Monday, January 31, 2011

A Look Inside My Subconscious

Question of the Day: Is there a question you would like to ask ME? =P If so, feel free to leave them in the comments below.

In my last post, I reviewed "Inception," one of the biggest must-see hit films of 2010. My previous Question of the Day was: Are you a heavy dreamer? Do you ever know when you are dreaming or not? Do those dreams ever come back to you in the morning? Some of you said that you often do not remember your dreams in the morning, while others of you said your dreams can get pretty intense sometimes.

And what about me? I suppose one of the reasons why "Inception" sticks with me so well and really made an impact on me is the fact that I also have very vivid dreams. There are times when the Dream World I'm trapped in is so animated and detailed that I believed the dream to be true. During my most dynamic and dramatic ones, my mind is very active and I am still thinking while almost feels like I AM awake, yet I cannot actually wake myself up.

Dreams have always fascinated me, and I really believe that they tell us so much more about ourselves than we realize when we're awake, and if we choose to let them, our dreams can help us understand ourselves, how we think, and our innermost thoughts and feelings that we repress so deeply inside.

A-hem. Sorry to get all Freudian on you today. I'd like to share with you a few of the most bizarre dreams that I have ever had in my life. None of them are made up at all...which is definitely hard to believe once you read them. Take a peek...

On a scale from odd to wild to bizarre to insane:

#4) I don't know what I'm standing on. All I know is that there is a surface below me. But the longer time I look down, the farther away the bottom surface seems to be. I keep my eyes locked on that surface below, willing for it to come closer to my feet. But I look down so much that eventually I begin to fall, fall, fall. My heart leaps into my mouth, and I wait to hit the bottom, the surface I'd stared at for so long. But it never comes. I just keep falling.

This probably has to do with the fact that I am deathly afraid of heights and hate the feeling that I'm going to fall. But maybe these heights stand for something else, another more abstract fear...perhaps I am scared of not being in control? Maybe.

#3) It is night time. I am pacing along the streets of the neighborhood I grew up in, the one in Boston, MA. My breath quickens, and somehow I know I am running away from someone. Something. No, multiple things. I hide behind and between tall trees that had once been my refuge as a child, and every time I look back I can see Disney villain cartoon characters (again, I'm not joking; I dreamt this) pursuing me. I dodge them for a good while, getting even more scared by the minute because these bad guys look like they mean business. Finally, I trespass into a run-down apartment building. It is all dark. Suddenly, the lights flicker and a disco ball appears. One by one, the villians--Jafar and Cruella De Vil most memorable--come in, pick up glasses filled with punch, and begin to party. The entire chase was a joke.

To be honest, I have no idea what to think about this dream. I do not fear Disney characters because they are not real, and when something is chasing me I usually take it very seriously, it's not a joke at all. So what can you make out of it?

#2) Somehow I was lost or running away or something of that nature, and in the dream I discover what seems like a whole new civilization. The culture is similar to Indian culture in that the citizens are all brown-skinned and wear paint over their bodies, which are only partly clothed. But what's amazing is that it includes a completely new population living in a sort of utopia. They have all sorts of colors and foods never used before by mankind, but they're all beautiful and delicious. The citizens welcome me into their civilization with open arms and I started to live like them, with them. I discover that they never get sick, develop diseases, or are born with disorders. Something in the way they live keeps them extremely healthy. The civilization is small though, and most of them live in small tribes with teepee-like homes. They do not have school systems or anything remotely complicated like what we have in the real world; instead, everyone lives in a small, close-knit community where all the children learn together in one place. Everyone works together, there is no disease, famine, or war.

I don't remember much of this dream anymore, as you can tell from the lack of detail, but I do remember it really felt real and I almost wished I didn't wake up. When I first came to, it was SO vivid all the images almost left me instantly because there was so much.

And the "Most Insane Dream Ever" Goes To...

#1) My sister and I are travelling through a mansion, a gigantic house full of different corridors, parlors, closets, and hallways. It's almost like a maze. It seems as though the house is deserted, for there is nobody else but us. We are trying to find a way out. My sister and I constantly run to and fro throughout the house, trying to find the door to lead us outside and free. The house is a mansion, and it is beautiful. Finally, we find a staircase and quickly start taking steps up and up and up. As we zoom past with every level of stairs, I glance around briefly and different rooms pop up. One of the most distinct ones I remember is a dining hall, but there was kitchenware and silverware and a magnificent feast already in place, waiting, it seems. It almost seems like one of those doll houses I used to set up when I was younger. I wonder where the owners of this house are. With every level, up we go, an earthquake begins. The higher we go up, the more intense the earthquake becomes. We become more frantic, more desperate of finding a way out. The climax of the dream is reached when I realize the truth: we're trapped in a house, a doll house to be exact, and my sister and I are the owners of this mansion. We are the dolls.

If there was ever a horror dream to make you scream in the middle of the night, this was it. Now I didn't scream bloody murder, but I remember waking up and being extremely sweaty and forgetting where I was. It literally took me at least five seconds to realize I was at home and that my dream hadn't been real.

A couple of these bizarre "subconscious adventures" happen to deal with being chased. In fact, in over 50% of my dreams, I am being chased by something or someone. Hmm, I wonder what my subconscious is trying to tell me.

At what point does a dream become an all-out nightmare? What is the most bizarre "subconscious adventure" you ever had? If you give me enough information, I will try to interpret it for you. =)

P.S. Don't forget to vote in the poll to your right! Tell me what you'd like to see more of on TRA blog.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

"Inception" Movie Review

Question of the Day: Are you a heavy dreamer? Do you ever know when you are dreaming or not? Do those dreams ever come back to you in the morning?

I have watched Inception a total count of four times so far. Not only is that about seven and a half hours worth of oogling atLeonardo Dicaprio, but also of viewing a spectacular film dealing with the human's subconscious. I personally would categorize this movie as a "psychological thriller," but it's generally known as "science fiction". I suppose it's both in a way. :)

Inception is one of those movies that you HAVE to see more than once. I've seen it, like I said, three times and each of those times, I understood so much more and took something out of the movie, if that makes sense.

It's been a while since I've done a movie review (see "Alice in Wonderland"), but I promise this won't be as long as the last one! I will still be dividing the review into sections and rating each section from 1 to 5 stars out of 5. Oh, and I won't give away any spoilers. Promise.

Short Summary: Since I'm a Journalism major and journalism is all about taking a lot of information and squeezing it into shorter, concise statements, let me try to "briefly" describe Inception in one sentence. "Inception" is about a spy named Cobb (Leo) who agrees in a deal takes on a highly dangerous job of entering dreams to extract information as well as perform "inception" in order to go back home to his children in America. (If I was allowed another sentence, I would ALSO say that..."He constructs a highly talented team to assist him with the task, but there's a part of Cobb's own subconscious that just may disrupt their plan for good.")

Story: To me, the story of a movie is the world that it was set up in. Rating the story of "Inception" is kind of hard since they move so quickly between reality and dream worlds. The idea of inception and extraction through the subconscious and people interacting in their dreams are all very intriguing ideas, but not unheard of. However, the fact that they were able to pull this off realistically (in an ironic sort of way) in a movie is magnificent. Being able to change things in a fake reality however you want it? Move roads and make glass shatter and build a bridge simply by will? Innovative? Hell yeah. Rating: 5/5

Plot: Loved it. There was the main plot (mentioned in the summary), but there were also subplots that balanced evenly very nicely. As the team of dream experts are constantly trying to go deeper and deeper into their victim's subconscious, Cobb himself has an inner battle going on within himself. What's so crazy and brilliant about this is that while Cobb is the master at screwing around with minds, he can't even control his own. The reason why you have to watch "Inception" multiple times is that nothing is really revealed until the last half hour of the movie or so. Everything about the secrets of the plot suddenly becomes clear, and then you're like...wait what? and you HAVE to go back and watch it again to understand everything. The plots are twisted together so well. And what I really like is how they balanced out Digital Design (see below) and Plot. A lot of movies have excellent visual effects, but they don't have an equally strong Plot (a possible example could be Tron: Legacy, which I've heard is just like that) . I feel that this movie could have easily been a bad one, but the filmmakers did an outstanding job. Rating: 5/5

Characterization: Cobb is obviously the main character, and I don't think anyone could have pulled him off as well as Leo did. Without giving too much away, what I really like about the movie is how they entwined Cobb's personal life into the bigger mission. I do wish that there had been a bit more background information about the other characters, especially Ariadne and Arthur, Cobb's partner and great friend. Apart from that, I think the filmmakers brought together a wonderful medley of characters, each with his or her own unique talents that are imperative to the mission. Rating: 4.5/5

Costumes: Since there's nothing much to be said about this section, I'm going to go ahead and give it a full rating. :) 5/5

Acting: One of the factors in making this a total movie and [probably] Blockbuster Netflix hit is the fact that it is made up of an incredible international cast. With actors like Leo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who could forget "Angels in the Outfield"?), Ellen Page, Ken Watanabe, Pete Postlethwaite, and so many more, how could the acting not be good? Although Ellen is an excellent actress, I'm still debating within myself whether she was right for the part of Ariadne. The acting, when paired with the incredible script, made the characters, the situations they went through, and their reactions to be very believable. The audience is able to identify with the characters, and that's extremely important in films (and books, for that matter). Rating: 5/5

Script: Truly excellent. The script is extremely important in understanding the entire film. Not only do the characters explain to each other (and thus the audience as well) about the dream world (Aye! Who wants to take a vaca at Limbo?), but the constant repetition of the same motifs, in script as well as images, helped everything make sense in the end. You wouldn't know why some characters whispered certain words, even though they seemed to be very important, but as the plot developed and mysteries were unfolded, there's always a sense of deja vu that comes back. The words come to haunt us as they haunt the characters. Rating: 5/5

Action/Drama: What I thought was really clever was how the movie taught us everything about the dream world in the first part, and then in the entire last part everything we had learned came into play in the end. While the characters were pretty much informing themselves about the way inception worked, they were also indirectly informing us, the audience. Without giving away too much, "Inception" definitely brings "fast-paced" up to a whole new level. You jump at the edge of your seat, and by the time the main climax comes around, you are already so connected with the characters and who they are and their situations that it is so nerve-wrecking and mind-blowing to constantly see them in danger. A lot of incidents make you truly realize how important this mission is, and every one of them is willing to do anything to make sure that the team saw it through. Rating: 5/5

Digital Design: It is freaky what amazing things technology can do for the cinema these days. Instead of gushing to you about this, I'll just let you see the trailer for yourself...

Rating: 5/5

Direction/Production: Even though the thought of entering dreams and everything that happens in "Inception" is totally unreal, the movie was created so well that you are made to believe it is real. And even then, you really don't know what is real and what is not because of how fast the movie is and scenes that are placed in random spots, and several times you think, what the hell is going on? The movie is very confusing if you don't pay attention, but by the last third of the movie everything falls into place and finally makes sense. Perfection. Rating: 5/5

Overall Quality: Currently, "Inception" is nominated for the Oscars in the categories of Cinematography, Music Score, Art Direction, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects, Writing (Original Screenplay) and Best Picture. I hope the movie wins all of them. xD
One word....this movie was fantastical. Overall rating: 4.9/5 (according to my calculator)

If you haven't watched this movie yet, I highly encourage you to! Come on....just take a leap of faith....


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Top 10 Songs Blogfest

Question of the Day: What motivates you to blog?

Yes, yes, another blogfest! :) I promise you, the next post I write won't be a blogfest entry haha. This one is hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, and we are supposed to list our top ten musical hits. :)

Between my piano, my Pandora radio, and YouTube, it's safe to say that I'm a total lover of music. I like everything from rock to classical to pop, so I have a very broad range of tastes. Hope you enjoy!

In no particular are my current favorites:

1) Firework by Katy Perry -- this is such a happy, energetic, and inspirational song! It makes me want to dance, sing, scream, and run all at the same time. Listening to this song helps me believe in myself.

2) Marry You by Bruno Mars--I would love to have this song hosted at my wedding! The lyrics are so sweet, and it will make you feel young and in love. :3 The "Glee" version of this song is even better in my opinion.

3) Love Story Meets Viva La Vida by Jon Schmidt -- this guy has INCREDIBLE talent. I have never heard the keys of a piano or the strings of a cello plucked away so gracefully and with such passion. I listen to this all the time, I can never get tired of it! It is truly amazing how a beautiful song like this one with no lyrics can sound more like a poem than cleverest rhyme. Credit is given to Love Story by Taylor Swift and Viva La Vida by Coldplay.

4) Fireflies by Owl City -- Being a person who often can't go to sleep and is stimulated by any sort of movement or flicker of light, this song is right up my alley. "Everything is never as it I fall asleep." The video rocks.

5) Thunder by Boys Like Girls--what I like so much about this song is how it takes me back to the days of when my friends and I were young and carefree. It reminds me of the days when we were perfecting MySpace profiles instead of resumes, when homework was done to get incentives from parents instead of good grades (and thus a career), when love mattered more than financial compatibility. Ignorance is bliss when you are a kid.

6) Piano Man by Billy Joel--Billy Joel is the man. His rich, authentic voice is almost as seductive as chocolate. I love how lyrics make this song seem almost like a bedtime story.

7) Hanging by a Moment by Lifehouse -- This song brings back a lot of memories, as I danced to it at the first real "dance" that I went to back in middle school. It reminds me of how it feels when you first fall in love.

8) Fur Elise by Ludwig van Beethoven -- Years have gone by and I've learned many, many songs on the piano (I've been playing since age six, for those of you who don't know). Even when I forgot how to play all the other tunes from memory, I never forgot this it pretty much feels like I've grown up constantly playing and performing this song. Beethoven and I are pretty tight.

9) 100 Years by Five for Fighting -- even though the lyrics make a lot of people really sad and nostalgic and all sorts of mixed up feelings, I think it's good for us. It reminds us that every moment counts. We choose how we live and we need to make the most of it because we only have a 100 years [or so] to live.

10) Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day -- There are just some days when my mood status is: absolutely alone and depressed. That's when I listen to this song. It doesn't exactly make me feel, well, not alone anymore...but the lyrics accurately depict how I currently feel and, to a degree, I suppose that gives me some sort of comfort.

This was a fabulous blogfest...thank you to AJC for hosting it! Forgive me if my comments come around a bit late. My Economics homework is calling to me and telling me my opportunity cost of commenting today is less time to get a good grade on my homework--and thus, a good grade in the class! Nevertheless, I shall get around to all the entries this week. :)

Hope you enjoyed!!


Friday, January 21, 2011

Happy Birthday, Tessa! Blogfest

Question of the Day: What was the best birthday party you've ever had?

Happy, happy birthday to the amazing Tessa Conte! Hope you have a lovely time with your friends and family. :) And lots of cake! And wear a birthday crown, because today you're the princess! :)

In honor of her birthday, she is hosting a blogfest that must be related to birthdays, cupcakes, presents, or candles in some way. Yayyy, you all know that I LOVE blogfests!

The Perfect Present

His fingers slowly untaped the carefully wrapped present. The paper was colorful and shiny. The package was bulky and heavy. But as he slowly undressed his gift, he realized what it was, and he stopped.

"Hazel," he breathed.

"Keep going," she urged him. "Please! I wanna get this over with."

He obeyed, not daring to take his eyes off the surprise, and when it was fully unwrapped, he stared at it in awe. "Oh, Hazel."

It was a professional camera, one of those big ones that filmmakers from behind the scenes of movies and television shows use. It had a large lens, several gadgets stuck here and there, and a large tripod stand to go with it.

"It's for you to use," she said, and then immediately felt stupid afterwards. Of course it was for him to use. "Um...I thought it'd be neat if we could make some mini skits together. And then, when we finish editing, we can ask the local television station to, you know, host them...."

He looked at her, his eyes glassy. "Wow, I love you." He crawled over to her, the manual clutched in his hand, and kissed her once, twice, three times, on the cheek. "It's amazing. Thank you. I really, REALLY like it." He saw her face, smiled, and said again, "Really."

She smiled back and sighed with relief. "I'm glad."

Ivan gave his Christmas present one last loving glance, as though still incredulous to think he owned such things, and finally buried himself under the tree to reveal a large, flat, rectangular wrapped box.

"For you," he said. Now, he was the one to be nervous. His palms were sweaty and his eyebrows scrunched up. "Um...yeah...." He didn't know what else to say.

Hazel unfolded the corners and gasped---almost yelped---when she revealed what it was.

A complete painters' set. Stock full with three leather-bound sketch diaries--one with pages that were partly lined and partly blank--that had gold bookmarks attached. Six colorful ink pens and three sharpened wooden pencils. Two erasers. One small, blank book for notes, quotes, and planning. And a photo book of Van Gogh's best masterpieces.

She was crying.

"Hazel? What's wrong?" Ivan frowned and crawled over to her. "Do you not like it?"

"It's one of the best presents I've ever gotten," she told him, tears streaming down her face. "Thanks so much. I...needless to say, I love it."

Ivan breathed out a sigh of relief. "Whew...and I was about to think you hated it."

Hazel wrapped a hand around his waist and laid her head down on his shoulder. "No, you know exactly what I like. You know me so well..." She looked up and gave him one of her "hazey" smiles.

"Wait, there's one more thing.." All of a sudden, his body became rigid and stiff. He took her hands and led her to the nearby couch just feet away from the tree. "Stay there, but give me your hand. We're gonna play Hot and Cold."

"Uh, okay..." Hazel waited curiously with her hand outstretched. There was a solemn look on his face, one that made him rosy and melancholy and tense all at the same time.

He took her hand, feeling her soft skin, and led it to the middle of the Christmas tree.

"Feel around until you find something hard," Ivan said.

"Is everything okay?" she asked uncertainly.

"Yeah, yeah, just do what I say," he said, almost impatiently.

"Okay." With an eyebrow turned upwards and one turned down, she fumbled through the branches and then, unexpectedly, caught something hard. Very hard. Like a box.

Automatically, his own hand swooped down and took it from her. It was a small, black, jewelry gift box. In fact, it was the one he had used so many years ago to give her her first little black watch. He sat down next to her.

"Aw, that was really nice of you," she said, thinking he'd given her a new watch.

He shook his head, almost frowning, and opened it. In it was a perfectly round hoop. A silver ring. She gasped. "Oh!"




Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Your Ultimate Journaling Guide: Part #2

Question of the Day: Comedy shows, game shows, or reality shows?

In my last post, I discussed some good reasons to journal as well as the positives and negatives of using an online diary versus a print journal. Today I'll be going a bit more in-depth about the content of a journal and how-to's of journaling. It's not that it's a complicated process, and I am by no means saying these are the only things you should abide by while journaling, but if you're thinking about starting a diary and aren't sure of where to start, you've come to the right place. :)

What to Journal

Scenario #1: Today's your first day on job after New Year's....and your boss has just accepted your project proposal! Woohoo! But man....this proposal is a lot more work than you thought it'd be! In fact, by the time it's lunch break you're overwhelmed by the Post-It Note reminders scattered all over your desk and the stacks of papers that you'll eventually have to go through. Feeling half-insane, you trot to the nearest Starbucks and, while fishing for your wallet to pay for a third cup of coffee, spot that new journal your co-worker-pal Amy gave you this morning. It seems to beckon you with its leather "arms" like a friend.

What to Write About: Once you return to the table with that freshly brewed cup of Joe, you take out your journal and have this sudden urge to write in it. For the next twelve minutes, you scribble down an entire plan for your project proposal and a short schedule for the next month. You fill the pages with to-do's (personal and business-related) and lists of priorities and steps to be completed for the project. By the time your lunch break is over, you feel sooooo much better about what you need to do and, somehow, much less stressed. You leave the coffee shop with a smile on your face, feeling ready to conquer the day.

Scenario #2: Your sister asks to borrow your camera on her night out with friends. She looks hurried, so being the awesome person you are, you say of course and with a quick hug she grabs your beloved camera and zooms out the door. Three hours later, Sissy comes back and fesses up. In a moment of excitement while preparing to take a photo, she experimented with the buttons to find the last picture she took and accidentally deleted all of your prior photos. After an hour of yelling nonsense such as "Why couldn't you have been more darn careful?!" and "It's YOUR fault you got such a stupid, complicated camera!", you stomp off and slam your bedroom door behind you. A few pillows get abused, and a couple tears get shed. Then, you spot your trusty diary tucked neatly underneath your mattress. You almost yank it out and start writing furiously.

What to Write About: Sissy is SO dead meat. Why does she ALWAYS have to ruin everything?! She is so dumb, she can't even figure out a camera by herself. URGH! After writing a few more profane sentences (most of them being threats) and rereading them with a satisfied nod, you suddenly realize that...maybe this whole thing could have been prevented if you'd made her stay a few extra minutes to give her a short how-to on working the camera. Oh, the shock.

Scenario #3: After 34 years of working as a nurse at the local hospital, you're finally retired! Yay! At first, all this free time you have is nothing short of meant more time to visit the grandkids, be more active in your local Seniors club in town, and work on your vegetable garden. But after a while, you begin to feel like now that you're retired, there is no major purpose for you anymore... What are your goals now? Before, you woke up everyday knowing that you were meant to help people, to assist in saving lives at the hospital. That was your purpose. Now what?

What to Write About: You start to attend some counseling sessions to regain some perspective and insight. One day, your therapist suggests that perhaps you could try writing an autobiography. Yes!! How lovely. You'd always loved to write when you were younger, after all. That night, you take out a spiral bound notebook (the one left over from your grandson's school shopping) out of your drawer and begin to plan out the main events in your life and outline your autobiography. You list all the people who have changed you over the years, most of the being patients, and what they meant to you. Pretty soon, you spend everyday planning your life story in that little notebook of yours. There were significant stories from your past that even you had had buried deep down inside. A few months later, the first draft lies in front of you, ready to be edited for the first time. You take out a red pen, smile, and feel as though you are doing what you're meant to be.

How to Journal

Again, there's no right or wrong way to journal. But if you're starting for the first time and feel as though you need a bit of guidance, here are a few suggestions.

Where: Everybody has different preferences. I personally have to be in just the right spot at the right time to be able to journal and give my writing 100%. Sometimes, I prefer to be surrounded by people I don't know, say, at a coffee shop. Listening to conversations about other people's lives and seeing and feeling the bustle all around me somehow helps me reflect and contemplate better. Sometimes, though, I just want to be alone in the corner of my bedroom where everything is quiet. It just depends. Maybe you like to be near nature when you're writing? Take your journal to the creek or a nearby river. Or perhaps you need a lot of stuff going on for you to concentrate and start flowing. OR maybe you're like me and need to change it up a few times. Bottom line is, you don't need to have a set area where you should write. Go where you feel like going, depending on your mood. Walk the steps or bike the miles it takes until you find the right place where you feel like you can find your muse. Random locations for journaling include: the park, the bathroom, a tree house, on a train ride, on the roof of your house, in the dark under your blankets with a flashlight, Barnes & Noble.

When: It's hard to find time to write sometimes, thus it's easy to actually forget to write. The right time to write is similar to the right place to write: it's different for everyone. I actually get the most done at nighttime...I am a total night owl, which can get in the way of my sleeping but I compensate by taking frequent naps. :) If you don't mind getting up early though, try rising an hour earlier than usual. Watching the sun yawn and stretch its arms out and being greeted by the twittering birds is bound to give you some inspiration. Try to write a little bit everyday if possible, even if it's just a paragraph. You never know when you'll discover something about yourself that you hadn't known or realized before.'s never too late to start a journal.


Friday, January 7, 2011

Your Ultimate Journaling Guide: Part #1

Question of the Day: Have you ever kept a diary or a journal? If so, for how long? Was it more of a personal memoir of your thoughts and feelings, or rather an objective account of your daily doings?

One of my New Years' Resolutions for 2011 is to "write a journal entry once a day, no matter how short it is." I've been keeping a diary for goodness knows how long...all I know is that my first diary was a little Hello Kitty notebook with colorful pages and sweet, dotted lines. When I take it out from under the dusty shelves in my closet and open it to reveal the secrets of preschool-to-Kindergarten-year-old-me, I almost can' handwriting is so hideous that it hurt my eyes to try and read the letters.

I'm not exactly trying to embarass myself here, even though I've obviously succeeded in doing just that. =P So why take the time to journal at all?

Reasons to Journal

1. Reminisce. Reflecting upon sweet dreams, fantasies, lessons learned, valuable experiences, and nights to remember will let you relive those memories again while you jot them down. Remember to add the who, what, where, when, and any other details that made it worth writing down. Doing so leads to increased happiness (especially if it's a *HAPPY thought*) and even helps you keep an active memory system in your brain. If you're creative in literary terms, you could even write them in a short story form in your journal to make it more interesting and write your thoughts and reflections as if they were a character's.

2. Heal. Many studies show that keeping a diary helps reduce stress. Let's say you get in a fight with your sister/brother/mom/best-friend, and you're so mad that you storm off to write about how unfair/mean/irrational/other-unpleasant-word that person is. Scribbling your contemplations down not only allows you let off steam, but you'll feel A LOT better afterwards. It gives you time to cool down, and even if you don't gain any extra insight, you'll still be more willing to look closer at the issue and work things out. Bottom line is, a personal journal isn't simply just a place where you can vent, it's an outlet of expression and emotion.

3. Record. Wouldn't you like to look back thirty years from now and, while cleaning your old dusty furniture and other outdated belongings from the couch, discover the journal you wrote in when you were twenty-four? A few days ago, I was packing up my clothes from home to bring with me to college, and found my box of old journals (yes, every single one I've ever owned!) and it was like a major...blast to the past. Whoosh! There were indeed some "oh-my-gosh"s and "I-can't-believe-I-thought that"s, and overall it was an interesting little journey into my head when I was seven, twelve, sixteen, whatever.

4) Understand. Ultimately, you know yourself better than anyone else. Who else can you tell everything to but yourself? Too often do I write down my thoughts about a particular feeling or topic that I'm skeptical or confused about and then, after jotting down random notes, I come to realize something that I otherwise would not have figured out. Journaling is ultimately about not only understanding others better, but also yourself. And when you write out your thoughts and feelings, things become clearer much more easily.

Okay! You're motivated! You're all set to begin your very own journal! So what do you grab for first at the end of the day when you want to record the happenings of your life?

Web Journal v.s. Print Journal

One wouldn't think that it matters whether you contemplate and 'fess up using an online diary like WordPress or with a simple notebook and pen. I used to be really addicted to Livejournal, and as you can see my blog sometimes acts as my journal as well. But I've used paper notebooks all my life and definitely prefer those over electronic ones. I'll provide some facts, and then leave it up to you to decide.

Web Journal: The pros of an e-log is that you can most likely type faster than you write, which means you can get all your thoughts down almost right after you are thinking them. Most online journals let you have a password along with a username, just like Blogspot, so nobody will ever be able to find your secrets! Plus, you can customize your text with cool fonts, colors, and graphics. If you wanted to do that with a notebook, you'd have to bring out colored pencils and stickers and all of that nonsense. On the other hand, however, you're more likely to lose your entries whether you write them on the Internet or on Microsoft Word. The website could go down unexpectedly, or your computer could crash. Of course, to prevent these things from happening you should always back up your files on USB drives and disks so you have multiple copies (this goes for everything, not just journal entries!)

Print Journal: What is so great about the print journal is that you're using a centuries-old method to preserve your thoughts and ideas! People have been writing stuff down for record-keeping since the time of dinosaurs (just know what I mean). Plus, you'll be more likely to write down everything you're thinking and feeling and less likely to reach for the eraser. In other words, you'll be more inclined to confront yourself with the truths. I write with a pen because pen marks don't fade, but when I truly do mess up I just scratch it out. The bad news is that your hand will hurt more. I have a pretty big callus on my middle finger and it's gross and hard. Ick! And it's because of all that writing (and my excessive use of chopsticks for eating). Oh, and it's easier to find a diary hidden under a bed rather than a small file of journal entries embedded within a huge folder labelled Writing on a USB!

So...what do YOU think? Which type of journal do you prefer more?

Your Ultimate Journaling Guide: Part 2 will be coming up next!


Monday, January 3, 2011

Best Commercial of 2010 + Extra-Mini Hiatus

Question of the Day: What is the one materialistic item that you wouldn't be able to live without? (For me, it's my piano! I love making music. Or my laptop! It let's me do everything =D)

What with my first day of spring semester classes looming ahead (this Friday, eek!), I have to buy my textbooks, get a jump start on my reading assignments, start packing (*sniff*), having my last couple of homemade meals, and other college-student-y things like that. I probably won't get the chance to post again until Saturday or so due to all the busy-ness (Ha! Like "busi-ness", get it?) I have. Don't worry though, I shall still be commenting. :)

Be sure to take this opportunity to vote on my poll to the left. I'd love all the feedback I can get to know how I can improve my blog in this year 2011! In addition, if you haven't already, it would be great if you could fill out the Rate & Review Form. It is short and sweet, and here you can finally tell me anything you want about what you want me to do differently on the hard feelings, I promise!

Now, here is probably my absolute favorite commercial of all time. I've seen it at least seven times through Hulu and on television, and NEVER get tired of it. That's all I shall say...a-hem. Here is the commercial, and you can decide what you think for yourselves. :)

**If you can't see the whole video (my apologies if that happens!), then GO HERE to see the YouTube video of the commercial.

Hurray! I just discovered that this is my 100th post! :D Also, welcome to any new followers. It is lovely to have you here reading my little words...

Talk to you all Saturday!


Sunday, January 2, 2011

No Kiss Blogfest: The Day Chloe Gets Her Smooch....well, Almost!

Question of the Day: Would you rather kiss a goldfish or a turtle?

Hurray! Frankie is hosting her 2nd annual No Kiss Blogfest, in which all participants should post an entry from a book/movie scene involving an almost-kiss! How could I not sign up? Kissing scenes are so fun, but almost-kissing scenes are as intense to read as it is to write them! Of course, I just had to pick the scene from Smallville's finale in Season 1 where Chloe finally gets to go to the spring formal with Clark Kent. As some of you already know, I am a total Superman fan. :) During the first big half of the series, even though Clark's drama with Lana keeps our attention at a max, we still can't help but hope for "Chlork" to happen...

Disclaimer: I do not own Smallville. The series belongs to the Alfred Gough and Miles Millar.

The Day Chloe Gets Her Smooch...well, Almost!

The jamming music of Remy Zero drums and guitars suddenly eased to a slow, mellow tempo. The soft tunes of Perfect Memory began to fill up the gym. My jaw dropped and I uttered to my girlfriends in surprise, "Oh my gosh, I love this song!"

In the near distance, I could see him walking towards me, his eyes fixed on mine. Yes, there he was in all his beauty and perfection. Clark Kent. My friends melted away into the shadows as he came approached me with that huge, goofy grin of his.

"May I have this dance?" He said, hooking his arm around mine. Even as he said those words, I still couldn't believe that this was real. Was it all just a dream? Or was it truly a dream turning into a reality? I couldn't begin to count how many times I had imagined this moment.

"Of course," I replied, not able to stop myself from smiling up at him. Perhaps it was the way Clark was looking at me, but I somehow knew that it was him who had requested the song. As we walked to the middle of the dance floor, he touched my hand, the one that was woven around his arm. The incredible warmth of his fingers seemed to send a jolt through my body. I couldn't help but bring my other hand up to clasp those fingers that had held me, and saved me, so many times in the past.

We laced through the millions of couples that were slow-dancing, and a few of them were even in a lip lock. Seeing those couples together made my heart pound....would that be us in a few moments?

Clark pulled me close to him, and I put my hands around his wide, muscular shoulders. He was still the sweet, farm boy I'd always known, but here was a side of him I'd never seen before.

"Clark Kent, man of mystery," I said. "Just when I think I have you figured out, you surprise me."

"How's that?" He asked, his eyebrows scrunching up together.

"The song...the tux....Tonight."

"And I'm still here," Clark pointed out.

"Yeah, you are." He was right. He was still here, just like I'd hoped, just like he'd promised. He was here with me, not with Lana or anyone else. Clark was here with me, and we were together.

He held me closer, and I wound my hands around him to close the embrace. I bent my head down and could feel his cheek pressed against my hair. I'd done this so much in the past...his body was so familiar to me. But during all those other times that I'd hugged him, Clark had been my best friend, and I had been his.

This time, it was so much more different and nerve-wrecking and exciting. For the first time, I was letting myself open up to him and show those feelings that I'd held within me for so long. I'd liked, even loved, Clark for so long. Ever since I knew him. How many times had he saved me from peril? I didn't know how he'd been able to do it, and I still didn't know now. For once, it didn't matter to me. He was, and had always been, my own personal superhero. And I knew now that he cared for me. That was what mattered.

I wrapped my hands around him, holding all the more tighter. I didn't want this night to ever, ever end.

Clark gently pulled back, and I looked up at him. His nose was inches from mine, and I could see his chocolate-brown eyes moving across my face, from my eyes to my lips. Oh gosh, this was it! Clark was finally going to kiss me.

My heart thudded faster and harder than the wings of a hummingbird. He tilted his head to the side, and so did I. I closed my eyes, waiting for the moment I'd been waiting for for years. Just before his mouth touched mine, the loud piercing sound of a microphone interrupted.

"Stop! Stop the music for the just a moment please. Uh, can I have everyone's attention please," the dance coordinator said from the stage. "Uh thank you. The National Weather Services just issued a tornado warning. Apparently three funnels have been spotted heading towards Smallville." Clark and I exchanged worried glances.

"Now, please everyone stay calm," the man continued. "The twisters are gonna set down south from here. For your own safety, nobody will be allowed to leave the gym."

"The bus station's south from town," said Clark. His eyes widened in alarm. "Lana's there."

My heart plummeted all the way down to the depths of my stomach. I found myself shaking my head. "Clark don't worry about it...I'm sure she's home by now." Was I saying that to keep him clam, or to convince myself? "You know what, I'll go call her on my cell and you wait here, okay?"

I immediately spun around to retrieve my purse from the gym doorway, but something in my mind whispered for me to look back to make sure my dream-come-true was still there, and would surely be waiting for me even after I got back.

I turned and, sure enough, Clark had pulled one of his signature disappearances. I looked this way and that, so fast that everything was a blur. No, no, this wasn't happening, I thought to myself in panic. He promised. He'd promised me he would stay with me.

People pushed by me, confused and shocked and nervous. None of them were Clark Kent.


There you go! I hope you liked it. :) Be sure to vote in my "Rate & Review TRA" poll on the right. I'd love to receive some feedback about how I can improve the blog in 2011!


Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Best of The Blog in 2010 + Rate & Review TRA Poll

Question of the Day: What are you doing to celebrate New Year's Day? Did you count down and watch the ball drop on television?

I've compiled a list of the blog's ten best entries in the year 2010! Feel free to share your own favorite blog post of TRA in comments below!

From oldest to newest....

Rate & Review TRA Poll

After blogging for a year, I still can't get enough of it! I am slowly beginning to expand this blog by adding more features and links that I hope you will find beneficial and helpful for you.

Here's your chance to let me know how I'm doing! It would be wonderful if you could take a few minutes to participate in this poll. It would definitely help me out and let me see what I can add in future posts to make TRA blog for the better.

  • Photography and visual elements
  • more about TRA, who she is, and personal entries
  • writing advice and literary works
  • tutorials and how-to posts
  • bits and pieces of randomness

In addition, please let me know:

1) What would you like to see less of, if anything?
2) Are there any particular topics (recent current events, debatable politics, gardening, the writing process, etc.) you'd like me to write about in future posts?
3) How do you like the layout? Should I change it? If so, how?
4) Any specific resources, links, or non-literary things (like polls and quizzes) you'd like me to add?
5) Any suggestions or overall comments

I would truly appreciate your feedback! The poll will be up for a month so you can have a while to make your decision. Thanks so much for being such a loyal follower/reader! Happy New Year!

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