Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My Experience as a Critique Partner

QOTD: For the first person to come to mind, think about why you appreciate and are grateful for that person. Feel free to share! 

Quick Announcement: I will be starting my own editing service (completely voluntary on my part, so don't worry it's free) post-Christmas. Come back soon for more updates! 

I used to think that I didn't need anybody. At least when it came to writing. I have always been either too insecure, too stubborn or too fearful to let others critique or even look at my work. I just wanted to do my own thing. I think all of us as writers tend to have this mindset in some way...writing is, after all, as much of a service to ourselves as it is to our readers. But lately I've come to realize that when we decide to put our fears aside and allow yourself to be exposed to feedback, we can learn so much from others and improve ourselves as writers and as people. And when it comes down to it, nobody should have to go through the writing process (specifically revision) alone. 

In one of my earlier articles, What's Your Take on Creative Writing Classes?, I stated that a writer does not need to take classes or a teacher's approval to write well. I still believe this. But...I have a confession to make. I enrolled in ENGL 130, our "Intro to Fiction" class at school, for next semester. I know, I am such a hypocrite. But at least I can admit to changing my perspective a little and stay flexible, right? I think I'm a little too proud for my own good, and getting my writing critiqued by a bunch of stranger-acquaintances will definitely tear those sturdy walls down. I guess the Biebs had it right. Never say never. 

You must be wondering why I have changed my mind so quickly. Not too long ago, I decided to share my writing for the first time with a group of close friends. We'd all agreed to "show and tell" something important to us, and one of my favorite pieces of work was what I'd chosen. I did not know what their reactions would be, but I tried not to wonder to much. 

On the day it was my turn to share, I read my piece out loud. To my surprise, my oratory was met with tears, astonishment and praise. I thought, is this really happening to me? I sighed with relief, and realized that, more than anything else, my fear of rejection and failure was what had kept me from keeping much of my writing hidden. 

Soon after, one of those close friends (let's call him "Frank") approached me, saying he'd love to see more of my work. Turns out, he writes too. We met up on the quad the next day and swapped poetry and stories. Ever since then, we've been meeting together once a week to share our writing and our opinions. Without even realizing it, Frank and I became critique partners. 

This is the quad! It's so peaceful and comfortable, but there are always people around and there is inspiration everywhere. Perfect place to write, don't you think?

And Frank is a fantastic writer. Fantastic Frank (has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?) inspires me every day to be a better writer with his honesty, unique writing style and ability to get an overall feel of a piece of work. I can also safely say that our friendship has become a lot deeper, more interesting and complex since we developed a relationship as critique partners. 

Deciding to share my writing with one of my dear friends has been one of the best choices I've made as a writer so far. My relationship with the students in my future creative writing class may not be as successful or enjoyable, but I understand how important it is to at least get a second opinion and make sure I am on the right track. You don't always have to go with any changes they suggest, but you can consider them and see if they make sense or not. 

I made a short list of tips on being a critique partner, AKA "Fantastic Frank." Hmm, I think this term is growing on me.

How To Be A "Fantastic Frank"

1) Choosing a critique partner can be difficult, as writers have different preferences. I love that my critique partner also happens to be one of my awesome friends whom I know well and can trust. Others may prefer a classmate or acquaintance with a formal/professional relationship; that way, conflict of interest doesn't get in the way of feedback honesty. Keep this in mind as you think about what kind of relationship you want to have with your critique partner.

2) No matter who your critique partner is, there must be a balancing dynamic between you two. Feedback must be given both ways, and there needs to be mutual respect, honesty and support. Feelings of competition should be kept at a minimum. 

3) Be open-minded, be curious, be understanding of criticism. Don't be afraid to ask your partner questions about their work and/or their comments on yours to see what angle your partner is coming from. That's what your partner is there for. No matter what, though, don't let your writing style or your personality as a writer be affected. Don't change anything that you don't think will benefit your work or isn't 100% what you want.

4) For me, one of the hardest things at least for me as a writer is to write in a way that initiates the right reaction or gets a point across; and I never know if it does or if my reader feels something totally different than what I had intended. My favorite part of having a critique partner is seeing his perspective and reaction as a reader of my writing. 

5) As critique partners, you should be there for each other during much of the writing process - especially during revision and completion! After you've copy-edited, written those second, third and fourth drafts and submitted your work for publishing, celebrate together with a drink. There's nobody else who understands what that final submission means to you than your critique partner. 

6) What have you learned from participating in critique groups and critique partnerships? Share in comments below! 

There are only 5 days left until Christmas! What are your plans for the holidays? I will be in Florida for 10 days starting on Thursday, but I plan to update TRA as often as I can with photos of my adventures at Disney World! 


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Love yourself. Be beautiful the way only you know how.

I’m glad I’m not blonde, tan, stick-skinny, brunette, caked with makeup, freckled, or Barbie. I don’t understand why so many girls obsess over appearance and wish to look like those plastic-looking models on Project Runway. 

Truth is, confident girls get the best guys. Real girls get the best guys. I’d rather look natural and wait for the right boy to love me for everything that I am than look like a model and have men falling for my body and not for me. 

You were born with your own looks - why make life miserable by trying to be something you’re not? I’m short, Asian and skinny. I never wear makeup. Flat nose and one small freckle under one eye. Dimples. That’s the kind of beautiful that I am. 

What’s your kind of beautiful? What do you love about yourself?

Finishing up finals tomorrow! Will return to my regular blogging schedule this weekend.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

QOTD: What are you most thankful for this holiday season, and what is your favorite Thanksgiving dish? (Mine is the turkey, duh.) Share with us in comments! 

I have so much to be thankful for, but especially: my loving, compassionate family and my amazing friends, both of whom are always there for me when I need them and constantly challenge me every day to be the best person I can be. I am thankful for my Moleskine journal for being forever patient with me when I am writing in it. :) I am also thankful for the weather, for I could not have asked for a more beautiful and sunny Turkey Day. 

But of course, my Thank You List would not be complete without any mention of my amazing blogging friends--not just all my amazing followers, but the bloggers who inspire me every day to be a better writer, blogger and friend. I want to thank each and every one of you for sticking with The Red Angel blog and for all of your support, encouragement and friendship all this time. You guys are the best!

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! Wishing you all a wonderful holiday with the ones you love.

P.S. Be sure to check out my previous blog post, which I stuffed (no indirect pun intended?) full of motivation for this last week of NaNoWriMoing (plus my word count, which has actually gone up since then)!


Sunday, November 13, 2011

"You're doing NaNo? Sounds like a dirty iPod joke if you ask me."

QOTD: Tell us a funny Thanksgiving dinner story! (C'mon, we've all got those memories of Grandpa cracking funny--but not really funny--jokes and Baby Cousin Jack spitting peas at your brother.)

Okay, I know the title is super lame--but it was either that or "You know you're crazy for doing NaNo when you told your Mom and she said, laughing, 'A book? Hun, you wouldn't even write those This I Believe essays in grade school, what makes you think you can write a novel...?'." Yeah, I'm glad I went with this blog title instead. ^^

Speaking of NaNoWriMo, there are eight days left! How are we feeling about this? Excited? Frantic? Indifferent? (*points to self*) It's time to share with you all my word count. I am not really ready to expose myself to shame, but here: 


Yep, my word count has stayed the same for weeks. Not days, weeks. And when has that ever been okay? (Answer: Never.)

Yet, here I am feeling indifferent. What is this? I should be feeling terrible about myself. I mean, this was supposed to be year that I would make myself a winner. What happened to that? 

In my defense, I have been writing. Just not my novel. I have five papers due this month and I just turned in one of them (five pages on the representation of Congress!) yesterday morning. I do think that's a forgivable reason for not noveling, but still....the real winners of NaNo are the writers who get their 1,666 words in every single day no matter what priorities they have in real life. They make time. They choke out words, as many as possible;  spit them into their word processor until that 1,666th word is down. 

Me? I'm listing excuses about why my word count is still four digits long. I mean, I spend half my time cheering on others who are nearing the finish line themselves; why can't I do the same for myself?

Which brings me to today's main focus. At the start of November, did you tell any of your family or friends or the whole wide world you were going to do NaNo (the novel challenge, silly, not the iPod)? What did you say? "Hi Mummy and Daddy, if I don't respond to your calls this month it's because I'm in my closet writing a novel, okay? Thanks, love you, bye!"?

More importantly, what was their reaction? 

Reactions often play a huge role in our perception of what we believe we are doing with NaNoWriMo. If most of the reactions you receive were generally positive statements like "Oh wow, you GO girlfriend!!!" and "This is perfect for you! You LOVE to write! This is going to be so much fun...you're going to love it," then chances are you were compelled to feel the same way about your literary journey. 

But if most people you tell say things like, "50k in a month? Give it up before it's too late to save yourself," "What a waste of time," and "You're doing NaNo? What's that mean? Sounds like a dirty iPod joke if you ask me," then diving headfirst into the challenge may not have started out so great for you. 

I didn't exactly tell the world I'm doing NaNo this year, but I did tell a lot friends (okay, basically my entire friends list on Facebook once I'd updated my status). The collective response I got was: "Oh God, my fingers hurt just at the thought of writing that much..." and "Wow, um, okay! Good luck with that!" Don't get me wrong - they're all pretty supportive of me, but I can tell that behind those good lucks were skepticism and doubt--which is a totally natural reaction coming from people who have not heard of NaNoWriMo before. 

The problem, though, is that the reactions of people who matter a lot to you tend to rub off on you. Seeing as I am easily influenced by others, this is probably what's happened to me as well. I really need to fix this. I need to be my own cheerleader, my own source for inspiration and motivation no matter what other people are thinking. 

In the end, we've all got to believe in ourselves. We can't rely on other people to galvanize our creative juices and keep us going, because when it all comes down to it, this is our fight.  The truth is, we don't need to win NaNoWriMo to feel good about ourselves, anyway. Every word we put down is a winner. This is our journey, and we are the only ones who can reach the goal we set out to attain, whether that be 50,000 words or 5,000. Let's all keep this in mind as we're gearing up for this last week of writing. 

I can't promise that I'll reach 50,000 words in the next seven days, but I can promise that at the end of NaNo I will be able to say I pushed aside my papers, skipped post-turkey/stuffing/macaroni exercise and worked my butt off to reach my final word count. 

What reactions did you receive when you told others you were doing NaNo? How did it affect your own attitude? After 22 days of literary frenzy, how has your attitude and the attitudes of said others changed?


Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Veterans 2011: "It's the Little Things That Really Mean Big"

QOTD: It's November 11, 2011! Did you wish for anything at 11:11?

Before anything else, I just want to congratulate the UNC Tar Heels for their AWESOME win against MSU (67-55). I'm usually not a Sports fan but when it comes to UNC (and especially when it comes to UNC basketball) I get kind of excited :) Even better, we won on an aircraft carrier! Woohoo! #heelsonaboat

Speaking of aircraft carriers, Happy Veterans Day! Thank you so much to all of those who have died, fought and risked everything to protect the lives of American people. We appreciate everything you do for our country, and I can't imagine the amount of courage it takes to do what you do. Thank you. 
Today, the Red Cross sponsored an event at my school that involved having students create greeting cards for our troops overseas. I stopped by the Pit (the heart of our school--both geographically and symbolically!) earlier this afternoon and, after noticing the group's booth, wrote a greeting card. Something about this particular event really warmed something inside of me. I don’t know if that's what compelled me — but I asked if I could help, and ended up spending an hour in the Pit and various school centers nearby asking fellow students if they’d like to write greeting cards as well. 

I was so surprised and taken aback by how many students actually said “Sorry, I don’t have time…I, uh, have class soon” or just simply said “No thanks.” 

Sometimes, I wish people would just stop what they are doing and think about what they could do to make others happy—not to make themselves feel good or to put that act of service on their resume, but for the sake of genuinely wanting to make someone else smile. 

I mean, I didn’t even tell the other “official volunteers” my name in the end—but I didn’t care. “Getting credit” wasn’t my mission at all. The only thing on my mind was the fact that people like these men here are fighting every day for us and may not even be at home for Christmas to be with their families. It takes three minutes to write a greeting card of warm wishes and thank-yous. It’s the least we can do. And in my opinion, it's a collection of little things like this that can really make a difference. (Agh...sorry for being a huge cheese ball tonight!)

I mean, I'm not saying that I don't get hurried some days and forget to slow life down for a few moments and think about what I should be thankful for, because I do. I guess I just feel very strongly about this because I associate serving in the military with making sacrifices for others. What greater sacrifice is there to give than risking your time, energy and life to help protect another?

I do have wonderful news, though. At the end of my "shift", we'd collected 50 greeting cards written by students from all over campus. YAY! Thanks you guys. <3 Whoever picks up your card somewhere in the world, I know he/she is going to love it. Once again, Happy Veterans Day! 

Oh, and one more thing: 

NaNoWriMo Word Count: 9,152 (still behind, but hey I'm making progress...sorta...)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Reveal of the Red Angel + NaNoWriMo 2011 Begins!

QOTD: Tell us about your Halloween. Did you dress up? Did you go trick-or-treating (you're never too old for this, I promise!) or hand out candy to the kids? Did you stay at home and watch scary movies? Let us know! 

When I was a little girl, I used to get really paranoid about being in the dark and having bad guys snatch me away from the safety of my home. Both figuratively and literally. These bad guys include dangerous creepers, but also verbal attackers and anyone who is wrongly judgmental of who I am. Honestly, I think I worry too much about what other people think of me.

Which is totally understandable, right? I mean, I know I'm not the only one who cares about how my opinions and lifestyles will shape what people see the parts of me that I share with them. But to an extent this sensitivity is a setback, seeing as I'm a writer and journalist/psychologist-in-training. How can I give other people solid advice on how to improve their lives for the better and write articles on topics I feel strongly about when I'm nervous about what nice or mean things Jack and Mary are saying behind my back? 

A major lesson I have learned in college so far is that it really, truly does not matter what other people think of you. There are just way too many individuals in this world, and focusing on one's rank in popularity and likability is just a waste of time. Of course, that isn't to say reputation and presentation of one's self doesn't matter, because they do--especially in the corporate world and in the job market. But it's important to balance reputation and individuality. 

Be who you want to be, and don't let the fear of what others may think of you prevent you from trying out new things, expressing yourself and saying what you believe in. 

This sensitivity is also what has kept me from becoming too public on the Internet. I can say anything I want to online...but doesn't that mean other people--strangers, friends and colleagues alike--can say anything they want about me too? My answer to my own question is...yes, but so what? I have nothing to hide except myself, and why do I want to hide myself when there is so much to share and so much to do in a single lifetime? 

I don't. 

So after much thinking, I have decided that I'm going to share with you all who I am--not just as "the red angel," but as me. I feel like by doing so, all of you readers and fellow bloggers will be able to identify with me better now that you can put a name to a face and have a better picture (no pun intended) of who I am. 

Yup, that's me! My name is Wendy Lu 
(Sometimes I get called Cindy Who/Wendy Wu/other forms of Wendy Lu, so whichever you prefer ;) Red Angel works too haha)

So I made this costume for a "Super Rave" that took place in one of the dorms last year. What do you guys think? And hey, Supergirl could be Asian...you never know! Haha. I am always really curious as to how Halloweeners (LOL) put their costumes together, so I'll break down my Supergirl facade for you: 

  • The Superman shirt was a gift from a wonderful friend of mine. He knows how much I love Superman! You can find different versions at Hot Topic. 
  • I bought the blue/violet stockings from the mall, though I forgot which department. $3.00 on sale. Check out various styles at ModCloth
  • The red skirt is from a local thrift store. It was originally a long skirt, but another friend of mine who is excellent with the sewing machine was able to hem it for me. Only $3.00! 
  • The red cape is a really long piece of fabric that I got from Hancock's Fabrics. About $6.00 or so. 
  • My red headband was part of a set of headbands that my sister gave me for Christmas a few years ago.
  • You can't see my shoes, but I'm also wearing black Converse All-Star high-tops. They weren't originally going to be a part of the costume but they actually fit really well with the Superman look, so I figured it worked! 

Sadly, I was not able to go out for Halloween this year due to my American History (1865-present) exam, which took place yesterday (hence, the late blog post!). Halloween wasn't all just textbooks and studying, though. I live in a really quiet apartment complex and there aren't that many families or children living near me. But to my surprise, starting at 6:30pm on Monday night, three adorable little kids dressed up as princesses came knocking on my door. I quickly tossed some Kit-Kats into a bowl, threw on my Superman shirt and showered them with candy! :) How was your Halloween? 

NaNoWriMo Word Count: 582 (I blame History. But...major write-in tonight! If you are a participant, how is NaNo going?)


Saturday, October 29, 2011

What's Your Take on Creative Writing Classes?

QOTD: If you have ever taken a creative writing class (or any sort of writing class) before, what was your experience? If you have not taken a writing class, would you want to?

College students have an average of 12 different "What am I gonna do with my life?!" spasms per semester.* So far I've only had about two or three, which isn't that many, comparatively. As class registration begins for next semester, however, I think there's a fourth spasm that is beginning to boil just underneath the surface at the moment. 

Technically, I'm a Journalism and Psychology double major with a minor in Creative Writing - at the moment. (Fun fact: Most college kids change their majors around three to four timess**). I say "at the moment" because...wait, for it.........I think I may be dropping my Creative Writing minor. 

*gasp* I know, I know...I have been wanting to take Creative Writing courses for the longest time. It hasn't helped that I have tried twice to enroll into our Intro to Fiction class...and then failed both times. Now, all of a sudden I'm second-guessing this long-term desire of mine. (Talk about drastic life-changing decisions, right?)

The thing is, I'm starting to question my previous motives for wanting to take a Creative Writing course. Is it critique? Is it praise? Is it the desire for my writing to be shredded into pieces? Is it a community of literary students in which we can all mutually give advice on our work? Is it a professor who will teach me how to write creatively? 

My answer to all of these questions is: maybe. But I'm starting to wonder, will these things really make me a better writer? And the truth is, I'm starting to think no, no they won't. 

What it all comes down to is that I don't want my motivation for writing "well" (whatever that means) to be attached to my GPA grade. Writing is supposed to be for the writer, and I can't help but feel like accommodating my work to satisfy the preferences of others--peers or teacher--actually belittles what I am writing. Also, I tend to be really competitive as well as self-conscious about my writing. In a Creative Writing class, I feel like I would get too caught up in trying to write something that's "better" or "more unique" or "more descriptive" than anyone else's...and then in the process, I would lose myself. I wouldn't be writing for myself anymore. 

And, for me at least, it's when I write solely for myself and nobody else that I actually grind out something relatively decent. 

Another issue I have with creative writing classes deals with the fact that there is somebody else grading your work. I REALLY, really don't like the idea of teachers (or people in generally, really) thinking they have the power to declare whether or not a particular piece of art (visual, literary, or other) is "good" or "bad" or "has value," much less label it with a letter or number grade, like "This story gets an A-" or "This poem seems like a 91 to me." As far as I'm concerned, as long as that art matters to somebody, then it has immeasurable value and worth. 

Of course, I'm definitely not saying that critique is bad or you should only focus on what you think is important in your writing. Having people you trust look over your work and tell you their honest opinions is one of the most essential parts of the revision process. You get to find out if the meaning you are trying to convey in your writing actually gets through to your audience. You are able to realize what sticks out to others and what doesn't, what needs more emphasis and clarification and what just doesn't work at all. 

The thing is, I am all for critique and feedback and even peer editing and workshops...just not in a class setting. I prefer to consult my sister or my closest friends about my work, because I know that they will tell me like it is, they will still love me even if my writing doesn't click at all with them and they won't try to compete with me for a good grade. There's less pressure, and you can be yourself without having to feel like you need to write a certain way to please somebody else.

So maybe Dr. Fate purposely made me fail at registration--though I did get every other class I wanted except for Creative Writing. Besides, I think Journalism and Psychology is enough to deal right now. At least until my next life-decisions spasm. :)

What do you think? I have never taken a Creative Writing class before, so my thoughts and assumptions could be totally off. Regardless, I would love to hear about your experiences and opinions with Creative Writing classes. 

*This statistic is purely based on my observations and has not been scientifically proven. 

**This statistic has been mentioned in various studies dealing with college life. 


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Be a Bold Writer

QOTD: Are you participating in National Novel Writing Month?

Before I get on with today's topic, I'd just like to point out that NaNoWriMo will be here ONE WEEK! For those of you who have no clue what this amazing event is, it's a month-long challenge to write 50,000 words' worth of a novel in the course of November. It's fun, it's crazy, it's illuminating, it's life-changing. And that's not an exaggeration either. 

I've been tweeting like mad and following accounts like FigmentFiction and WriMos FTW! just to get myself hyped up about NaNo. (Seriously guys, unless you've been keeping up with my blog since last November, you have no idea how intense I get around this time of the year!) I've become obsessed with looking up literary blogs, and I have an entire folder in my Bookmarks dedicated to online NaNoWriMo articles that I've collected from the Internet. 

Seriously! Come. Join. I guarantee that if you stick with it, in the end you won't regret having done it. Well-l-l maybe you might, but it'll definitely be an experience you'll never forget. :) 


I'll be focusing a lot on writing this month and the next (not surprisingly), and today I've thought a lot about why it's important to be a bold writer. What do I mean by being a bold writer? 

Bold writers...
  • aren't afraid to take chances
  • create characters, make them come alive and then put them in situations that take them out of their comfort zone
Bold writers...
  • take those characters to places that they normally wouldn't think of going in their worlds, and then take a step back to see what happens
  • don't use cliches--they make their own. 
Bold writers are able to make their stories become so alive and full of truth that it's impossible for a reader to forget. 

As writers, we have all the tools we need to do what we do. We use a collection of our thoughts and feelings, our experiences and our imagination. We use our mind. This is both luxuriating and terrifying, because if we are the controllers of our own minds, surely we can create anything we want?

Bold writers aren't afraid to take advantage of all the tools they need to create something. They scoop all of these tools up and chisel away until they're raw and dull and in need of a good sharpening again--use them with full force and maybe shoot them out one after another like bullets emitting out of a gun or all at once like a great big cannonball. They don't know what they might end up with when it's all said and done and, quite frankly, they don't give a damsel-in-distress about staying sophisticated or rational. They dive into their work. 

This coming November, let's all be bold writers. Let's step out of our normal boundaries and create characters that in the real world would have never crossed each other's pathways--and let's make them cross those paths. Let's see what happens when we toss all cares aside and do whatever the heck we want with the tools we have. Let's find out what we can create when rationality is crumpled up, stomped on and tossed over our shoulders. 


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Happy National Day on Writing!

I cannot remember a single moment in my life when I did not love words and writing and literature. And I simply cannot imagine a life in which I did not write...I have tried and I can't. I write because I have no choice. 

Language in the form of writing has always amazed me with its power. There are no limitations as to what I can write and how I can use it. When I journal or string words into poetry or create characters in their own little worlds, I feel limitless. Reading over my works constantly teaches me things about myself and about life that I otherwise would not have known. My lifelong goal is to use the power of words to inspire others with the story of my past, share with them my belief that weaknesses can be turned into strengths and encourage them to accept each other’s differences. 

I write to show people they are not alone, and I write to keep myself sane. Without writing, I would have little purpose in this world. 

This is why I write. Tell us your story. Happy National Day on Writing


Monday, October 17, 2011

Back from Blog Break

As you've probably noticed, I have been Missing in Action for the last couple of weeks and I haven't been keeping up with my blogging schedule. There are two reasons for this: 
  • I had two exams, two papers and a quiz due last week. This terrible pile of to-dos have been consuming 80% of my mind. Another 10% of my mind has been on consumption of food, and the other 10% has been on sleep.
  • I came up with TOO MANY blog post ideas! And one of the worst feelings ever is thinking up of so many great ideas and then not having the time to work on any of them. 
Well fall break is nearly upon me now, in which I will be working to improve my blog, namely: update pages and plan out each week's blog post topics. I am also going to work on creating my own graphics, taking more of my own photos, condensing labels, replying back to comments faster and visiting other blogs (which I already do a lot of but I don't take the time to comment as much I as I want to). During various periods of procrastination, I've actually found a handful of new, wonderful blogs to follow and I can't wait to explore them all.

Most importantly, I am going to focus on a new motivation for writing (not just blog posts, but personal journal entries, stories, poetry and articles). Instead of focusing on pleasing my readers and wondering about the amount of audience/attention a particular blog entry will receive, I'm going to write for myself. 

From immersing myself within my tumblr these past few days, I realized that my most genuine and honest writing emerges from inside of me when I think about nothing except what I am passionate about and what I believe in. Of course, I have always written from the heart, but I think that we all have had times when we worried more about what other people will thought than what we ourselves thought. I am going to change this mindset, and let's see what happens.

Regular blog posts will begin tomorrow! 

Should I keep Questions of the Day? Are they helpful in getting you as a reader thinking, or do they just divert your attention away from the actual blog post? What sort of articles, resources or changes would you like to see at TRA Blog? 


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Rest In Peace, Steve Jobs.

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs dies at 56

Every once in a while, an event as tragic as Steve Jobs' death compels us to stop what we're doing and be reminded of how fragile life is--but also how beautiful it can be. Thanks for everything, Steve Jobs. You will forever be remembered. 

 “No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. 

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, or living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. Most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
— Steve Jobs, Stanford Commencement 2005

iPod. iPhone. Apple. Mac. These are the types of innovations and corporations Steve Jobs helped found during his lifetime, which we use for our pleasure and take for granted every day. But his legacy is not just made up of these tangible materials. His creativity and genius has been a constant source of inspiration for not only technologists but people everywhere all over the globe. Less seriously, he proved to everybody that nerdy nerds can turn into great nerds, and then those great nerds turn into great men. 

And, by God, Steve Jobs was a great man. 

Rest In Peace, Steve Jobs. You were a truly remarkable human being, and your powerful technological contributions will never be forgotten. You changed the world. 


Sunday, October 2, 2011

WWW: Why Websites Wule

QOTD: If you could choose to live any one decade from history, which one would you want to live through and why?

We live in a digital age. Smartphones, iPads, social networking, GPS systems, Skype...all of that is a part of this generation. The Internet is not just a hobby for us anymore. It's a lifestyle. We have changed the ways in which we communicate with others and share our ideas. While I will always have a soft spot for the printed media (in fact, I vow to never buy a Kindle), seeing the effects that this has had on the way our society interacts has been nothing short of remarkable. 

Nowadays, we are able to discuss our opinions through forums and can even comment on blogs and Yahoo articles. Those are our outlets of discussion, and I personally think they are a lot easier than debating face-to-face, which can be intimidating. I know I feel more nervous about speaking my mind with people when I am with them...but the Internet is different. You can think before you type and there's a lot less pressure of writing certain opinions. You can think the matter through, and you don't need to endure of those awkward moments or be aware of certain social cues.

I have an especial affinity towards blogs (which may not come as surprising). Unfortunately, people tend to view blogs as less formal, which is probably due to the fact that basically anybody can post and write anything they want online via outlets such as Wordpress, tumblr and even Facebook statuses. Yet, at the same time, anybody can type something on Word and print that out too and staple it and call it a magazine. Just because you write for a magazine's blog doesn't mean you're not writing for the magazine, because you are. Just through a different medium. Insightful and informative blogs may not be magazines, and they may not be the daily newspaper, but they deserve respect too. In many ways, they are currently shifting the way we as a people think and perceive the world more than any other media today. 

If anything, the Internet has made the spread of news and opinions even better. It's faster, easier and more convenient. Every time a major world event occurs, the news goes viral online. This leads to discussion, communication and notification to other citizens all over the world in a matter of hours, even moments. (Don't tell me you didn't Tweet about Bin Laden's death.) The spread of the news is instant. In the past, perhaps people would have called each other's friends on the phone, and citizens would have waited until the next day's issue of the newspaper came out with more details. Now, we barely have to wait long before the AP comes out with a new updated article online. 

Of course, that's not to say we should all sit on our butts all day staring at the computer screen replying to the comments on Yahoo articles. I just thought I'd point out some of the meritorious effects that the Internet has had on society, since I am constantly going ga-ga over books and rejecting new technology. But enough of my chatter. I'd love to know what you think. 

How has the Internet changed the way you send and receive news? Has it been an asset or hindrance to your life? 


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Twitter + Tumblr = #success

Welp. I have joined Twitter and tumblr both in one week. I guess it's time for me to fully embrace the perplexing, overwhelming world of social media! #excitement (Hmm I still am not used to adding hash tags to words like that)

I just wanted to let all of you know that there are now other ways of contacting me and keeping up with TRA updates. 

Twitter: mainly for following my friends and keeping up with the news as well as provide another source for readers to discover The Red Angel Blog. @xtheredangelx

*Fun Note: My background (which happens to be a Twitter premade) matches my blog layout exactly! Thought that was cool. 

tumblr: this is simply another branch off of The Red Angel blog (which is where you are at now), except it's more informal, so feel free to follow if you'd like to get to know me on a slightly more personal level. xtheredangelx.tumblr.com

Additional ways you can contact me: 

Email: xtheredangelx@gmail.com

Facebook: Click here 

And, of course....HERE! :)


Good Earth, Good Life

Question of the Day:  What is your favorite way to relax on a weekend? 

Last weekend, I picked up a box of Good Earth at the grocery store. I'd seen these products advertised in magazines, coupon books and other random places I can't remember. Since the start of the new semester, I have been trying to eat healthier. Less chocolate, fewer bags of chips (Smartfood popcorn is still fair game, of course), more green and more whole-grain. So far, I've been semi-successful. 

Let me tell you, being a healthy college kid isn't easy. I manage to stay away from caffeine despite long, sleepless nights of studying around students living off of six cups of coffee a day. I remember to grab extra pieces of fruit on my way out of the dining hall. I even take a couple of naps during the week. But the one thing I can't seem to have enough time for is make dinner. When I go home after a long, hard day's work, I just don't have the energy or the patience to make a full-out meal for myself. In the end, I find myself microwaving a frozen pizza or Easy Mac. 

So when I bought this...

I got really excited.

I mean, here is a dinner that encompasses the most essential food groups (sweets not included) and takes less than half an hour to cook. Most of the ingredients are included in the box and the penne is 100% whole-grain. The night I decided to give Good Earth a shot, I tossed in some mushrooms just to give it a little more veggie-oomph

How did it turn out? 

Excellent. Talk about nom-nom-nom. You can't tell me the photo above doesn't make you salivate even a little bit. Okay, I admit...the photo quality isn't great. But still, it was REALLY. Really. Good. Definitely beat Easy Mac, anyhow. 

Have any of you tried Good Earth before? If so, what was your impression of this quick-and-easy Olive Garden substitute? 

To my college friends, you should totally try this! Perfect for making in the dorm kitchen. 


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"How Old Are You?" "Why Does It Matter?"

QOTD: How old are you? Do you personally think that age really matters? 
Sometimes I wish I could forget my age. Why are our lives measured so heavily upon how old we are, and not instead by the experiences we have been through and the amount of knowledge we have absorbed? I have conflicting feelings about my age.....I am 19 years old, but have always looked at least five years younger, which I tend to feel defensive about. (Bring on the kids' menus!)

But then again, I wish I could I could forget that I am 19, because I don't want to grow up. What does it mean to be grown up? Have a job, a family and independence? That certainly seems to be the norm definition. Yet, I have met quite a few young people and also children who were much more mature, more mentally independent and more self-aware than many grownups I have encountered. 

I'm not bashing adulthood, of course. I am merely approaching the question as to why age is such an influential factor in how we are perceived by others and how we see them. If someone knows your age, they automatically begin to judge you--either consciously or unconsciously--based on that. Oh, you're 19? You must be in college because that's where a lot of 19-year-olds are at your age. You're 14? You don't know understand what it means to be in love....you're not "at that stage" yet. 

I am a naturally easygoing and positive person. I act very lighthearted and silly all the time, but that makes people further believe I am very young. I get told that I act very childish. Why? Is it because I am always cheerful and jocular, and don't act like I have a care or worry in the world? Do they think I live a life through rose-colored glasses? No, I act those ways because I learned that even if things are going terribly for me, I won't nearly feel half as bad if I keep a smile on my face. I have worries just like any other human being, but why is it that just because I don't actively show or share my burdens with the people I interact with, I am perceived as a child? 

Today, I saw a man in his late 40's in my history class. He is a college student. 



Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Art of Sophomore Swag

QOTD: What brand and flavor of chewing gum would you recommend for someone you don't like? (You thought it'd be another "favorites" question, didn't you?)

Note: If you don't know what swag is, click here. And just so you know, I love first years, and I loved my first of college. :)

Living the year of a college sophomore can only be described as a trip through a very, very strange time machine. A set of twenty-four hours swishes by fast, so that the days seem to blend in and suddenly a week has felt more like one extremely long day. One minute I'm on top of the world, the next minute I'm back at the bottom scrambling for the top again. It feels like I have only been in school for a week, but no--it is already September and here I am, faced with history papers to write and mid-term exams that loom head. 

Here is a typical day in college (AKA the time machine): 

8:00 am Wake up, snooze for twenty extra minutes, and then skim through the chapter of my history textbook that I should have read last night (but was too busy following my BFFL's Facebook statuses and doing my Statistics homework). I am transported back in time to the Reconstruction era of the late 1800's.

9:40am Stuff toast in my mouth and take the local transit to school. 

10:00am Political Science class (in case you're wondering, it's Introduction to American Government). For the next hour, my classmates and I are political candidates of the next election at a primary debate (the kind you watch on Fox news), discussing......issues.

11:00am Play in the library (play = Facebook, blog, Skype, three Statistics problems). Chortle at the first years also in my Poli Sci class, who are sitting a few tables down poring over the Blackboard assignments that aren't due until next month. 

12:00pm Nudge my way through the dining hall and wait half an hour in line just to buy myself a sandwich. Eat a thirty-minute lunch with a friend. 

1:00pm  History class (American History after the Civil War). I take a quiz on the content I read half an hour ago. I freak out about my grade, get my grade back, sigh and then say, "I knew it was no big deal! I learned this in high school after all." For a while, I'm back in my Honors U.S. History class again. 

2:00pm Arrive at my Language class, huffing and puffing like my chest is about to explode. Translate for an hour. 

3:00pm Stop by the dining hall to grab a smoothie and a slice of the world's best pizza. Chortle at some more first years who ask the cashier what the difference between Flex and Expense plans are again. Go back to the library and start playing (play = Facebook, blog, Skype, and three pages of history reading). 

3:15pm Check my Google Calendar and realize I have a meeting in 15 minutes. FREAK OUT. 

3:20pm Dash out of the library and forget where Gardner Hall is (even though I remember being there before). I end up asking a couple of first-years where I can find Gardner Hall. I take a shortcut (which a sophomore told me about last year) and get there at 3:29. I begin to think maybe there's something called karma after all. 

4:00pm Lie out on the quad with friends and start looking for cloud formations. Pretend we're in space. Play Frisbee and feel like a kid again. Get sunburned. 

5:00pm Attend another meeting. 

6:00pm Go back to the library. Study for real this time because I remember I have a language quiz tomorrow (no playing). Panic because I keep forgetting words that I learned last semester. Miss my old study buddy (who is studying abroad, lucky duck). Wish I was a first-year again. 

7:00pm Go home. Eat dinner. Call Mom and Dad, who remind me to take a shower and tell me they can't believe I'm a sophomore already. I concur. 

8:30pm Take a shower. 

9:00pm Statistics homework (due tomorrow morning). Facebook, Skype, blog. Youtube, too. 

1:00am Stumble into bed. 



Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remember 9/11

QOTD: Where were you 10 years ago?

My heart goes out to those who died during the 9/11 attack and to those who lost family members and were remained behind. You are in our prayers, always. 

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