#348: The Chapter

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Writing a chapter story has been my next step in the world of creative writing. I’ve moved on to writing a chapter story because, as it turns out, the story I have in my head that I want to write is too long to compose and publish as just one story. Usually, these types of stories need to be around 2k-6k words, give or take, and it’s not a good idea to expand more than necessary. You run the risk of losing people’s attention, while also creating a situation where people feel obligated to continue reading even though the story is longer than that ideal length.

So, instead of agonizing over a 20k-word story, I figured I would break it up into chapters and publish it like that. My story has a defined beginning, middle, and end to it, and though I’m not entirely sure where I want to take things exactly, I’m still looking forward to the writing process. My process of writing usually involves just sitting at a computer and writing whatever I can, whenever I can, and letting the words naturally develop. I edit afterwards to make sure everything makes sense, and then from there I decide where the story might go.

This story already has some twists and turns planned into it, and I know where things are going in a basic sense. The main character is going to undergo some important developments, and at the end they’ll revert back to their normal, everyday self because I can’t run the risk of changing the game’s canon too much. I just love the idea of writing within an existing universe, instead of building it all up myself. Perhaps that’s just my laziness talking, but honestly, it’s so much more liberating and allows you to focus just on the writing.


#347: The Next Step, Part 2

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This blog is a continuation of the previous one, also titled “The Next Step.” Check that one out first before reading this.

Now, what do I mean by, “moving this blog in a new direction”? I don’t totally know. On the one hand, maybe I just wanted to get all meta for the sake of being meta on this blog. But on the other hand, I think I really want this thing to evolve. I’m eventually going to run out of things to talk about, aren’t I? Once I reach a year of consistent blogging, what do I aspire to after that? Do I aim for two years? Does two years really amount to that much of a difference over one year?

I think where I want this blog to go is in a direction where I don’t feel forced to write for the sake of writing. Although, I guess that contradicts what I said in my previous blog, considering I talked about how great it was to cultivate the habit of writing for the sake of writing. I guess what this really boils down to is, sometimes writing feels like a chore. Having a chore as a habit is sometimes less than ideal, considering all the other chores that life brings. But, then again, there’s obviously value in writing as a passion. It’s rewarding to build a habit that has practical value. Being a better writer is great for any career. I’m not saying I’m an outstanding writer or anything like that, but I am saying that doing what I’m doing usually leads to people becoming better writers than they were before, wherever they started at. So for me, I hope to be a little better than I was a year ago, or at least a bit more self-aware of my own writing styles.

#346: The Next Step, Part 1

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I’ve thought a lot about the future of this blog, and whether it will continue in its current form. I don’t even know what the next form of this blog would look like. To those of you who have read this thing for awhile now, you know I used to write on this back in 2013 with regular poetry updates and then that turned into just a place to publish all my creative writing endeavors. Then, for awhile during grad school and shortly afterwards, I stopped writing on this altogether. I didn’t have time to update it, and I wasn’t the type of person to spend my limited free time doing creative writing. I was fresh out of ideas and had no one to share my writing with. My energy and enthusiasm for writing totally dissipated during that time period, even though I was in an occupation where creative writing was encouraged and heavily involved. To think that I used to teach writing to kids (well, I still do, too) but didn’t actually write anything? What use am I as a teacher? But the fact of the matter is that writing is difficult and time-consuming. It sucks up your energy and consumes you inside it. In the teaching profession, I simply didn’t have the time to write.

One of the great joys of restarting this blog has been getting back into habits. I go to the gym at least three times a week, and I’ve been doing that since New Years. I’ve kept a daily blog where I write at least 300 words a day for about 250 or so days in a row. Even while I discuss potentially moving this blog in a new direction, I don’t want to give up my daily writing. It has truly become a part of me that keeps me grounded and secure, along with going to the gym, and I cherish being able to cultivate those habits into my lifestyle as an adult.

#345: The Lunch

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For the past year, I’ve had a sandwich, pretzels, and apples with peanut butter for lunch. It’s proven to be a reliable staple, and I don’t deviate from it, pretty much ever. I’m the kind of person who likes to stick to one plan with some basic expectations that it will be staying the same throughout time, without having to worry about finding a new meal the next day. I like keeping things the same, and I like when things stay the same for me.

Lunch fills that void for me, although sometimes I go out for lunch to some local places because I don’t really feel like my lunch is fulfilling enough. That’s a contradiction, isn’t it? That I love when my lunch stays the same, but I don’t love having to deal with the same lunch over and over again. I like change and diversity of options, but also, I don’t like when I have too many options. That limits the amount of freedom I feel over a given situation. It’s the paradox of having too many options, where it feels suffocating. As a teacher, we learn about this paradox when giving students options for projects or essays. If you inundate students with options to the point where they feel like they can’t choose from what they’ve been given, then you run the risk of them feeling overwhelmed by it all and eventually choosing nothing. That runs counter to everything you wanted from them in the first place. You end up having to give the student an option they probably don’t want, which defeats the purpose of what you were doing by giving them options.

In short, this is basically what it’s like when I eat lunch. Sometimes I like varied lunches, sometimes I don’t. It all depends.

#344: The Halo, Part 2

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This post is a continuation from my previous one, so if you haven’t read that one yet, you might want to so that this one makes sense to you.

Halo 3 forge mode changed my life, the same way playing Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare made me one with the cool kids at school I wanted to be friends with. It felt like I was on the same level as them, and my skill in this game mattered to them in some ways. If I did well in Call of Duty or Halo, that meant I was skilled and they would respect me in some way. Video games were then an avenue towards social acceptance. My parents likely didn’t realize this connection at the time, but when I was online playing multiplayer matches on my Xbox on the living room TV, it was because I saw it as a way for me to make unlikely friends. Even to this day, video games have brought together people and communities I didn’t realize were possible.

Halo is where all my high school friends played. It feels so nostalgic to me not necessarily because of the game’s quality, but because it represents something to me, an era of gaming, that’s passed and won’t be repeated again. We’ve all moved on and lead different lives than we did then, and I don’t have the contacts of everyone I used to have. Joe, for example, and Steve are nearly impossible to communicate with these days, and they were both a huge part of that time period of my life. It’s odd to think back on those days and the people I spoke with then, how drastically that has changed from here to now. I talk to different online friends, and times have changed with my habits and proclivities.

#343: The Halo, Part 1

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Well, I had to write about the Halo series for my 343rd blog post. It’s only fitting.

For those not in the know, 343 is from 343 guilty spark, a character in Halo. It also was then taken as the name for 343 Industries, the game developer studio that creates and manages the entire Halo series. I haven’t owned an Xbox since the 360, back when I used to play on Xbox Live years ago, but those times have passed. I didn’t really have much interest in buying an Xbox One or a PS4 this generation, not until Persona 5 and Monster Hunter: World, which appropriately took over my world. I had a gaming PC for awhile and that was the most important gaming system I owned. It wasn’t worth it to spend time saving up money for a modern gaming console otherwise. I had my priorities set, pretty much.

However, every time a new Halo comes out I definitely have to switch over and figure out what’s going on with it. The series has always captivated me. I played a ton of Halo 3 online, zombie mode, ranked and competitive, team slayer, whatever was out there. I consumed Halo and Halo consumed me, back in the day. I loved the sticky grenades (or plasma grenades, as I think they were called) and I used to make tons of sick plays involving them, usually throwing them cross map and landing on someone unexpectedly. And then there’s the Forge! Nothing compares to that game’s creator mode. You could literally make anything happen there, and the game modes were unreal. I played a little bit of Halo: Reach online but it never stuck with me as much.

There’s also the campaign, which was rad and had four difficulty options, along with some “skulls” that added hidden effects and easter eggs to the campaign. You unlocked achievements for completing them all.

#342: The Zam

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Zzaam, as I think it’s called, is a Korean BBQ place in Hamden that is absolutely fantastic. It’s like Subway or Chipotle but for Korean BBQ, and the options are plentiful and tasty. I usually get the Korean tacos while I’m there, filled with spicy chicken, pork, and beef. Alex got a kimchi burrito last time, even though it goes against her diet, because we just love zzaam so much and don’t get the chance to eat there often. It’s one of the few downsides to living in Stamford. There are some great Korean BBQ places around us, it’s just they don’t have the same ease of access and convenience that this one has. Nothing else around us has the same Chipote-like fast convenience and affordability.

One time, Alex and I went to a Korean BBQ place around us and it was super fancy. Even though we both weren’t exactly dressed for the occasion, it still was a great experience. I think back to it whenever we get Korean. There’s also the place we went to whose name I can’t remember. It was in the same town as the massage place we used to go to more regularly, when it was in its first location. I think back to that whenever we go to get a massage, how great the food was right nearby. When your back is totally aligned and perfected, and you get to sit down with some spicy beef. What’s a better experience than that?

Hopefully, by writing this blog post, I’ve convinced Alex (who reads this blog) to go to Korean BBQ again with me. It would be excellent, and I know she won’t take too much convincing because she loves it too. It’s just a matter of time, but hopefully it’s coming sooner than later.

#341: The Failure

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It’s difficult to fail. (Have I started all my blog posts recently with the sentence structure of “it’s difficult to do X”? It seems like it.)

But true to the word, failing is difficult. I don’t like doing something and feeling like it’s too difficult for me. But sometimes, I have to give up and there’s nothing else I can do about it. When I recently applied to teach remotely with an English-teaching company based in China, I realized that it would be a fantastic opportunity for me to explore. I love the idea of teaching remotely rather than having to leave the comfort of my home, but I also love the idea of having a supplemental income on top of my current part-time job. It would give us an added boost to our monthly income and would help us pay off our car insurance, which has been going up recently because of some unfortunate accidents that weren’t our fault. It’s really annoying how things that aren’t our fault end up causing more trouble for us than they’re worth. I get extra nervous now when on the road, and I’m extra careful around other people because of it.

But all that’s beside the point, which is that I didn’t end up wanting to go through with this English-teaching company. They’re nice and all, but their style doesn’t really match mine as much as I wish it would. I would do whatever it takes for some extra money and the leisure to work from home, but sometime I can’t just do whatever it takes. It’s just not in me to do that. Does that make sense? I don’t actually know if it does, but it does to me. I should’ve known from the beginning that this wouldn’t jive well with me, but I tried it anyway because I was feeling a bit desperate.

#340: The Late Run

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I recently wrote a blog titled “The Run,” so here’s another one along the same lines, called “The Late Run.”

This is going to be about those nights when I really need to fulfill my sugar craving, or ice cream craving, or gum craving. That last one probably only happens to me, but I love gum a whole bunch and could chew it pretty much all day if I had enough supply to last that long. Gum is awesome, cleans your teeth, and keeps your mouth fresh. It’s a triple-whammy.

This is going to be about those nights when I really have to go to CVS, even though I don’t want to drive the car this late at night and while raining outside. The conditions really aren’t ideal, but I still need to fulfill that urge, one way or another. I guess it’s time to go to CVS.

I begrudgingly press the down key on the elevator and wait patiently as I can hear the elevator’s chimes along the chute as it rises up to the sixth floor. The door opens slowly. I can hear someone’s dog clawing at the elevator’s hand bar. Just my luck.

Near the entrance to CVS, a woman is pacing back and forth with both her hands covering her ears. She’s talking on the phone to someone loudly, probably because she can’t hear too well, probably because she’s also covering her ears. Nothing can stop me as I walk into the store, except for the lack of available carts and baskets. I look needlessly at the cashier who obviously has no idea where the baskets are either. I walk around the store carrying a bunch of snacks at my chest, looking like a spoiled child with too many toys. It’s the thought that counts, you know.

#339: The Prop

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Have you ever used props for any reason or context? Sometimes I feel like props are essential to telling the story you’re trying to tell, as they assist in relaying your overall message and theme. But their overall effectiveness can be a bit difficult to gauge and apply. I’m not the kind of person to use props while teaching, mostly because it can feel a bit unnatural and forced to just pull out a white board in front of you and start writing on it, but it’s nice to know that other people use them for their own reasons. Not everyone needs to be the same type of teacher.

The reason I mention props is because, as someone currently applying to be a teacher with VIPKID, one of their requirements in the interview process is using props to relay your message and lesson. I brought home some whiteboards and index cards from school to help me get across my general ideas. I’m hoping that this actually works and I’m accepted, because more than anything, a little bit of supplemental income every once in awhile could go a long way! Alex and I’s car insurance recently went up, and we’re hoping that we can cover that with some of the extra money afforded by this side job.

In the meantime, I’m also contemplating where my future leads. On the one hand, I’ve been in the field of education for a long time and have the most experience there. But on the other hand, I know that education might not be the best choice for me. It might be better to focus instead on other career paths so that I can broaden my experience while I’m still young and have time to do that. I know this is off-topic on the idea of props, but it’s still relevant to my overall psyche.