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.

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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!

Adventures in Drawing – A New Beginning

Previously on “Adventures in Drawing,” I discussed several matters of art. I specifically placed emphasis on the three valuable lessons of learning to actively see thingsthe value of repetition, and drawing what one sees, not what one knows.

The second half of the drawing course followed the application of said rules with a series of projects. I had the wonderful opportunity to test my skills with various mediums from charcoal, graphite, and conté sticks. Along for the ride came an assortment of healthy drawing techniques I had learned earlier involving the use of guidelines, the ability to delineate depth and active perception in objects, as well as blind contour drawing etc. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to test my skills with the various media (Figures 1-2).

Figure 1. Man’s best friend (using charcoal, and graphite). 

 

Having completed the course, I can certainly say that my knowledge, and library of resources pertaining to drawing has grown exponentially. If there is a takeaway message from my experiences so far, it would be the following: simply put, anyone can be an artist. All you need is an HB pencil, a sketchbook, and a little bit of incentive. Most importantly, practice makes perfect.

In my opinion, I view drawing, and art, in general, as a personal interpretation of one’s environment, and imagination; a realm of infinite possibilities. The uniqueness factor of one’s works is dictated not through the judgment of external critics but rather one’s own individuality. Thus, you have nothing to fear in the criticism of your own doodles. We are all artists in our own measure. As Mason Cooley put it, “Art begins with imitation, and ends in innovation.”

Figure 2. Unfinished swimmer (using conté sticks)

With every passing day, I get closer to achieving the same with my artwork. Once again, I’ve learned that practice makes perfect. (On a side note, it also helps to have an encouraging partner, especially one who goes out of their way to buy you a legit Japanese manga kit but I digress.) If I could briefly summarize the steps that I have taken so far in my journey in drawing, and that I wish to share to my fellow aspiring artists, they would be:

(1) Start with doodles, and doodle frequently. Sketch whatever you wish to sketch. Freedom of imagination, and action is important in drawing.

(2) Get a few guide books on the side, or even better, just parse through the overwhelming history of artists, and their works that we can readily find information about on the WWW (world-wide-web).

(3) Trying a short, and supplementary course is highly beneficial too. Learning drawing also involves the communication of ideas, and techniques. (Check out the arts center in your city. If you don’t have one, Udemy is a wonderful online resource for awesome, and cheap courses. And if that doesn’t work, then it’s even more simple, learn from nature, and become your own artist. There’s no limit to human creativity, and imagination.)

(4) Aggregate the lessons you learn in infinitesimal steps, and integrate them toward a full learning experience.

Moving on from here, I intend to eagerly pursue my dream of becoming a mangaka in the future. For those among my readers who are avid comic fans, and are particularly interested in making their own comics, I highly suggest the constructive anatomy, and figure drawing books written by Burne Hogarth, and George Bridgman (shown below) to get you started.

But after all is said, and done, remember to relax, and just have fun with it!

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A Walk In The Spring Rain

With winter’s departure at my doorstep, I alight upon the memory of a day in a rainfall that caressed me with the soothing warmth of your touch.

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Falling upon the blankets of water that condensed from the gray skies, I clung to you, slipping amid the warmth of your skin.

Time awaits no one, and in a moment that carried me away in the bliss of a cool breeze, you walked by my side.

Ripples in the ponds of life stemmed forth in our every step together, your smile, a reflection amid the mirrors that coalesced at every turn.

Observing our progress along the white of clouds that brushed our feet, gently ascending, leading us to where the stars lay hidden, and our spirits flew free.

In a story that is to be told, your eyes reflected the words of my heart, our laughter resonating amid the silent melodies of the world.

A beautiful blossom, you remained, weathering the winds of time that passed our wake, embracing me into the petals of your life.

Into a stillness that resounded in the minute strikes of my heart, my eyes met yours, the cold moisture of the crystals giving way to the warmth of your lips.4b9b99b1_o

Serenaded by the orchestral pitter-patter of the rainfall surrounding our feet, I indulged in the moment, falling and rising about your heartbeat.

Carried by the whims of nature, our shadows basking in the gentle ray of sunshine that awakens the distant horizon, in an adventure to continue, with the coming of spring.

Reminiscing On the Promise I Made To You In Our Early Days…

February 14, an annual holiday celebrating the feast of St. Valentine, otherwise popularly known as Valentine’s Day. The day was first associated with romantic love in the 14th century by Geoffrey Chaucer, a time period when the tradition of courtly love flourished. As such, it became an occasion when lovers expressed their love to one another by various means from presenting flowers, offering confectionery, or sending greeting cards.

A poet myself (from a young age), I’ve always celebrated Valentine’s Day by putting my creativity to the test, writing several poems on the occasion, mostly of romantic nature. As a teenager, I exercised my inspiration from experiences at home, in the company of the love I witnessed between my parents, to the ordinary circumstances of life that were my adventures at school. In fact, my first published work, Our Last Summer, found its beginning in a poem. With its end came the realization of a truth that aptly described my first infatuation when I fell in love with love itself.

Shortly after, I would fly away from home, pursuing a future in the star spangled skies that awaited me in Edmonton. In the solitude of the years that followed, I would contemplate much about the nature of love and life, finding peace in my own isolation, and yet constantly seeking for company in my dreams. And in that manner, on the venue of this 14th, I would write a poem experiencing for the first time my own inability to express my feelings in a question that required no answer.

Yet, for what it’s worth, my voice was heard on that day by someone I hold dear to my heart, and to her I now say, in what has become a melodious sonata of our time together as friends, as partners, and as soulmates I find myself running out of words to describe the beautiful poem that has been the four years of our life together. So for now, I shall stutter, and stumble into the comfort of the night’s silence as I reminisce about us, and the promise I made you in our early days, and one I intend to keep for all my life…

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Watashi wa itsumademo anata wo airisu desho, Leina-chan!

So What’s Been Happening So Far?

Hi everyone, I’m back! Sorry for the delay in uploading the post. I’ve been busy with the merry season currently in full swing. I had promised that I would provide an update of my two week season of sickness, and I will stay true to that promise with this post, which will basically cover what has happened in my life so far, and what I’m really looking forward to with 2017 just around the corner. Now, I may be four days late for one, and two days early for another, but I would first like to wish all my readers,

Let’s begin! December 9 was the beginning to a memorable end of the roller-coaster ride that has been 2016, and it started with me falling sick. What started out as a mild cold became a sore throat followed by a week of quality time with my good old friend, the bed. While physically bedridden, mentally, I was primed. Aside from pondering the purpose of my existence as I lay in bed, my mind was overwhelmed with an insurmountable wave of creativity helping me set up the groundwork for 2017 regarding my plans for forthcoming writing projects, my career (as I will begin my PhD studies in September 2017), my work as a budding manga writer, building on the developments for The Pensive Reverie etc.

So many ideas! Why did I have to fall sick in the first place for this to happen?!

Thankfully, I was not alone in this wonderful exodus as I was accompanied all the way by my ever gracious partner who also fell sick. This meant some quality time together doodling about, playing board games, binge-watching TV shows, further discussions, now, on the purpose of our collective existence, and pretty much waiting for time to pass just so that we can feel better again.

Jenga (check), TV (check), fast-food (check), tissue-box (check), Are we both sick? (check).

But in the end, we were both able to make a complete recovery right on time for Christmas allowing us to round up this past weekend by celebrating the merry season as well as our four year anniversary together as a couple!

These four years have been a wonderful adventure, and I can’t wait for many more to come. Thanks so much for bringing so much joy, and happiness into my life.

To my partner Leina,

あなたはわたしのゆめのじょせいだ

はじめてあたときからすきだた

いつまでもいっしょにいたい

愛しています

Now, with 2016 coming to a close, I have successfully completed my robotics internship, and am currently going through a rigorous course of content editing Agent X [my second book!] I hope to get this done by January 15, 2017, and moving forward from there, set in motion my plans for publishing the book, as well as promoting my work on this blog! At about the same time, I will be traveling to India to visit my family on a much needed vacation.

Can’t wait to see you all very soon!

It’s been eight years since I last visited my hometown so I’m looking forward to returning home. In the meanwhile, I intend to keep up with my weekly blog posts, and discuss my daily adventures. I will keep you all posted in case of impending delays or absences.

And, that basically all there is to it! I wanted to keep this blog post short, and simple. I will soon be posting my analysis on Chapter 1 of Dragons of Eden where we will discuss the cosmic calendar, and have a brief adventure involving interesting theories, and discoveries in the field of cosmology!

 

It is done!

Great news everyone! As of yesterday, I have successfully completed the first draft of my second book (Agent X, as we decided to call it on my last post).

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It took a few hours…Well, actually, an entire day of exhaustive writing, and by around 10 p.m., I was typing the last words of the epilogue. The rush of emotions that accompanied the completion of my second work was exhilarating, and in a way, bittersweet. I spent the rest of the night reminiscing about the two year journey over the course of which I had written the book.

Of course, there is still much that remains to be done. I will now proceed with the most arduous task of content editing my work. On the other hand, the end of this project brings up the excitement of various future prospects. Apart from the accompanying art work I intend to do for Agent X, I will now slowly make my transition into Manga school, while brainstorming my next three writing projects.

I will also be making a few changes to the content presentation on this blog. The purpose of this blog is to provide a free space where I can express my thoughts, as well as share my knowledge with all of you. To further help facilitate these discussions in an interesting manner, I intend to go about categorizing my daily posts. I’m hoping that a few months from now, I will have set up several categories of posts in subjects ranging from:

(1) Critical thinking

This will primarily involve weekly discussions on an interesting article of my choice in science, politics, philosophy, and just about anything that can wrack my brain.

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(2) Teaching & Problem-solving

This will be a two-fold approach that would help complement my current duties as a student tutor at the university, where I typically face the following scenarios:

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 and which I try to resolve in due fashion, with ample flair,

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Let’s get this over with.

 I have yet to decide on how to organize this part of the blog, but it may predominantly involve discussions or solutions to the most interesting questions I encounter with my students on a weekly basis, or any other cool puzzles that catch my eye!

(3) Book reviews/Read-along

This is something I have always wanted to do. So far, I have done one book review (Star Wars, The Old Republic: Revan), but I would also like to try something new where I would provide a summarized read-along discussion of sorts of the books I read. An immediate choice that I will provide posts about in the near future is Carl Sagan’s Dragons of Eden, which I’m currently parsing through.

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(4) My daily adventures & lots of writing!

This is fairly simple. It is what I’ve been doing so far, and will be the primary form of my communication with everyone. There is a lot to life, and everyday proves to be a grand adventure!

And that’s basically it for my update. The purpose of this post was to keep you all informed. The changes will be gradual, but I hope that you will all come to enjoy the myriad selection of posts this blog will host in the coming days!