romanced: dream

A majority of us are raised in a society where we go to school, get a job, get married, have a family, and then our children continue that cycle. Where I am at currently in my life is post-going to school, but pre-getting a job or I am even further away from getting married; I have very little experience with relationships and romance in general. I only recently had my first relationship, and we agreed that the title was too… intense, and that we would prefer to stay as friends who date exclusively first, as we get to know each other better.

I am embarrassed to admit that I would actually want to be in a relationship. Not for the sake of being in one so that I am not single or to check part of another box off the unspoken to-do list of life, but more for the life experience that comes from it. Even if this relationship does not lead to marriage but rather ends sourly in a break-up, I don’t mind so long as I can learn something more about myself from the experience. Just being a part of the ride is enough to make me happy. To understand what it means to be somebody else’s significant other, while at the same time, being able to see a person as my own, it is important for me. I want to know that somebody out there who can make me feel and act that way exists.

The concept of love and relationships, it’s not something that can be approached logically. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why we as humans are always so fascinated by the idea. No matter what we try to find in somebody else as a mate, sometimes, our hearts may not always agree. Let’s say we want somebody who is tall, Caucasian, and muscular, but we end up in a relationship with somebody who is medium-height, African American, and scrawny. Yet, we are not un-attracted to the African American, despite them being not what we would prefer. And that is because of what they have to offer beneath the surface. While they do not physically resemble what we would want in an ideal mate, the personality and ethics of this African American appeals to us.

The concept of love has a lot of gray areas. For example, one might view a woman getting hit by her husband as domestic violence without any context. But what if the woman wanted her husband to hit her, because that was her kink? I’m not going to explore that idea more, because it is a very…awkward topic, but you get the idea. There are other emotions, primal, hormonal, and hard to understand in general, that cloud our judgement and make us act beyond reason and logic. Yet, that’s what makes being romanced such an exciting and terrifying journey. The unknown does not necessarily settle well with me, but being able to single out that special somebody out of the several millions of people in the world, it’s a wonderful feeling. And it’s a feeling that every human being deserves to have, or at least in the world of my featherlight dreams.

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under the cherry blossoms: dream

It might just be because I have watched too many Japanese dramas, but I want to watch cherry blossoms bloom in Japan. Seeing the skies flood with these beautiful pink flowers is a sight to behold and it symbolizes so many different things: new life, a new year, and new opportunities.

When I started Featherlight, it was meant for me to better understand myself post suicide attempt. I used writing to help me cope with so many different kinds of pains and losses inflicted upon me by people who quite frankly were a waste of my time. But this post is not going to focus on that sort of negativity. I made my one jab and I’m moving on from that. I’m here to talk about cherry blossoms and new dreams.

In an ideal world, we can wake up every morning with a big, bright smile on our faces. There would be no need for negativity or bringing others down. When problems arise, we would simply face them and not make bigger deals out of them: situations would never escalate. Life would be simple but pleasant. With the bloom of this year’s cherry blossoms, I can finally say that I see the ugly side to ambition. The stress of taking on too much, it drives us mad with insecurity, exhaustion, and stress. We rub it in to others that we are doing more, as a facade masking how pained or shaken we really are. We are human beings, not robots. Trying to do so much may look good on paper, but it drives away a good portion of our humanity. It wears on our stamina and it makes us unpleasant to be around for a plethora of reasons, namely that we create insecurity and uneasiness with such reckless or bashful behavior.

I don’t want anyone to ever feel like they are not good enough. We all have the privilege of living life, and nobody should ever tell you that you are not good enough or make you feel insignificant in this world. You have been given an inherent purpose by being born a living, sentient being. Use that sentience and allow it to guide you to where you want to go. Don’t be worried if you’re not getting there as quickly as the person next to you. With enough dedication at a pace that befits you, you will arrive at your destination. For me, that is in Japan, owning a bakery, and being able to watch the cherry blossoms every spring. Even if it takes me until the age of 100, so long as I can get there before death, that is all I ask.

Magical

She always wanted to have magical powers. To be able to help others and be a modern day superhero, she obsessively wished for that to happen. The beauty and grace that these magical girls in the cartoons exceeded, she was enamored. To save the day and let love conquer all, if she could do that, then she could have given up everything. That was, until recently. Since when did being a magical girl involve killing others? Murder? Death? Corruption? And how about consequences? Why did being a superhero come with such dire costs? Yes, reality did rear its hideous head upon her beloved childhood dream, but the girl tried to focus on what appealed to her about the genre. How the output outweighed the costs and sacrifices. How saving the day was more important than teenaged angst and drama. Looking at the small creature before her, she was hesitant. The opportunity to realize her childhood dream was just an answer away. But knowing what she did now, she knew that this door, closing would not be the end of her world. By turning her back away from it now, she would be keeping her dream alive.

misty

Walking along the rugged path, a tall, tanned youth frowned to himself. He had left behind his home to find a cure for his beloved, who was lost to the cold. It was up to him to embark on this journey. He had to find those elusive smoke lilies. Those purple and black flowers held a nectar that, when mixed with ginger root, should melt his prince’s locked heart. These lilies bloomed at the very bottom of the mountains; beneath the mist rested entire fields of them. His prince, the youth dreamt of ending his ailment.His sweet master used to be so kind and loving. But then it happened. The mist began to flood the mountains, in the midst laid their castle. Their paradise together, away from the world beyond. The benevolent boy was saddened.His tears had caused everything to be shrouded in the dark clouds. THe prince’s heart then fell into the coldness. Snow crept onto their kingdom, their haven, slowly draining life from all of its denizens. The youth had to flee, not only to survive, but to find those smoke lilies. Diving through the mist, he was determined to save his home. His prince was waiting, alone and scared. He was separate to remove the snow. He pushed himself forward, through the dark and cold, reaching for any hope. He wanted so badly to hold his prince in a tight embrace. Not as his knight, but as his beloved.

Being the right kind of competitive: dream 39

When I lived with my old roommate, they treated me like I was a stigma because I was competitive. It was as if being competitive as not okay. I think that to some degree, competitiveness does bring out the worst in us. But it also helps us push past our own boundaries and potentials and do things we otherwise would not. That is why I think there is a such thing as a right kind of competitive: being competitive with yourself. Trying to outdo yourself and be a better version of you, it is a lot healthier than trying to outdo and outperform the person next to you. The former helps build confidence while the latter screams of insecurity and nervousness.

When I was a part of the cultural club, I just felt like we needed to be the best. I have no idea why, but I had this urge to outperform other clubs and let them know that we are the best of the best. That sort of mentality did allow for me to go above and beyond: I singlehandedly catered multiple events, with attendances ranging from 50-200 people. However, it also caused a lot of people to be afraid of me. So many underclassmen were terrified of me because I came off as this intense, unapproachable, and ferocious individual. I myself could feel this sort of vindication towards people who were in other clubs; I felt personally attacked, as if they chose other similar clubs over mine because they wanted to spite me. A prime example is when another almost identical culture club (representing the same country as my own) was created. It was like a slap in the face to me. But I later realized, after quitting my own club, that those people must have felt dis-included and wanted a place to call home. At the least, they found that home for themselves, and I have learned to just be happy for them.

Rather than being competitive on behalf of anything or anyone else, be competitive on your behalf. No, an organization or club that you are in is not an extension of you. I made that mistake before, and regret how many bridges I have burned every day because of it. I mean you as an individual. How can you make yourself better? What is your ideal vision of yourself? How do you want to be the best you that you can be? These are the sorts of questions I ask myself every day. But things to also avoid are: what are your flaws? What do you not like about yourself? When you start to think negatively and focus on what you lack, it will cause you to loathe yourself. By thinking more along the lines of what you aspire to achieve, therefore, positively focusing on the possibilities, life works out a lot better for you.

Being competitive with yourself is a means of improving yourself that I think works well. Trying to figure out what you want to become, and how to become that person overall, it is a journey with a lot of potentially slippery slopes. So long as you focus on the goal, and think about nothing else, such as emotions or doubts, you will find yourself achieving that goal in due time. And once you achieve that goal, don’t stop there. Set another one. And keep doing that so that you can continuously improve yourself as a person and human being. By accomplishing that much, you will find yourself becoming a person you will always be prod of at any given time. If we can all improve ourselves in such a way, then we can continue pushing this world forward, closer to the one in my feather-light dreams.

 

Righteousness: dream 38

Righteousness, chivalry, I do not give a shit what you call it, I just wish we can all have it. Having the same set of morals is definitely something we can all benefit from as a species. Now, life is unfortunately not black and white. That damn gray area is what causes so many people to be split. Their perspectives would then be based on their experiences. And no, I am not trying to advocate a dystopian world where everyone lives off of a hive mind. Mostly because, I refuse to be copied or copy something else. I am my own person, and anyone who wants to render that fact otherwise can have their teeth curb-stomped. Okay, now back to righteousness.

Righteousness for me includes morals and etiquette. I just want everyone to be polite and nice to each other. It sounds weird at first, but it is that hard to say “hello” or “good morning” to a complete stranger (within your age group, just so that we do not encourage little kids talking to potential pedophiles)? I tried it recently on campus, and most of these students just treated me like I was some kind of weirdo. Some of them would say “thank you”, but most of them thought I was either mistaking them for a friend who looked like them, or that I was bat-shit crazy. Whoops. Did not mean to creep you out, students of my campus. I was just trying something.

But beyond just saying hi to people, righteousness include helping those you see in need. I remember seeing a girl struggling to get her suitcase up a flight of stairs, and nobody helped her. In fact, I saw people walking around her, as if she was in the way. So I went up to her and helped lift her suitcase up the flight, because if I was in that situation, I would love it if somebody else could do the same. Having empathy is where I am getting at here. Putting yourself in somebody else’s shoes when they are in trouble, and trying to help them. Prove that chivalry is not dead, and I am not saying that only young men should help out, no, girls, let’s band together and show that strength in numbers and unity! Who said acts of chivalry can only be performed by a man? That is idiotic and too 18th Century.

Being able to have a strong sense of what is right, and being able to implement it is what it means to be righteous for me. I really wish that everyone can try to be more welcoming, kindhearted, and empathetic, because it will serve you well in life along the way; more people will gravitate towards you, and with more people, more opportunities. More doors open when you are righteous. I want everyone to optimize their potentials and opportunities, which is why I hope we can all gain that sense of empathy and caring.

pace: dream 35

When we want different things out of life, we have trouble co-existing. We have trouble involving each other in any aspect, from our daily routines to our deepest confessions. We are growing at different paces, and that is why one of us will outgrow the other. It creates a rift and a dissonance that we will struggle to overcome. And when we fail, the structure that was our relationship, it crumbles. It falls apart and sinks to the wayside. Yeah, that sounds dark, it’s terrifying, but does it really need to be? In every walk of our lives, we will always lose friends, loved ones, family, either to time or unresolved conflict.

What I am astounded by is how long the healing process takes. I really wish that it would be a two-three day process, where we get hurt, we reflect, we confront, and we move on. Unfortunately, that is not possible with every human being. We are all maturing at different rates, and we get into arguments because we miscommunicate, misinterpret, and misalign our values, perspectives, and morals. We are all at different stages in our lives. Some of us are bright-eyed interns who are eager to work, while others are jaded executives who want to find something else to be excited about. Because we are all were raised in different environments, it affects the pace at which we mature and live.

Obviously, I would wish for everyone to be at the same stage, moving at the same pace in their lives. But again, that’s not possible. Standardizing a way of living, especially across so many different countries, cultures, households, genders, and age groups, it is simply impossible. You cannot expect an 80 year old woman to have the same amount of enthusiasm as an eight year old boy about the new Spiderman movie or for a 45 year old woman and her 15 year old son to have an exciting conversation about Fifty Shades of Grey. Well, at least I hope. The second one would be pretty creepy. I know I would not want to talk with my mother or my potential child about that book. But it shows, case in point, that generational gaps is another reason why we cannot all be or act at the same stage mentally and emotionally. There are expectations with all of those barriers I listed.

I would say that in a world of my feather-light dreams, we would all still be at different emotional stages moving at different emotional paces. But I would wish that the conflicts that come from these differences will be easily overcome; I do not want conflict to go away, simply because it drives people to work more efficiently together when it is dealt with. I would also wish that everyone, regardless of where they are at emotionally or what pace they are moving, would be willing to mend their conflict and confront the issues, rather than running away. I want that to be the benchmark: nobody is so immature that they are non-confrontational cowards. In the world of my feather-light dreams, we would all at the least, be mature enough to respect each other’s time, and just work towards understanding each other’s perspectives, as opposed to slapping on labels and calling it a day.

alter ego: dream 34

I’m sure we have all dreamt about having superpowers at one point in our childhood. If not superpowers, then being a superhero in general. Come on, I can’t be the only one, right? I still remember wanting to be like Sheik from The Legend of Zelda, mostly because she was super elegant, androgynous, and sleek. I got into long distance running because her build reminded me of a long distance runner – slender and slim. Granted, I probably should have done acrobatics and gymnastics if I really wanted to pursue that sort of flexibility that Sheik has, but that’s another story. Bottom line is, I wanted to be a ninja/assassin-eqsue superhero when I was a little kid. Ironically, I did NOT watch Naruto, even though you would think that somebody with some interest in that kind of character would be. Nope, never really got into that, unfortunately. But my lack of interest in mainstream ninja-themed anime aside, I always wanted to be superhuman, just because it would be so cool to have those powers or that sense of mystique in having an alter ego.

A lot of the reason why I thought having an alter ego would be cool is that I felt my every day life was just not interesting. At that time, I was like a middle schooler, so I had very little going for me. But imagining if I had another identity, fighting crime, being this stealthy vigilante who would would help others, it sounded so cool to me at the time. Granted, it was also very dangerous, because I would be limited in my equipment and actual capabilities. So naturally, that dream remained a dream and nothing else. I eventually stumbled upon cooking, and in a lot of ways, that became my alter-ego so to speak. On one hand, I would be a hard working student. On another, I would also be a very capable pastry cook. It was really cool to have those two sides to me, but upon enrolling in a hospitality college, those two identities became inseparable; I was a student and known for my knowledge in Food and Beverage. That was both good and bad. I gained recognition and people knew who I was before actually meeting them, but at the same time, I could not pull out my surprise cooking skills as often now, because people would know that I have them. The secret, the thrill of it being my double-life, it was gone.

I guess in a lot of ways, that is why I kept my identity for Featherlight a secret. Having this little secret, it makes me feel like I have an edge to me. Nobody knows that I am this anonymous blogger. They can know me all they want for being a pastry cook, a student, a runner, whatever, but they will almost never know how I am in here, or that the person here writing right now is me. As much as it would simplify the world to have no secrets, for me anyways, I think a couple harmless secrets, like writing an anonymous blog where everything is kept anonymous anyways, is fine. Privacy deserves to exist, for the sake of us not feeling entirely exposed. There is a such extreme as having too much privacy, where you close yourself off to the world. But having too little, you feel vulnerable and scared. I still remember when everyone in my college knew who I was. It was terrifying. I could not introduce myself without somebody knowing who I was already, and it made me paranoid, thinking that they were stalking me on social media. I actually had to delete my social media accounts for like a month because of this incident.

I think we all deserve to have an alter ego in our lives, so long as they are not committing anything illegal here. Having an alter ego means that we can appeal to the thoughts and concepts we normally do not get to explore in our everyday lives. That’s how I was able to learn so much about food at first, because I could escape to the world of cooking and ingredients when I hated dealing with history or science. That’s how I was able to start actively writing in this blog, because I love being able to change gears and do something else, just so that my mind can be challenged in new ways and my perspective and experience can continue to broaden. In a world of my feather-light dreams, we can all pursue and explore anything we want to and not worry about our privacy being violated.

dragonfly: dream 33

When people meet me, they typically assume that my spirit animal is a dolphin. My best friend told me that a dolphin fit my personality because I was outgoing and upbeat, like a dolphin. But I disagree with the general consensus. When I see myself in a mirror, I do not see a perpetually cheerful sea-rapist. I see a quiet, nomadic person who drifts between groups. A dragonfly symbolizes constant change. Specifically, maturity. I feel with my sort of personality, the dragonfly is a very perfect fit. I can be the most immature or mature person you ever meet, depending on my current mood and the context I am put in.

The biggest reason why I feel like a dragonfly is a perfect representation for me started from a dream I had. I was a warlord’s concubine in Feudal Japan. I was terrified and left alone in a small room with him. He was about to defile me. But then, like little flowers, dragonflies started sprouting out of the ground. I started following them, and more appeared. The warlord noticed me escaping, but the dragonflies continued to multiply and spread, flooding the room. He could not catch me. I followed the trail of dragonflies, and managed to escape the prison.

Waking up from that dream, I had no idea what to think. It felt completely random that dragonflies would appear to me and rescue me from a sex-crazed mongrel. But I started to think more about why that dream occurred and what the dragonflies meant. I just started to remember how I lost my virginity; to a much older stranger in a barely legal or consensual  manner. So in that way, the warlord represented the stranger. In that situation, I managed to fend off the person, so my act of defiance was like a metaphor for the dragonflies. I read into what dragonflies symbolized, and the results mostly showed that they represent maturity, power, and growth.

Becoming more mature, or at least, being able to maturely handle situations, is something I want to continue learning how to do. For me, maturity is something we all need to be strong. Specifically, being able to cope with hard situations in a way that does not harm anyone. Dragonflies never harm anyone. They fly through the different phases of life, and continue to drift off towards adulthood. In a feather-light world, we could all do just that. Life would be enjoyable to the point where it will always feel so short-lived or as if it passed by too quickly.

a flash of lightning: dream 32

When I woke up in the woods after attempting to stab myself, I started to realize how much more to life there really was. The sky was cloudy and I remembered hearing the roaring thunder and a flash of lightning. I got up, and kept on running. Even though it hurt, I did not stop. I doubted myself. I got too complacent with being just a baker that when a non-dessert related cooking challenge arose, I felt helpless. My main support, my rock at that time, abandoned me. So, I made the mistake of trying to take my own life, because I felt like my existence had so little to offer. How wrong I was. I had an entire life ahead of me, left to be lived. That was senior year of high school. Seeing the clouds almost part when I woke up from that bizarre limbo, it was what inspired me to continue working hard to improve myself. I wanted everyone to know me for my love of cooking. At that point, I had 2 years of baking experience; I prided myself on being an excellent pastry cook. But I could not hold a knife. I did not have any basic skills needed to operate in a savory kitchen. So that became my goal.

When I cook savory food, I feel like a soldier in a war zone. Holding a knife in my hand, it feels like a saber, carving into the flesh of my enemies. Gruesome, yes, but accurately detailing how dark my start in regular cooking was. I needed to learn so much more. How to butcher, how to make sauces, how to cook fish and meat. I needed to prove to myself and the people who doubted me that I was the capable and talented cook I knew I could become. That warrior-like resolve and need to learn more, it allows me to continue to evolve in the kitchen. Ironically, the style of savory cooking I employ tends to be on the humble and charming side. Despite my focused and relentless approach, my dishes tend to come out like food that would be served in a bistro or a cafe. Not necessarily fine-dining.

Ironically, my experience with desserts and my approach with them is a complete contrast. I started with pastry, I loved baking because it makes other people happy. That sort of happiness is why I have been dubbed a “sweet angel” more times than once. I am much more energetic, friendly, child-like, and somehow, my desserts come out more sophisticated, elegant, and refined. I cannot really explain how that happens. It is almost paradoxical. One would think that my focused mentality would produce fine-dining, while my enthusiastic mindset would inspire the rustic comfort food. Sometimes, life enjoys working in unusual and unexpected ways.

A flash of lightning is what set me forward on this journey. I continued to Hospitality school, I worked for some of the best chefs in America, I continued to grow to the point where I was teaching cooking courses for my own college. I was able to carve my own path. Nobody could stop me from becoming the person I was meant to be. Even now, I continue to learn and grow. I want to absorb as much knowledge as I possible can when it comes to food. Continuing to learn different techniques, cuisines, ingredients. Being completely fearless. I want to know that, no matter what task I am given, I can continue to improve myself. In a world of my feather-light dreams, each accomplishment will be like a flash of lightning. It will shine brightly within the moment, and fade away. Never lingering. Never remaining for me to rest on.