A SERIES OF RANDOM THOUGHTS Episode 6: Decisions, decisions.

One time, at the dorm, I was very bored. I had absolutely nothing to do so flipped open my laptop and, since I didn’t have internet connection, I went through my files. I then spotted a folder filled with eBooks that one of my pals gave me which I, regrettably, haven’t even opened. I scrolled down… and down… and down. I couldn’t find anything that seemed interesting to me. Finally, a certain title caught my eye…

“Veronika Decides To Die” 
Yup. That was the title of the book.
It caught my attention for its bizarre use of the word “decides”. I didn’t understand how anyone can just decideto die. Some people want to die, other people try to die, and the rest simply die. How does one decide to die? Would it be as simple as deciding what to wear to school? Or as complex as deciding what career path to take? Or is it even a decision that one can make?

I began reading the short tale which was (obviously) about a woman named Veronika who decides to die. She literally decides to die. She popped a few pills, lay on her bedroom floor and awaited her death. Simple as that.

It intrigued me how Paulo Coelho, the author of book, made it seem as though Veronika knew exactly what she was doing. She was fully aware of her “decision” to die and she was very confident that what she was doing was for the best. But the thing that intrigued me the most was that Veronika seemed perfectly happy. She didn’t seem to have any reason to die. As a matter of fact, she stated that she was at her highest point.

Anyway, soon enough, I found out that this was her reason for deciding to die. She was perfectly happy. Everything was going uphill for her, thus, in her mind, her life will go on a downward spiral if she continues living.

That made absolutely no sense to me.

At least, it didn’t make sense while I was reading it… but after I’ve thought about it for a loooong while, I realized she wasn’t crazy after all.

How many of us have, at some point, looked back at the happiest moment in our life and wished that we could go back and live in that moment forever? How many of us have wished to just freeze time when we’re most merry and never press play?

It’s human nature. We all want the best end possible. We want symphonies to finish with a bang, stories to finish with “happily ever after”, dreams to end with smiles.

If we knew what would happen next and that it wouldn’t be gleeful, sometimes we dream of going back in time, back to when we were happiest and just stay there. That was what Veronika was thinking. She knew exactly where her life was going. She knew that the light at the end of the tunnel will turn out to be a moving train and she’s not exactly wrong. It’s true that when you reach the mountain’s peak, there is nowhere to go but down. But unfortunately…

Life is not a mountain.

As Forrest Gump said, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” We can never really be certain what would happen next. Sometimes when we’re so close to giving up on digging, we find the treasure. Life is as strange and dynamic as an abstract painting. Some people see one thing, others see something else. No two people see exactly the same thing and that’s where the fun starts…

The fun starts when we realize that although we have the will to make certain decisions in our life, God will still have the final say. Just as in the story, Veronika decided to die… but someone found her in time to save her. Life begins when we let of go of the plans we’ve made for ourselves and embrace the life that God has planned for us.

So, dear friends, just as Veronika decided to end her life, I decided to wait and trust that God would bring me a happy ending.

MARVEL-ous Movie Marathon (Day 1: X-Men)

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Call me an addict but Iron Man 3 premieres in a couple of weeks and I cannot contain my excitement. In order to keep myself occupied, I decided to re-watch and review some Marvel movies. Let us begin with the one that started it all. Before the Avengers, before the Spider-man flicks, there was…THE X-MEN.

 

Truthfully, I wasn’t a big fan of the X-Men movies as a kid. (The movie that really brought me into the world of superheroes was the first Spider-man.) But now that I’ve re-watched the film, I kind of see why I didn’t like it before… I didn’t like it NOT because it was a bad film but because it deals with more mature themes than most superhero flicks and I was too young to comprehend these. Now, I’ve found a newly-formed love for the franchise and a deeper respect for the messages they were trying to convey.

The movie starts on a bleak note, showing us the origins of two mutants: the young Magneto growing up in Nazi Germany and a teenage Rogue finding out about her abilities through the most inconvenient means. Here we see that having special powers isn’t all it’s cut out to be and they can sometimes be more of a curse than a blessing. The scene then shifts to the present where a government meeting is being held. People are debating about whether or not mutants are dangerous and should be exposed to the public.

I can definitely see young me not understanding what was happening on-screen. The X-Men movies should be praised not only for the top-notch action sequences but also for the rather complex story-telling.

I’ll summarize the movie in this way: It’s about people with fear.

There are three opposing sides in this movie. First, we have the normal people (much like you and I) who fear the unknown. This side is represented by Senator Robert Kelly who, during the beginning of the movie, supported and promoted the Mutant Registration act which aims to expose all mutants and ban them from schools. Second, we have the “bad guys” who, when you really think about it, aren’t so bad at all. They’re afraid that the world will reject them just as what has happened before. This side is represented by Magneto (played by the terrific Sir Ian McKellen) who grew up fearing the ordinary humans and  is now ready to fight back. Joining him are his mutant cronies: Mystique (Rebecca Romijin), Sabretooth (Tyler Mane) and Toad (Ray Park). Third and lastly, we have the heroes of this story… the mutants who only wish to be accepted. This side is represented by Charles Xavier (played by the always awesome Patrick Stewart) who runs a school for “gifted youngsters”. Xavier’s School boasts a large number of different, colorful characters all with varying beliefs, abilities and personalities. They, just like most other mutants, were rejected and feared but through the Professor’s guidance, are now fighting to restore balance and stop Magneto’s evil schemes. Some of Xavier’s students include Cyclops (James Marsden), Storm (Halle Berry) and Dr. Jean Grey (Famke Janssen).

We are slowly and delicately introduced to the world of mutants through the eyes of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and Rogue (Anna Paquin) who had spent their days running from their pasts with nowhere to go. They soon find solace in Professor X’s school and so the adventure begins.

As much as I’d like to analyze every single plot detail, I have neither the time nor the energy so let me just say again what I said earlier: I commend the X-Men films for having such profound themes and a great plot! Let’s leave it at that and move on to the other elements that made this movie so great.

Let’s begin with the characters. The cast was pretty solid. Everyone portrayed their roles very well, particularly Hugh Jackman as the tough-as-nails Logan who can retract adamantium claws from his knuckles. Jackman was very greatly able to balance Wolverine’s internal struggles and feral instincts.

The rest of the supporting cast were pretty good as well. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen as Professor X and Magneto, respectively, were absolutely brilliant. You can totally buy that the two were once great friends who have now gone on separate paths. Anna Paquin as Rogue was alright, I guess. She was a bit too emo, in my opinion. On the other hand, Famke Janssen, Halle Berry and James Marsden were a bit underused but I guess it’s because Wolverine is the star so they didn’t focus much on the other mutants…

That’s my number one complaint about this movie. It was a bit too Wolverine-centric. What worked in The Avengers and a lot of other ensemble superhero flicks is that everyone is given equal screen time. But, hey, Hugh Jackman filled the role so well that you wouldn’t mind having Wolverine take center stage. I do kind of wish we got to see more of Cyclops’, Storm’s, and Jean’s powers.

Now, let us proceed to the narrative. It was pretty well-paced. It’s not like most modern superhero fares wherein the filmmakers felt the need to throw in explosions every few minutes. The movie took its time and gave its characters room to breathe after their battles. It was a bit slow for me, I guess, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The deliberate matched the movie’s tone pretty well. The battle scenes were very well-staged and most characters were very well-developed.

Overall, X-Men has a terrific plot and outstanding visuals that is elevated by the charisma of its lead star. But it seemed to work more as a “Wolverine and Friends” flick than as a genuine X-Men movie.

Rating: 8/10

 

A SERIES OF RANDOM THOUGHTS Episode 5: Through The Years

It’s only been a year since I graduated high school but, looking back, I can definitely see how much I’ve changed. Okay. So maybe I haven’t changed too much but there is definitely a huge difference between 2013 Hannah and 2012 Hannah. My Diliman rejection (maybe “rejection” isn’t the right word since I don’t think I ever really had the choice) is still a sore subject and I don’t wish to think about it any further so I decided  just  to write and reflect about the one thing that makes me happy every time I think about it: High School. I decided to just stop moving forward for a while and look at the bread crumb trail I left behind. A trail of love, loss, mistakes, and right decisions — basically all the things I’m sorely missing. Let us look at the big picture. My evolution and the reason/s for my evolution: who I was and who I am.

Fresh Off the Tree (2008 – 2009)

Freshman Hannah was quiet and a bit socially-awkward. Her hair was short and wavy. She had bad eyesight but refused to wear glasses for fear of being labeled a nerd. She didn’t have a social life and turned her attention to her academics. Everyone (even her teachers) noticed this and encouraged her to make friends. Alas, she didn’t have much except for a few acquaintances and an unrequited love for her handsome but not-so-compassionate classmate. Even though she focused on her studies, she couldn’t quite get into the Top Ten. This was perhaps because she wasn’t motivated or inspired enough to study harder. She believed she was a good writer but didn’t try out for the school newspaper because she was shy. She joined the school choir and was happy for a while… until the choir fell apart for unknown reasons (Maybe the adviser left?).

The Second Time Around (2009 – 2010)

Sophomore Hannah, being a bit more well-adjusted, had a few friends. Her hair grew longer and she wore headbands often. She also started wearing eyeglasses on the doctor’s insistence. With regards to academics, her second year in high school wasn’t the best. Of course, she still got good grades but, since she found friends–friends that, little did she know, will become her ticket to happiness throughout high school– she paid less attention to her studies and began having a bit more fun. She was no longer infatuated with her “handsome” classmate and had a brief (but valuable) fling with a pal from her old school whom she reconnected with through Facebook.

Third Time’s The Charm (2010 – 2011)

Junior Year was when Hannah began to blossom. She had a group of true friends whom she deeply cared about and loved. She had a deep crush on this guy who, although waaaay out of her league, is kind and supportive (and whom motivated her to study harder and be better–though indirectly). She found a way to balance both school and friends. She was having the time of her life while still doing her best in the classroom. She joined the Glee club and the school paper, both of which have given her many opportunities to shine and grow as a person. Yep, Junior Hannah was the best.

The Beginning of the End (2011 – 2012)

Senior Hannah, much like Junior Hannah, was well-adjusted and happy. The only difference between the two would be the fact that Senior Hannah had fear… fear of what comes next. To her, it seemed unfair that just when she had found happiness in secondary school (because of her group of true friends, her good grades, her supportive crush, her being chosen to be Editor-in-Chief and her spot in the Glee Club), it was all going to be over and she was going to have to adapt AGAIN. She feared what would happen next and what she was about to leave behind…

There and Back Again (2012 – present)

College Hannah seems to be a mix of all four Hannahs above. Despite leaving high school on a high note, her first college symphony has fallen flat. If her first semester alone is any indicator of what lies ahead for College Hannah, then she is in for one hell of a ride… and it’s not always going to be thrilling.

 

Despite everything that has happened I’m still pretty optimistic and looking forward to whatever comes  next. If my college life is going to be anything like my high school years then maybe… everything is as it should be. Looking back and seeing the low points of my life and how I overcame them, I realize that everything happens for a reason. A close friend of mine told me before that if she hadn’t fought with her Freshman BFFs, we probably wouldn’t be best friends now. I guess sometimes the bad things that happen to us lead to better things… and sometimes (much like the UPD incident) the light at the end of the tunnel will turn out to be a moving train.

I will never understand God’s mysterious ways. I can only trust that everything that happens is part of His plan and will be for my own good.

“For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” — Jeremiah 29:11

A SERIES OF RANDOM THOUGHTS Episode 4: The Road to Redemption

I’ll be having an exam and interview at UP Diliman tomorrow and I am seriously anxious. I know that my chances of transferring are slim considering the UPDEPP contract and my “exceptional” grades.  Still, I’m pretty optimistic and I’m hoping that God will move mountains for me.

I know I shouldn’t be expecting too much but… I just really want to transfer. I’m not completely sure why. I guess it’s because I want to graduate at UP Diliman or because I can no longer take the insanity that is Math 11 and NatSci I or maybe I want REDEMPTION.

Yes, my relentless search for redemption has led me to believe that Diliman is the answer to my problems. I believe that when I transfer, everything will be ok. I’ll be intelligent again. I’ll have reason to believe in myself again. I’ll have reason to be happy again…

I’ve been on Twitter for more than an hour now. I tweeted about my exam and interview tomorrow and a few of my college pals actually replied and were worried (I never really told anyone that I planned on transferring). We chatted on Facebook and they reassured me that no matter how things turn out tomorrow, there is still hope. For me. For all of us.

I wasn’t alone in the search for redemption. My friends felt that way as well.

UP is an exceptionally large obstacle to overcome. I’ve only been there for a year and I already feel like the weight of the world rests on my shoulders. But, now I realize, that I’m not alone. My friends share my burden and will carry it with me throughout whatever comes next.

I already said this earlier but I’ll say it again: No matter how tomorrow turns out, I’ll still be blessed. And I have my friends and God to thank. 🙂

A SERIES OF RANDOM THOUGHTS Episode 3: Mirrors

3/3/2013

Movies are a lot like mirrors.

In most good movies, we try to look for ourselves in the characters that we love to watch. But, in really great movies, we see ourselves and get sudden bursts of emotion and insights until it overwhelms us and takes over our minds. And before we know it, we’ll come out of the theater with a smile and a new perspective.

Believe it or not, movies say more about the person watching than it does about the people who made it. The same goes with poetry or stories or paintings. Different people interpret things in different ways. When you watch something and say “This is the lamest thing I have ever seen in my entire life”, it really doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s awful. It just means YOU didn’t like it.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I really don’t know why. I love movies and I’m often very hard to please, especially when it comes to Tagalog movies. I always try to go into the theater with an open mind but, oftentimes, what happens is either I like the movie and my friends don’t or they LOVE it and I don’t. Does that mean I’m weird or something?

Like the other day, I was all up in arms about Robert Downey jr. leaving Avengers 2 after I read this seriously convincing article. I actually almost cried about it and I’d whine about it non-stop to the people nearest to me and it really bothered me that they didn’t care about it the way I did. RDJ IS Tony Stark. He’s MY Tony Stark. Why is everyone so level-headed about this?

It turned out to be an April Fools joke and I was so relieved. I didn’t even care that I sounded like a whiny baby crying “RDJ, don’t goooo!” You can’t really blame me. I frickin’ love the guy. Then, it dawned on me that maybe they didn’t care about it as much because they didn’t connect with him the way I did. I’ve watched Iron Man 1 & 2 (and The Avengers) a gazillion times and I loved him more with each viewing. They didn’t understand but, of course, they all “sympathized”.

Like I said, movies say a lot about the person who watches it. No two people are alike. Maybe no one will understand why I’m so obssesed with the Marvel Cinematic Universe but that’s ok. I can’t tell people not to like Tagalog movies and they can’t tell me what to like either. C’est la vie.

I realized it would be really boring if everyone liked all the same things. Meeting new people, trying new things: it’s all part of what makes life so fun. Maybe I’ll meet people who’ll love RDJ the way I do and maybe I’d meet people who’d laugh at me for being such a fangirl. Such is life.

… But I wouldn’t change a thing.

A SERIES OF RANDOM THOUGHTS Episode 2: Hell Hath No Fury…

2/28/2013

Been scrolling through my “To You” letter repeatedly and am now halfway through my third John Green book. So, yeah, I guess you can say that although February is almost over, I still can’t get Valentine’s Day off my mind. It’s really not like anything really significant happened on that day or anything but I just can’t stand feeling… weird. I don’t know how I feel. I’m not looking for love, at least, I think I’m not. I’m pretty neutral. Just standing on the bleachers of life, cheering everyone else on basically…

But I’ve been reading my letter over and over and over again. I keep thinking of everything that I’ve written, basically all my hopes and dreams and the things that I’d want to tell my “soulmate” once we meet. Yet, truthfully, after re-reading the letter for the nth time, I realized it wasn’t him I was writing it for. I was writing it for myself.

I really don’t get it. Maybe I’m overthinking things, maybe I’m bitter, maybe Freud was right and I have all these repressed feelings that I wish to express in some socially-acceptable manner, maybe John Green’s existentialist junk is getting to me… maybe I just feel more comfortable talking to a piece of paper or a computer screen more than I do expressing myself to other people.

I keep thinking about Shakespeare and how beautiful his words seem and how I wish my vocabulary were that sophisticated so that when I’d express myself through words, people would be too in awe to even understand what I mean. You know how his lines are often all metaphor-y and “open to interpretation” or whatever? My words are like straight lines. There aren’t really any other ways of interpreting them, unless you’re a modern art critic who believes that straight lines are the new spirals. Like, who needs art lessons when you can just slab paint on a canvas and call it modern art?

Anyway, I’ve also been thinking about something that I’m probably not going to share because I’ve said an awful lot already and it’s sort of weird how I’m just opening up on a public site. This something has to do with my weird feelings about Valentine’s Day… yeah. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Whatever. I’ve come to the realization that forgiving others isn’t all that hard…

… but forgiving yourself, that’s the challenge.