Where in the World is Zel?

I’m sure you’ve all been wondering. It almost feels like I dropped off the face of the planet with the blog. Especially when I was hyped up about my trip to Japan and was prepping to write about it and share all the fun things I got to experience. But alas, I disappeared. So again, I’m sure it’s been a question that’s been on your mind (haha I hope so anyways). So, what the heck happened to Zel?

I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus, obviously. After the trip, I got overloaded with work. Like 50-60 hour weeks + coming in on weekends. So yeah, having to deal with that right after coming back from my vacation was just draining. It was like I couldn’t breathe let alone relax and recuperate. I’ve also started to notice this gnawing feeling of anxiety in the pit of my stomach about stuff – but I won’t get into that too much. But for some reason it’s left we feeling weirdly insecure about my writing for no good reason.

April was maelstrom of events, and feelings. It was just completely overwhelming, and now I’m dealing with the aftermath with a bit of self-care.

I couldn’t find it in myself to write anything for the last few weeks. Was it writer’s block? Maybe. Maybe it was because I’m surrounded by so many talented writers via the Podcast and the OWLS group, that me stepping away meant that I could no longer keep up with those that I consider my friends. I’m not one for competition, but the more amazing content people came up with the more I started to doubt my own self-worth and resentment started to build. Like I said, I got wildly insecure for absolutely no reason, it’s like all confidence went out the window.  How does that happen in a span of two weeks? Hell if I know. Next thing I know, that pressure kept building and building and that led to some anxiety, and the more I dreaded to look at my blog. Honestly, I’m still feeling some type of way, but it’s getting better.

I decided that I should just let it be. Forget the pressure of those weekly posts I was doing and just really relax. Just take my time and do whatever the heck I wanted. The blog will be there, it will always be there. I just needed some time and space to clear my head. And when I was ready to come back, I’d come back. Simple as that.

It’s so easy to forget I started this for fun. The pressure I was putting on myself to produce consistently, and the pressure to compare myself was really no one’s fault but my own. So, I’ll be abandoning the “schedule” thing for the time being and just go with the flow, until I feel better about myself and writing.

But, fear not. The comeback is on the rise. Lately, I’ve been inspired to start writing again. While I was on hiatus, I found renewed inspiration for writing because I got hooked into a few things that just gave me the itch to write.

Boku no Hero Academia

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I’ve already been a huge fan of the series. But ever since I came back from Japan and decided to step away from the blog, I’ve been 100% engrossed and immersed in every aspect that is Boku no Hero Academia. I’ve watched Seasons 1 & 2 repeatedly the last month, with the weekly updates of Season 3 sprinkled in (honestly, I don’t think I’ve watched anything outside of BnHA the last few weeks).  I’ve read every single chapter of the manga, and have gone over a few arcs several times. I’ve listened to the OST tons over the course of the day sporadically.  Now, I’ve gone over to the dark side and have been completely submerged in fan fiction territory and have been stuck here ever since. I also may have started my own fanfic in this time frame.

It’s literally an obsession as of right now. I think it might be a sickness. How can someone be completely submerged in everything that a series has to offer? All day, everyday no less? For an entire month? The only time I’ve ever felt like this was with Free! but even then it wasn’t to this level of involvement; not to this drastic extent. My obsession cycles in phases that only lasts a few days or a few weeks (okay, that might change once season three of Free! starts, but we’ll see).  Do I have a problem? Maybe…? It’s not necessarily a bad thing (I hope). I don’t know what kind of funk has left me stuck in the world of Heroes, but I don’t see myself snapping out of this anytime soon. I can’t turn away.

There’s something great here in BnHA, and I’ll try my damnedest to hopefully express the amount of joy this series has given me; whether that be in character studies, or writing reviews. Heck, I don’t know, but I’ll start somewhere, and by somewhere, I mean this quick little blurb of just talking about it.

This series has given me everything I needed on hiatus: laughter, drama, and angst. It’s given me hope, and given me despair but most importantly it’s given me inspiration. There are quite a few episodes I can’t make it through without shedding a damn tear, or being overwhelmed with raw emotion. Am I over-hyping the series? Possibly.  But I’m speaking from the heart and how Hero Academia has personally affected me during this anxiety filled phase.

(I actually wrote a lot more about BnHA, but have since redacted this post in favor of a spin-off post to talk about my obsession before I get too carried away and go off tangent on this update.)

 

Hakuoki

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For those of you that don’t know, I do tend to dabble in writing fan fiction. I have one piece up on Archive of Our Own under another name, which surprisingly has done fairly well since it went up. But I digress.

What about Hakuouki has helped me during this time?

I love otome. I love romance. I love a good story. I love angst. I love history. I love fantasy. I love crying over mopey shit. I guess I am a masochist for loving a good cry over anything that could be so emotionally touching. Otome in general gets my maiden heart going, it gives me that release I need emotionally.

I’ve played Hakuouki before, on my iPad. It was the second otome I played from IdeaFactory/Otomate (first being Amnesia). But having it on my PSVita, it became a whole new ballgame. With all the new routes, I was excited to dive in again.

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I started with Kyoto Winds, the first half of the Hakuoki PSVita game. I chose Susumu Yamazaki because he was a new character, and he had definitely caught my eye, but wasn’t completely invested in his character in terms of anticipation. I wanted to go with Shinpachi Nagakura at first, but because he was one of the first guys I thought deserved a route from the original Hakuoki; I had to contain my hype. I didn’t want to blow through his route out of sheer excitement. So I opted for Yamazaki first, I thought his route would be harmless, and boy was I ever wrong.

Yamazaki’s route was such a great route for me to break into Kyoto Winds with. I got so attached to him, and was fully immersed in his story. I ended his game feeling a bit melancholic. Those feelings I had for this route were so utterly strong, I had to write. I needed to write.  The urge to write about a route had never been like this. Of all the otome games I’ve played, and been immersed with, Yamazaki for some reason struck me to my core.

I didn’t want to just write. I wanted to write with the same feeling, the same sentiment that I felt when playing this route. The original intent had been to write a review of his route, but thankfully it evolved into something more. I ended up writing a short fan fiction based on the events of Kyoto Winds. I wanted to experiment with my writing style. I wanted to try my hand at flowery language. I wanted to express my attachment to his route the way that Chizuru (the heroine) felt. Yamazaki’s route had inspired me to be a different writer, to be more creative. So I did.

I wrote brief snippets about Yamazaki, and in the end I’ve created a story based on those snippets. I now have a running document called Hakuouki Vignettes, which are a collection of short stories, in the heroines Point of View (or Chizuru) and her leading man. It started with Yamazaki, but it grows as I complete each route of Kyoto Winds. 

Which leads me to my latest project.  In the midst of my writing crisis, anxiety and self-doubt, I went out on a limb and decided to sign-up for this project called otogehanami. A website that hosts a collaborative project for fans of otoge to come together and express their love in either art or written form. And with some encouragement from eversodearest shoujothoughts, I decided to put myself out there and submit a piece, and who better to submit than Yamazaki, the man who started this all.

Granted though,  the piece I had started in my vignettes cannot be submitted to otogehanami, so I’m in the process of crafting something else, and hopefully it’ll be strong since I’ve completed his route 100% in both Kyoto Winds and the second half in Edo Blossoms. 

Recovery?

Am I making a full recovery back to the blog? Yes and No. As stated earlier, I think I’m going to lay off the whole weekly bit thing for a while. I want to craft my posts and writing a bit more. I’ve said it before, in my OWLS post about Barakamon and in my Milestone post: “Through trial and error, we find ourselves and our passions. Through trial and error we find what works and what doesn’t work.”

Am I going through another Renaissance of sorts? Nah, not that extreme. But I am experimenting with my writing right now. I want to write more reviews, but with my own spin on it. I want to write about the things I love without feeling the backlash of the ‘unpopular opinion’.

The blog is supposed to be my outlet from my stressful work life, but I often felt like running the blog was just as stressful as my job. Coming up with content consistently, and keeping up with weekly themes pretty much overran the purpose of the blog. Honestly, I just want to go back to having fun.

Anyways, thanks for reading. The tone of the post seems daunting if not depressive, but I assure you it’s just a slight bump in the road. Yes, I’m struggling, but I’m working through it.

I’ve been feeling more like myself lately. So thank you everyone for your continued patience and your support. Especially you Mel, for having stuck by my side and consistently talking to me daily, it really helped my mood, more than you know.

But if any of you need to find me, you can find me stuck in Boku no Hero Academia Abyss, and Hakuoki Hell, for the time being. lol. ❤

~Zel

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Overdue update

I keep saying I’m going to be more vigilant about writing in this blog and I have failed horribly due to my school. Now that I’m officially graduated with a B.Arch from SCI-Arc, I’m about to embark on the real world that is…job hunting. I have been reluctant to work on my resume and my work sample/portfolio because as much as I would like to start my career, I’m still feeling a little bit lazy. Granted I’ve taken 3 months of since school ended back in April; however, our school held our graduation ceremony just a few weeks ago on September 7. I know what you’re thinking, “graduation ceremony in September? That’s weird”. Yes, my school marches to it’s own beat and is quirky like that, but with such small graduating classes it only makes sense for the undergraduates, who finish in April, to wait for the graduates who finish the weekend of September. I would say there’s only about 200 of us total in school that graduate. My class alone had only 47 students.

A lot happened from my last post back in February, so I’ll try to recap it.

After I fought off the flu, I was pretty behind in the amount of work I had to do. I tried to work my butt off to catch up, and thought I was okay but compared to my classmates, my project was fairly undeveloped as I still had no control over what I was attempting to do with my thesis. Every attempt was a failure, and even though I tried harder, I was getting discouraged. I kept plugging along though till we hit a deadline a month before thesis reviews, which is a big deal at our school. This deadline is known as “go/no go reviews” where you present what you have so far, what you plan to have and what percentages of each part is completed. Again to us at school this is a big deal. Thesis weekend is when everyone puts up their work and all kinds of Architects, teachers come by and review your thesis. This often draws a large crowd of outsiders like students from other schools, instructors from other schools just to see what our school is up to. If you got a “no go” you didn’t present that weekend and were given a two week extension, but don’t get the kind of celebration everyone gets from Thesis weekend. I thought I was going to be okay, but I was definitely wrong about that.

I got the dreaded e-mail that told me I would be receiving the two week extension. I was devastated, I cried for two days. I felt embarrassed that I would neither be finishing at the same time nor having the type of reviews my fellow peers would be having. There were only 4 of us that received this extension, it was heartbreaking. Of course when the letters went out, it began circulating the next day that people had received the e-mail and there was speculation as to who may have got it. I always felt like I was being judged when someone looked in my direction. Slowly it got out that I was one of the few, and everyone was surprised considering the kind of worker I am and how much time I put in. I had an outpouring of support though for it, and was not being harshly criticized as I had imagined. This just goes to show how insecure I am in my work and work ethic, and just myself in general.

A few of my classmates tried to talk to the Thesis coordinator asking if there was any possible way to still go that “glorified” weekend, trying to get the decision overturned. Each one of them were shut down. I saw each of these students have a one on one with the coordinator about it. After having to let down yet another student at their desk, the coordinator and I locked eyes from across the room. I knew he was going to walk to me and talk to me. When he reached my desk he asked how I was feeling. I told him, obviously I was hurt, but I wasn’t going to fight the decision. Even though I was feeling emotional, I looked for the positive. In the long run, I wouldn’t want to put up half assed work that didn’t look good. I wanted something I was proud of. So I told him I’d rather have the two weeks to put something amazing together than have something half-assed. He looked completely surprised by my answer and said he really appreciated my point of view. But because I was saying this with teary eyes and a shaky voice, I almost caused him to cry too.

When I look at the situation from an outsiders point of view, that weekend means nothing in the real world. No one remembers what goes on that wall that weekend. Every year projects go up and projects go down. Are all of them memorable? No, only a handful make an impact. Do future employers judge you on the extension? No, because you still graduated with the same degree as everyone else that did go up that weekend. Does that make my work less significant? No, because I still created a project from start to finish that was my research and my ideas.

It took me awhile to realize this because in the little bubble that is SCI-Arc, thesis weekend, as stated, is huge. But the more I told my story to non-architecture friends the more they questioned why I was so devastated. They asked questions like so what happens now? Do you still get the same degree? But if it’s only a two week difference and you’re still graduating, what’s the big deal? The more I was asked these questions, the more ridiculous it seemed that I was crying over it.

My review should was to only to consist of me, the thesis advisors, the thesis coordinator and the undergraduate director and my parents. It didn’t have the pomp and circumstance that “thesis weekend” had, it was supposed to be intimate. But the day of my review, I was surprised at the of amount of support I received from classmates that went out of their way to make it to my review. Aside from my parents and my friends that helped me put the finishing touches on my thesis, so many other classmates that I didn’t think would come to support me did. It felt incredible to know that so many people actually believed in me. I almost cried when I finished, because I was so relieved and ecstatic that I was done, and happy that it ended amazingly well.

After that I took a 3 month break leading up till graduation. Now I move to the next chapter of my life, my career, as well as aiming for my next goal: becoming a licensed Architect.