Friday, January 21, 2011

Need a New Start, continued

So I interrupted my last post because the dryer was going off and I was hungry. I meant to write more later in the evening but instead found myself working on the re-working of my Music Land Maestress story (the re-working I came up with when I realized a Christian may be able to write about magic - though people disagree on that - but probably shouldn't write about reincarnation). Today I slept in (having stayed up a bit too late again) and then ordered my textbooks. Then I went out to try to get this one textbook they only have at the Discount Campus Books place across from school, only to learn they did not have it. I also got my student ID validated, asked admissions what I needed to do to crash a class, and got my bus pass for February (the super-discounted ones go fast, so I decided not to wait till next week when school starts). I also need to order the book for the one web design class I've gotten into so far, Flash 1. I forgot to do that this morning.

Ok just did that. It was cheaper on Amazon than at the school bookstore, almost $20 off the new price. Not bad. Plus since I have Amazon Student, I get a free year of Amazon Prime, which allows me to have free two-day shipping. Yay.

So anyway, where was I? Oh yeah about my walk with God.

So the fourth thing was that I don't feel close to God. I like to call this the "Gummiberry Juice Dilemma," after an old episode of the kids' show Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears  that I remember. In that, the character's dilemma is that she has the recipe for Gummiberry Juice, a juice that allows the Gummi Bears to bounce very high for a short time, in her head but needs to have it in her head AND her heart to make it the way her grandmother makes it. Only once she has it in both places is she able to make the juice successfully. In my case, I have all this knowledge about God in my head, but my heart, on the other hand, is lacking something. They always say "Christianity isn't a religion, it's a relationship" and it's the heart-relationship thing I don't seem to have much, if any, of. I must've once because when I was a kid, I feel like I was much closer to God. Then again, I was more trusting then as well. I know I'm definitely less trusting now.

The fifth thing is somewhat related - I'm seriously lacking in Christian friends around me at the moment, thanks to not going to mid-week groups. I haven't met really any Christians at school other than the Chi Alpha people, and the girl in charge of that is one of those uber-happy people that rub me the wrong way. I don't know any Christians at work, and to be honest, I'm not very open about it at work. The closest thing I know is my friend and coworker Adam, who's a Reform Jew and not, it seems, very religious.

If anyone is even reading this, answer this question for me. Is it ok to not be one of those Christians who tries to witness to everyone they see, wants to pray with you about every little thing, and gets a little too over-happy when praising God for the good things? I hope so, because I can't see myself as one of those people, and frankly those sorts of Christians turn me off. If I ever were to witness to somebody (an opportunity which has not presented itself yet), I think I'd be more the "let me sit down and reason with you" type. Or, to borrow an analogy from one of my pastors, the type who takes you to Starbucks to have a chat over lattes (not that I would ever do that). Of course, we're supposed to share the gospel with everyone - as Christians, that's nonnegotiable. But the Bible also says to be prepared to defend the gospel when people ask. I don't think we're supposed to go up to strangers and beat them over the head with the Bible if they don't want us to. They'd think we're weirdos. Besides, most people have some inkling of what Christianity is and who God is and stuff thanks to living in this country - a survey project I did with a group in 12th grade where we asked people a few of the "big life questions" (where do you think you'll go when you die?, etc) more or less showed me that. (Overseas missionary situations, obviously, might be a little different).

The saying "Actions speak louder than words" applies here I think. Christ said that it is by us loving each other that people will know we're his disciples. He also asked in one of his final prayers (the one in John 17, sometimes called the "High Priestly Prayer") that his followers be united, an action. Also, Paul tells Timothy, "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young. But set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity" (1 Timothy 4:12), a verse that seems to emphasize action. We have to earn the right to be heard by someone, right?

Maybe I'm just futilely trying to excuse my own inability to witness. It's not that I'm unwilling - it wouldn't matter if I was; we're commanded as Christians to do it. I just don't know how to go about it, and growing up in a sheltered Christian environment, I didn't really have practice. Yet I must have some capacity for it, because all Christians do, and also because I took a spiritual gifts test and my #2 gift (after Knowledge) was Missionary.

I think deep down this is why I hope to be able to witness through my writing, because I don't handle social situations well face-to-face and tend to ramble when I talk. But, as the CWCW so pointedly noticed, my current novel is a bit too straightforward in giving the message. To be honest, I was even a bit turned off by a book called Spirit Warrior, written by a local author, because its message of Christianity seemed too blatantly spelled out, to the point that it stuck out from the story instead of being integrated into it, much the way moral lessons were in old literature that suffered from the "Dear Reader" syndrome. (I did keep the book, btw, mainly because it's autographed by the author). Books like Kerry Nietz's Darktrench Trilogy, on the other hand, integrates a Christian message into the story that develops gradually in the consciousness of the not-quite-human protagonist, a character brought up in a futuristic Earth enveloped in the rule of strict Islamic law. Much more subtle case there.

Speaking of my novel, I'm seriously thinking of not getting it critiqued in the CWCW anymore. I've realized that at the rate that is going, along with the page limit on what we can share, my CSUSM career will be over before we've finished critiquing half of it. Plus, after the negative reaction to the strongly Christian chapter mentioned above, I realized that perhaps this isn't the best audience for this work (though they do point out good things in terms of general writing, such as awkward sentences or paragraphs). I'm going to try it out on the online critique group for the San Diego Christian Writers Guild instead, as well as a group called Anamalous Sandbox, run by a guy from the Anomaly, a Christian speculative fiction forum I'm a part of. It may be a while before I do this, because I'm almost done with the first draft, and once I finish it, I want to put it away and forget about it for a while before I revise. (I still need to find a good place to hide it).

I also need a new start in terms of YouTube video and website making. I hope that I can get into the Photoshop class I put myself on the waitlist for; I managed to get into the Flash class (which I was also waitlisted for) because the teacher sent me a permission number. Learning Photoshop and Flash will greatly enhance my capabilities as a designer. Having worked my way through a basic-to-intermediate-level book on CSS, I want to learn advanced CSS (if it makes sense to do so) as well as the CSS3 additions, and then after that PHP. Those are goals for this year, late resolutions if you will.

As for YouTube video making, I haven't been doing it consistently for the last couple years. I'm going to finish the Dark Mercury Fandub Project because that project is nearly 4 years old and needs to be put to bed so it will stop haunting me. (It doesn't help that YouTube muted or deleted all the parts, resulting in me having to remake the whole series). I need to figure out exactly what kind of video maker I am. Do I really want to be a vlogger, or do I just want the popularity (and relative safety from getting pegged for unintentional copyright infringement)? To be honest, I attempted vlogging about my writing, using my cell phone for the videotaping, and I found myself with very little to say and what I did say seemed very scripted.

I have a better idea of what to do with my backup/solo fandub channel. While I want to keep doing SeraMyu songdubs as I have been doing, I'm also going to try to do more non-song fandubs, since I've noticed when looking at my videos by "most watched" that my top two most watched videos are my two non-song fandubs (my French fandub of "Garage Kids," the pilot for Code Lyoko, and my fandub of a scene from Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne). I still want to do the fandub of Sailor Moon episode 46 that someone requested; I need to find the person who made me the extended "Carry On" for that because I've lost the mp3 for it. (Ok, just found him and sent him a PM through YouTube. Yay!). For those who don't know what I'm talking about, episode 46 of Sailor Moon features the final battle between the Sailor Senshi and their enemy Queen Beryl. In the original Japanese episode, a full version of the show's theme song "Moonlight Densetsu" played from the time Serenity opens her eyes to the time Beryl is destroyed. In the English dub version of this episode (which was extremely edited down), a much shorter song called "Carry On" was used instead. While I love "Moonlight Densetsu," "Carry On" is my favorite English dub song from Sailor Moon and so I wanted to use it instead, except that it's too short to cover the original scene. So I put out a call for someone to help me out with an extended version, and a YouTube user named codeblackhayate answered the call.

His video with the mix is still up. Check it out!

I feel better now having blogged about all this. Now it's late so I better get to bed because I have work tomorrow. Good night!

Oh, P.S. lately I've been getting into a series called Pretty Cure or Precure, watching the transformations and stuff like crazy on YouTube. And their newest series (called Suite Precure and due to start airing in early February) has music as its theme, which is awesome since I'm writing my own series about music-based magical girls right now. I don't know how I'm going to actually watch it as it airs, though, unless someone is fansubbing it. We'll see. Not much is known about it at this point; the only video we've seen of the new Precures is supposedly in trailers for the new Precure DX movie, due out in March. This is the best video I could find that show what the new Precures look like:

This video, which I just found tonight, shows all the transformations from Precure seasons two (Futari wa Pretty Cure Max Heart) through seven (the most recent season, HeartCatch Precure). The "Yes Precure 5" one (the one shown in the shot in the video window below) remind me of Tokyo Mew Mew with how they say "Metamorphose."

Ok I really need to go to bed now. Bye!

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