“We’re All Mad Here!”

“I grew up seeing things a little differently,

appearing, disappearing, hardly innocent,

nor tied down to the ground.

I learned to roll and tumble with the punches,

glory in my stripes and spots,

walk by invisible and never make a sound.” Continue reading


Scholars’ Pride

School spirit?  Oh yeah, I’m into it!

Well…maybe not in the way most people think of the term.

When I was in grade school, the concept of taking pride in one’s institution of education was a foreign concept. School was a place I went to learn stuff, end of story. However, as I grew older and manifested a desire to be part of a closer group, I found that closeness in school organizations. At first it was cheerleading, then middle school marching and concert band. As the majority of these activities required me to take part in athletic events in some way, acquiring “school spirit” was a part of the package if I wanted to look awesome and shout on the basketball sidelines or play flute at football games.


This is what “school vs. school” spirit looked like to me in high school – one big fight.

By the time I finally made it to high school, the roaring blaze of my school spirit was beginning to die down. Something had changed. Rather than playing in marching and pep band because I wanted to support my school, I participated because I wanted to continue learning and playing music. Even in school-related functions that I undertook, such as my unsuccessful attempt at running for sophomore homecoming queen, I did them not because I wanted to contribute to the school but because I thought they would be fun. (A gorgeous dress, strutting my stuff in front of the whole gymnasium, forcing the majority of the student population who thinks you’re a nerdy loser to pay attention to you? Who wouldn’t leap at that chance?) Even when I began my own school-centered organization, the Cumberland Gap High School Anime Club, I did so not to enrich my school but to create a place of belonging for those who wanted to share a common interest.

In short, I stopped seeing myself as part of a school and began seeing myself as part of something beyond a community defined by a mascot.

When I began attending LMU, some part of me thought that I would begin taking pride in my specific institution of education again. Surprisingly for me, that wasn’t the case. Don’t misunderstand me; LMU is a wonderful school, and I’m intensely grateful to be able to study at a university where I feel so at home. At such a small and close-knit school where I instantly found a ring of friends and my professors know me on a first-name basis, I feel like an individual, a scholar, not a number on a class roster like I would feel at a larger university. That being said, pride in the “team”, whether it be an athletic team, a club, or the school community at large, exists here as it does everywhere.

Both within and beyond this team mentality, there is a much larger and stronger team that I discovered here and take pride in: a universal community of scholars, thinkers, and learners. Through speaking with and learning from the professors from various departments (especially my preferred one, English), I’ve come to discover that this sense of scholarly thinking is very present at this university. I’ve seen the university’s Pep Band director get so into the basketball games we attend and play for that it’s almost gotten me into the sports mentality; however, the games eventually end, and he remains a scholar of music rather than a participant in the just-for-fun conflict between teams. I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw him the next day in a jam session with other musicians from competitive colleges.

Team-mentality-based school spirit is something that exists, and can be important or unimportant for individual people; it can unite, but it can also divide. However, the spirit that all of us as students possess is the spirit of the scholar; our presence at the university alone proves this. We are privileged enough that we can spend years of our lives learning about whatever mysteries of the universe that we see fit to study – and we care enough to take advantage of the opportunity. All students – whether they’re grade-schoolers, LMU students, students at other universities, or unofficial students who take every chance they have to study something new – are united by our desire to learn.

No matter when, where, or how we go about learning, the important thing is that we learn.

This semester is drawing to a close, readers – a busy time that I can’t wait to tell you about! Feel free to follow my blog to keep up with the excitement.

They Call Her The Winter Soldier…

Halloween is almost upon us, and we all know what that means: COSTUMES! Costumes everywhere! I’m so hyped to see everyone’s creative ideas come to life on the 31st. I’ve always dressed up for Halloween, and a lot of times throughout the rest of the year as well; it’s something I find fun, and it only became more enjoyable when I discovered cosplaying in my early teenage years. Since then, most of my costumes for Halloween have been re-wearings of costumes from an anime convention earlier in the year. This year’s costume, however, is a bit different: it’s a cosplay that I plan on wearing again, certainly, but this Halloween will be its debut! I’ve been working on it for a decent amount of time, and it still has some tweaking to go through before it’s ready for the convention floor, but for the occasion at hand, it’s perfect. Continue reading

Insert Bad Autumn Pun Here

The minute I stepped outside my dorm a few weeks ago and felt cool breeze on my skin instead of the normal mid-morning heat, I had only one thought: Oh, YES.

It’s now October, readers, otherwise known as the absolute greatest month of the year — Autumn is upon us! Although all of the seasons are beautiful in their own way and completely necessary, of course, I’ve always loved this particular point on the wheel, and why not? Returning to school, perfect weather, beautiful changes in nature and fun holidays all add up to make a pretty amazing atmosphere.

Don’t pay ANY attention to this noise.

Well…an amazing atmosphere everywhere except on the non-Tumblr internet. Apparently your favorite season being Autumn has become something of a negative stereotype applied to teenage girls, as per graphics that say things like “if you say ‘pumpkin spice latte’ in front of a mirror three times, a white girl in yoga pants will appear and tell you her favorite things about Fall.” Needless to say, readers…this irked me. So guess what? This white girl is about to tell you her favorite things about Fall! Continue reading

Not A Perfect Soldier, But A Good Man

This is indeed a blog post about American comics, but there will be no playing at false elitism in any post of mine: I started reading comics because of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It took seeing Iron Man, X-Men: First Class, and Thor before I even picked up a comic book out of simple curiosity; however, it was the 2012 summer blockbuster The Avengers that really sold me on getting into the Marvel fandom once and for all. I was familiar with most of the superheroes in the team movie, but not all, and so I left the theater with a few questions. Not the least of them being:

Who was the recently-defrosted blond guy from the 40s, in a spangly outfit, throwing a shield around? And why should I care about him?

Two movies and multiple Marvel Wiki entries, comic issues, fanfictions, and character analysis blogs later, my questions were answered: Captain America, AKA Steven Grant Rogers, was my soon-to-be new favorite superhero, and I should care about him for so many reasons.

**POSSIBLE SPOILERS: Marvel comics story arcs Captain America: Winter Soldier and Civil WarMarvel Cinematic Universe films Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier** Continue reading

The Wings of Freedom

“Fight to win! Risk it all for even a glimmer of real freedom! It doesn’t matter what’s waiting outside the gate or what comes in! It doesn’t matter how cruel the world can be, or how unjust!

Fight! Fight! Fight! FIGHT!”

Readers, I want you to imagine a dystopia the likes of which you’ve never seen before. The human race has been driven to the brink of extinction by a race of colossal monsters who seem to exist only to kill it, and the survivors have fled within supposedly impenetrable walls to defend themselves. This world gives no pretense of being perfect, is in fact genuinely terrifying, and humanity’s defenders are fighting a seemingly endless battle to protect a hopeless population. That’s right, I’m talking about the world of Hajime Isayama’s best-selling manga, Attack on Titan. And as Tumblr user acronymexe so aptly summed up: “Attack on Titan has taught me that no matter what the odds, no matter what stands in my way, if I have the right mindset and fight with my mind and my soul, I will still most likely die.” I actually discovered animated adaptation of this manga before the manga itself; while the first season of the anime ended after twenty-five episodes, I discovered that the manga was still ongoing and immediately began reading.

**SPOILERS: I will not discuss in this blog any plot points extending past Chapter 34 of the manga / episode 25 of the anime.** Continue reading

Alex’s Declassified Writing Survival Guide – Part 2!

Guess what, my dear readers?

I, Alex, the writer who often develops new ideas to write but rarely ever finds the motivation to actually do the thing, has started a new original story at last! And this time, it’s one that I got the idea for out of non-forced inspiration and I am actually determined to finish!

Perhaps it’s really true that a change of surroundings or a change in pace is all it takes to kick-start the imagination. I recently spent a week in Hilton Head Island in South Carolina before school started back, on vacation with my parents. While having no private bedroom and constantly running around for a week had the unfortunate side-effect of me wanting to spend the entire week afterward doing nothing and talking to no one, there were some definite upsides to a new environment. Perhaps the most important was that I started journaling again. That got me used to writing a little every day, no matter what it was. It was the last night of the trip, when I was down at the beach for one last visit, that the aforementioned perfect story idea came to me, along with the first lines of the story itself.

However, for me most of the time, writing isn’t nearly as easy as staring out at the ocean until inspiration strikes out of the blue. To illustrate this, here’s an in-depth look at my complete writing process:

1) Realize that you haven’t written anything that’s not fanfiction in over six months.

Obviously there’s nothing wrong with writing fanfiction – I LOVE fanfics, reading them and writing them, and consider them a completely legitimate form of storycrafting. However, I also love branching out into writing my own, original ideas too…and shortly before I left for vacation, I looked back at the past year and realized that I had hardly written anything not using pre-existing characters at all. Whoops.

2) Take a peek into your latent imagination and realize that you have too many ideas and half-finished concepts buzzing around to organize. Continue reading