15. Five most influential books over your lifetime.
“There Will Come Soft Rains” by Ray Bradbury is the first piece of writing that I remember having a profound impact on me. It was an assigned reading in school at an age when everyone complained about assigned readings, but I fell in love. The house that survives its owners, what meaning does it have to continue functioning? Could a house be considered alive? Questions conjured from Bradbury’s vidid descriptions of a post-apocalypse, a snapshot of that desolate world. I’m still in love with it. It is one of the first pieces of writing that made me realize that stories could move people.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I have read the first lines of this book, uttered by Death, and perhaps never recovered. This book taught me about unconventional narrators and also that prose does not have to be straightforward – poetic prose. That is what I have always aspired to create. Further, it taught me how writing stories can be used to explore history, explore human lives, and I am grateful for that. Also I won an oral interpretation competition with a scene from this book, so heck yeah, fond memories.
Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh – has anything made me laugh out loud quite so much since then? First a blog and now a book, Brosh and her comics taught me the value of hyperbole and the the merit of simplicity. When I was younger, I would have scorned her art style, crudely drawn on what seemed to be MS Paint. I now realize that her style is just that – a style – and she utilizes it phenomenally to tell painfully funny stories from her childhood. The art style gives her art an approachable nature, masking just how detailed each panel actually is. Her stories were also insightful. I will never forget reading her update on Depression. It was telling, it was informative, and it was a revelation to me.
The Kick-Ass Writer by Chuck Wendig is, as it sounds, one of those ‘how-to-write’ books. I am ashamed to admit that I love how-to-write books. It is my ultimate form of procrastination.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz was an assigned reading for a class of mine titled Literature & Happiness. I will be honest in that I despised the book. I could tell, objectively, that it was a good novel, but I did not enjoy a moment of it as it is not the kind of book I enjoy. However, it was an assigned reading that dealt with suicide ideation in a class that dealt with happiness that came to me in a time when I had my own first encounter with parasuicide in my surroundings. For those reasons, though I do not like the book, it could never be insignificant to me.
I think a lot of people would write down classics or obscenely long novels from decades past, and it’s not as though I have not read those. However, I have always been a person who better understands individuals than a group, so it makes sense that the books that have influenced me are all more focused on an individual experience.
16. If you’d grown up in a different environment, do you think you’d have turned out the same?
Never. Absolutely not. I am a product of the cultures I have experienced, the people I have encountered, and the failures that were a product of my exact circumstances. I have whole theories and AU ideas about how I might have developed had certain key events gone differently in my past. Although I do believe that everyone has a ‘core personality’ of some kind, I believe that my core personality lies in my conviction and my finite pool of care.
As such, I believe in a different environment, I could have put my conviction in the wrong beliefs and spent my finite pool of care on the wrong people. I am firmly convinced that there is an alternate universe version of me that is homophobic, racist, elitist, and ableist. I am fortunate that I am not her.
17. Would you say your tumblr is a fair representation of the “real you”?
I’m of the belief that the ‘real me’ is not the person beneath the masks – the true self is the entire mask collection. The ‘real me’ includes all of my faces, from the fandom-obsessive sableaire on Tumblr to the highly professional and proactive persona I wore during internships to the presently procrastinating college student I am now. The ‘real me’ is both the friend who would forgo sleep for her loved ones as well as the individual who discreetly scorns those who label her their friend when she does not reciprocate the sentiment.
People are born raw gems, cut by their circumstances, and from then on, every personality in every situation is merely a facet of the resulting jewel.
18. What’s your patronus?
See, Pottermore would tell me it is a rattlesnake, but I also misclicked on the final question of that so I hope to retake it later. If we speak of what I believe my patronus would be, I think that it would be a fox of some kind, likely the red fox. Beyond the fact that I think them cute, I believe it is the animal that best represents me.
Red foxes are typically solitary creatures but, under some circumstances, may form social groups. They are also monogamous. However, these foxes are independent and go about their own lives, effectively self-sufficient, only occasionally coming together to support each other and hang out. Different subspecies of the red fox are found in America and Korea. They have a reputation for being cunning and sly but are in truth, and in limited observation, highly affectionate. They can form deep and meaningful bonds with unexpected creatures outside of their natural range, such as domesticated dogs or cats.
19. Which Harry Potter house would you be in? Or are you a muggle?
I am a Slytherin, through and through. I have a whole AU set up with friends pinpointing exactly what kind of people we would be. The gist of it is though, I am Slytherin and proud. To me, a Slytherin is someone who acknowledges the importance of perception and someone who realizes that other people’s opinions are important to getting what you want. This doesn’t mean you have to be two-faced or anything – it just means that unlike Hermione Granger, a Slytherin would likely have considered that naming a movement S.P.E.W is not exactly wise. Further, a true Slytherin would realize that the best way to show a friend that you care for them is to take care of yourself. “I’ll take care of me for you if you’ll take care of you for me.”
Honestly, I am in full support of the idea that Slytherins and Hufflepuffs are naturally drawn to each other. Despite all their differences, they do share one trait, that being fierce devotion and loyalty to their friends. I think that is something they could find in each other, and from then on, their differences can cover for and strengthen each other. I could write a full analysis on my personal House Analysis, even though I’m not a major Harry Potter fan. Don’t tempt me.
20. Would you rather be in Middle Earth, Narnia, Hogwarts, or somewhere else?
I would rather be in a world I didn’t already know everything about, ahaha.
21. Do you love easily?
22. List the top five things you spend the most time doing, in order.
This changes every two weeks, but I will try to be as broadly accurate as possible:
1. Indulge in my obsession-of-the-week (ranges from dating sims to exercise)
2. Talking with my friends via Skype
4. Video Games
Any one of the last three can surge to #1 on the list if it is my current obsessive cycle. Technically I guess listening to music should be on the top, since I do it in the background of all my other activities. My goal should really be getting writing to the top spot, though;;
23. How often would you want to see your family every year?
It depends on how well we keep in contact. I think in an ideal future, the bare minimum would be a face to face meeting at least once every two weeks for my immediate family. Beyond that circle, I don’t have any real strong connections. It’s pretty important to me that we continue to celebrate major holidays together, though, especially Chusok, the Korean harvest festival.
24. Have you ever felt like you had a “mind-meld” with someone?
Danny and I often joke about how we’ve become at least a third the same person. We’ve had several cases where we come up with the same idea without prompting. I think we’re both still mad about the name Bartholomew… but aside from that, there are some people in my life who think that we’ve mind-melded. In reality, I’m just pretty good at reading people and most people are somewhat predictable.
25. Would you live as a hermit?
Me as I currently am, no. However, if I ever made the decision and decided to commit, decided to give up contact with loved ones and such, I could, and I would survive it. However, I would be a changed person, for better or for worse.
26. How would you describe your gender/sexuality?
I am aromantic-asexual, meaning that I experience neither romantic nor sexual attraction. Both feelings completely elude me. They baffle me. I would go as far as to say that I am mostly romance-repulsed and completely sex-repulsed, but only when put into context with myself. Before I elaborate on what all that means, do note that I can only describe what this means for myself. Other aroace, romance/sex-repulsed people might experience their identity very differently.
[omitted a bunch because it got really long and that is for another post another day]
The short of it is, I am heavily uncomfortable with imagining myself, with my own physical body and existence, in a romantic or sexual relationship. I can’t even visualize it without it quavering into nothingness. However, I am happy for people who find healthy romantic relationships. I read romances, occasonally write them, and god knows I own too many dating sims;; I judge Dragon Age games by their offered romance. Hey, at least I own up to it, shush. I have had full dreams where I’ve experienced romances, but in those dreams I am never ‘myself’. Those are the days I wake up confused about who I am, ahaha.
I am notably a bit more reserved when it comes to sex. I dislike talking about it, but it is less a stigma of shame and more just a personal discomfort. However, I am only sex-repulsed when it comes to imagining myself in a sexual situation. I can tolerate people boasting about their sex lives, etc. though I will never applaud them for it.
Honestly, my biggest complaint about being aroace in college is that it makes Never Have I Ever really goddamn boring.
27. Do you feel like your outside appearance is a fair representation of the “real you”?
My answer to this goes hand in hand with the other question about the “real me”. I am the student wearing the overpriced Portal shirt she bought at PAX East. I am also the young woman who feels powerful in black pumps and an expensive grey dress. When I get my hands on that three piece suit I’ve been dying for, I’ll be that person as well. I am not the outfit I wear, I am the whole wardrobe.
Although, ah, I suddenly realized that this might be asking about my physical body, in which case my forgetting it is my answer. I often forget that I possess a human body that people see and interact with, to the point where I forget to eat, drink, or sleep. Most of the time I identify myself as my clothes. I didn’t get to choose or design the body I live in – it’s out of my hands – so I don’t pay it much attention. I try to keep clean and healthy. Being in control is important to me, so by god, I will control my body to the extent that I can.
28. On a scale from 1 to 10, how hard is it for someone to get under your skin?
With 1 being easiest and 10 being hardest, I am likely seem like a 10 but am more about a 6. Most people who know me remark that they have never seen me angry, ever. Harmlessly annoyed, at most. These are the people that don’t realize that I am a misanthrope, through and through. It’s not that I think most of humanity is unsalvageable or inherently evil – I do believe in the inherent goodness of the majority – but that doesn’t mean that I approach the world thinking strangers are friends I haven’t met yet.
I have a zero tolerance policy. I don’t externally show it, but if someone seems inefficient, toxic, or parasitic in any way, I immediately and near-permanently write them off as someone I cannot open up to and someone I cannot respect. To clarify, me lacking respect for someone does not mean that I outwardly disrespect them – it simply means that I would never go the extra mile for them.
29. Three songs that you connect with right now.
This is a difficult question to answer because I don’t listen to music I connect with. I listen to music that suits whatever scene or story I am writing. That being said, I think if I had to choose, songs that I usually relate to are “The Greatest” by Sia, “Little Talks” by Of Monsters and Men, and “King of Anything” by Sara Bareilles. The first one represents the importance of self-worth, the second represents communication and relationships, and the third represents a little of both.
30. Pick one of your favorite quotes.
What a difficult question. However, when asked such, I always turn to Voltaire. I hold many of his most popular quotes close to my heart (“Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”), but here are a few from others as I cannot choose just one:
“To hold a pen is to be at war.” – Voltaire
“Death gives rise to life.” – Eric Wilson from “Against Happiness”
“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J.R.R. Tolkien
“Sleep, young dragon // Grow your spines.” –alk0n0st
“I embraced death until I became arrogant.” – me