Monday, May 31, 2010

The Beauty of Animation: Earth Girl Arjuna

As soon as I saw this music video, I thought that I had to see this anime. The anime is called Earth Girl Arjuna and you don't need to know anything about this show to understand the beauty of animation. So, take a look at the incredible things that animation can accomplish.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Infinite Ladder

I skimmed through the vanilla colored letter until I saw the sentence, “We regret to inform you that your name did not appear on the list of winners this time.” I smiled.

“Why are you happy?” My brother snatched the letter from my hands and skimmed through the scribbles of black ink. “It says that you didn’t win anything. Why are you smiling?”

“I’m happy because this is just another step. I just took another leap forward.”

My brother gripped both of my shoulders and made me stare into his green lake eyes. “Are you going crazy?” He shook me violently.

“You have to be sometimes,” I reminded him as I pushed his hands gently off my shoulders. I ran upstairs to my room to read the letter again. It did not change. It remained the color of vanilla. It remained a rejection. It remained in my hands and was not thrown away in the garbage.

Stephen King, my idol, had a bunch of rejections before any of his works were published. Ray Bradbury got tons of rejections for his short stories. Many great writers received rejections. Many bad writers, as well. All of them had their first steps in the business of the craft, now, so did I.

I sent in something I wrote not too long ago titled, “In Mind, Out of Sight.” One of the first stories I wrote on the blog. Most people enjoyed the story, so I decided to send that into the Armenian Allied Arts Association (AAAA) Writing Competition. I did not win, I am not sad, and the weird thing was that I was happy.

Night approached as the sun sank back into the ground on the other side. My mother came home from work. She came inside the house with a white letter and a CD in her hands. She handed them both to me.

The letter was from Steve Lassos, “The Most Interesting Man in the World,” who just happened to work next door to my mother’s store. I read his words and ended up with the same smile that happened earlier this afternoon.

He wrote:

“I was very pleased and flattered with the blogspot about me and your experience in the salon. I’ve forwarded it to a couple of people that I know that are either teachers or interested in quantum mechanics, science fiction, and philosophy. For it is said, that it is today’s dreamers that make tomorrow’s realities…” The letter continued to say that the CD held an interview with a man, who was a B-24 pilot and met Thornton Wilder by complete accident during World War II.

The line that stuck with me was, “For it is said, that it is today’s dreamers that make tomorrow’s realities.”

I dream.

I dream everyday that someday my works will be published. I will have a hardcopy of a book I had written in my hands. I dream and I aspire. I am trying to make that into tomorrow’s reality even though I was hit in the face with rejection. I was hit, but I remained standing.

So, now I tuck both these letters and the CD that I watched inside my folder that has all my kept memories, all my Sentimentals, so that I may remember that I am still on the path. It has only just begun. The first step on that ladder toward the top. How many pegs separate the top from me? Probably hundreds. I cannot see that far up. The ladder seemed to reach toward the sky.

I smiled thinking of the cliché, “The sky’s the limit.”

And so I placed my foot on the second step.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Mental Snack (18)

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"I write to tell stories. I believe that there are some professions in the world that will last forever: doctor or a nurse, teacher, builder, and a storyteller. I write also to become myself, more so day by day. Writing is a way to shape out visible and invisible, in myself as well as in the world." Eppu Nuotio

* Thank you, Liana Aghajanian, for this awesome quote.

What is your profession, dear reader? Are you satisfied with what you're doing? If not, then what profession do you want to get into?

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Speech That Never Was

Our school has a celebration every year known as Paradon, which is sort of like an open house. This year the closing ceremony never happened because most of what was supposed to be our audience left. The senior class of 2010 had a speech/essay thing prepared with some songs by the band club, but it never happened. I wrote this speech, because no one else volunteered. I didn't write the speech, because I wanted to show-off or boast my ego, but to tell everyone of my good times and my memories. I wanted to tell everyone what I believed senior year was all about. So, since I didn't get to say my beliefs last night, I will share it with you on the almighty Internet. If there are any grammar mistakes or whatnot, I am sorry in advance. This was meant to be read aloud and grammar wasn't meant to be taken in consideration.

If you ask me, “What will you miss from AGBU?”

I’ll probably answer, “Everything.”

If you ask me, “What will you remember from being here so long?”

I’ll tell you with a smile, “Everything.”

I will miss the traffic-filled hallways, the long cafeteria lines, the annoying bells that would ring. I will miss Mrs. Bedrossian’s lectures, Mr. Martin’s crazy stories, Baron Agopian’s smile, Mrs. Joukjian’s kookiness, and Dr. Kojayan’s timeless lectures. I will miss the endless bickering, the awesome band club songs, the powerful dramas of Mrs. Alvarez’s conservatory, Nalbandian calling out “Ha!” and “What are you doing?” as she chases students down the hallway. I will miss the classic walks I had with my friends down those same hallways, dodging people left and right. The sixth graders and seventh graders running amuck. The Lena jokes. The fighting with Raffi D. during Armenian class; he just won’t shut up at times. The adventures to Daglas and 7/11 to get burgers and Ice-E’s. Chilling with Mr. Burns in his comfortable office. The car rides with friends, were always the best, even if they are yelling, “Vatche, watch out for that car!” when there are no cars in sight and only tumbleweed flies by. The mom’s gossiping in the parking lot, “How’s Armineh doing, by the way?” Those are the memories that will last a lifetime.

The day that will last forever in our heads though, would probably be the very last day. Signing shirts, partying, stuffing cupcakes down each other’s throats. Tears rolling down our faces like rivers, while we cracked smiles and jokes. We laughed and cried not only with each other, but also with the teachers as they told us their favorite moments and spoke to us with voices of reason. They opened our minds to the world throughout all these years and now they opened the biggest door of all: hope. Hope in being successful in the real world, outside of this Armenian bubble.

For that one period of time, we actually looked like a family and not classmates, not teachers, not students. We still are a family. That’s how I’ll remember them and how they will remember me, because it’s engraved in my mind. The images that flash before my eyes. The noises and sweet music playing in my ears.

How can I ever forget the loud screams as we cheered each other at basketball, volleyball, or soccer? The terrible smell of Axe deodorant next to the lockers? Or the beautiful smell of the roses in front of the gates of our school? The touch of a friend’s head lying on my shoulder? A hug from someone I didn’t think liked me at all? The amazing smiles of all my classmates? The jokes played on each other and teachers? Fights in the hallways? Dances and piggyback rides? The slides and boxing matches? How can I ever forget? How can I ever?

What about all those obstacles we faced, whether alone or together? They were eventually conquered. The death of a parent. The loss of a friend. The endless mountains of homework. Three or four tests in a single day. The colds and the flus. The APs. Mid-terms. Finals. Calculus. Ms. Busch and her Turbo-Tea. The changing of the school rules. Mr. Paulos. (Especially, that last one. Seriously, a quarterly? You got to be kidding me?)

How many years have we spent with each other? Fifteen long ones. It was scary these last few weeks, because we just realized that this was finally the end. The end of high school, as we knew it, was upon us, and somehow we got closer to each other. We became a family, whether we liked it or not. We are each other’s brothers and sisters, standing strong together, having each other’s backs.

Though this is the end of high school, it’s not the end of our lives, because our lives are just beginning. We are seventeen, eighteen, or nineteen years old. We still have a century to conquer. We have technology to invent, roads to pave, skyscrapers to build, novels to write, masterpieces to be drawn, and albums to play. College and the real world, those are the next levels in the game of life. To succeed, we have to remember our past. We have to remember what we have conquered. Though I would like to pause this moment in time, I can’t. Life just goes on and I’m glad that my family of 2010 was a part of it.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Most Interesting Man in the World

He lives vicariously through himself. He once taught a German shepherd to bark in Spanish. His personality is so magnetic, he is unable to carry credit cards. He can speak French in Russian. He never says something tastes like chicken—not even chicken. He's been known to cure narcolepsy, just by walking into a room. His blood smells like cologne. He once had an awkward moment, just to see how it feels. His organ donor card also lists his beard. Even his enemies list him as their emergency contact number. He is the most interesting man in the world,” I listened to the Dos Equis commercial on the radio. Everyone has at least seen it once or heard about it. As I imagined all the weird stuff this guy has supposedly done, I also began to think about who was the most interesting person I’ve ever met.

I scratched my head and that’s when it hit me. “Steve. Steve Lassos is probably one of the most interesting.” He probably wasn't like the most interesting person in the world, but he was the most interesting person in my world.

Steve is a barber, my barber, at De Castilian Hairstyling. When I first met him, he told me he knew a bunch of random facts, because he could never sleep at night. He is meant to sleep on the other side of the world, because he just can’t wake up in the mornings and sleep at night.

I shook his hands firmly, two years ago, as he introduced himself. “You can call me, Steve or Mr. Wikipedia,” he gave a heart-warming laugh, “which ever one you prefer, of course.”

As he would cut my hair, I would ask him, “What are you reading now?”

He would tell me of the Sleeping Prophet, Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, the Chariot of the Gods, Newton’s Bucket, and research on other dimensions. When I took my haircut at other places, I used to dread talking to the person cutting my hair. They would always focus on something dull and trivial like school, homework, and road trips.

Don’t I get enough of that from my parents?

Just this week I got my haircut and I was talking to Steve about writing a novel on aliens. I could see in his eyes that he already began going through the file cabinets in his mind, “You should go see a movie by Steven Spielberg called Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It should help you with your novel.”

“I will definitely rent it from Blockbuster this weekend,” I told him with a smile as I looked at my weird hairstyle in the mirror, because my haircut was halfway done. “I’m going to have the characters meet up at Roswell, because that’s where it all started.”

“Sounds like a perfect script for a movie to me,” he added as he cut away the remnants of my old hairstyle. “You know, speaking of Roswell, you should check out this guy, Jesse Marcel. He’s a military official, who worked on the cover-up operation for Roswell. He wrote a book, actually, right before he died of cancer. He figured that since he was going to die anyway, he would write the truth. What could the government possibly do to him that’s worse, eh?”

“Yeah,” I agreed as tiny pieces of brown hair flew in front of my eyes and onto the tile floors.

“So, check up on that. Where are the aliens from, in your story?” Steve took out a blow-dryer.

“I think I’m going to have them be from another dimension.”

He cut off the power to the blow-dryer. “You know, maybe you should have them be from another galaxy or planet, because people are still trying to grasp the whole dimension concept. It’ll be easier on you to write that they came from another galaxy, because there are actually facts on that.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right, especially since the whole Stephen Hawking incident.” I nodded my head as he finished blow-drying my hair.

My haircut was complete, our conversation finished, and Steve already had his next customer waiting. I stepped outside of the barbershop saying my goodbyes to Steve and all the other barbers. I walked into the world with not only a new haircut, but also a new load of topics to research because of one man. Steve. One of the most interesting people in the world that I know.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Mental Snack (17)

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"Iamdudum in multitudine astrorum, longe, immo longissime..." (Latin)


"Long ago in a galaxy far, far away..." ~ George Lucas, Star Wars

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

*Special Post*

Halt! Do not be alarmed! This is the same site you visited a few days ago! This is the Student Writer's Mind.

I changed the blog to reflect the change in my life from high school to college. I've updated a few things, because my own life is being updated right now.

Posts will still regularly occur on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays.

Enjoy the new look! :)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Inspiring Animation

One of the few things that inspires me to write everyday is what I see in animation (mostly Japanese animation). Some of the greatest stories are the ones that aren't in our countries or our I ventured into Japanese culture looking for these great stories. Don't disregard it. These animations each have a story to tell. You might think that animation is for children, but these stories aren't for children all the time. They are also for you: the adult, the teenager, the mother, father, or grandparent. Stories of love and hate, deception and friendship, losses and gains, death and life. If you disregard this, imagine what you're missing out on?

Here's a video montage that shows some of the great animations that I've discovered. Enjoy.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Writing about Fear: Tarot

“What do you even write about?” Adrian, my friend, asked me.

“I write about fear.” I looked him in the eyes. “The darkest fears of any human being, of the known and the unknown, because that is what people want to read.”

“So you’re a horror writer?” Adrian took a chip from a yellow-colored bag and began to chew rather loudly. “Scare the crap out of the people, because you get kicks out of it?” He rubbed his index finger and thumb together so that the chip’s crumbs may disappear into the air.

“I don’t write about just any old fear. I write about my own fears.” I brushed the crumbs off the restaurant’s table. Still, some pieces remained. I began to pick them off, one by one.

“So, you scare the crap out of yourself?” Adrian took a sip from his water bottle and washed away the salty remains of the previous chip.

“Not really,” I said softly.

“Then what the hell do you do?!” He dropped the water bottle down with a force.

“I release myself onto the page. If I write about it, I guess I feel as though I’m releasing all those fears. Fears of the supernatural, of being haunted, of being drowned, of being adopted, of being abducted, of playing cards.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa.” He put his hand up as if to halt all my words, so that they may pass through his mind, one at a time. “Playing cards?”

“Well, not exactly, playing cards.” I smiled knowing that my words caught his attention.

“Then, what type of cards?” Adrian’s black pupils became darker and grew tenfold.

“Tarot,” I whispered.

“What the heck is that?” He crumpled up the plastic carcass of the potato chip bag.

“Fortune-telling cards,” I waved my hand in the shape of an arch.

“You believe in that stuff.”

“To be in writing, you have to believe in a lot of things. If you don’t believe in something you write in, how can the reader believe?”

“I guess you’re right,” he nodded his head, “but, come on, fortune-telling cards?”

“You probably won’t believe me, but I have a pack of ‘em and a book that describes what each one represents. I got them in tenth grade, because I was planning to write a story on them.”

“What’s the story about?” Adrian got up from the table.

“That’s not important.” I also got out of my seat. “What is important is what happened when I started playing with that stuff. I even brought them to school once and played with a group of friends. We were all just joking, but when a teacher saw—”

“What did she say?” He asked as we stepped onto the pavement of the parking lot. The sun shined directly over our heads and made Adrian’s spiky black hair gleam.

“She told us that we shouldn’t be messing around with tarot cards. They were dangerous.”

“They are pieces of cardboard with funny drawings on them, aren’t they? What’s so dangerous about that?” Adrian’s steps were heavy on the gravel, while mine were almost silent. Rocks quaked underneath his feet, because of his great height and husky size.

“They’re supposedly evil and I don’t touch them anymore. Every sign of bad luck that I got, I blamed on those cards. I locked them away in my cabinet, so that they never see the light of day. I kept the book though, because I still had to write the story, but the cards remain there in that dark cabinet, where they belong until this day.”

“So you really believe in this oogie-boogie stuff, huh? I would’ve never guessed it.” He opened the door to his car and slipped inside. He rolled down the window to say his goodbyes and extend his hand.

I grabbed it firmly. “You know, I think it was Neil Gaiman, who once said that people who write horror are always the nicest people, because they get everything down on the page. All that hatred and evil disappears from their souls, because the page absorbs that kind of stuff.”

“Well, you’re a nice guy and though I haven’t read much of your writing, it’s not evil or hatred that I see in it.” Adrian put his car into reverse. “The page absorbs more than just that.”

“So what do you see in my writing?” I called out to him.

“I see the reflection of your heart. I think you wrote about that on your blog once, but you were talking about your piano playing. Like one of the commentators on your blog said, ‘The same can be said about writing.’ Writing can be the reflection of your heart. Anyway, see yah later.” Adrian drove off and merged into the faceless traffic ahead.

I was left speechless in the parking lot as he drove away. The brownish-gray dust that collected on his car flew into the air and vanished. The thoughts of our conversation didn’t.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Mental Snack (16)

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"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." ~ Hunter S. Thompson *

* Thank you, Scott Madden for telling me this quote earlier today!

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Axis of Awesome- "The Four Chord Song"

As their name suggests, these guys are truly awesome.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Meeting a Legend: David Sedaris

(A picture of David Sedaris NOT taken by my mom)

As we drove home, I reflected on what I now held in my hands: two tickets, several books in a bag, and a condom. How in the hell did this happen?

It was late at night as my mother drove us home. The lights outside were bright, but these lights weren’t the streetlamps that lit the city during times of darkness. The ramp to the 405 going north was closed apparently and the construction crew’s giant lamps lit the streets in strong beams of white light.

“Great!” My mom scowled at the construction workers getting their tools from the orange boxes in the back of their trucks.

“Did you enjoy the show?” I tried to ease her down and take her anger off the construction workers. She turned her eyes toward me and forced a smile. I looked at the condom in my hand and laughed. “Come on, mom, it was funny.”

“Funny?” She repeated the word as if it was foreign to her.

“I mean, don’t you think it was lucky of us to get to UCLA on time? And also aren’t we lucky to have gotten my books signed by David Sedaris right before they cut off the line behind me?”

“Yeah, I guess luck was on our side today.” She pushed her dirty-blond hair out of her eyes and behind her ear, so that she could see the road clearly. “But I still don’t like what he did when you finally got your books signed.”

“Well, I just told him that I was an eighteen-year old writer, who just graduated, and then he all of the sudden started searching for something in his blue bag. How was I supposed to know what he put into my hands? I was just as surprised as you were. He said that it was a ‘graduation present’ from him to me.” I smiled.

“And that ‘graduation present’ ended up being a condom,” my mom added.

“He’s a comedian, really,” I reassured her.

“Yeah, lucky you warned me. I would’ve punched his lights out if he wasn’t.”

I laughed loudly as I thought of my warm, kind-hearted mom punching out David for his actions. “Still,” I wiped a tear from my eye, “you didn’t answer my question: what did you think of him?”

“He’s a nice guy, I guess,” she forced herself to say, “but he better cool it with the sex jokes. How are those pictures I took of him though? Did any of them turn out good?”

I almost forgot of my mom’s secret pictures; David wouldn’t let us take any of him, because he didn’t like how he looked. So I asked my mom, who was bad with technology, to sneak in and take pictures of him while he signed books. I flipped on the digital camera and noticed that all the pictures were terrible. A picture of a coat. A hand. My mom’s thumb. A blurry person. Darkness.

“How are they? Awesome, right?”

“Mom, they suck.” I turned off the camera and stared at the road with her.

“Well, I tried,” she sighed.

“We seriously have to train you on how to handle a camera.”

“What can I do? He didn’t want any photos.”

“Well,” I said thinking about how nervous mom was on taking pictures of him, “whatever.”

She led us through the dim lit streets as the darkness covered the sky. Though I had no good pictures of David Sedaris, I still had some pictures, at least. Not only that, but I had the signatures in my books, the memory, and of course, the condom.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Mental Snack (15)

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"For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Arcade Fire - "Wake Up"

Check out this awesome song by the Arcade Fire titled, "Wake Up." When I first listened to this song, I was speechless. The words and the music, when combined, created a melody for the heart and mind. The lyrics are very special to me; maybe they might be special to you too. Take a breath and listen...

Lyrics to the Arcade Fire's "Wake Up":

Somethin’ filled up
my heart with nothin’,
someone told me not to cry.

But now that I’m older,
my heart’s colder,
and I can see that it’s a lie.

Children wake up,
hold your mistake up,
before they turn the summer into dust.

If the children don’t grow up,
our bodies get bigger but our hearts get torn up.
We’re just a million little god’s causin rain storms turnin’ every good thing to rust.

I guess we’ll just have to adjust.

With my lighnin’ bolts a glowin’
I can see where I am goin’ to be
when the reaper he reaches and touches my hand.

With my lighnin’ bolts a glowin’
I can see where I am goin’
With my lighnin’ bolts a glowin’
I can see where I am go-goin’

You better look out below!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Saying Goodbye

Yesterday, I didn’t see my school as a place that gave out mountains of tests by sneaky teachers or for it looking like a prison. What I saw on the last official day of school of senior year was a home.

I saw my friends signing shirts with tears in their eyes as they remembered the good times. I listened to the teachers giving their last lectures. Endless amounts of cakes, brownies, and cookies handed out on paper plates to craving hands. I noticed the faces of the people I grew up with had all grown into the faces of mature adults. It has been several long years and with each student, I’ve had a memory that I will cherish and forever remember.

All my friends, classmates, and teachers signed my old, white school shirt with their catchphrases, drawings, and wishes. They chose a color from a dozen and told me what they had to say in simple words.

“Vatche, always follow your dreams and aspirations. Best of luck,” Shant S. wrote in capital blue letters.

“Stitch!!! I love you my little bro!!! I don’t know how it happened or when, but I’m glad it did! You are an amazing writer, but above all else, you are an amazing person. Never stop being who you are,” Ani C. (A.K.A *Dreamer*) wrote in purple letters and instead of ending it with a period, she ended it with a heart.

“Stay creative. Be you. Love, Anne-Marie.”

“You’re like the coolest writer I know,” written by Hrag, one of my oldest friends.

“Keep writing! See you in Irvine. Zot! Zot!— Ani S.”

Thousands upon thousands of words and almost a hundred signatures are all on this shirt. My white polo was now flooded with the colorful memories of everyone and I thank all of them for the time they shared with me: the laughs, the cries, the fights, the brawls, the competitions, the obstacles, the tests, the deaths, the games, the love, the hate, and the connections that were made.

I have a lot of junk on my shelf and in my drawers. Keepsakes (or Sentimentals, that’s what I like to call them) from the seashells I found on Malibu Beach on my eighteenth birthday to the fortune I received on the day I went to Knott’s Berry Farm for Senior Ditch Day. The paper airplane I found on the school’s floor that was ridden with math problems and next to it was Amy’s silver watch. A blue stone I found in my pocket with the words “GRATITUDE” engraved on it that didn’t belong to anyone in my family, so I decided to keep it. A wonderful friend’s Christmas Teddy Bear that sat idly staring at me with its beady eyes.

But, the greatest Sentimental I have, by far, is now this shirt with all those beautiful signatures. Thank you, Class Family of 2010, you guys are truly the best.