Quiet: The Power Of Introverts

After thinking about why I’m such a weirdo, look what I found while I was browsing in the bookstore: Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. For the longest time, ever since I’ve noticed that when I was younger, I was always so shy and quiet when it comes to socializing. I’m fine if you leave me with family and stuff, but the moment I know I have to deal with someone new.. I’m already comparing myself in my brain to how the other kids (my close cousins) react to those kinds of people. I was never quick to like someone enough or trust someone enough to be spontaneous around them. I alway measure, measure, measure. I’m gauging their actions, their words, and how other people react to them. I always thought of my younger self as an outsider; always observing, barely participating. It literally felt like I was watching life happen in front of me. I’m actually very thankful for that because I learned (and I’m still learning) a lot through watching and listening to others; it made me more conscious of good and bad decisions, of personal opinions and intentions. It was eye-opening to live that way and yet at the same time, it felt like there was an invisible barrier between me and the life around me. It felt like I was poring over every small detail and because of it, I was failing to actually live life the way everybody else around me were living.

Quiet by Susan Cain

Since I started reading Cain’s book, I realized that this is how I am and it’s ok to be like this. I am an introvert. It’s very liberating to finally be at ease with myself. I used to feel so bad for declining invitations to socials and parties and even just to hang out. I get stressed out even with just the thought of having to spend hours with random people that I don’t truly know and having to talk and talk and talk. And talk about what? ‘Oh, your nails are so nice. Where’d you get it done?’ I honestly find it hard to start conversations, because I don’t usually care about those things, and when finally (after 20 minutes lol) someone gets to a good topic, I can’t help but want to listen and absorb the useful information. To everybody else, I know I come out quiet, but to me, it’s just that if I don’t have anything useful to contribute, I’m not inclined to talk. You should see me try, though! I can pretend to be an extrovert to some extent! And at some level of comfortability (often with family and close friends), I am totally at ease with spending an outrageous amount of energy, and if the situation calls for it, I can try to emulate this version on myself towards other people. This is also good because let’s face it, our society favours the bold and the outgoing.

Just thinking about the extroverts around here is tiring me out, hahaha! I do try every now and then, and I’m slow to get myself worked-up for these things. If a friends asks me out of nowhere to hangout later that day; the first emotion I feel is dread because I was looking forward to a quiet night of reading, or just staying at home. LOL When I was younger and I didn’t know any better, I blamed my mom for letting me grow up so quiet; I had associated my quietness to her strictly authoritative disciplinarian style (“I rule, you follow… Or else!”) and I even started thinking I was anti-social or a hermit. But now after absorbing most of the book, I now know, the “buzz” for the extroverts are just not the same level required by the introverts. In the book, Cain shows that if extroverts need a party to get that happy feeling, then introverts need a long walk by the beach. The difference is that extroverts are into “jumping into” an activity and introverts are into “analyzing the activity.”

It’s really interesting when I see a friend of mine who is always ‘Go, go, go!’ kind of a person and they tell me that if they’re stuck at home (let’s say the car broke down) for a day, he/she would not know what to do with themselves. I have a lot of interests that keep me busy even though technically I’m only at home. For example, I write, I study languages, I read, and I draw, etc. That extroverted friend of mine thinks I just sit at home and lounge but that couldn’t be farther from the truth; I hate the feeling of being bored. When I’m not productive in anyway and not accomplishing anything, no matter how small, I get restless and I go find something to do. It’s just I find that I recharge my energy better when I don’t have to deal with so many people all at once.

What about you? Are you an introvert or an extrovert? =)

The Summer Queen

This is the sequel to the The Snow Queen, written by Joan D. Vinge. So! I have finally found the time to pick up this story again after months of hiatus from my lovely books. I will tell you now, at first I was getting slightly confused from the different times that are passsing from different worlds but later on, I realized that I would have to rely on the author to state how much time was passing rather than trying to guess.

The Summer Queen

And guess who’s back? The guy who made me cry in the first book: BZ Gundhalinu. How I wished that he would have chosen to fight for Moon in the first book but I guess, without having passed through those obstacles (apparently in “World’s End,” he had almost gone insane but was saved by… I can’t say, otherwise I’ll be spoiling the book for those of you who wants to read it). The past events turned him into the person BZ is now, in The Summer Queen, and I really think it was for the best. Although, deep inside I have this nagging fear that he would be too late if or when he gets back to Tiamat. Sparks is an excellent secondary character, but that’s all he’ll ever be. His situation from the previous book did nothing to endear him to me and his actions in this sequel are–so far–not helping to make me sympathaize with him. It’s something about how he deals with things… almost in a childish manner, that makes him a turn off. BUT!!! Let’s not be hasty; I am still a hundred pages away from the halfway mark of the book and so far, everything that’s happening is sort of making sense to me. The first book was definitely faster paced but this book lets time pass so you really see what’s going on, how the next generations are turning out, how past characters get re-introduced and how the plot slowly but strongly ties itself together. I love it!! Do you want to know who had moved me to tears in this one? Jerusha; this is from what I’ve read so far. We’ll see as I read further in the book if that will change or not.

Dune by Frank Herbert

Ok, this book is really interesting. This is the reason why lately I hunt for old books rather than the newly published ones. It’s hard to find these kinds of writing lately and the mainstream books are all for teenagers who are hung up on Romeo & Juliet type stories that are embedded in a contemporary world. Yes, I’ve read Twilight, but that was a few years before the movies became a hit even. As a teenager then, I did appreciate it for it’s stars-in-your-eyes factor of the (first) book. Then I simply forgot about it and moved towards more plot and substance. I could tell you about lots of books, but let’s focus: Dune. This book was actually a little iffy for me at first, seeing how it had other books; Trilogies always scare the hell out of me because I assume that: (a) the first book will not have a finished feel and (b) too much thick books can be a little daunting and (c) if I know I won’t have time to read all of the books, then that’ll leave my brain with a story that’s half finished. You see, I’ve finished a few trilogies but like I said, time is a factor.

Dune by Frank Herbert

So let’s get started here. Dune; we start off with a boy who is visited by an “old crone” as the book calls her. Now starting with this, I had no idea that he was going to the main character of the book. The short synopsis on the back of the book made it sound epic and I guess I couldn’t see how an epic story could start with a fifteen year old boy. That age, if I think back on experience, can be a little immature and stupid. Of course, I had to read further on to realize that he wasn’t like any ordinary boy. This book is very interesting in how it threads the stories together. Each one character introduced, you slowly peel off the onion skin– if you get my meaning; it’s like getting to know them, but as the story progresses. So in little bits, you learn about them, how they make decisions and why–all because of the personalities that is slowly revealed to the reader. So far, I’ve only had time to finish the first book (Dune) and I’m going to start on the second book (Muad’dib) soon since I’m on my day off today. Spoiler: I wish the relationship of Jessica and the Duke were expressed more; the book so far only allowed little glimpses; even with the characters thoughts, they were almost hiding it, sort of, and that’s what made it very interesting. You get the feeling they do like each other, but they hardly show any signs; it’s very subtle and minimal. That’s what makes that relationship sad and heart-wrenching, in my opinion. You feel deprived or almost cheated that they never got a chance to show it openly, and that’s how Jessica and the Duke felt towards the end (I can’t say the end of what, since that’ll be revealing too much). The story moves quite fast, but at the same time, nothing much happens. I mean, time moves forward really fast–in the first book, anyway. First you’ll see them having dinner then the next there’s an attack. The transitions are non-existent; you jump to the next scene and you better be ready or else you’ll get lost. LOL, at least, that’s how it was for me. But yes, so far very engaging, sad and fast paced enough for me. =) Give it a try and see how you like it.

Perks of Being a Wallflower

I’ll say. I have not read the book. I did buy it as a present for my cousin. I want to borrow it but she is still slowly working on it. But we did watch the movie, and it was so sad and pulls at your heart with the final revelation. I didn’t think it was that bad, but it was. Poor Charlie (our main character in the story)… at first I thought it was about being in high school again, which I was apprehensive about (for personal reasons) but it was beyond that. High school was just the background.

I wish it would have showed more of his thoughts though; that’s the only thing I found lacking. That’s why I want to read the book, so I can figure out what it was that the movie seemed to not say. I felt a little cheated. LOL! I’m so melodramatic. The movie was really good, though. The most beautiful line that stuck to me was: “I feel infinite.” =) Have you ever felt like that? Where you’re just so happy that you just bask in the moment and it feels like it’ll be like that forever. Those are always such awesome moments.

So, as soon as I can borrow the book and read it, I’ll let you know what  was missing…

Long, Broad & Sharpsight

This is a fairy tale or folk tale of the Slavonians (Western). I’ve read this one quite a long time ago; I was probably still under 10 years old. My cousins had lots and lots of books and I would just read and read coz my family hardly owned books. I was absolutely enthralled with this story because it was like the quest stories of most Greek myths and I just adore these kinds of stories. This was in a collection book of Slavic fairy tales among those other ones which I have yet to find. This was very interesting to me and I think my reading experiences as a child are what mostly drives me to write my own. So without further ado, here is the story of Long, Broad and Sharpsight:

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THERE was a king, who was already old, and had but one son. Once upon a time he called this son to him, and said to him, ‘My dear son! you know that old fruit falls to make room for other fruit. My head is already ripening, and maybe the sun will soon no longer shine upon it; but before you bury me, I should like to see your wife, my future daughter. My son, marry!’ The prince said, ‘I would gladly, father, do as you wish; but I have no bride, and don’t know any.’ The old king put his hand into his pocket, took out a golden key and showed it to his son, with the words, ‘Go up into the tower, to the top story, look round there, and then tell me which you fancy.’ The prince went without delay. Nobody within the memory of man had been up there, or had ever heard what was up there.

When he got up to the last story, he saw in the ceiling a little iron door like a trap-door. It was closed. He opened it with the golden key, lifted it, and went up above it. There there was a large circular room. The ceiling was blue like the sky on a clear night, and silver stars glittered on it; the floor was a carpet of green silk, and around in the wall were twelve high windows in golden frames, and in each window on crystal glass was a damsel painted with the colours of the rainbow, with a royal crown on her head, in each window a different one in a different dress, each handsomer than the other, and it was a wonder that the prince did not let his eyes dwell upon them. When he had gazed at them with astonishment, the damsels began to move as if they were alive, looked down upon him, smiled, and did everything but speak.

Now the prince observed that one of the twelve windows was covered with a white curtain; he drew the curtain to see what was behind it. There there was a damsel in a white dress, girt with a silver girdle, with a crown of pearls on her head; she was the most beautiful of all, but was sad and pale, as if she had risen from the grave. The prince stood long before the picture, as if he had made a discovery, and as he thus gazed, his heart pained him, and he cried, ‘This one will I have, and no other.’ As he said the words the damsel bowed her head, blushed like a rose, and that instant all the pictures disappeared.

When he went down and related to his father what he had seen and which damsel he had selected, the old king became sad, bethought himself, and said, ‘You have done ill, my son, in uncovering what was curtained over, and have placed yourself in great danger on account of those words. That damsel is in the power of a wicked wizard, and kept captive in an iron castle; of all who have attempted to set her free, not one has hitherto returned. But what’s done cannot be undone; the plighted word is a law. Go! try your luck, and return home safe and sound!’

The prince took leave of his father, mounted his horse, and rode away in search of his bride. It came to pass that he rode through a vast forest, and through the forest he rode on and on till he lost the road. And as he was wandering with his horse in thickets and amongst rocks and morasses, not knowing which way to turn, he heard somebody shout behind him, ‘Hi! stop!’ The prince looked round, and saw a tall man hastening after him. ‘Stop and take me with you, and take me into your service, and you won’t regret it!’ ‘Who are you,’ said the prince, ‘and what can you do?’ ‘My name is Long, and I can extend myself. Do you see a bird’s nest in that pine yonder? I will bring you the nest down without having to climb up.’

Long then began to extend himself; his body grew rapidly till it was as tall as the pine; he then reached the nest, and in a moment contracted himself again and gave it to the prince. ‘You know your business well, but what’s the use of birds’ nests to me, if you can’t conduct me out of this forest?’ ‘Ahem! that’s an easy matter,’ said Long, and began to extend himself till he was thrice as high as the highest fir in the forest, looked round, and said: ‘Here on this side we have the nearest way out of the forest.’ He then contracted himself, took the horse by the bridle, and before the prince had any idea of it, they were beyond the forest. Before them was a long and wide plain, and beyond the plain tall gray rocks, like the walls of a large town, and mountains overgrown with forest trees.

‘Yonder, sir, goes my comrade!’ said Long, and pointed suddenly to the plain; ‘you should take him also into your service; I believe he would serve you well.’ ‘Shout to him, and call him hither, that I may see what he is good for.’ ‘It is a little too far, sir,’ said Long; ‘he would hardly hear me, and it would take a long time before he came, because he has a great deal to carry. I’ll jump after him instead.’ Then Long again extended himself to such a height that his head plunged into the clouds, made two or three steps, took his comrade by the arm, and placed him before the prince. He was a short, thick-set fellow, with a paunch like a sixty-four gallon cask. ‘Who are you?’ demanded the prince, ‘and what can you do?’ ‘My name, sir, is Broad; I can widen myself.’ ‘Give me a specimen.’ ‘Ride quick, sir, quick, back into the forest!’ cried Broad, as he began to blow himself out.

The prince didn’t understand why he was to ride away; but seeing that Long made all haste to get into the forest, he spurred his horse, and rode full gallop after him. It was high time that he did ride away, or else Broad would have squashed him, horse and all, as his paunch rapidly grew in all directions; it filled everything everywhere, just as if a mountain had rolled up. Broad then ceased to blow himself out, and took himself in again, raising such a wind that the trees in the forest bowed and bent, and became what he was at first. ‘You’ve played me a nice trick,’ said the prince, ‘but I shan’t find such a fellow every day; come with me.’

They proceeded further. When they approached the rocks, they met a man who had his eyes bandaged with a handkerchief. ‘Sir, this is our third comrade,’ said Long, ‘you ought to take him also into your service. I’m sure he won’t eat his victuals for naught.’ ‘Who are you?’ the prince asked him, ‘and why are your eyes bandaged? You don’t see your way!’ ‘No, sir, quite the contrary! It is just because I see too well that I am obliged to bandage my eyes; I see with bandaged eyes just as well as others with unbandaged eyes; and if I unbandage them I look everything through and through, and when I gaze sharply at anything, it catches fire and bursts into flame, and what can’t burn splits into pieces. For this reason my name is Sharpsight.’ He then turned to a rock opposite, removed the bandage, and fixed his flaming eyes upon it; the rock began to crackle, pieces flew on every side, and in a very short time nothing of it remained but a heap of sand, on which something glittered like fire. Sharpsight went to fetch it, and brought it to the prince. It was pure gold.

‘Heigho! you’re a fellow that money can’t purchase!’ said the prince. ‘He is a fool who wouldn’t make use of your services, and if you have such good sight, look and tell me whether it is far to the iron castle, and what is now going on there?’ ‘If you rode by yourself, sir,’ answered Sharpsight, ‘maybe you wouldn’t get there within a year; but with us you’ll arrive to-day–they’re just getting supper ready for us.’ ‘And what is my bride doing?’

An iron lattice is before her,
In a tower that’s high
She doth sit and sigh,
A wizard watch and ward keeps o’er her.’

The prince cried, ‘Whoever is well disposed, help me to set her free!’ They all promised to help him. They guided him among the gray rocks through the breach that Sharpsight had made in them with his eyes, and further and further on through rocks, through high mountains and deep forests, and wherever there was any obstacle in the road, forthwith it was removed by the three comrades. And when the sun was declining towards the west, the mountains began to become lower, the forests less dense, and the rocks concealed themselves amongst the heath; and when it was almost on the point of setting, the prince saw not far before him an iron castle; and when it was actually setting, he rode by an iron bridge to the gate, and as soon as it had set, up rose the iron bridge of itself, the gate closed with a single movement, and the prince and his companions were captives in the iron castle.

When they had looked round in the court, the prince put his horse up in the stable, where everything was ready for it, and then they went into the castle. In the court, in the stable, in the castle hall, and in the rooms, they saw in the twilight many richly-dressed people, gentlemen and servants, but not one of them stirred–they were all turned to stone. They went through several rooms, and came into the supper-room. This was brilliantly lighted up, and in the midst was a table, and on it plenty of good meats and drinks, and covers were laid for four persons. They waited and waited, thinking that someone would come; but when nobody came for a long time, they sat down and ate and drank what the palate fancied.

When they had done eating, they looked about to find where to sleep. Thereupon the door flew open unexpectedly all at once, and into the room came the wizard; a bent old man in a long black garb, with a bald head, a gray beard down to his knees, and three iron hoops instead of a girdle. By the hand he led a beautiful, very beautiful damsel, dressed in white; she had a silver girdle round her waist, and a crown of pearls on her head, but was pale and sad, as if she had risen from the grave. The prince recognised her at once, sprang forward, and went to meet her; but before he could utter a word the wizard addressed him: ‘I know for what you have come; you want to take the princess away. Well, be it so! Take her, if you can keep her in sight for three nights, so that she doesn’t vanish from you. If she vanishes, you will be turned into stone as well as your three servants; like all who have come before you.’ He then motioned the princess to a seat and departed.

The prince could not take his eyes off the princess, so beautiful was she. He began to talk to her, and asked her all manner of questions, but she neither answered nor smiled, nor looked at anyone any more than if she had been of marble. He sat down by her, and determined not to sleep all night long lest she should vanish from him, and, to make surer, Long extended himself like a strap, and wound himself round the whole room along the wall; Broad posted himself in the doorway, swelled himself up, and stopped it up so tight that not even a mouse could have slipped through; while Sharpsight placed himself against a pillar in the midst of the room on the look-out. But after a time they all began to nod, fell asleep, and slept the whole night, just as if the wizard had thrown them into the water.

In the morning, when it began to dawn, the prince was the first to wake, but–as if a knife had been thrust into his heart–the princess was gone! He forthwith awoke his servants, and asked what was to be done. ‘Never mind, sir,’ said Sharpsight, and looked sharply out through the window, ‘I see her already. A hundred miles hence is a forest, in the midst of the forest an old oak, and on the top of the oak an acorn, and she is that acorn.’ Long immediately took him on his shoulders, extended himself, and went ten miles at a step, while Sharpsight showed him the way.

No more time elapsed than would have been wanted to move once round a cottage before they were back again, and Long delivered the acorn to the prince. ‘Sir, let it fall on the ground.’ The prince let it fall, and that moment the princess stood beside him. And when the sun began to show itself beyond the mountains, the folding doors flew open with a crash, and the wizard entered the room and smiled spitefully; but when he saw the princess he frowned, growled, and hang! one of the iron hoops which he wore splintered and sprang off him. He then took the damsel by the hand and led her away.

The whole day after the prince had nothing to do but walk up and down the castle, and round about the castle, and look at the wonderful things that were there. It was everywhere as if life had been lost in a single moment. In one hall he saw a prince, who held in both hands a brandished sword, as if he intended to cleave somebody in twain; but the blow never fell: he had been turned into stone. In one chamber was a knight turned into stone, just as if he had been fleeing from some one in terror, and, stumbling on the threshold, had taken a downward direction, but not fallen. Under the chimney sat a servant, who held in one hand a piece of roast meat, and with the other lifted a mouthful towards his mouth, which never reached it; when it was just in front of his mouth, he had also been turned to stone. Many others he saw there turned to stone, each in the position in which he was when the wizard said, ‘Be turned into stone.’ He likewise saw many fine horses turned to stone, and in the castle and round the castle all was desolate and dead; there were trees, but without leaves; there were meadows, but without grass; there was a river, but it did not flow; nowhere was there even a singing bird, or a flower, the offspring of the ground, or a white fish in the water.

Morning, noon, and evening the prince and his companions found good and abundant entertainment in the castle; the viands came of themselves, the wine poured itself out. After supper the folding doors opened again, and the wizard brought in the princess for the prince to guard. And although they all determined to exert themselves with all their might not to fall asleep, yet it was of no use, fall asleep again they did. And when the prince awoke at dawn and saw the princess had vanished, he jumped up and pulled Sharpsight by the arm, ‘Hey! get up, Sharpsight, do you know where the princess is?’ He rubbed his eyes. looked, and said, ‘I see her. There’s a mountain 200 miles off; and in the mountain a rock, and in the rock a precious stone, and she’s that precious stone. If Long carries me thither, we shall obtain her.’

Long took him at once on his shoulders, extended himself, and went twenty miles at a step. Sharpsight fixed his flaming eyes on the mountain, the mountain crumbled, and the rock in it split into a thousand pieces, and amongst them glittered the precious stone. They took it up and brought it to the prince, and when he let it fall on the ground, the princess again stood there. When afterwards the wizard came and saw her there, his eyes flashed with spite, and bang! again an iron hoop cracked upon him and flew off. He growled and led the princess out of the room.

That day all was again as it had been the day before. After supper the wizard brought the princess in again, looked the prince keenly in the face, and scornfully uttered the words, ‘It will be seen who’s a match for whom; whether you are victorious or I,’ and with that he departed. This day they all exerted themselves still more to avoid going to sleep. They wouldn’t even sit down, they wanted to walk about all night long, but all in vain; they were bewitched; one fell asleep after the other as he walked, and the princess vanished away from them.

In the morning the prince again awoke earliest, and when he didn’t see the princess, woke Sharpsight. ‘Hey! get up, Sharpsight! look where the princess is!’ Sharpsight looked out for a long time. ‘Oh sir,’ says he, ‘she is a long way off, a long way off! Three hundred miles off is a black sea, and in the midst of the sea a shell on the bottom, and in the shell is a gold ring, and she’s the ring. But never mind! we shall obtain her, but to-day Long must take Broad with him as well; we shall want him.’ Long took Sharpsight on one shoulder, and Broad on the other, and went thirty miles at a step. When they came to the black sea, Sharpsight showed him where he must reach into the water for the shell. Long extended his hand as far as he could, but could not reach the bottom.

‘Wait, comrades! wait only a little and I’ll help you,’ said Broad, and swelled himself out as far as his paunch would stretch; he then lay down on the shore and drank. In a very short time the water fell so low that Long easily reached the bottom and took the shell out of the sea. Out of it he extracted the ring, took his comrades on his shoulders, and hastened back. But on the way he found it a little difficult to run with Broad, who had half a sea of water inside him, so he cast him from his shoulder on to the ground in a wide valley. Thump he went like a sack let fall from a tower, and in a moment the whole valley was under water like a vast lake. Broad himself barely crawled out of it.

Meanwhile the prince was in great trouble in the castle. The dawn began to display itself over the mountains, and his servants had not returned; the more brilliantly the rays ascended, the greater was his anxiety; a deadly perspiration came out upon his forehead. Soon the sun showed itself in the east like a thin strip of flame–and then with a loud crash the door flew open, and on the threshold stood the wizard. He looked round the room, and seeing the princess was not there, laughed a hateful laugh and entered the room. But just at that moment, pop! the window flew in pieces, the gold ring fell on the floor, and in an instant there stood the princess again. Sharpsight, seeing what was going on in the castle, and in what danger his master was, told Long. Long made a step, and threw the ring through the window into the room. The wizard roared with rage, till the castle quaked, and then bang! went the third iron hoop that was round his waist, and sprang off him the wizard turned into a raven, and flew out and away through the shattered window.

Then, and not till then, did the beautiful damsel speak and thank the prince for setting her free, and blushed like a rose. In the castle and round the castle everything became alive again at once. He who was holding in the hall the outstretched sword, swung it into the air, which whistled again, and then returned it to its sheath; he who was stumbling on the threshold, fell on the ground, but immediately got up again and felt his nose to see whether it was still entire; he who was sitting under the chimney put the piece of meat into his mouth and went on eating; and thus everybody completed what he had begun doing, and at the point where he had left off. In the stables the horses merrily stamped and snorted, the trees round the castle became green like periwinkles, the meadows were full of variegated flowers, high in the air warbled the skylark, and abundance of small fishes appeared in the clear river. Everywhere was life, everywhere enjoyment.

Meanwhile a number of gentlemen assembled in the room where the prince was, and all thanked him for their liberation. But he said, ‘You have nothing to thank me for; if it had not been for my trusty servants Long, Broad, and Sharpsight, I too should have been what you were.’ He then immediately started on his way home to the old king, his father, with his bride and servants. On the way they met Broad and took him with them.

The old king wept for joy at the success of his son; he had thought he would return no more. Soon afterwards there was a grand wedding, the festivities of which lasted three weeks; all the gentlemen that the prince had liberated were invited. After the wedding Long, Broad, and Sharpsight announced to the young king that they were going again into the world to look for work. The young king tried to persuade them to stay with him. ‘I will give you everything you want, as long as you live,’ said he; ‘you needn’t work at all.’ But they didn’t like such an idle life, took leave of him, went away and have been ever since knocking about somewhere or other in the world.

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There are more of these tales from this website.  Happy reading! =)

The Snow Queen

The Snow Queen. Such an epic novel. This book by Joan D. Vinge is now ranking high in my Favourite Books of All Time. This is probably the only book that made me feel hopeless enough to cry for a good few minutes from having to process what I’ve read. It’s a very full, well written book.

The basic outline of the book follows the original ‘Snow Queen’ by Hans Christian Andersen where the little girl tries to save her friend from the clutches of the Snow Queen. The book is set in a colorful world that you can almost see in front of you as you read. The characters are wonderful and the entire world that the author created is marvelous. Tiamat (an ocean goddess, according to Babylonian myth–lol yes, I researched the name; i was curious) is a mostly ocean planet with two tribes/clans called the Winters and the Summers. Summers are more traditional and Winters are in to technological advancement.

This is the kind of sci-fi that I like to read. I started reading in the fantasy genre and when I ventured into sci-fi, I’ve read some good one and not so good ones because not all of them deal in this type of imagery and story-telling. The world is huge and the characters are all unique. I absolutely love the mythological tones in the book!

the only thing that bugged me a bit is Sparks. He’s one of the main characters in the book and somehow, I felt that his character development was rushed. somehow, his actions felt out of character from what you know of him and i got the feeling that the focus on his part in the story was rushed. I can’t say any more without ruining the story for you guys, but if you have not read this, I strongly suggest you give it a try. I’m so lucky I found my old lovely copy in Value Village. Now I’m gonna hunt for The Summer Queen and see how it is. =)

The Life and Times of Me, Pencil (Part 4)

When I was about eight, nine or ten years of age (I was in third grade), I was becoming increasingly aware of social statuses and the difference between rich and poor. Constantly I would see the material things that spoke of money; in school or even close to home. My classmates were a good mix of high, middle and low class kids (which basically means: rich, not bad/middle, and poor). I saw the difference of old flip flops and sparkly new Sketchers worn to school. I saw cool hair accessories and new pens and rich looking parents. By then, I was getting shoes that were hand me downs from our cousins from out of the country. I’d get excited when I would get a new backpack from relatives out of the country as well. I still remember the leather shoes with the buckle and the loose long socks I wore. I remember thinking, ‘My feet are growing bigger.’ I remember thinking Milk, Brains and Hairy were in the rich side of society, and River, Fishie and myself were on the fine line between the ‘not bad’ and the ‘poor’. I was naturally a quiet kid and observing quietly and learning as I observe was one of the things I was (and still am) good at.

Whenever our relatives came to visit us, which was rare enough for us, I found myself being more observant than I wanted to be. I noticed how Hairy was favoured by Smiley. I noticed how Smiley would always take Hairy with her first before any other. Smiley is extremely affectionate and so this was something I was silently yearning for. I wished I was favoured just as much as Hairy was pretty and nice, as much as Brains was so smart, and as much as Milk was so cute. Being with Smiley back then was somewhat of a wake-up call for me, seeing as how apparent Smiley favoured whom she did before. Then with every one of us being excited about having relatives visit us, each cousin had their own traits pop out (I did say, I was good at observing). Chocolate Milk had always been the outspoken one in the bunch; very vocal and very confident. River was loud and playful and good looking, and Smiley was River’s godparent. Brains was pretty and smart and very witty. Hairy was the prettiest among the group and the nicest and sweetest. Fishie was adorable, cute, tiny and (I’ve heard this a million times) she looked like Smiley when Smiley was a little kid. Milk was the youngest in the ‘rich’ class among us so therefore had to be favoured by default among other things. Me? I had nothing to offer. I was quiet, and back then looked more like Softy than Eyeballs. Smiley’s personality was outgoing, so of course, Smiley gravitated to the outspoken ones. Chocolate Milk, River and Brains, and of course Milk were a shoo-in. Hairy and Fishie were personal favourites. I felt like I didn’t belong; I felt more like a background more than anything. You know that feeling when you watch people outside from a window? That’s what it felt like being with them all. I guess my personality was a factor in all of it, but it still didn’t make sense to me that I was so unremarkable to the rest of the family (and I mean very close relatives, including Smiley). I never got that reassuring feeling that it was okay to be me, to be myself. What I saw around me made me wish I was what I was not.

While all that was happening, I was realizing that Eyeballs would get really excited and happy whenever I get awesome marks in class, like exams and tests and projects. So I excelled in that. That was my moment of visibility. Eyeballs would tell the good news that I was in the honor roll when recognition/graduation rites came. And I was happy. I found my fifteen seconds of fame. I would get a very big smile on my face, all proud and excited. All for a quick pat on the back and a ‘Good job!’ to go with it. I get the occassional hug, too. That’s how I pretty much lived my younger years: aiming to please people through my academic standing because I thought I wasn’t good enough unless I was good at being something or someone. The only time our relatives would talk to me extensively–and by extensively, I mean about 5 or so minutes–would be about my grades in school. It was a lot of pressure and yet I was blind to that; I just wanted to be acknowledged. That was all I wanted.

All my life, I’ve been trying to establish this fact to myself: Pencil is important. Pencil is a human being worthy of respect and affection. Pencil is Pencil, and Pencil is enough. It’s a concept that was hard for me to accept for a long time, especially when I was younger. Everybody else had  such personalities in our big close-knit family. That was why I started looking for attention and acceptance from other people. My classmates since childhood like Rosebud, Timber, Dancer, Mango, became so close to me that at some point I developed this idea that my friends loved me more than my family. Well, from my point of view back then, my friends were the ones who were  with me and were happy that I was being myself, plain ol’ Pencil: one of the comedy acts in class, and got along with most of the class. At that point, my thoughts and feelings were usually excitement when I would go to school and see my best pals and on the other hand, I would be really mad and frustrated that I would be going home to people that barely noticed me. My mindset like that for a bit. I saw the toys that Fishie got from Smiley, I saw more and more the leniency towards River when it came to doing chores. I saw the amount of new house hold chores that Eyeballs taught me. I started hating house chores then. Everytime she would proudly say to random people how I knew how to cook already at that age, I felt exploited and used. The idea of the maids in Earrings and Boss’ household was a constant taunting in the back of my mind.

After a while, I looked up to Earrings’ family. They were rich and had a big house and everything that goes with that. In the meantime, my family barely owned a tube of toothpaste. I realized that if we didn’t have much food in our tiny little house, we’d eat plain steamed rice with either salt or sugar. And yet I loved that. I didn’t love the fact that whenever our relatives from abroad would send a package to the siblings Earrings, Eyeballs and Everhope (Chocolate Milk’s parent), Earrings’ kids would always get the coolest things. I felt even more unwanted every time I saw that. They’d have the coolest and prettiest Barbie dolls, the best backpacks, and shirts and shoes. It was too obvious to me that me and my siblings weren’t the favourite of the bunch. I wasn’t okay with it, but at the same time, I didn’t know what do except to accept that fact.

And yet, amidst all that, I thought and believed our whole entire family was the best family because we had some relatives out of the country (to me that meant I was a little closer to the ‘rich’ class by being associated with them), Earrings’ family was, in my eyes, in the ‘rich’ class so I was proud of the family as a whole. I was proud of everyone when they did something great, like be in a play or something like that. I was glad that as a whole our family was doing well. The cousins were cohesive and we mostly got along (unless someone was having tantrums). We were all pretty good with each other. Deep inside of me, it was a confusing mix of love and denial, of hurt and passiveness, and of pride and humiliation. To me, the different levels of feelings were what kept me observing. I couldn’t understand why, with the family, the gaps of understanding were so different and with different people, so small. I didn’t think much of it all after realizing these things, but they’re always there, buzzing around in my head. So to keep from thinking about it, I kept my focus in school instead.