How it is: Chapter 25

“It feels weird to be done already.” Tarou sighed, as he was putting away his things into boxes. Out of everyone, he finished his finals first, being done by the second day of finals. Valerie was finishing the day after tomorrow, and Timmy finished on the last day. Because he was spending the entire summer in Japan, he wanted to go back home to Queens to spend time with his family before heading out, so he was moving out earlier. “Wait, what’s this?” Tarou felt his phone vibrate. It was another email. “Wait, the program… oh shit.” He frowned. He misread the email. His offer was not just for the summer. It was from this summer until the following summer: he would be in Japan for an entire year. “Oh crap.” Hastily, he looked through the documents. He had already submitted his compliance for this. “Well, this is awkward.” He sighed. “Uh….” Thinking it over, the model decided he needed to commit to this. He could come back to school whenever, but working for Vogue, this could honestly propel his career to greater heights than he could have ever imagined. Tarou Shimizu, international supermodel, it was starting to sound increasingly like a possibility. Grabbing a pen and paper, he wrote a goodbye note to Timmy and Valerie. “Bye, guys.” He whispered, heading out.

“Ugh. He what now?” Valerie read Timmy’s text. She had finished her finals and finally turned back on her phone. Tarou was leaving for Japan for the next two years. That was the gist of what Timmy had said in his message to her. “Oh… well shit.” She whispered to herself. Unlike Tarou or Timmy, she was not going back to Queens at all after school. She was heading straight to compete on Warrior Chef: All Stars. Packing up her things, the Singaporean girl smiled to herself. It felt bittersweet to be leaving, but at the same time, this was her chance to do things right. “Redemption, here I come, hopefully.” She was ready to dive into the great unknown and finally be crowned Warrior Chef. “I’m ready to do right by everyone who has ever helped me get this far.” She smiled, putting her boxes into the moving van. Grabbing her suitcase and knife bag, she got into the taxi. “Where to” The driver looked over his chair at her. “JFK , please.” She smiled. “You got it, little lady.” And with that, Valerie left campus. Freshman year was on the lonelier side in terms of school friends, but the work friends she made were irreplaceable. Janice, I’m going to do my best to make you proud of me. Valerie smiled.

“It feels so empty.” Timmy yawned, finally returning to his room. He had finished his last final at this point. There was a sense of awkwardness, seeing Tarou’s emptied half of the room. It almost reminded him of their conflict. “No, it’s all in the past. We’re friends again.” The Taiwanese boy reassured himself, referring to the note the model had left for him. “Now, it’s time to get everything packed.” Timmy was going to be staying at an off-campus apartment during the summer, so he needed to first move all of his things into the apartment. Then he was going to spend some time at home before summer school begins. They were each going their own separate ways, yet Timmy did not feel sad. He felt excited about the opportunities still to come. Just because a couple doors closed does not mean that the entire world closed him off. ACU and TASA might have dropped him as an officer, but that does not mean it is the end of his college life. There were still many people yet to be met. To be befriended. Timmy, for the first time since he stepped foot into NYU, could not help but feel excited.

Arriving at the hotel where the All Stars contestants would be staying, Valerie got another text. It was a delayed message, an image of exactly what Tarou had written. Reading through it, the girl could not help but begin crying. “Oh, Tarou. Timmy. I’m going to win this for both of you. I swear on it.” She fought to not sob. “Oh, so this is our competition? Nice to meet you, newbie.” Valerie turned around, and saw the first of her competitors for the new season. “I’m sorry you have to see me this way. I swear, I’m not a big baby.” She insisted, wiping away the tears that had formed around her eyes. At the same time, Tarou was boarding his plane to Japan at the John F. Kennedy Airport. “Next stop, Narita Airport. Tokyo, here I come.” He whispered to himself, excitedly. Even though he was seated in the middle seat, the Japanese boy did not mind. He was too eager about what awaited him on the other side. He did not know what the future had in store for him. But the chance to become an internationally recognized model, that was incredible. Timmy was currently riding the bus on his way back to Queens. He was sitting alone, at the window seat, watching the city melt into the distance. In his hand, held tightly, was the paper Tarou had left for him. The Taiwanese boy was rereading it one last time before putting it away for good. The Taiwanese boy did not like to cry, but how could he not at what his best friend, the aspiring international model had written?
“Even when I was a fat, chubby little midget, I still had the two of you in my life. I am the person I am because of the friends I made, especially the two of you. Timmy, you’re going to be the best man at my wedding, whether you like it or not. We are more than just brothers, and nothing will ever change that. Valerie, your desserts always bring a smile to my face, but they also bring a smile to everyone around you. You will be successful in your future, because nobody can stop you at being yourself, and you are amazing. You guys mean the world to me, but I think we can all learn to be less sensitive about the little things. We don’t need to over think or overanalyze whenever somebody is acting weirdly or in an off-putting manner. If we have problems, we need to speak them and find ways to sort them out. And we shouldn’t worry about growing apart. Just because we are doing different things, and we do not know the next time we will see each other, we should not be sad or hung up about it. We can let things play out as they are, and roll with them. We’re simply living life. That’s how it is.”

-Tarou Shimizu

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Warrior Chef 1: Afterword

Hopefully, you all who read the series actually enjoyed it. It must be strange seeing written text in paragraph form if you were reading through all of those previous Warrior Chef rounds before reading this, isn’t it?

Anyways, I started writing Warrior Chef 5 years ago. Fun fact, even though what I published on this site was listed as Warrior Chef 1, it is technically the third installment to receive that title. The original Warrior Chef 1 was written 5 years ago, and I continued writing until Warrior Chef 20 and then took a break once I graduated high school. I resumed in college, and decided to restart back at 1 again. That time, I wrote until Warrior Chef 24 before deciding to take a break yet again. And here we are, with a new installment of Warrior Chef. Despite this, I have kept a couple things from the previous two series, being that the judges are all the same as they were in the previous 44 Warrior Chefs, and the terminology remains the same.

When it came to writing this particular season, I did not necessarily know who I wanted to win. Vanilla was actually inspired by Oerba Dia Vanille from Final Fantasy XIII, while Fanny was inspired by Fang. Tadashi was inspired by Tadashi from Big Hero 6, hence why he was such a reliable person and why the finale took place in San Francisco. Karen was inspired by both one of my close friends and chef Karen Akunowicz from Top Chef (when I wrote this, Top Chef season 13 was playing). Lucas was inspired by this guy I had Real Estate Law with, and he was a really driven young man. I debated heavily between Lucas and Tadashi, but decided ultimately that Vanilla should be the winner, because her story was very unique and her cooking style, being Australian and dessert-inspired, was something that stood out amongst the other competitors.

Below is the final scoreboard of the final 13 (I’m counting Olympia for winning the first Redemption Round)

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Warrior Chef 1: Finale Part 3

Carrie: This is it! The ending to the Warrior Chef finale! After several grueling rounds of competition, we have come down to the best three cooks here! Karen Laverre! A young prodigy, Karen has consistently delivered strong European and rustic dishes! And then we have Vanilla Cuylenberg! The Aussie fashion blogger turned baker, Vanilla won the Redemption Rounds and made her way back into the competition! And finally, Tadashi Hamilton! The Eliminator who has worked in multiple Michelin starred restaurants in Los Angeles, Tadashi has been one of the strongest cooks in this competition, earning a perfect score from the judges in the preliminary rounds. Tonight, one of these three cooks will be crowned Warrior Chef! Who will it be?

Vanilla: @Tadashi has a whopping 9 challenge wins, but I’ve got 8, and then Karen has 6. @Right now, Tadashi is going into this as the one to beat, haha!~ @But I know that I can beat him.

Tadashi: @Vanilla is my biggest competition by far. @Karen is a strong cook, but she’s not somebody that I would be too threatened by, just because Vanilla is that much of a threat compared.

Karen: @I’m feeling like this is going to be the hardest challenge of my life. @If I can come out of this the winner, then I would be blown away. @I really want to do this.

Carrie: Welcome to the Warrior Chef finale. So we have jus two more challenges before we determine who is going to be the winner. Let’s start with the high-stakes creativity challenge first!

Karen: @High-stakes? @That means that somebody is going home. @This is bad.

Carrie: We want you guys to prepare a memorable amuse bouche, which is a one bite start to your potential 3 course meal, in just 30 minutes. And your time starts now!

Karen: @For my amuse bouche, I grab the shrimp, and I decide to make shrimp and pate choux fritters with a caper-tomato relish. @I hope it all comes together and tastes delicious. @I need to focus on the flavors that got me to the final three, or else I’m going to be eliminated next.

Vanilla: @I’m making an apple roll stuffed with goat cheese, pickled raisins, and some hazelnut vinaigrette. @I’m making the roll using a slicer that will make the apple into this wrapper. @I think it’ll be ingenious, haha!~

Tadashi: @I’m feeling good about this challenge. @I’ve made the amuse at Melisse before. @I’m preparing a snapper crudo with spicy pickled cucumber and dehydrated olives. @I’m taking a risk with the dehydrated olives, but I’m not going to salt my dish just to balance that out.
Carrie: Time’s up!

Tadashi: @I’m feeling strong about my crudo, but there’s only three people left, and one of us is going home tonight.

Carrie: Your judges for this challenge are:

Aster Walker
Erwin Ko

Miriam Adjanti

Frank Torres

Chloe Lula

Missy Skies
Carrie and the judges taste the amuse bouches.

The judges then score each amuse out of 10 stars.

Carrie: So we have tallied up your scores for the amuse bouches. Let’s start with Tadashi’s scores for his snapper crudo!
Aster – 9 stars.

Erwin – 9 stars.

Miriam – 9 stars.

Frank – 9 stars.

Chloe – 9 stars.

Missy – 9 stars.

Tadashi – 9 + 9 + 9 + 9 + 9 + 9 = 54/60 stars

Tadashi: @That’s a solid score, but I’m nervous. @I really don’t want to get eliminated right before the last challenge.

Carrie: And next up are Vanilla’s scores for her apple rolls with hazelnut vinaigrette

Aster – 10 stars

Erwin – 10 stars

Miriam – 9 stars

Frank – 10 stars

Chloe – 9 stars

Missy – 10 stars

Vanilla – 10 + 10 + 9 + 10 + 9 + 10 = 58/60 stars

Vanilla: Yay! *claps hands* @I took the lead and I guaranteed myself a spot in the final challenge. @This is amazing!~
Carrie: Karen, you need at least 55 to beat Tadashi and enter the final challenge with Vanilla. Judges, what were your scores for her shrimp pate choux fritters?

Aster – 9 stars
Erwin – 9 stars

Miriam – 10 stars

Frank – 8 stars

Chloe – 8 stars

Missy – 8 stars

Karen – 9 + 9 + 10 + 8 + 8 + 8 = 52/60 stars

Chloe: Unfortunately, Frank, Missy, and I, we all got shrimp that were slightly overcooked, and that factored into our scores.

Carrie: Karen, I’m sorry, but with the lowest score, you are going home tonight. You may leave the kitchen.

Karen: Okay. @I’m feeling horrible right now. @I just got eliminated, and it was on overcooked shrimp. @I was so close to competing against Vanilla and it sucks.

Karen leaves.

Carrie: Tadashi, that means that you and Vanilla will now be competing head to head for the title of Warrior Chef!

Tadashi: @I’m feeling great that I’m going up against Vanilla, but I know that Karen would have beaten me had she not overcooked her shrimp. @This is the final challenge. @I can’t play it safe or else I’m a goner.

Carrie: So for the final challenge, we want to see you guys prepare the best three dishes of your life. And of course, you’ll need some help!

In walks Lucas, Fanny, Leona, Zack, Jackson, Jimmy, Vincent, Duncan, and Angelina

Carrie: Vanilla, you won the last creativity challenge, so your advantage is that you get to select your two sous-chefs first.
Vanilla: I’m taking Lucas and Fanny!

Fanny: @Vanilla is such a sweetheart and I can’t wait to be her sous-chef.

Lucas: @I’m stoked to be on Vanilla’s team, but Tadashi is tough competition. @She might not be able to take him down.

Tadashi: Alright then. @She took Lucas and Fanny, who are easily the two strongest. @But I don’t doubt the potential of everyone here. I’m taking Zack and Leona. @I pick the Eliminators, because we have been through this competition having been seen as the major threats.
Leona: @Being on Tadashi’s team, I want to beat Vanilla. @She’s not a chef in my eyes and I’m going to prove that tonight.
Zack: @I’m ready to show everyone why I did not deserve that early elimination. @I am a much stronger cook now, and I’m going to prove myself.

Carrie: You have one hour, time starts now!

Tadashi: @So for my final menu, I’m going to prepare a temarizuchi trio with blood orange, scallions, and wasabi, using hamachi, tuna, and salmon. @I’m taking care of the cuts because I want to prove that I have impeccable knife skills. @For the second course, it’s miso cod with uni risotto and pistachios. @I’m having Leona prep the cod and do the risotto and shell the pistachios, while I have Zack handle cooking the cod. @For the last dish, it’s dessert. @Castella with white nama chocolate, honey comb candy, and matcha ice cream. @Zack will handle the majority of the dessert, and I will step in to help him as he needs it. @I’m pretty certain I’m going to lose dessert, no matter what I put up, because Vanilla is that strong with pastry. @But I know my other two courses will be stronger than anything she puts up.

Zack: @I’m feeling pretty much in the weeds because I have to get the cake into the oven first, and then start on the nama chocolate, because that needs the whole hour to freeze. @Pastry is not my strength but I worked for Gordon Ramsay, so I know how to work under pressure and deliver the goods.

Leona: @The biggest pain is that I need to get the cod into the sous-vied after I filet and debone it, and then I need to rinse off the uni and get the rice going for the risotto. @And of course, I need to shell a shit ton of pistachios. @But I know that I am a strong asset or else Tadashi would not have chosen me. @I’m going to show why the Eliminators are the strongest cooks in this competition.

Vanilla: @For my first course, I’m going to prepare eggplant chips with lamb tartare and a yogurt skordalia. @I’m having Lucas handle the entire dish, because he knows Mediterranean flavors the best. @Fanny is doing the entree, which is coffee crusted kangaroo with cornbread, corn-peach salsa, and a brown butter-garlic cream. @For my dessert, it’s apricot-violet sorbet, homemade mascarpone cheese, violet syrup, and arlettes. @Arletts are caramelized puff pastry. @I’m making my own phyllo instead, just because I need to keep pushing myself. @I’m confident that I can take the dessert course, so that’s one down!~ @But I need to make sure that at least one of my other courses beats Tadashi, or else I’m not winning this.

Lucas: @The lamb tartare, the biggest thing I’m focusing on is the seasoning. @I got eliminated for not showing enough range, and this time, I need revenge. @I want to show that I can season aggressively, take risks, and show more range with the lamb and the skordalia, which is a garlicky hummus type of dip.

Fanny: @The roo filet is looking nice, but I need to make sure I cook it medium rare or else it will suck. @The cornbread, Vanilla is helping me on the batter because it’s not something that I am too familiar with. @But I’m glad Vanilla is trusting me, because my experiences with Jean-Georges will help me deliver on cooking these components.

In the judges room:

Miriam: This is the finale I think we were all waiting for.

Aster: All season, Vanilla and Tadashi have really delivered strong dishes. This is a true clash of the titans right now.

Missy: Seeing their menus, it’s interesting to see Vanilla go with more Western flavors, ranging from the Mediterranean to Australia to England. Tadashi is going full-blown Japanese, which is a bit of a departure from the French-Californian flavors I am so used to seeing from him.

Back in the kitchen:

Tadashi: @Time is winding down, but I’m proud of the first two courses. @The dessert, it’s looking a little sloppy to be honest, but I already knew that going into this finale that if I was up against Vanilla, my dessert wasn’t going to be the deciding dish anyways.

Vanilla: @My dessert looks stellar, but I need to really focus on the two savory courses. @Tadashi and I are both doing raw dishes to start, so I think that’s where the real competition is going to be. @The winner might just be decided in that first course.

Carrie: Time’s up!

Leona: *to Tadashi* Good job.

Fanny: *to Vanilla* You’re going to be Warrior Chef. Trust me.

Tadashi: @We finish and I’m feeling great. @It’s all up to the judges now.

Vanilla: @I’m feeling really nervous but we did all we can. @Hope it all works out!~

In the judges room:

Carrie: So here we have the first courses.
Vanilla – eggplant chips with lamb tartare and yogurt skordalia

Tadashi – temarizushi trio with blood orange, scallions, and wasabi

Erwin: Vanilla’s dish was really inventive. The usage of the eggplant as chips, it was clever. I loved the seasoning on the lamb tartare and the skordalia was tasty.

Chloe: The sushi on Tadashi’s plate was cut perfectly and the accompaniments were unusual but worked well with the sushi. Overall, a really strong start as well.

Aster: Trying to determine a winner between these two courses is going to be tough. Vanilla took more risks with this course, in my opinion, with those eggplant chips. But Tadashi using the blood orange was pretty ingenious as well. I loved both dishes.

Carrie: And now we have the main courses!

Vanilla – coffee kangaroo, cornbread, corn-peach salsa, brown butter-garlic cream

Tadashi – miso cod with uni risotto and pistachios

Missy: Vanilla cooked the kangaroo perfectly, so it was a nice medium rare. The salsa helped with the oiliness of the meat and the corn bread with the cream was delightful.

Miriam: Tadashi’s cod was delicious. The marinade really soaked in there. The uni risotto had great flavor and the usage of pistachios were surprising but tasty.

Frank: So far, we have had two great dishes from both menus. For me, I preferred Vanilla’s tartare, but Tadashi’s entree. Vanilla’s entree was just a tad cluttered for me.

Carrie: And now, we have the final courses!

Vanilla – apricot-violet sorbet, mascarpone cheese, violet syrup, homemade arletts

Tadashi – castella with white nama chocolate, honey comb candy, matcha ice cream

Frank: Vanilla’s dessert was elegantly presently. The violet was a surprising addition, but it worked so well with the apricot and mascarpone. I loved it.

Miriam: Tadashi made a nice castella but the dessert ate too sweet between the white chocolate and the honey comb. The dish just looked messy.

Missy: I’m feeling conflicted right now, before up until here, I slightly preferred Tadashi’s courses to Vanilla’s, but he dropped the ball on the dessert, while Vanilla’s meal ended on an epic high.

Carrie: So can we decide on our scores for their overall meals?

Erwin: We can.

In walks Vanilla and Tadashi.

Carrie: So tonight, one of you is going to be Warrior Chef. It was a really close call. The judges were split because quite a few of them preferred Tadashi’s first two courses just slightly more, but loved Vanilla’s dessert a lot more than Tadashi’s.

Tadashi: @Crap. @I might actually have lost the competition because of my dessert.

Vanilla: @I’m feeling it’s going to be close. @Tadashi did a great job with his savory dishes, so it’s a manner of if his dessert was that bad that I am able to squeak by.

Aster: We had to make our decision based on the meal as a whole. That being said, Carrie, please tell us who is Warrior Chef.

Carrie: Vanilla…. You are Warrior Chef! Congratulations! You won the title and $500,000!

Vanilla: WHAT?! OH MY GOD!

Confetti rains down as everyone walks over to congratulate Vanilla.
Vanilla: @I can’t believe I won!~ @I am Warrior Chef, haha!~ @Being able to prove myself and win the Redemption Rounds was huge, but to go on to win the entire thing was amazing! @I’m the winner!
Tadashi: @Seeing Vanilla win, I just feel horrible. @I knew that the dessert would be a huge factor, but I didn’t think it was the sole reason why I would lose. @I’m annoyed I didn’t win, but this is just another chance for me to learn and grow as a chef. @I really am appreciative of this entire experience. @I learned so much about myself and my love for cooking and food.

Vanilla: @Becoming Warrior Chef just helps me prove that I am going to make it in the culinary world. @This is my chance to make my dreams come true. @I can’t wait to open my bakery, and really make a name for myself. @I am not just a former beauty guru, haha!~ @I am a talented, passionate, and loving chef!

Road Movie: Conclusion

Road Movie was my first story based almost entirely off of events that had nothing to do with my personal life. Fun fact, I have never even been to Chicago, nor have I ever been in a long-term relationship, experienced the loss of a significant other, or worked in a marketing firm. That being said, I had to do a ton of research on the Greater Chicago area, reference a lot of the emotions of feeling love and loss, and luckily, I have taken multiple marketing classes, worked as a marketing coordinator, and spoken to enough marketing executives to gain a vague idea of what it means to work in marketing, albeit for hospitality and engineering, not medicine. That being said, as challenging of a story it was to write, Road Movie was one of my favorites to do for that very same reason. Having to push myself beyond my own limitations and life experiences and pull from others, it was a real eye-opener. I greatly enjoyed the message of this story, which was to make life a constant pursuit of moving forward and finding happiness.

I literally conceptualized the story based on the Maaya Sakamoto song “Road Movie”, which spoke a lot about being lost, finding happiness, and remembering the love in your heart. From there, I had to think about different cities. I considered several, but ultimately wanted to do Chicago, mostly because I had never been to Chicago before, and it would be a much more interesting challenge to do something like that as opposed to a more familiar city. I originally wanted the story to be set in the 1980s, or just an earlier time when drive-in movies were more popular, since the title of the story was “Road Movie” and drive-in movie theaters fit that bill perfectly. But then I realized it would be too difficult writing both in a real life location and in a time period that I have never experienced, and cross-referencing Chicago locations in the 1980s would be difficult and hard to keep consistent in my story.

Hillary Jenkins is a fictional marketing company, and I decided to do a marketing company mostly because I was currently taking a marketing course, and I figured I could easily cross over what I was being taught in class with Dakota’s career, just because it would not be completely inaccurate.

Dakota Logan was originally going to be named Vivian Logan. I wanted her nickname to be Viv, so a pun on viva or vie, which means to live in Spanish or life in French. I ultimately changed her name to Dakota for one sole reason: her entire character, I took inspiration from Dakota Johnson. I had this idea for a timid, seemingly helpless, and easy-to-victimize female brunette character in mind, and Dakota Johnson tends to play those roles in her movies, so subconsciously, I kept typing Dakota instead of Vivian, and decided to just roll with it. The nickname Ducky, unfortunately, there really was not much meaning behind it. It became more of a cute nickname than anything with deep symbolic meaning. I made her from Naperville mostly because I have a friend from there, and it was the first suburb that came to mind: coincidentally, it was close to the Cascade Drive-In, so that worked out in a lot of ways for me. Dakota never leaving Illinois became a focal plot point when I was almost done writing the story, because I wanted to focus on that being the driving reason for her wanting to leave Chicago: I knew that no matter what, she was going to watch a movie in the drive-in, and then leave for somewhere new by the end of the story. I just needed to figure out what drove her to that conclusion.

Phillip Hopkins, I wanted him to be this sort of reliable, smart, do-it-all, very mature figure. Somebody who, when you pair anyone with him, would feel like they are being nurtured and watched over. That’s the main rationale behind making him want to be a pediatrician. I wanted to develop his character a lot because I knew once he gets killed off, there would be no other opportunities to really get to know him, since the remainder of the story, I wanted it to focus solely on Dakota’s moving forward. I wanted the reader to relate to Phillip’s growth, because I am almost positive that everyone can relate to doing silly things during puberty. Phillip becomes much more relatable during those chapters, and I wanted him to narrate them in a first person perspective, just for the reader to gain more closeness with him.

Out of Dakota’s coworkers, only Maria and Frida were based on people I knew in real life. They were both actually sales managers and directors at a one of my old workplaces, and I kept them pretty similar to their real life counterparts, not even changing their first names, personalities, or ethnic backgrounds. Maria was always this open-minded, hardworking, and kind person, somebody who I felt Dakota could come to trust and grow from. Frida was this ridiculous, over the top old lady who would indeed do crazy things despite her age: fun fact, the heart attack and drinking story was actually something she did do in real life. Overall, I felt like those two personalities would help bring more characterization to the workplace.

Virginia and Justin were completely fictional. I wanted Virginia to be this stone-cold Betty type of character, very cool and aloof to Frida’s antics. Making her come from Hawaii made sense in that she worked closely with the hospitality industry, and it helped give her character purpose when it came time for Dakota to talk about leaving Illinois. Justin, I just wanted somebody there for Frida’s crazy to be directed towards, so that was more of what his role was expanded into. A motif I subconsciously created was the idea of father-figures being more muted, something that is noticeable with both Justin and Mr. Hopkins.

For the parents, we had Peter Logan, Marisa Ellis-Logan, Jessica Hopkins, and Matthew Hopkins. I knew that I wanted to expand upon the parents’ backstories in this one, similarly to how I did with Sky Bird, but in this case, not because of any internal conflict, but so that Mr. and Mrs. Logan can provide full understanding and insight to Dakota’s situation. I did not want them to completely mirror their daughter and Phillip’s lives, so I made them meet in completely different circumstances and focus on different career goals. Mrs. Hopkins was only ever formally introduced via dream sequence, so by no means is that what she really is like. The dream sequence version simply represented Dakota’s own fears of inadequacy and reluctance with continuing her relationship with Phillip. Originally, Mrs. Hopkins was killed off the same way as her son, but I changed it from a truck crashing into her car to just her crashing into the DuPage River and freezing to death, just because I did not want everyone who died to die via trucker. Mr. Hopkins, I regret not developing his character more, because it would have been great to see his reactions to the loss of his wife and the loss of his son, but for me, I always felt like father figures tend to hide their pain, so that was the sort of route I took with him.

Pamela, Dakota’s therapist, was loosely based on Pam Poovey from the show Archer. Mostly in appearances though. I wanted Pamela to be this insufferable personality that was aggravate Dakota to no end, just to show how frustrated she was at her then-current situation. She was originally going to make more appearances, but then I decided to push up the chapter when Dakota decides to quit work, and Pamela became obsolete to the plot at that point, so I wrote her out of the remainder of the story.

Lastly, there’s Monique. I wanted Monique to be a complete foil to Phillip’s personality. Rather than being incredibly career oriented and busy, Monique was more free-spirited, young, and unburdened by her past. She has a different outlook than Phillip entirely on her life, but she does have her doubts on whether or not the life she is living is the one she wants to have. I did at one point consider having her end up with Dakota, but ultimately decided against it because I felt like Dakota did not need to come out as bisexual for the story to really progress or end on a strong note: coming out and the ending message may potentially eclipse one another, so I stuck with the ending instead and was happy with that. As for Monique’s grandma, originally, all four of her grandparents were going to die in a plane accident, but again, too many deaths via motor vehicles, so I just wrote off a grandma in a corn fire instead. Overall, Monique’s character was a huge surprise to me. I did not write her in until much later in the writing process, and decided that her character was much needed if Dakota had to go through therapy and could not return to work first.

Overall, I am happy with the fact that Road Movie wound up being a story based off of experiences that were not my own. I do want to visit Chicago, now that I have done so much research on it. The idea of Road Movie was moving forward and remembering the happiness we gained from love, while not constantly dwelling on or missing the love itself. We can find new things to fill the void left behind from the old, new things that can maintain that happiness. I hope that the story was able to perfectly emulate that message

Sky Bird: Conclusion

Hi, whoever actually read my story. Firstly, thank you for reading Sky Bird. It was a really fun story for me to practice writing, because of the entire concept of the story being based on my high school experiences, but making the main character, Kendall, based on somebody who actually bullied me in real life. I just figured I would write this post so that I can put a true end to Sky Bird, and address any questions or thoughts you might have after reading this story series.

The reason why the real life Kendall bullied me was actually a combination of reasons, but it was not too unlike what happened between him and the Chiangs. Money, specifically financial statuses, could really sour relationships or cause others to question your abilities: the real life Kendall assumed that rich people could buy talent, which was not always the case. Trying to understand why he thought that way was key for Kendall’s character development. Unfortunately, I never quite reconnected or reconciled with his real life counterpart, but I can somehow live with that.

To be honest, I wanted Fanny to be the main character originally. I just enjoyed writing his character because he was so sassy and forward. I even considered writing a spin-off with Fanny as the main character, but because of how inherently interesting and progressive his character was, it would have been too easy and it would not have particularly challenged me. I found it hard not to completely develop Fanny’s character here, because he was not the main protagonist, and I tried really hard not to make him overshadow Kendall’s character.

Chloe and Megan’s dynamic was inspired by my own friendships in high school, specifically when I was in cross country and was really close with one or two of my teammates. I did not really get to develop their characters too much, unfortunately, but I wanted both to come across as competent, capable, and in Chloe’s case, more lighthearted and childish, while Megan would come across as more responsible and easier to anger.

Sophia and Carly each took qualities from a variety of my friends from high school. I wanted Sophia to be more of the outwardly shy, inwardly brave type of personality. In Sophia’s case, I really wanted to make her have a constant presence in Kendall’s life, something you can pick up on when you reread earlier chapters. I tried to make her more relatable towards the middle and end of the story, focusing on showing more of her perspective, just to further imply that she would get together with Kendall in the end.

I tried making Carly outgoing, but I wanted her to come off as generally uninteresting to Kendall, just to make it apparent to him that they were not I wanted Carly’s presence to completely overshadow Sophia’s in the beginning, since the story was told by Kendall’s perspective, and her initially being his crush. Carly was supposed to come across as the girl next door, and also a little miss perfect-type of figure.

For Jared, I really only took the name from somebody I went to middle and high school with. Aside from that, he was an original character from my high school experience. Since Fanny was gay, I wanted there to be somebody who could help Kendall become more accepting of Fanny, so Jared’s role changed from being a homophobic background character to being Fanny’s closeted boyfriend. For Kendall, seeing one of his closest friends date his mortal enemy, it challenged his views and priorities: would his hate for Fanny overcome his friendship with Jared?

Matt’s character, it was left relatively undeveloped. He was directly based on somebody I knew in high school, even down to the name. I really did not know what to add to his character, mostly because I felt like Jared already accomplished everything that Matt could in terms of the role of Kendall’s confidant. At one point in the story, I considered pairing Matt with Carly, in hopes that their relationship would help develop the characters, but I opted out of that, because I felt like at that point, almost all of the characters would be dating and that would just be a copout. So I left his character along with Carly’s relatively untouched. Needless to say, Matt is a very nice and funny person, both the character and the real life version. I hope some of that easygoing humor was able to come through in the few moments he actually had.

One of the recurring themes I wanted to capture was the idea of brotherhood. I focused a bit on the dynamics between Jared, Matt, and Kendall, trying to show the friendship between three young men. I also focused a few chapters on Kendall and Gil. I originally had bigger plans for Gil, wanting to expand his role into a main character, but him being a middle schooler made it difficult to include him as much as I would have liked to. Gil’s character was also left relatively untouched, but I hope I did include enough to make him a character of some interest.

Overall, I am happy with how the final story turned out, plot-wise. I honestly had no clue where I was going in the beginning. For a fleeting second, I thought about making Kendall and Fanny a pairing, but decided not to for the sake of it being way too polarizing and Romeo and Juliet-esque. I even considered putting Kendall with Carly in the beginning, but the more I wrote about Carly’s character, the more I felt they were incompatible. I was really happy that Kendall and Sophia wound up together, because when I first wrote in Sophia, I was expecting her to be a background character and remain relatively uninteresting. The first vision I had for Sky Bird was for Kendall to be a family guy, close with his two siblings, and using his family as an escape from the antagonistic Chiang family. But I added in more characters and started to expand the world, and it wound up being a story about acceptance, love, and having an open mind. I hope you enjoyed reading Sky Bird, and I look forward to continuing my next work, Road Movie!

Closure: dream 5

I am the type of person who needs closure to be happy. Whether it’s knowing who my Secret Santa is, the ending of a long series, or what I will be doing the summer following a school year, I just want to, and for the sake of my mental contentment, know what to expect. I guess it comes with my Myers-Brigg; I am an INTJ. That means I’m introverted, intuitive, thinking, and judging. My judging attribute just means that I need to have a plan, a schedule, and for me to make these sorts of things, I need to know what to anticipate so I can prepare accordingly.

One thing I guess I can never understand is why certain people need time to process change before they can talk; by time, I mean like a bloody month. I’m sorry, and I will try to not sound insensitive, but when things change, you need to confront it, and talk about it. That’s how I am. I need to confront when there are issues or changes that are put in my way. People who need time, I don’t understand if they are just immature and need more time to understand these things, or if they are being passive aggressive and trying to slowly torture somebody like me, who would rather just rip off the bandage and talk about a controversial situation.

I would rather be in a world where people are driven, direct, and upfront than a world where people are slow, “chill” as so many of my peers would say, and take everything in at a very slow pace. For me, I just prefer to get it over with. Having to take time, I get that if a situation may be dire, people may need time to process the exact repercussions and changes, but do these changes really need 1-2 months to really let them sink in? I’d rather just live in the moment, put the awkwardness behind me, and then move on to the next part of my life.

One of the things I have recently learned is that I am a Type A personality. I just need to do rather than see. That, coupled with my Judging designation, means that I need to know things. I need to finish anything I set my mind to, and have a full understanding of what and why I need to finish them. I guess another thing to consider is that when it came to the Thinking category of my MBTI brand, I was 100% Thinking, but 0% Feeling. So maybe it’s that sort of callous attitude that makes me get over things rather. I really try to not live through my feelings, because whenever I have tried that in the past, it ends very poorly. Fun fact, I cannot feel my way through life. I like using logic and my brain. But in an ideal world, I would much rather people be upfront and direct about their thoughts, and honestly, I don’t even care about things like spoilers. Just let me know what to expect. Give me that closure. That way, I can feel less stressed or worried. I can finally feel feather-light.