Nostalgia – A Celebration Of The Past

Listening to music is a favorite pastime of mine when it comes to sitting in front of my computer and writing away my thoughts be it my journal, my novels, or just plain old school work. I don’t necessarily identify with any particular genre of music (vocal and instrumental alike), and as such go with any piece that suits my mood further aligning with the fact that my selections vary wildly from artist to artist.

Over the last few weeks, my efforts have predominantly revolved around the completion of a literature review about my PhD research. I completed the draft just a few days back. Relishing in the bout of relief that ensued, I lounged back into my chair while listening to a randomized instrumental playlist on YouTube. I would soon alight upon a particular piece that would kindle the memories of my past, drawing my eyes back to the screen of my laptop, where I was welcomed by the opening to a show I had watched in my childhood.

It didn’t take long for my bout of relief to transform into one of nostalgia. Indulging in the bittersweet bliss of the feeling, I sank into the warm and fuzzy emotions of fond memories from my past, subsequently delving into the late hours of the night on a marathon of memories that took me over. This particular scenario was most apt, relating to my earliest inspirations that engaged my creative skills and fueled my love for writing and music, namely, Cartoons from the 1990s. In that vein, I could relate, or for lack of a better word, restrain myself to a few cartoons that struck my nostalgic chords the most all the way back to my childhood, long before anime ruled the roost of my creativity.

It all began on a sunny day jog back home from school to meet my two friends, Christopher Robin and Winnie-The-Pooh. 

This would officially be the first of the may cartoons I ever watched as a kid, taking me back to my days in my hometown in Madurai, running home from school, only to sit down in front of the TV and share in the whimsical adventures of my two friends Christopher Robin and Winnie-The-Pooh.

We would also be joined by two other friends from the distant lands of Arabia: Aladdin and Genie.

With no idea of how vast the world was at such a young age, these four would be a large part of my childhood where I learned to

and when it came to being a mischievous kid  that

all in the time-span of an hour’s limited streaming of cartoons on the single channel that ran on the T.V.

Soon, I would be lucky enough to have my chance to explore the world when my family first moved to Egypt. This time there were two T.V.s in the house though the cartoons were still a limited treasure to come by.

The cartoons would usually broadcast around a three hour session early every Saturday morning when my baby sister (half-asleep most of the time, if I may add) and I would sneak over to the T.V. room while our parents were fast asleep. This time my adventures would alternate between outer-space and our planet as I accompanied Flash Gordon and his crew (the animated feature of 1996) hovering over to futuristic and past timelines with good family friends in the Flintstones (celebrating Christmas before the birth of Jesus Christ), the Jetsons (who would be the preface to my own experience of the technology boom that followed the late ’90s), and a pinch of freakishness to add to the concoction in the Addams Family.

Along with a whole host of other characters each with their singular adventures, I would find myself surrounded by an ever growing family of friends who served as my inspirations in the Cartoons I watched as a kid.

You had the anthropomorphic cats T-Bone and Razor from Swat Kats, who were my first taste of being a legitimate bad-ass, to the incredibly fun Mystery Inc. gang and their impressively subtle mysteries, as well as a slew of others from the manly Centurions, the infuriating Dee-Dee from Dexter’s Laboratory, and the Elvis Presley of Cartoon characters, Johnny Bravo, of whom my mother wasn’t necessarily a fan (in retrospect, I could see why), and his far more adventurous and wiser cousin in Johnny Quest.

But everything that has a beginning has an end, and so as the years passed I would soon find other interests that would catch my attention.

Diverting as I did from the cartoons of the yester-years, I would delve into anime and other forms of entertainment in a world that gradually evolved into a social media frenzy. But that transition is indeed what makes those very memories so nostalgic.

Funnily enough, I’m now at a stage in my life where as I ponder about the future, I only seem to find more pit-stops where I visit and relish the company of the friends of my past. I would have never known then as a kid that one day I would aspire to become a writer/artist, and here I am following in the footsteps of my dreams propelled by those very same inspirations of the past.

Though life is an adventure filled with beginnings and separations, nothing can deny the eternity of memories, and in that sense, this bout of nostalgia was in essence a celebration of the past, and a merry precursor to the good weekend’s rest that has followed!

 

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It Is What It Is…

Hello everybody! It’s been a busy week for me at the U. It’s great to be back in what is a break from a seemingly endless cycle of analyzing research papers mixed in with the occasional stupor of staring into empty space and contemplating the meaning of it all, in what is an effective cocktail of scientific education that is my PhD so far. In fact, the busy-ness of it all has molded into a slightly routine affair over the last eight years of my life in academia, and that’s exactly what I’m here to talk about today. Isn’t that great?

At the ripe age of 26, I already feel like an old man running through the wheeling seasons of the years. With each year’s passing, I bear witness and welcome the arrival of a fresh batch (and ready for the picking) of students jumping out of the proverbial frying pan that is high school and unknowingly (but optimistic nonetheless) into the fire that is university. At the same time, I bid farewell and sink into a boat of nostalgia on those good friends who continue onward in their singular adventures beyond university, and wherever they deem life should take them.

University, in many ways, can be likened to a pit-stop. It is not a necessary one, and for the ones who are offered the chance for it and take that opportunity, it may be a short or long-term visit. Some could even consider it to be a rite of passage while for others it may be a trial through fire or as my good friend Zuko would put it, an Agni Kai!

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But beyond everything else, university is an experience. With every end that comes to pass, there is the beginning of something new right around the corner, and amidst a plethora of mixed emotions: laughter, sadness, anger, relief, melancholy, love…there endure the countless memories rendered complete in an unforgettable experience.

I’ve had my fair share of adventures over the last eight years, going back to 2009 and all the way to where I’m now in 2017, comprising my time at university. I can relate various stories in what would be a compendium of tales to share since then. But that would be too long of a story to tell so in my own liking as your “griot”, I will share what I can of what was (and to a certain degree still is) my life as a student at university.

YEAR 1: In search of “One Piece,” the grand adventure begins.

Embarking on an adventure was really what it was. I left my family, and set foot in Canada in 2009, beginning the first year of my studies at the University of Alberta. It all started with me getting lost on my first day of classes, and running about the streets trying to find my way to the right building, before eventually settling into a class only to realize it may not be the right one. An adventure that began with a misleading compass, but eventually finding the right pinch of curiosity to spur me onward to an endless horizon that sprang forth ahead of me in the dreams that I wished to seek. That was pretty much my first year: coming to terms with the fact that the journey was real.

YEAR 2: Facing my first COLOSSAL obstacle.

An adventure without any obstacle is quite boring, and as the second year of courses came around, I would finally face the first of my many challenges, mostly revolving around balancing my studies while working part-time. I would learn that the world is bigger than what I had previously thought. I would meet others of great intellect in my field, and at many times feel dwarfed by my own inabilities. But most of all, I would learn to never give up. No matter how colossal the problems felt in the heat of the moment, I would strive to be strong for the sake of achieving my dreams.

YEAR 3: Sinking In Self-Doubt

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With the progression of every year, university grew into an endless stream of assignments, and I struggled to stay afloat. Bearing the brunt of my own personal struggles in an identity crisis that followed in the wake of a lost friend, I began to view the world differently. Where there were dreams and a never give up attitude, I began feeling the fatigue of it all, sinking into the tediousness, unable to connect with the original purpose that had brought me to university.

YEAR 4: Getting Back On My Feet By Letting Go

You can always count on family to be there for you when in trouble. I had my father on that day when I just needed to let go of it all, and while there wasn’t much to be said, I realized that the doubt that seemed to plague me was nothing more than an elusive catalyst that motivated me to keep pushing, and understand that there is nothing wrong with redefining myself and my dreams. I would soon find myself sitting in a packed auditorium of students waiting to receive my undergraduate degree. I can’t say I was happy. Things hadn’t gone the way I had hoped in the years prior, but the spirit still remained in me to keep seeking an answer beyond the persistent questions. University, in that manner, was as much about asking questions in class, as well as about myself, my dreams, and what really made me happy. I found my answers by letting go and taking a break.

YEAR 5: Trying Something New

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Learning to let go was difficult, but I eventually got my way about doing it. Doing so, I redefined my road, trying something new in my life for a change. I found a partner to join in my adventure, meeting as we did in the crossroads. Moving forward to the future, I reassessed my dreams, thinking back to what I had lost and what I had gained through my experiences over the last four years, and finding new purpose in making my own path I decided to pursue graduate studies in a field and topic of my own interest.

YEAR 6 & 7: Reinvigorated Purpose

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The following two years would pass in bliss as I engaged my Masters degree (which was VERY different from doing an undergraduate degree). There was a measure of intellectual freedom and space that followed with my graduate studies which was quite unlike the hectic lifestyle of my undergraduate years. I made the most of it. Of course there were ups and downs but for some reason things just didn’t seem as difficult as before. In retrospect, I could attribute this to the fact that I believed that nothing could seem to phase me worse than my own self-doubt, something that I had learned to overcome and master. With that being said, the road only stretched ever forward, inviting me to reach for the stars.

YEAR 8: From Our Last Summer To A Little Bit Of Everything

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And so, I arrive at where I am now.  Finding a particular love in writing, I push forward to a bigger goal to be a science communicator, and toward a long-term goal in retiring as a writer and mangaka. I chose my PhD to be a platform for that dream, and in the grand scheme of things that is what motivates me. In this vein, university, FOR ME, has essentially been a proving ground of sorts to find my place.

My journey here is yet to end, with three more years ahead during which I hope to finish my PhD degree. I look forward to it. I say that not because the story will end soon but rather with the realization that as long as I keep pursuing my dreams, wherever they may take me, the journey is itself the destination. With that thought, I find my own resolve to put my all into what I love, reminiscing every once in a while happily on the memories of our last summer, and enjoying a little bit of everything that life has to offer.

Oops…

So, here’s a quick update to all my readers. After publishing my last post, I was parsing through my blog, when I noticed that while I had decided to write about meteor showers on my next post, I had done exactly that a few months back on August 21, 2017.

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Baaakaaa….

I can attribute my forgetfulness to the recent bout of work and lack of sleep that has been following me over the last few days along with the happiness of dealing with the persistent paparazzi of my studies.

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My new look over the last week or so…thanks to a lack of sleep and an intense regiment of writing a paper on my research. 

Having said this, I’ve decided to scrap my prior idea and instead will publish a post later this week on the wonderful adventure that has been my life in university so far. Eight years and still running (hopefully the cycle will end in three more years when I intend to complete my degree), I’ve realized there is a lot I can share ranging a large spectrum of experiences!

My goal is to provide a window into the life of an academic, strictly from the humble viewpoint of a student. I hope to also share my own opinions and expound on the lessons I have learned along the way. For those among my readers who may also be contemplating on their chances in academia, I hope the post will provide much needed insight!

That’s all for now! See you all very soon!

Braving The Storm

It has been a while since my last post. I have been busy all the while braving the storm that has been my PhD studies. While I’m only three months into my new degree (and a good 3.75 years remain until its completion), not surprisingly enough, I’m swamped with work. Thankfully, it is the enjoyable kind that comes with a research topic of my liking.

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Nevertheless, it has been slightly frustrating that I haven’t had the chance to post as frequently as I would have wished on the blog. 

But, the prodigal has now returned, and he does hope that he would be able to keep up with his blog posts as he deems it to be in the coming weeks. The brief respite that Halloween offered came with a sweet dose of playfulness as I carried out my annual responsibility in scaring the shit out of my girlfriend…

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And deservedly getting my ass handed to me afterward. 

Winter is most certainly here as well, the first snowfall caressing Edmonton in what began as a slush soup of snow rain that alerted me of its presence most distinctly through the water that slipped through the newly discovered gaping hole in my shoe. With only a few more weeks to go before classes end for the semester, and the age of final exams to come, I hope to put up a good number of posts that I have kept waiting for too long.

I will begin with keeping my word on the anecdote I wished to write on meteor showers. The Orionid showers occurred just a few weeks ago, and I’m looking forward to the Geminid showers which will hit in December. Apart from this, I will soon be pulling my book, A Little Bit Of Everything, out of Amazon KDP Select so that I may distribute it through other e-book publisher chains online. The book remains available on Amazon, and hopefully the redistribution will allow for further promotions in the future.

Having closed a chapter of my life with the completion of the book, I’m also working hard on setting the stage for a trifecta of stories that I’m hoping to work on over the next few years. Two of these stories will take the form of comics, for which I have been diligently taking art classes on human anatomy, while the last will be a novel, which remains in the back-burner of ideas, and a whole load of brainstorming.

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It is pretty much a blank slate for now, but the emptiness of it evokes the certainty of greater ideas and explosive creativity.

So, for now, I leave you all with this short update as I busy myself with another late night of catching up on my art practice and contemplation on my stories. I hope to have another post up by the end of this week! Until then, toodles!

Being an Indie Writer!

Though it feels like a decade ago, it was only last year, around this point in time, when I had the opportunity to participate in Indie Author Day hosted by the Edmonton Public Library. Never did it occur to me then, that a year down the road, I would have published my second book.

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Indie writers who choose the path of self-publishing often have their work cut out for them with a slew of responsibilities ranging from editing and proofreading as well as marketing their finished product. There are of course a variety of reputed services (ranging from cheap to quite expensive) to assist authors with this, but it largely rests upon the individual’s efforts and motivation to get the book out to their readers.

Attending events such as Indie Author Day, not to mention, scouring through vast resources online I have also had the chance to engage with my fellow indie authors. My own experiences with self-publishing began with Our Last Summer: A Personal Memoir. Purchasing a book publishing plan, I was provided with professional proofreading and marketing services that helped in getting my first book out to the world. While the venture was quite expensive (one that I wish I could have averted), the experience was akin to a trial through fire, allowing me to learn from my mistakes and get a clearer picture of the enormously complex industry of book publication, and marketing. Moving on, I decided to publish my second book through Amazon, being a little more observant of my budget and goals this time around.

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It is a never-ending but largely satisfactory struggle to be an Indie writer.

Though my books haven’t necessarily been successful in their own right, I can’t deny that I’m still happy with the end result. As a writer, one has to believe in their work, and take pleasure in the art of eliciting one’s thoughts, emotions, and imagination to their intended audience. My goals with the two books I have published so far have largely been to satisfy and pay tribute to particular events in my life. Altogether, Our Last Summer: A Personal Memoir and A Little Bit Of Everything represent my journey over the last 15 years of my life, reaching back to my adventures in high school, all the way to where I am now.

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For so long, I have looked back upon the memories of our last summer, cherishing them, and holding them close, afraid to let go…Now, riding along the winds of a greater adventure, filled with a little bit of everything I’ve always longed for in my life, I wish to move forward toward that endless horizon spanning a brighter future.

In the end, the peace and happiness I found in writing about my life, my friends, my love, and my family are representative of what I take away from my experiences in self-publishing. Of course, I don’t deny the obvious difficulties and complications that followed in publishing and marketing my books. It is A LOT of work, and while self-publishing may grant a certain level of flexibility within every phase of publication (from budgeting to choosing selective services in marketing and proofreading etc.) it IS largely an independent and never-ending effort (one must be persistent in promoting their work even after publication).

Moving forward, I hope to explore other outlets of publishing. For a change, I have decided to go the traditional path. It is never too late to begin researching, and as I spend the next few months brainstorming my novella, I also intend to obtain the necessary resources required to eventually get me across the finish line (once I set foot on the final lap). Does this mean I’m no longer an Indie writer? Nope. To me, being an indie author is a matter of self-definition, an approach that defers to every individual writer in their approach towards writing and publishing their work. I have always identified myself as the creative director of my books, from concept to completion and beyond. The decision to vie for traditional publishing is nothing more than another opportunity to exercise my knowledge in the writing industry, and establish partnerships that may facilitate my spirit and creativity as an indie-writer while collaborating with other publishing professionals in producing a good book for my readers.

My takeaway message to my fellow Indie authors and aspiring writers would be that one should never not lose sight of their true objectives. For me, the writing always comes first. My goals with Our Last Summer: A Personal Memoir and A Little Bit Of Everything was largely to share my personal experiences with my family and friends as well as mature in my own right as an individual and identify with my true passion in life, writing. In that measure, I have certainly been very successful. As of now, I’m setting my sights on a trifecta of writing projects. Two of said projects will  assist in establishing my humble beginnings as a mangaka, while the third will  hopefully become my breakout novel in the world of writing. Though my goals may be far-fetched on the outset, it is necessary to have a certain degree of aspiration (and a big dreamy heart) to succeed as a writer, and that is just what I’m going to do!

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A part of me always knew that I wanted to be a writer, even though it took me long enough to actually admit it. While I have no clue as to how my dreams will fully manifest, I delight in the mystery of not knowing, as it has only made my experiences so far all the more adventures and awesome. Now, having said all of this, it is time for me to set off on my journey, across this sea of dreams!

Exams, Assignments, and All-Nighters

Last week was a throwback to my past as an undergraduate student when I pulled off my third all-nighter over the last eight years of studies at university. Now, an exam looms upon the horizon, followed by scores of assignments and research objectives to manage…Indeed, the gauntlet has been thrown, and I have made my decision…

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While I may not necessarily have an official fellowship to assist me, I take heart in that I have my fellow classmates and friends who shall also suffer in this war with me.

Bound to this confounding cycle of…

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I find solace in my pensive reverie…So, having said that, hi everyone!

It has been a busy few days, but I’m hoping to regain my bearings once I complete my midterm exam this week. Looking ahead, I will be posting on my experiences so far in independent publishing having recently published my second book: A Little Bit Of Everything. 

September was also a month of several delightful surprises, not to mention, my first viewing of the Northern Lights (which occurred during a casual walk home one night from the superstore). As awesome as it was to observe the celestial event, which was surprisingly clear despite the light pollution in the city that night, I plan to write a small anecdote on the phenomenon itself touching base with my general passion for astronomy.

I now leave you all with this short update as I once again embark on the Sisyphean expedition that my PhD research has become, not to mention the general course of assignments and course work to follow. It is certainly the calm before the storm as I prepare for my midterm but with a creeping doubt where I’m,

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As the bells of exam halls toll,

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Correction: Mid-semester, the war will truly come to an end at the end of the semester.

I shall fight the good fight, and do my best so that I may soon reengage all of you, my fellow readers and friends, at The Pensive Reverie with some delightful tales, amid auroras and published books, of what has been a beautiful fall season.

Flash Discount Sale for my book!

Hi everyone,

Just a quick update to let everyone know that I’m running a discounted sale for my recently released book A Little Bit Of Everything. It will now be available for $0.99 on all Amazon outlets (US/UK/CA … etc.) between 9/25/2017 – 9/30/2017.

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Here is the link to get you started: Amazon.Com

For those who have had the chance to read my book, I hope you enjoyed it. For those who have just stumbled onto this news recently or missed my previous updates on the release, here is a summary (detailed in an earlier post) to get you on track.

While the tale to be read is fictional in nature, A Little Bit Of Everything is the spiritual successor to my first work in Our Last Summer: A Personal Memoir. The foundation of the plot is in fact inspired from very real events in my personal life involving an assortment of themes from love, hope, and dreams to personal identity, friendship, and family. An author’s copy of the book now rests in my bookshelf alongside a massive binder consisting of three different drafts of the work through the years.,

One aspect that sets apart A Little Bit of Everything from Our Last Summer: A Personal Memoir involves the illustrations that accompany the story. A picture is worth a thousand words or so they say; I decided to roll with this philosophy in expressing the ideas and emotions of various scenarios through the drawings that span the book’s pages.

Having published the book, I’m both happy, and sad. I’m happy in that I succeeded in bringing to life a story that had resided in my heart for many years; sad in that this wonderful journey has come to an end. Moving onward, I relish in the joy of being able to share my story with all of you!

A Little Bit of Everything is now available through Amazon (Amazon.Com; it’s also available on amazon.ca/.uk/.de/.fr/.es/.it/.jp/.nl/.br/.mx/.in/.au/) as a Kindle e-book. Similarly, the book is also available in paperback format on most of the aforementioned links (a few more days before it will be available on all of them). The paperback format is also distributed through my Createspace E-store (ALBOECreatespace), and will be distributed through online and offline retailers such as Barnes & Noble and to distributors such as Ingram, NACSCORP, Baker & Taylor (which distributes to libraries).