe you deserve. When you get older and you live on your own, those meals start disappearing, replaced by last minute studying and hurried meals “because I just need to eat something.”

I will admit this post will not be entirely relate-able for some of my readers. At a young age, I realized that I had an abnormal relationship with my parents, but I didn’t realize exactly how different until people started pointing it out to me.

I text my parents “goodnight” everyday (almost, sorry, Mom). I eat with them at the dinner table. I tell them about my friends, and I tell them when I have a crush on someone at school. I go to them for advice and even go as far as to delegate my friends to them for advice as well.

Is that not normal?

Dad, you proposed to Mom after two weeks, and you’re still together.

Here I am, still meeting people who’ve been together for years and got divorced months later. You set the standard that marriage is a life-long thing.

“I can look, but I go home to Mom everyday.”

That’s marriage. You’re not limiting each other to the walls of the house you share because you aren’t sharing it. It’s not yours and hers – it’s yours. This home belongs to both of you; it isn’t shared. You don’t share your life with Mom; it’s your life.

And maybe you two are the reason why I have such high standards for friends – you two do as well.

For children with wonderful parents, have you ever stopped to figure out that your parents are the first best friends you made in your life? They are the only first best friends. And they are the best.

Yes, I know, again, this won’t apply to everyone but it certainly applies to me and a handful of people I can think of.

Yeah, sometimes I don’t understand you, and other times you don’t understand me. But as a family, even though you don’t understand, you still go to the dinner table – me in my spot and you both in yours – and eat, talk about the day, and enjoy each others’ company. Growing up, I never considered it as enjoying each others’ company, I just thought of it as dinner because that’s how you raised me. It was never an anomaly that “families who eat dinner together have a stronger bond” because that’s how it always was. We ate together, we did our separate activities in the living room together, and overall, at the end of the day, things were discussed together.

When I tell my friends I’m going on vacation with my parents, they say “aww” and for a few seconds I really wonder why. Is that not the norm?

The norm for me is telling my dad about my day. It’s feeling comfortable enough to talk about what frustrates me to a friend in front of my parents because I’m not afraid to let them hear what I have to say.

I remember some bits of advice every now and then.

“At this age, you’re trying to figure out what you want. And even if you can’t, you’re figuring out things that you don’t want.”

I never stopped to thank you for the childhood you gave me because it took me so long to see that this was not normal. Not all families have that transparency. Not all families go to Harry Potter World every year because it makes us laugh and feel happy. Not all families hug each other… just because. That’s not normal.

But that’s us.

So – thank you, Mom. Thank you, Dad. Thank you for setting this standard of life for me because without you I wouldn’t be aiming as high as I do. When it comes to guys, I think of you two first. Would you be proud of me for liking him? Would you speak of my relationship to the rest of our family with pride? And if the answer is no, then goodbye to that idea.

And maybe that’s why finding gifts is so difficult for me! I appreciate both of you everyday. I tell you I love you everyday. I spend everyday thinking of you two at least once, so what is one day out of the year to celebrate your existence supposed to mean to me? Really it means nothing. I appreciate that you are my parents everyday, and I’ll probably continue to do so for the rest of my life.

I get my quirks from you, I get my standards for life and love, I get my expectations – I get basically every aspect of my life as an adult from you. Will I ever forget that? No. I don’t think I ever will.

I know I’ve frustrated you in the past, and I know I’ve made you cry. I know I can achieve more and you believe I can as well, so I’ll continue to try and aim as high as you expect of me. I know I could have done more; I know I could have done this and that better. But I take pride in the fact that out of the millions of children who have said it in their adolescence, I have never once said I hate you. I don’t ever complain about you because – really – what is there to complain about? I learn from you because you were my first teachers. You were my first supporters, and my first friends. I never once regretted the life I had (or have) as an only child, and I know you’ve felt bad because I had no company growing up but did I really need it? No. I didn’t need it because you two did your best to give me that company that was essential to my development. I’m proud to be your child. I’m proud that you can go to your friends and say “my daughter did this” with pride because no one else raised me – it was all you two. The fact that I can be enough for you to speak of me with pride is all I could ever need to accomplish.

And perhaps, you both knew all of these things already, but in case you didn’t – here it is for you in writing.

Thank you for making my life what it is.

I love you both – I really do.

Happy Father’s Day.

“I Am No Stranger to Strangers.”

(Old image featured – 2015)

I am no stranger to strangers.

Every time something shifts in my life, I momentarily forget past occurrences and only look forward. My memory gets foggy, and the concept that “this seems familiar” disappears for half a second.

Thinking back, this is not the first time I’ve heard these words, sunk into these feelings, or received these blows. However, I do know one thing for sure – I’ve finally learned to handle it the way I should.

When it comes to red flags, it may or may not be obvious. For some people I meet, I get this anxious feeling. This particular knot that says,

Be friendly, but do not trust.

And when I feel this, I am sure to be on my guard. Do not get too close, do not reveal too much, and do not let them in.

The second kind of red flag comes in stages. There is a series of yellow flags before the red, and only when the red appears is it too late. When I was younger, I disregarded yellow flags for the sake of giving the benefit of the doubt – something I realized I am more than notorious for giving blindly.

I can recall a memory from when I was 14.

I was visiting a church with a friend who I now call stranger. I sat, feeling out of place when a girl walks in. She walked with confidence, and she had a presence that I admired. She was much older, much more mature than us.

I don’t like her. She’s full of herself. The underside of her hair is blue, and it’s tacky. No one likes her.

As my friend said this, I took her words and applied it over the girl’s image. Yet even as I did, the other young girls my age flocked her and showered her with compliments. In the midst of her mini gathering of fans, she turned to me.

Oh, you’re new! What’s your name? Are you coming here regularly now? I haven’t been here in a while, so I’m sorry if I didn’t recognize you.

I wanted to think she had on a facade for the sake of making a good first impression, but to this day, I really don’t think she was. We talked about her hair, and later she introduced me to her friend with whom I kept in contact with for some time.

From that small experience, I should have known better that your friends’ impressions of people become your own impressions. But what if that wasn’t a real friend? Would that make their impressions invalid?

I am no stranger to strangers.

Once at 10, once at 14, and again once more at 22.

There is no age limit for lessons to be learned. Fate will make you experience the same situations over and over again – same circumstances, different people – same feeling, different words said – until you finally learn which way is the right way.

So what have I learned?

Those who have high standards for whom they trust but who are not trustworthy are not to be regarded, and their impressions of me will not change my impression of myself.

Memories, once invalid, lose all sentimental value. When you originate the initial problem to its start date, all fond and happy moments lose meaning. Now, they are merely occurrences experienced with a stranger. Do not give them weight.

The friend who is meant to stay in your life will never leave. True friends have a purpose in your life, and regardless of the amount of time spent, there is more to be done. They are the non-romantic soulmates who will keep aiding along your spiritual growth. You may not always agree with each other, but you always find your way back. Being annoyed with each other is a natural thing, but if you let that annoyance tear you two apart, then it’s time to say goodbye.

I will not try to save a sinking ship that keeps sabotaging itself whether its intentional or not. The life savers on that ship have been thrown to me, but I will not bend. A sabotaged ship can save no one.

There is a reason why I say I trust my friends blindly.

Do what you want, I am not your keeper.

Make your mistakes because it is your life to live.

I will turn a blind eye to the malice others see because I befriend your character – your being – not your actions.

I trust you with my eyes shut because the moment a line is crossed, I can open my eyes, see you for the person I let you be, and turn away. That blind trust is gone, and you are a stranger once more.

There is no magical place where all lost friendships go. They dissipate into thin air, and life goes on. I let it go, and I won’t hold on.

It isn’t worth saving.

Temporary friends add filter to your vision that you must remove once they depart.

The genuine friends are the ones who keep your sight clear.

To the Next Guy Who Says He’s Always Been Attracted to Me

“I’ve always been attracted to you.”

While I don’t advocate the use of subliminal messages through Facebook statuses and Tweets, this needed to be said. Since last year, this phrase has been used on me a handful of times, and I think at this point it was more than pertinent to my life.

I don’t care.

I don’t care if you’ve always been attracted to me. I do not know you on an emotional level, and if I can’t even remember the last time (or the only time) I ever held a full conversation with you, do not say this to me. The only thought that goes through my head is, “if you were always attracted to me, why didn’t you tell me when I was attracted to you?” Needless to say, I’ve learned that even the nicest faces that can tempt the naive are the ones that disgust the ones who see right through you.

Sure, it sounds harsh, but this is me being honest.

This is the side of me that you do not know and probably have no desire to discover. You saying that you’ve always been attracted to me might be a compliment to my physical ego, but it is the biggest insult to my intellectual pride. This is the girl who you only look at from the surface; these are the words you will most likely never hear upfront because you have no desire whatsoever to know what is beneath my skin or – even worse – beneath my clothes.

I dress to showcase my personality. I was born with this face. I chose this style of makeup. Nothing is here to tempt you, tantalize you, or titillate your desires.

This craving of yours is temporary, and that is not what I want.

These words are your bait, but it isn’t the brand that will make me bite.

This message is by no means intended for the guys who mean this in the intellectual way, but now that I think about it, if you were attracted to my mind, there is no way you would have said this to me.

Being attracted to someone and liking someone are two completely different aspects. I can be attracted to you and have no intention of pursuing you. The one who invests in pure attraction is the fickle one, and the latter has the dedication that I need. I am not the expensive item on the shelf that you can con into a lower price because of a few words.

I do not care.

At the root of all things, the more you use that phrase on a girl who would be willing under the condition that you actually care, the more likely you are to be alone and without the company you will later crave. And when that one escapes – the one you really want for more than just the physical company – you will see what the others really wanted.

I do not want temporary.

I do not want emotionless company.

I do not want to be one of the bodies in the morgue of memories with no names because they’ve all been forgotten.

I put my value on a pedestal, and the only ones who I will let in will be the ones who see more than what I display for the world to see. They are the ones who see beyond the persona of a strong girl who can take care of herself. They are the ones who want the company I am willing to give.

Save your words and your superfluous efforts.

I’d rather be considered the one who got away than the girl who was weak to words.

 

LumiLife: The Importance of Conventions

Photo courtesy of NB Photography & Media
Model: Joeshmoe Cosplay

Passion cultivates domains. If you’re passionate about something, there’s a good chance there is an entire other group of people just like you who love the same thing. And when that happens, there is a wonderful possibility that there is a convention for it.

Everyone has heard of ComiCon, but have you heard of any others? Conventions rule all over the world – crowds of people from all over, gathering together to celebrate a mutual love for the same thoughts.

The first (notable) convention I ever attended was Anime USA in Washington, DC.  I’m not a huge fan of anime, but when you’re surrounded by so many people whose passion rings bells across the state, it’s difficult not to fall back into it. It was an amazing first experience, and many of the friends I have today, I met at this convention. Since then, I’ve attended AUSA twice, and I’ve also attended Katsucon and KCON.

It’s easy to think you’re alone in a fandom until you’ve attended a convention. On the east coast, especially in the state I’m in, the KPOP fandom is a very niche group. I flew all the way to LA to attend KCON, and it was an experience I will never forget. The entire area felt like home, and the people were just as welcoming. You could pick anyone from the crowd, strike up a conversation, and find a new friend. Conventions, in fact, stir up new hobbies and talents that can be used to benefit the people around you.

NB Photography & Media (photo owner) is an East Coast based photography group. Though they haven’t been around long, their photos have quality content and showcase how high caliber cosplay can be.

“I started going to cons in 2012, going with a small group of friends for panels concerts, etc. It was like that for three to four years until I got to travel out for cons. It was life changing because I was able to meet so many new people who I could call close friends now and hang out with them outside of cons. It’s a good way to network and just experience new environments and communities.” – Michael, NB

“I’m glad that the last Otakon in Baltimore was my first experience with conventions. I was able to make amazing memories and friendships with individuals with similar interests that extend beyond just that weekend! Otakon Day Zero will forever be one of the most lit events I have ever been to. I look forward to future cons and meeting more people because at the end of the day those connections leave the most lasting impressions.” – Christopher, NB

From my personal experience, the most notable memory I have is of a young cosplayer who happened to be standing by me. We danced a bit to some KPOP choreography, but I didn’t notice how excited she was to feel included until she thanked me for letting her dance with me. It was a small and pleasant reminder of how being yourself around hundreds of strangers can get you noticed.

“Cons are a vacation from reality. Everyone is doing the same thing. There’s judgement, but who cares? Everyone is enjoying what they’re interested in and having fun.” – Michael, NB

PSA for anyone who thinks they have no one to connect with in their fandom: go to a convention. You’ll meet some of the best people in the world.

Buy a Book, You Need It

I revel in the latest age of technology as much as the next young adult.

After a while, I started to forget the novelty of feeling a book in my hands, the scent of the paper coming off the page. Today’s read is whiskey words & a shovel III by r.h. Sin. And I honestly cannot remember the last time I found a book that I connected to as much as I did with this one.

It’s very rare for a writer to find a piece of literature that might as well be theirs. Your words are your own, and there is a distinct quality to every writer that is immensely difficult to replicate. Without the soul of the original writer, it all just becomes words on paper.

I read this book backwards, starting from the middle. With each page I found words that I might have told someone else and words that I would have loved to hear. It’s an incredible ability to read what might as well have been a letter from your past life.

Note to self: thank an author any chance you get. You never know whose life they’re changing.

IMG_20170405_135936_031

Why Everyone is Losing Patience with Love

“A fine mix of unicorn blood, witches brew, and broken hearts.”

There are two priorities Millennials have nowadays. One might lead to the other, but ultimately, we choose one for the time being as we ignore the other.

In my opinion, a majority of young adults within my age bracket can willingly admit to focusing on work as a priority. Due to the competitive nature of the current economy and overall job market, putting all focus on our career is deemed as a completely sensible outlook on life. This general subsection of young adults who put work/education above all other matters have goals to keep, and there is little room to distract.

The second and most cliched priority that anyone would be embarrassed to own up to is love. I think most people secretly wish for it, but, upfront, love is a fairytale – it’s for the foolish, for the weak – and love is the only force in this world that breaks you faster than you can break yourself.

There’s nothing wrong with love. It’s beautiful and perfectly flawed. It generates dreams beyond reality with little fuel required. Scraps of hope bloom into fantasies, music, and the subjectively inevitable romance. No, there is nothing wrong with love.

The flaw and the dilemma lies within the effects of love.

Think of romance like a bottle of liquor, unopened and chilled, a crystal blue glass visage, tightly and securely sealed by a flimsy piece of metal worth no more than two pennies. That safety seal breaks at the first glance, and it might remain as such until you get curious enough to expose that liquor to the air. But who knows how long that will take? Minutes, hours, months – however long until the curiosity  burns through your fingertips.

That first charming sentence – however impactful it may be – is what opens bottles. And as the conversations take place, a shot goes down every time your heart beats a little too fast.

(Everyone holds their alcohol differently – so relate these numbers as you would to your own pace.)

The first shot burns, and the initial panic hits your stomach yet something tells you to continue. Shot number four is when you begin to laugh too easily, and number five is when the room starts to spin. By the eighth, everything slows except for your thoughts.

Even if you choose to stop sipping, the alcohol sits, blending in with your bloodstream until you don’t actually know if it’s still there or not.

Under good circumstances, the high remains until the affection is so secure you don’t need to drink anymore. You stay awake until the blur fades, and you can sleep peacefully knowing all will be well in the morning. This is the route we all wish for from the moment that seal is broken – an infinite inebriation and a sweet surrender to affection.

I don’t think it’s the most common route, and this is probably why the bottles cease to pop or cheaper, more destructive bottles are chosen.

In the more common and most plausible route, you lay down in the midst of the rumbling in your head – that only makes it worse. However it may happen, the bottle might be taken away or you choose to close it on your own with whatever strength you have – you know as you shut your eyes that the hangover is inevitable. The emptiness and the tears, the broken words and the wrong steps – the hangover can last as long as you let it until your body finally goes back to normal.

And suddenly that bottle and its taste is just another memory either to be looked at with fondness or discomfort.

It’s unfortunate that too many people experience the hangover until they can’t bear to even look at another bottle. Not enough dreamers get to live the life-long happily drunken state before being abruptly shaken awake.

The patience for those who made love a priority has worn thin. Eventually, all the dreamers of the world will return to reality.

LumiLens: Andi Mack

Let me start off by saying I am entirely part of the anti Neo-Disney movement. I’m part of the early 90s generation that grew up with Lizzie McGuire, Even Stevens, and Phil of the Future. That was the time of my life when overly complicated jokes like the ones that grace the script of Archer didn’t really matter, and all I needed was some classic humor and sassy female leads to get my day going. That was the era of Disney that helped shape my personality (I wonder where all the wit came from?). So, again, I am 100% anti Neo-Disney.

But… I freaking adore Andi Mack.

First things first, look at how adorable Peyton Elizabeth Lee is. Her pixie cut was something I didn’t have the guts to achieve until I was a junior in high school, and here she is, just turning 13 (in the show), and she’s rocking it. IT’S THOSE CHEEKS! The cheeks, the teeth, oh goodness, I’m fangirling over her as we speak! Alongside all of those things that she was born with, towards the end of the pilot episode, she sports an aqua blue oriental style embroidered bomber jacket. If I could have a little sibling in another life, I hope it’s her. If only I had that sense of style when I was hitting puberty…

I wouldn’t have paid much attention to Andi Mack had I not seen an article come across my Facebook newsfeed about the amazing plot twist at the end of the show’s pilot. Honestly, I assumed it had something to do with the LGBT movement since the new Beauty and the Beast live action movie announced that two gay characters would be part of the storyline, and the community has been raving about the representation in recent media. This was not the case for Andi Mack.

SPOILER ALERT:

Teen pregnancy as a show hasn’t been a thing since the Secret Life of the American Teenager (of which I only saw the first episode and proceeded to mindlessly skim until I got the gist of everything that happened). It’s revealed in the later half of the pilot that Andi’s badass big sister Bex is actually not her sister – she’s her mom.

Lilan Bowden is gorgeous, and she fits the role of a big sister well. This show actually makes you think from the child’s point of view instead of the mother’s like in the Secret Life. Since Andi is already at that age when she’s starting to declare her independence, you can see it more from how she’s trying to approach the situation instead of her sister’s thoughts. Now, I think Bex’s story could start an entirely other show, but I’m guessing her backstory is going to be revealed as the season goes on.

Congratulations, Disney! I can see the direction you’re heading to. Starting with Girl Meets World, Disney Channel is reaching back to their crowd from the 1990s by approaching them through their children with real life situations. I guess you could consider that a fusion between a kids show and adult life resulting in a valuable life lesson? Teen pregnancy definitely isn’t something you’d want your five year old finding fun, but many parents these days are in their early 20s. These are the parents who grew up with Lizzie as well, and Lizzie’s creator Terri Minsky came back with a huge slap to the Millenial’s warped vision of entertainment with Andi Mack.

Remember the days when even Mom and Dad loved Disney Channel and enjoyed it with you? Maybe it’s time for those days to make a comeback.

Best of luck to the cast of Andi Mack! Looking forward to supporting you through your careers.

You can watch the first episode of Andi Mack here!

Follow Peyton Elizabeth Lee on Instagram!

Follow Lilan Bowden on Instagram!

Make sure to follow LumiScript for more reviews!

LumiLens: Midnight in Paris

Sure, I’m six years too late, but, if you’re like me, I find solace in the movies I’ve seen a hundred times. But every now and then, I get the urge to watch something new. I’d wanted to watch Midnight in Paris right when it came out, but I confess I procrastinated. So when I saw it appear on Netflix, I was ready to jump at it. Let’s dive into this film.

Have you ever heard of a soulmate? I’m sure you have. But I’ve heard one more step into that – I was told once before that if your spirit craves for a place you’ve never been to before, a place that even though you’ve only stepped foot on its soil for a couple of days, and it truly feels like home, it means your soulmate is there. It’s your soul city. It’s the sensation of being homesick for a place that you’ve never even been to.

In Midnight in Paris, directed by Woody Allen, Gil Pender struggles with his one-sided love and passion for the city and his one-sided love for his fiancee Inez. She’s a seemingly independent woman who shows more emotion for her college crush than she does for her fiance, and Gil is a hopeless romantic author who is in love with Paris. She finds his passion for the city childish and can only see the amount of romance one might experience from seeing a black and white postcard of the Eiffel Tower. As his passion carries him forward, at the stroke of midnight, a 1920s style cab pulls up in front of him and he finds himself in the presence of the world’s most famous writers and artists. He is able to find inspiration from their company and their 20s era state of mind.

If I’m being honest, this movie wasn’t amazing. I’m not a huge fan of Owen Wilson, and unfortunately, I know too many girls like Inez that it actually made me angry to watch her character obviously disregard her fiance’s hopes and dreams.

However, this is fuel for a writer. I never take pleasure in calling myself a writer. I haven’t published anything, and I find too much embarrassment whenever someone even attempts to read my writing out loud. But I take pride in the responses I’ve received over the years from anything I’ve written. Writers hold an immense amount of power, and it’s a special type of force that can change their readers’ emotions at the drop of a hat. To conjure up enough sadness from a third person, to make them cry, to make them laugh, to make them feel what your character feels – this is a power not easily harnessed. Authors are the real rulers of the generation. Through writing, cities are moved and passion is born.

And while I confess that Midnight in Paris is not on my list of favorite movies, it inspired me. I haven’t written anything in months, and that saddens me. Sometimes the passion to write can falter because of the obstacles that one experiences in life. And I never like to put out anything that I deem subpar. The words need to be perfectly placed, and I need to be able to read it like I didn’t write it and feel the emotions I was attempting to convey.

Midnight in Paris is the perfect depiction of a modern hopeless romantic’s journey to find the words held back by the life he lived. And in the end, he let go of that seemingly idealistic facade, and found his way back to the romance through his adventures in Paris.

How beautiful.

What It’s Like to be the Friendly Girl

Whenever I meet knew people, there’s a reasonable amount of eye contact. I shake their hand and introduce myself with a smile, making sure they know that it really is a pleasure to meet them. I’m here to be a new friend, and if you’d let me, I would like us to eventually trust each other.

“Girls don’t usually introduce themselves.”

I was told this once, and I honestly wondered if it was really that weird that I introduced myself.

“It’s not weird. It makes you stand out.”

But I’m not trying to. I want to be friendly; I want to make a good impression. I don’t want someone new to think that I’m stand-off-ish or cold.

“You friendzoned him.”

How… How can I friendzone someone when no romantic advance was ever assumed or hinted at? I didn’t do anything. I treat him like everyone else.

“That’s how you friendzoned him. You made him feel special, then he saw that was how you act with every guy you know.”

PAUSE.

See? This is what it is to be the friendly girl. I can’t shake one guy’s hand without him thinking I’m interested, and in addition to that, I can’t shake a second guy’s hand without the first one thinking that, no, I’m interested in the latter. Are manners that uncommon nowadays that this is the kind of thinking that most people adapt? Wow, she’s talking to me and seems genuinely interested in what I have to say, so maybe she likes me.

There’s fault on both sides of thinking. Just because I want to hear what you have to say doesn’t mean that I look at you romantically. I have my own opinions, and I want to hear yours because maybe I’m talking to a kindred spirit who prefers dogs to cats. And on the other side, what makes you so sure I’m not interested after seeing me equally engaged in a conversation with someone else?

It seems like it’s so rare to find the common courtesy society used to have. It used to be normal for anyone to shake someone else’s hand and not get the wrong idea. Be classy, be confident, be welcoming to the world – but now that means the same thing as being flirtatious.

What’s your opinion on being the nice girl/guy?