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.

How it is: Chapter 19

“How was your day?” Tarou turned to see an exhausted Valerie re-enter their room. “I’m just shot. I’m going to bed.” She yawned, dropping face-first on the mattress. The Japanese boy, deciding it was best to continue doing his homework elsewhere, left the room, turning off the lights as he exited. “Goodnight, Val!” “Goodnight, Tarou.” She murmured before drifting off to sleep. The boy decided to finish his homework in the hallway, just so that he would not disturb her. He was grateful to Valerie for housing him and did not want to do anything to agitate her or potentially compromise his ability to live there. It’s been a couple weeks at this point, and Tarou was already adjusted to living with her. The two knew that being a romantic couple was out of the question at this point, given how both of them were emotionally, and how Timmy would be affected if something like this were to happen. Finally saving his paper, Tarou closed the window and looked at job openings for the summer. The summer was close, so he needed to start thinking about what he would be doing then. “Huh? A modeling gig in Tokyo?” Tarou noticed an email sent to him from the agency. “Summer job, will be modeling for the summer edition of Vogue’s Menswear Collection.” He read aloud, intrigued. “Will need basic Japanese speaking skills and prior modeling experience preferred.” The more he looked into it, the more Tarou wanted to apply for the job. At this point, he had nothing to lose. “Hell, let’s do it.” He submitted his resume onto the site and closed his laptop entirely. “It’s 2am already. I’ve got to go to bed.” He sighed, going back into their room.

It was the next morning, and Tarou and Valerie were eating together in the dining hall. “How was your paper? Are you done now?” The pastry chef looked at him. “Yeah, I’m done with it! I also applied for a modeling job in Tokyo for the summer!” “Oh my god! That’s amazing! If you get it, send me pics! I want to see and live that experience through you vicariously.” She giggled. “How about you? Any news?” Tarou smiled at her. “Well, I got this in the mail.” She pulled out an envelope. “Wait, what’s in it?” The Japanese model looked at her curiously. “You won’t believe it. I actually didn’t myself.” She opened the flap and pulled out the letter. Tarou quickly scanned through the contents. “Dear Valerie, we are going to be holding a special Warrior Chef: All Stars edition, where previous finalists and contestants from all seasons will have a chance to redeem themselves. Since you were the runner-up in our most recent season, we in the Warrior Chef team would like to cordially invite you to compete. Please contact us at wcascasting@gmail.com if you are interested in competing again and hope to hear from you soon! Victoria Clark, Executive Producer.” Stunned, he just looked at her, awestruck. “So are you going to take it?” Valerie just smiled in response to that question. “Well, what do you think? I’m a previous runner-up! I need to represent!” She beamed. “Thanks, Tarou. You helped me regain my confidence, and I will try my best to win this one for you.”

“Tarou!” Misaki ran up to the model as he exited the changing rooms. He had finished another session and was getting ready to go home. “Misaki! What’s going on?” He looked at her. She was exhausted from running. “Hold on!” She put her hand up, panting. “Catching… my breath.” She sighed, getting up and looking at the slightly amused teen. “What’s going on?” “It’s Timmy. He wants to talk to you.” She lied between her teeth. “Wait, what?!” Tarou could not believe what he was hearing. “Yeah. Hold on, come with me.” She led him out of the building. Misaki was determined to make these two at least confront each other. Whether or not they remained friends was another subject entirely, but at the very least, she wanted Tarou to be able to put that frustration behind him, while on Timmy’s behalf, she just wanted him to live a life that did not involve hulling himself away in his room. Nobody deserved to be robbed of their youth like that, in her eyes.

“Here we are.” Justin looked at Timmy. The software engineer lied to Timmy as well, telling him to meet up with him in front of the Muji at Noho so that they can go get food together in the area. Misaki was going to be taking Tarou to this location as well, so that the two of them could leave the ex-friends and roommates confront each other. “Hey, Justin!” Timmy sighed, looked around fearfully before walking up to his friend. He was terrified that somebody was going to verbally assault him. “What’s with you? Don’t worry, okay? These kinds of issues and problems, they’re not going to be around for much longer, alright?” Justin assured him. “What makes you so certain about that?” Timmy frowned. He was scared at this point. What did Justin mean by that? How could he assure that nothing bad was going to happen. “I just have a gut feeling that no matter what happens, you’ll come out of this stronger. And that’s a big reason why I wanted to meet up with you.” He grinned, although Timmy was still visibly disturbed. And this uneasiness would only escalate within a mere few seconds of Justin’s last statement. “Timmy?!” The Taiwanese boy’s shoulders shot up at the beckon of his name. He was being called by a very familiar voice. Turning around slowly, he knew who this was. It was none other than a very dumbstruck Valerie Ang.

Deciding that it was something to celebrate over, Valerie decided to go to her favorite store, Muji in Noho, to buy some stationary. She was running low on sketchbooks and liked the simplistic design of the Japanese notebooks that Muji sold. She was excited. Even though just a few months ago, losing the competition had gotten her down, Valerie was determined to do this competition, and prove that, even if she were to lose, that she could be a gracious loser. Going to Muji, she was skittish. She needed to continue brushing up on different recipes, dishes, ingredients, and mentally prepare herself to be going head to head with some of the best chefs in the competition’s history. However, in that very moment, Valerie’s shopping spree was cut to an abrupt halt. Describing her feelings in that moment, it was difficult. Rage, frustration, irritation, complete anger, a linger bit of pity, and ultimately, disappointment. Timmy Li was standing in front of her favorite store, not only blocking the entrance, by ruining what could have been a wonderful day for her. Without thinking, the pastry chef found herself blurting out his name, in disbelief that she would bump into him. His very presence made her bury the urge of holding him underneath a tub of water, before dropping a toaster in said bathtub. Timmy, uneasy, turned to her, shaken by her unexpected appearance. “Uh….” He trailed off. Just knowing that he called her a slut made him feel an overwhelming sense of guilt. But the words “I’m sorry” could not come to him. He just found himself awkwardly standing there, staring at her, mouth agape. “Uh…” Justin did not anticipate Valerie’s appearance either. “Alright, so I said to meet up here!” Misaki ushered a still hesitant Tarou over to the front of Muji.

How it is: Chapter 9

In middle school, Timmy’s feeling for Valerie just continued to grow. Before, it was just because Valerie chose him and Tarou over their female classmates. But even during puberty, Valerie just blossomed. “Ugh, you two are so lucky you don’t have to wear a bra.” She groaned. “These things are like sandbags on my chest.” She was awkwardly referring to her bosoms. Both Tarou and Timmy were at a loss of what to say. Timmy was the youngest of three brothers and Tarou was an only child, so neither of them ever had to hear about bras, breasts, or periods before talking to Valerie. And since Valerie had very few female friends, she would just complain to them about her puberty-related predicaments, much to Tarou’s visible discomfort. Even then, Timmy was still intrigued by her. To him, she was always such an interesting person. At first, it was because she was the only girl who was not his mother who was close to him. But then those feelings, they expanded when he got to know her better. Hearing about her dreams and goals, and seeing the lengths she went to so that she could accomplish them, it was inspirational.

Valerie wanted to be a chef since she was really young. She used to travel with her grandparents throughout California, eating at fine dining restaurants, such as The French Laundry. By the time she turned 16, she was interning throughout her summers at a variety of restaurants. First, it was a local country club in Queens, where they all lived. But then, she started commuting to Manhattan to work for Mario Batali, and spent an entire summer in Chicago with her uncle, working under chef Stephanie Izard. Timmy still remembers that summer. It was before their senior year and Valerie was away the entire time. They would call every week, just to catch up. “So, how’s Chicago?” “It’s really cool! It reminds me of the city in a lot of ways, and I just love it.” She confessed. “I’m surprised by how not-homesick I am. That’s probably the biggest shock.” “Well, that’s great to hear!” Timmy was relieved, knowing that she was happy. “Hopefully, we’ll all be going to college together like we planned.” She laughed at them. “Definitely! Going to NYU with you and Tarou, it’ll be the best four years of my life.” He chuckled in agreement. Spending any time with Valerie was fun. She was a loyal and loving friend, and Timmy greatly appreciated that.

“So, I’m going to be competing on Warrior Chef, but that means that I’m switching to online courses to finish my education.” Valerie was sitting down with Timmy and Tarou. It was their senior year of high school, and she just heard back from the casting crew of the show. “Wait, really?!” They both looked shocked. While Tarou was excited, Timmy felt a little sad. He would not be spending their graduation together with her. But Valerie had already heard back from NYU, and got in with early decision. “I’ll see you guys on the other side of this experience, okay?” She smiled at them. “I can’t wait to hear about it!” Tarou grinned at her. “Unleash hell! Let them see what Stephanie Izard and Mario Batali taught you.” The Japanese boy chuckled. “Good luck, okay?” Timmy beamed at his crush. “Thanks, you two. I’m going to be sad that I won’t be graduating with you guys, but at the same time, this is really exciting and I can’t wait to compete! I want to make a strong impression in this competition from the get-go.” “Knowing what you can do, those other teenagers will not stand a chance. You’re going to be Warrior Chef. I know it.” Timmy assured her.

The concept of Warrior Chef was that high school students with an interest in the culinary field would compete in several challenges to determine a winner. In her season, Valerie was one of 16 high schoolers, and one of eight girls, to be competing. Much to her delight, she was able to start the competition on a strong foot, the entire first round and more importantly, the respect of everyone in that season. Everyone knew that Valerie was the strongest female cook. In the end, she wound up winning a total of eleven challenges. Valerie had the entire summer to work under Janice Arrington and slowly forget about losing the competition. While it was hard then, what helped her get over the pan was not thinking about it. She did not have the entire nation harping her on social media over her decisions at that point. Reliving the rounds going up to the finale, it actually bolstered her confidence. Valerie felt that no matter how she was portrayed in that final challenge, she would have enough fans and support to keep her going. But it was just comments of disappointment and judgement. Everyone thought she was an idiot. Nobody supported her decision to stick to dessert.

The one person Valerie would really want to speak to was Tarou. Since they were young, she always felt like she could relate to him. Then seeing him transform from what he was into an aspiring model, that was when her feelings turned romantic in nature. Tarou came off as confident and capable, but since they grew up together, Tarou was never nervous or afraid of her. He supported her as much as she supported him. Valerie knew that a relationship with Tarou, it would only help both of them grow as individuals and as a couple. But she did not want Timmy to feel uncomfortable, especially when the three of them were friends for such a long time. It was a major factor for why she always refused to confess her feelings to him. That, coupled with her fear of him rejecting her. Especially in the state she was right now, the last thing she needed was for yet another person she admired to tell her that she was not good enough.

Meanwhile, Tarou finally returned to the room from his event. “Hey, can we please talk?” He looked at Timmy, whose eyes were still red from crying earlier. “No. I don’t want to.” “What?” “I’m not ready yet.” He shook his head, before going back to ignoring the taller male. “What the hell do you mean you’re not ready yet?” Timmy did not respond. At this point, he felt like Tarou was being emotionally and verbally abusive to him. The constant yelling and screaming, it was beginning to take a toll on him emotionally. Just looking at Tarou, it made him uncomfortable. “Well, alright then, you fucking baby.” The model was already exhausted, and the last thing he needed right now was for Timmy to, per usual, treat him like shit or an obstacle. He did not need to be this protective of Timmy, and at that point, he decided it was for the best to keep his distance. “Hey, Alex. I just wanted to let you know that even if I do get the event coordinator position for ACU, I have to decline.” Tarou sent that message via Facebook to the president. “Oh, thank you for your honesty.” Alex sent back. The mode knew it was burning a bridge, but he did not care. The last thing he wanted was for Timmy to feel even more suffocated by him. Timmy was an immature brat who needed time to adjust to everything. Tarou was starting to realize just how inexperience the smaller male really was with life compared to him and Valerie. And a lot of that inexperience came from the Japanese boy smothering him with protection.

Fame

A small town girl. The big city was in the distance, along the horizon. She wished to be famous. She craved being noticed. She wanted everyone’s eyes on her. Grabbing her guitar, she strummed the strings to one of her own songs. She sang with her window opened, in hopes of being discovered. Closing her eyes, she imagined the crowd, cheering her on. She was on the stage, microphone stand in front, guitar in hand. The spotlight was shining on her. Opening her eyes, the girl frowned. It was just another dream. Getting up, she donned her uniform. It was time for her shift. “It’s only temporary.” She assured herself, opening her apartment door. It was another day behind the counter. Another day as a cashier. It was like this now, but she knew that she was destined for greater things. At least, that was what she convinced herself. She wanted to prove her parents wrong. Dropping out of college, turning her back on biomedical engineering, it was not a mistake. She knew it was not. Burning that bridge was hard, but it needed to be done. She needed it to be done for her to be free. She wanted to find happiness in her own way. She wanted to be famous for her voice. The world would know her for her singing, not for her accomplishments as an engineer. It was her destiny. She will do whatever it takes to bef famous.

Stronger than you: dream 31

The inspiration behind this post stemmed from a cartoon, Steven Universe, where Garnet, a character voiced by Estelle, sang a song titled Stronger than you. Yes, I watch cartoons even though I’m in college. I also watch Adventure Time, but I find that Steven Universe‘s themes are a lot more relatable to me. The song itself talks specifically about how Garnet is the metaphorical and literal representation of a same-sex relationship and how she is more than just a gimmick or a phase. Garnet is a “fusion” of two female characters, Ruby and Sapphire. Typically, fusion is temporary, and it happens between characters with that are named after the same type of Gem; Garnet is usually fused together at almost all times, and she was made of two different Gems. Because of this, many characters are initially uncomfortable with her controversial existence. Regardless, in the song, Garnet speaks about being like a feeling, therefore never-ending; regardless of our own life spans, every human being is entitled to feeling sad, happy, excited, angry, and more analogous to Garnet herself, love.

A lot of the song actually dealt with Garnet fighting the villainous Jasper, who looked down on Garnet for being a fusion; Jasper saw fusing as a cheap trick to become stronger. Specifically, Garnet speaks about how Jasper will always be alone compared to her, because Jasper refused to combine forces with anybody else. Then Garnet speaks about how since she was made of the love between Ruby and Sapphire, and how through it, she will always be stronger than Jasper, who has no love in her heart. That’s why the song is called “Stronger than you”, simply because Garnet’s love will always help her overcome any obstacle or challenge that it presented to her. My personal favorite part of the song was when Garnet stated that she was more than just Ruby and Sapphire. She also stood for everything they cared about, and that she was Ruby’s fury, Sapphire’s patience, and ultimately, she was a conversation between the two of them. She is symbolizes synergy between these two lovers, which is why she will always be more than just the sum of the two.

The song itself just helped me get through a really rough time in my life. Coming back to college after almost trying to kill myself, I was extremely nervous. I was afraid that other people would judge me or look down on me for having that period of darkness and weakness. But this song reminded me that I can be strong. If I fill myself with love, specifically for myself and what I personally represent, then I can overcome any misconceptions people have about me. Love is more than just romantic. It can be platonic, it can be symbolic. In this situation, the love I feel for myself is supportive. I want to be my own biggest cheerleader, just because I want to drown out the noise from the surrounding world, and just focus on me. Even now, I know that I face judgement from certain people, who think I am better off dead, but I just ignore them. While they are busy looking down on me and writing off my potential, I will be busy realizing it, starting by standing behind what I represent.

Garnet stands for Ruby’s fury, Sapphire’s patience, and both’s love. I stand for determination, hope, and love. Through this song, I was able to realize how I have every right to be fearless and that no matter how bad things get, so long as I love and support myself, nobody can stop me from achieving my dreams of opening that bakery. People might see me as somebody to be ashamed of, but as Garnet herself has proven, strength comes not from what other people think, but what we see in ourselves. So when I close my eyes, and think about who I am, I know that those people who act condescendingly towards me are mistaken. They do not know what I am capable of. For me, I have just the faintest idea of that too. But I know that if I push myself hard enough, I will be able to achieve my dreams. I will  be stronger than them. In a world of my feather-light dreams, everyone will naturally find that strength from within, and live life loving themselves.

 

ENTJ: dream 28

This time a year ago, I tested ENTJ on my Myers-Brigg Type Indicator; it stood for extroverted, intuitive, thinking, and judging. I was really proud to be this because it meant to me that I was an outgoing, confident, and independent person. But then, one cultural club-related traumatic experience later, and I found myself becoming INTJ; my extroversion became introversion. And it was not like a borderline thing. Out of 21 questions on introversion versus extroversion, I tested 20 in favor on being an introvert. In short, I hated people. I was constantly stressed, frustrated, angry, and it caused me to feel very drained whenever I talked to everyone. My mind was preoccupied with the cult(ure club) that I was stuck in and it took a toll on me socially.

I stayed introverted for a while and it just had to do with me being stressed out and exhausted constantly. Living with my mentee who was on board with the cult(ure club) with me was the worst thing I could do; I could never escape the cult(ure) club because I essentially lived with it. Because of that, I remained an introvert, suck in this state of being perpetually fatigued. Mentally and emotionally, I had very little left in me. I had to keep convincing myself that it was the right thing for me that I did not like people and that I needed alone time to be energized; introverts by definition need time away from others to re-charge so to speak. I did not understand why I was an introvert, because I usually enjoy talking to others: it was because the people I was in direct contact with were those officers from the club, and they all challenged the hell out of me. So naturally, I hated being around people, even though social recluse is actually how I wound up getting depressed to begin with.

By feeling really alone and on top of that, constantly having to interact with people I did not like, it made me feel abandoned and left behind. I felt like I had nobody left. But when I finally cut myself out of that circle, I found myself growing and flourishing again. I became the person I wanted to be once more. Not only in that I became an ENTJ again, but in the sense that I know now what I am capable of and what I am capable of. I joined the hospitality industry because I love meeting people and making an impact on their lives. I love being able to make their experiences something that they can remember forever. I love being around people who can make me smile and laugh with their stories of travel.

The reason why I transitioned back to being an extrovert is that I changed the people I surrounded myself with. The circle of friends I have now are all encouraging, supportive, or relatable to me, therefore, I feel more empowered whenever I am around them. I feel more capable and valued. Because of this, my extroversion came back. I was once again the person I felt happy being. My name is… going to remain anonymous, but I am officially an extrovert, once more. In a world of my dreams, I could surround myself with only people who will nurture that upbeat side of me. That will make me happy and excited about living. That would be an ideal place to live in.

Cut loose from time

The gears turned. The hands ticked. The pendulum swung. The clock tower was the perfect place to hide from her troubles. It was gargantuan, ancient, and labyrinthine: getting lost was a high possibility when you entered it. Getting injured from the fragile structure, even more possible. The tower dwarfed the entire town. Everyone would know what time it was, whether they cared to or not. A girl, no older than ten, walked up the stairs, ignoring the warnings. She smiled, when she saw her friend. A snow white owl, hooting back at her. They were inside of the clock itself. “How do you do, Mr. Owl?” She curtseyed. The bird hooted back in acknowledgement of her greeting. “I wish to fly free like you. In a place where I am not always reminded of time.” The owl spread his wings, and took off through a crack in the ceiling. How badly the girl wished to be a bird, and join her friend. How she wanted to fly in the air, and feel unshackled by responsibility and urgency. But alas, she was not born an owl. She was born a human. Time worked against her. As she grew, she was held to a higher standard, because she was capable of more. Her life got more difficult to live as expectations of her continually rose. But this was the hurdle she was born with. And this is the challenge she was taught to constantly overcome. To continually rise to the occasion. To never back down or run away when she had to try harder or dig deeper. Every step forward in life was scary. It was uncertain. But all that mattered was getting it behind her. The girl knew that she could one day be free of these responsibilities and expectations. With due time.