Musings from a Little Planet [the So-Close-Yet-So-Far Edition]

Aaaand we’re back!

May! May is almost over! Absolutely nothing happened for me during May so this post’s gonna be pretty short but I’m so close to going home! All I need to do now is survive my final week of school and then three final exams…

//dies//

the month that was may

  • So somehow my chem grades have been really looking up this quarter and it’s kind of exciting! Because my chem grades have always been pretty okay only… I’m hoping this continues! Gotta study, study~
  • I went to a mall and bought clothes for the first time in… a year? yesterday! I got a pair of high-waisted, dark red shorts, and three shirts. I had my eye on a couple dresses and this cute, flowery maxi skirt too, but I was too short for even extra small… #shortpeopleproblems
  • I also went to Panda Express for the first time, and honestly the food wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I’ve heard? I actually kinda liked the honey walnut shrimp heheh.
  • I’m going home soon! This entire month’s just been me slowly inching all my stuff into my luggages and counting down the days until I can fly home ^^;;;;; Granted I’ll be taking classes and working for the greater half of my summer break, and I’m still keeping my fingers crossed for some good news related to some applications I sent out around last month, but honestly I’m just so ready to leave. The university’s great and all, but there’s no place like home.

may on the blog

the status update corner

In the karaoke booth: Your Song (Rita Ora)
On the nightstand: 王室教師ハイネ
The app that never closes: Twitter
And, the show: After School Club
Current worry: I SUBMITTED SO MANY APPLICATIONS TO THINGS AND THEY AREN’T REPLying //sobs//
Looking forward to: going home!

Required Reading and the Ongoing Struggle: an Often Incomprehensive, Not-Quite-Proofread Rant You May Want to Skip Over

Often, laughing, but not entirely jokingly, my mom will tell me that I’m contrary for the sake of being contrary. Granted, the setting was a little different, the scene a different genre entirely, but the same can very well be said to describe me and my overall relationship with required reading books at school. I’ve been blogging on and off for five years now (!!!), and spent the vast majority of that time as a book blogger, only recently crossing over to spew my rambling mess of posts in other areas of interest as well. Books are a huge part of my life. And I still struggle with required reading books. The thing is, it hurts sometimes to see people – especially classmates – look down on fellow classmates who don’t enjoy the recommended required reading. I definitely feel it more strongly now in literature-related courses at university, when the ice-breaker questions of “recommend a book you think everyone should read!” is always met with a barrage of books that are typically assigned as required reading in high school. Now, writing, it seems kind of silly, but I always feel uncomfortable being the one to break that trend. Recommending XYZ, a young adult contemporary novel, as I often do, is always met with some eye-brow raising. I kid you not – after my answer, I’ve had some classmates “helpfully” come over to me and recommend me some “starter books” that are “easier to understand” – as if that’s my reason for not falling all over whatever books we were required to read in our senior year of high school: my inability to understand what the book was going on about.

I mean, there are a few layers to this. One, I’m an international student. I entered the English schooling system really late, and so there are a lot of typically required reading books I’ve never read, though here, I have to interject a shoutout to my mom for painstakingly researching and compiling lists of, and then pushing me to read, English books each summer so that I wouldn’t feel so lost when I did finally enter the system. So yeah, there are definitely a lot of them I read, especially earlier in my learning, that I didn’t understand. But also, though I haven’t officially been in the system for very long, I’ve been practicing the language and reading in English for a long time – long enough to say that I am pretty confident in my comprehension skills. And sometimes? I just don’t like them.

Going back to what I said at the very beginning, I’m pretty contrary by character. I don’t like people making me do things. It’s a negative trait of mine, I know, and I’ve been trying to fix it, but it’s there. And so, acknowledging that, I’m definitely going to dislike some required reading titles. But so what? Why is it that only certain books have merit? Why is it that only liking certain books is accepted? I’ve come across countless young adult novels that cover the same “heavy topics” that people like to applaud the famous classics for – why are they not treated the same way? I’ve come across non-classic novels that cover the topics in more detail and with even more accuracy – why are they not lauded in the same way? In fact, most upsettingly, most of them aren’t even held up to the same level. Why?

There are great required reading materials. From my Japanese history elective last quarter, I really enjoyed W. G. Beasley’s The Japanese Experience: A Short History of Japan, which was really accessible, comprehensive, and well organized; I really enjoyed the complex subtleties of Murasaki Shikibu’s The Tale of Genji. From my philosophy in literature elective the quarter before, I found Aristotle’s Physics, though tricky to navigate though, really interesting and thought-provoking; Steve Martin’s Picasso at the Lapin Agile and Other Plays was a surprisingly funny and witty read; Proust was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer was a great introductory read, and served as a clever introduction to further, deeper reading. Pre-university, though I didn’t enjoy as much luck with finding enjoyable required reading, and admittedly half-assed my way through a lot of the books we read at school, I remember really liking WOMENS PART: FEMINIST CRI: Feminist Criticism of Shakespeare by Carolyn Lenz, A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro, and the Three Theban Plays by Sophocles, just to name a few.

So. Look. It’s not that I haven’t read the books. It’s not that I don’t understand them. It’s not even that I hate all of them. It’s just that I’ve come across books I like more. What’s so bad about that? Life’s too short and there are way too many books in this world to spend your time reading a bad book. So if you ask me to recommend you a book, I’ll recommend you a book that I like. It’s that simple.

//end rant

Channel Aerou #3 (Love Song, Poison Berry in My Brain, Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo, Flower Boys Next Door)

My third Channel Aerou post, and I realized that it would probably be a better idea to group these collective mini-review/thoughts posts in some way. I’m a bit of a genre-hopper, but I still have clear likes – and tend to gravitate toward certain types of storylines and moods – within the genres, so I thought I might try grouping them by that? My first two Channel Aerou posts were a bit of a free-for-all in terms of drama types, but hopefully this will make things easier to follow from now on!

ラヴソング・Love Song

I wrote a bit about this one before, I think, in one of my previous Musings of a Little Planet wrap-ups, but I really liked this drama! I wasn’t entirely sold on Fukuyama Masaharu – honestly I think I’ll only ever be able to see him as the professor from Galileo – but I really liked Fujiwara Sakura! I thought she executed her character role really well, and I loved the storyline – it was bittersweet and fresh. Plus the covers were really nice! Fujiwara Sakura’s voice is really nice, and the whole show made me feel all sorts of bittersweet and nostalgic and hopeful. Shoutout to whoever came up with that ending, too, because it wasn’t anything that I’d expected, but it’s definitely the route that I liked best. I do feel like the ending could’ve been planned out better, though, because I felt like that last little part was a little rushed and under-developed, though the idea was certainly a great one, and it ended up feeling like a PV for Fujiwara Sakura’s music album…

脳内ポイズンベリー・Poison Berry in My Brain

So, this is really a movie and not a show, but I needed somewhere to ramble! I love the idea, and I love the aesthetics and design of the movie, and I like how they did the ending – it wasn’t terribly romantic or typical of the genre, but honestly, had they done it any other way, I probably would’ve ended up screaming in frustration. The story idea felt interesting and meaningful, but something about the way everything was pulled together didn’t work out for me. As in, looking at the design, the story, the actors, the characters, the dialogue, the pacing, the subplots – I liked everything separately but felt like it wasn’t quite pulled together with enough thought given to the respective pieces. Something about the overall movie, though enjoyable, felt a little off. I feel like the climax and the ending scene especially should’ve been able to pack a big punch, but all the individual parts didn’t come together well enough for those scenes to do what they could’ve done to the viewer, if that makes sense?

역도요정 김복주・Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-Joo

Lee Sung-Kyung is one of my favorite kdrama actors – she plays such different characters in all the roles she’s had so far, but she manages to pull them off seemingly effortlessly every single time and I just. Ahhhhhh. I love how bumblingly and complicatedly uncomplicated this entire drama was. Which definitely made more sense in my head than it does written down. Anyhow. I loved how the respective characters each battled their own problems while falling for each other, building friendships, and figuring themselves out. The storyline definitely wasn’t always light and happy but watching the drama definitely made me feel that way – light and happy. It was really nice and heartwarming to watch and I really mean it when I say I recommend this to everyone >//<

이웃집 꽃미남・Flower Boy Next Door

Funny story time: my friend recommended me and another friend watch Flower Boy Ramen Shop, but then when my friend and I got together to watch, we mixed it up with this – Flower Boy Next Door – and ended up highly disappointed and confused. Oops? Needless to say, I wasn’t a huge fan of this. I thought the idea was really cute, though some things like Ko Dok-Mi’s job screamed highly unlikely and her backstory both heavily romanticized and dissappointingly trivialized and flattened for the sake of the drama. Many parts of it were pretty cute, Enrique’s character definitely did many favors for the drama, and maybe a shot at passing this off as a slice-of-life could work better for the drama, but overall… picking through the episodes was sometimes fun, and at other times a chore. I’d be pretty hesitant to recommend this drama to most people.

Musings from a Little Planet [the Revival Edition]

Aaaand we’re back!

April was a pretty good month in terms of blog posts here at Aerou! And it looks like May may be able to keep it up – I’ve been scheduling in posts here and there. I forgot how much I enjoyed writing posts on the blog until I started it again; I’m not really good at speaking up, and so having this here for me to rant and ramble is really liberating in a way? I’ve been blogging on and off for almost six years now and I don’t think I can see myself fully quitting anytime soon, even if I disappear/go on breaks here and there. It’s just. Really nice. Wah. >//<

the month that was april

  • I read some books outside of the ones I had to read for school or work! One of them was a re-read of an English YA novel, and the other was a Chinese book I’ve heard great things about. I had this one scene from Aimee Carter’s Goddess Interrupted in my head for the longest time for some reason, and so when I saw it at the library in my hour break between classes, I couldn’t resist picking it up for another read. The series has never been my favorite by any shot, but it was really nostalgic? And then the other book was 微微一笑很倾城! My Chinese sucks so I actually started this a while back, but only finished it this month. There were some parts I had to assume the meaning of with my knowledge of Japanese kanji, but I really enjoyed the story! I liked the relationships between the characters, the concept was really cute, and the respect with the way Xiao Nai treated Wei Wei was everything >//<
  • My roommate introduced me to stroopwafels and they’re amazing but also kinda expensive for my broke ass. She gave me a box and now I’m carefully rationing out the waffles so that it lasts me until the end of the school year hehe.
  • I also finished my first batch of midterms! Being on the quarter system means every season is midterm season T_T But at least my first ones are done! And I managed to score well on them, so I’m really happy; hopefully, I’ll be able to carry this over to the next ones, and keep it up throughout the remainder of the school year as well ^^
  • Skincare updates! Last time, I mentioned starting the Innisfree green tea cleanser oil – I did, and it was woooonderful. It smelled really nice and cleaned makeup off really well, and I really liked their green tea toner as well. I went back fully intending to repurchase Innisfree’s toner, but then noticed that Etude’s Wonder Pore toner was having a sale, so I caved… I’ll be back with a report on that soon! I did repurchase Innisfree’s cleanser oil, though I tried out the apple seed one this time, which a friend highly recommended. If it’s anything like the green tea, I’ll love it for sure^^ I also kind of allowed myself to go on a little bit of a makeup/skincare shopping spree and indulged in their whitening sleeping mask as well, with mixed feelings about the results…? The smell is really nice, and it applies really nicely. However, I don’t really see any results? I also broke out a bit two weeks after introducing it to my skincare routine. Honestly, the timing of the breakout makes the cause a little uncertain, but I will be a little more cautious with it from now on. I don’t think I’ll repurchase, but I do fully intend on using up the jar. It was pretty pricey, after all^^;;
  • Honestly, my life isn’t interesting enough for a whole section of my monthly wrap-ups to be dedicated to it ahah.

april on the blog

  • I started a new feature, Channel Aerou, for all the dramas and shows I watch! The first post on this feature showcases some really nice police/detective-related dramas I enjoyed, as well as a couple others^^
  • Vicious by V. E. Schwab was the inspiration for my latest study!
  • I posted another Channel Aerou post! This one showcases, among others, Ode to Joy – which you definitely should go watch if you haven’t already. It definitely has its place amongst my all-time favorite Chinese dramas^^
  • Time for another graveyard post roundup! From top ten posts to cooking videos, here’s another list of posts I started but never finished.

the status update corner

In the karaoke booth: TT (TWICE)
On the nightstand: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
The app that never closes: Twitter
And, the show: 微微一笑很倾城
Current worry: Chem is… chem.
Looking forward to: Summer 😀

The Graveyard Posts (Part 2/??)

Welcome to the post of post ideas I’ve started but never finished, part 2/??? Some posts I may eventually pick up at a later date – sometime farrrr off into the future – but most I probably never will, and so have immortalized right here (read also: the post where I abuse bullet points and completely butcher grammar because. well.)

That Time I Was Going to Do Something Related to All the Cooking Videos I Save on Facebook

  • The kitchen-less, dorm-room life hasn’t stopped me from saving seventy bajillion cooking videos on Facebook, so I figured I should do something with it!
  • I thought a post linking a book to a cooking video for a dish that was somehow representative of or reminiscent of that book would be a cute idea
  • or maybe a series of posts?
  • but then I went to actually write the post, and then got sucked into the black hole that is searching for the perfect cooking video
  • so then I thought I’d pick a book first!
  • but then I also got sucked into that endless spiral
  • the result: more saved cooking videos and more books on my TBR, but no post
  • (oops)
  • (guys I am weak to food and books)
  • (for the sake of time, this idea has been put on indefinite hiatus)

That Post I Was Going to Write on Drinks to Accompany Your Anime Marathon

  • A post on a drink you should have while binge-watching anime shows!
  • So I had hot chocolate for Amaama to Inazuma because it’s warm and sweet and the anime’s also this wonderful ball of heart-warmingly cute, tooth-rottingly fluffy slice-of-life story
  • Green Tea for either Natsume Yuujinchou or Tamako Market
  • why not both
  • //cue me remembering that I basically only drink green tea//
  • My list of non-alcoholic drinks is woefully short
  • My list of alcoholic drinks is also woefully short
  • My drinking history hasn’t adequately prepared me for a post like this

And Then: Top Ten Tuesday, the Lightning Round

  • Top Ten Books I Liked More/Less Than I Thought I Would
    • Under more, Pride and Prejudice, Unraveling, Stealing Parker, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Vicious. Under less: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Something like Normal, Slide, Article 5, School Spirits.
  • Ten Books I’ve Added To My To-Be-Read List Lately
    • Whichwood; The Language of Thorns; Jane, Unlimited; Duels and Deception; Stir Me Up; Faking It; 100 Hours; Beginner’s Guide: Love and Other Chemical Reactions; Living Dead Girl; Mask of Shadows.
  • Top Ten Best Books of 2016
    • Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow; Team Human; Break; Ask Again Later; East; The Fault in Our Stars; Fateful
  • I realized the last one probably meant best books published in 2016, not read
  • I also realized that I haven’t really read any recently published books in over a year
  • I also also realized that I haven’t read that many books in the past year or so
  • Top Ten Tuesday’s that meme I always want to join in on, but realize that I’m no longer caught up enough with the bookish world and community to really do so
  • which makes me really sad, because books and book blogging used to literally be my life, and practically my home away from home
  • it’s my goal to carve out enough time to catch up on all the books I want to read (summer 2017, I’m looking at you!)

Channel Aerou #2 (Doctors, Ode to Joy, Heartstrings, The Lost Tomb)

I’m still trying to figure out how this corner’s going to work… I like the four-to-a-post groupings, so I know I want to keep that – I used to write up book reviews that practically doubled as essays because I tend to be quite rambly in my posts, but then somewhere along the way I think I started to almost set that length as an expectation for myself and lost steam as well as the motivation to write those posts. Then I was also thinking of including a little “next up” part at the end, but I’m more of a mood watcher? I’ll often find a Japanese drama if I want something I can watch in the background while I do something else; I’ll put on a Chinese drama if my multitasking requires a little less thought; I’ll watch a Korean drama if I know I’ll be able to sit down and read the subtitles. But anyhow. Post number two: incoming!^^

닥터스・Doctors

I didn’t notice until I was setting this post up, but I’ve been watching a lot of Park Shin Hye dramas lately! I actually didn’t really like this one at the beginning. The first two or three episodes take place when the characters are still in high school, and I found everything to be really frustrating and petty, so I almost stopped, but then the show time-skipped to when they’ve all grown up and graduated, and I found that things really picked up from there. I like how slow and easy the romance was, without entire episodes dedicated to relationship drama and revenge. It felt a lot more real that way. There’s a lot of intrigues that kept up interest and, though it seemed to end a little too simple at times, and though it was a little ridiculous to see that much makeup and flashy jewelry and all those sky-high heels worn by doctors in a medical center, I think the drama as a whole was really fun to watch. I liked how Yoo Hye Jung’s character was done: how she could be both caring and strong and ambitious and considerate at the same time. The supporting characters were also really enjoyable to follow; my favorites were Jung Yoon Do and Kim Soo Chul – Moon Ji In’s character was also super cute^^ The only character I didn’t really like was Lee Sung Kyung’s character, which is a shame because I really like her as an actress. I don’t like how long they dragged her character’s arc for, only to have it end so simply and abruptly, as well as how simpering, powerless, and incapable they made her. (What kind of a doctor will wear that much metal to a scanning machine, though? Seriously.)

歡樂頌・Ode to Joy

Shit, I related way too much to way too many scenes in this one. I tend to be wary of longer dramas because I find that the plot tends to drag a lot in the middle, and then again toward the end, but I didn’t have this problem with 歡樂頌! It’s easy to watch, and the plot flows smoothly. The chemistry between the characters was really well crafted and executed, too. Guan Ju Er resonated with me the most; An Di deserves nothing but goodness and fluff and I wish I could pluck her out of her story and set her in some fluffy slice-of-life show where everything is happy and wonderful always; Fan Sheng Mei’s scenes were always the most interesting for me, and I found myself rooting for her the whole way through; Qu Xiao Xiao annoyed me during the first half of the drama, but got better in the last part; I never quite got to the same point with Qiu Ying Ying, whose character grated me the wrong way throughout the entire thing, though it had nothing to do with the way she was written, but rather the fact that I was never really good with her type of character in real life either, and I can appreciate the presence of someone like that and her part in the show; Zhao Qi Ping had a couple cringey scenes, and to be honest I’d probably hate him if he was played by any other actor, but he’s played by Wang Kai, so I am Very Confused; Wei Wei drew a resounding “NO” from me and we’ll just leave it at that; I actually found Bao Yi Fan pretty interesting, and I hope to see more of him in the second season; Tan Zong Ming! Is! The! Real! MVP! In short: this drama didn’t come without its problems, but I really really enjoyed it just the same! I think I marathoned the entire thing in two days? And I’m still way too emotionally invested in it. I can’t wait for season two!

넌 내게 반했어・Heartstrings

I started this because I’d seen You’re Beautiful and shipped Park Shin-Hye’s character with Jung Yong-Hwa’s. When that fell through, I found out that the two’s characters got together in Heartstrings, and so here we are^^ I thought this was pretty good? It’s really light, a little cheesy, cliche, but easy and fun to watch. The cast fits together nicely – I really enjoyed watching the scenes with Kim Suk Hyun and Jung Yun Soo. And Han Hee Joo! I wasn’t a huge fan of her at the beginning, but as her character arc progressed, she was bumbling and cowardly and awkward, but the progress she makes later in the drama really redeemed her character for me. Plus the CNBLUE songs were really nice! Jung Yong Hwa has such a nice voice ;__; TL;DR: the official plot sums everything up nicely, and there’s really nothing much else to say, really; it wasn’t amazing, nor was it terrible. It was an okay drama.

盗墓笔记・The Lost Tomb

It’s a little hard to write a reaction to 盗墓笔记 because it’s so short – I didn’t know until after I’d finished all twelve episodes that the whole thing was actually designed as an eight-season show, with only the first season aired as of right now. Because it’s planned to pan for so long, a lot of the first season is just set-up, and there are a lot more questions than there are answers. I will say that I found the excavation scenes and explanations really interesting, though, and I liked where the first half of the season was going! The whole thing kind of came to a lull toward the last few episodes after they came out of the tombs, though, and the graphics were pretty disappointing. I wasn’t disappointed to the extent of quitting mid-season, but it did make me reconsider watching season two, which I haven’t started yet. Some parts are super fascinating, and I do like the actors, but there’s just so many meh parts of the drama, and so many other interesting shows I’ve yet to watch… Hm…

Vicious: A Study

Winter quarter’s come and gone, and now’s probably an apt time to accept that I probably won’t be able to get to my design new year’s resolution – at least not until the summer, once school lets out. I wish I had time for all the things I like doing but university’s determined to take every little piece of my life and. Augh. What can you do.

I did get some breathing time after exams and during syllabus week, so I tried my hand at another study! I had some really nice textures saved on my laptop, and I wanted to try to combine them and play with the colors a little so it came out all bloody and textured to resemble veins and arteries. I also fiddled with fonts to get one that reflected the strength and weight I was trying to portray throughout the rest of the piece. The result’s really quite simple-looking, but I don’t know; I kind of like it^^

“Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human.”

As usual, feel free to click on the images to view them in a larger size. This time, my inspiration came from V. E. Schwab’s Vicious – which I highly recommend! It was the book that brought me out of one of my bigger reading slumps a few years ago. I used to adamantly only read romance books, and if I remember right I think I’d initially picked Vicious up thinking it was going to be maybe a subtle romance like the author’s debut YA novel was, which I’d really enjoyed. Turns out it didn’t have any romance at all, but it was wonderfully dark and suspenseful, and the kind of novel that really toes at the line between good and evil – the kind of novel I discovered I really enjoyed. I’d definitely recommend giving Vicious a go if it seems even remotely interesting to you, even if you didn’t like the author’s YA series. Or, maybe, especially if you didn’t like any of the author’s YA series? I enjoyed her debut book, but couldn’t get past the first few pages of The Archived. But I found that save for her writing style, Vicious is really unlike any of her earlier books. So that was a really convoluted and rambly explanation, but tldr; do consider giving Vicious a try!