Since I was little, I was used to taking a lot of exams. I think we all do. But taking an exam that might become the most crucial turning point in your life? Uh-oh.
I remember that early morning when my mom and dad were with me on the day of our board examination. I thought it was only my dad who would accompany me to the examination place but to my surprise, my mom hopped in our rusty, vintage car as well. She said she wanted to support me all the way. Well, I appreciated it, but then again it just added pressure to my already stressed out mind. My hands were freaking cold and clammy on the way to the examination place. Inside the vehicle, we had a little chichat just to alleviate the tension and the nervousness among us. Yes, not just in me but I sensed that it was within them too.
It was a Saturday morning - first day of the exams. Yup. If it was a documentary, it was like a two-part special. If it was like a movie, it still has a sequel. Good thing that each day the exams were conducted, it will be just half day. Then another half for tomorrow. That [Saturday] day, I woke up very early so that I can prepare myself and the things that I’ll be bringing. Also, waking up early means I have the highest possible chance of going to the examination place early, thus, avoiding traffic and tardiness. Of course, who wants to be late to such an important day, especially us, the examiners. No way I’m gonna be late for something I’ve prepared for how many months already.
Back in gradeschool, given that my grandmother lived with us since I was little, I was used to being kept an eye on my studies. My grandmother was a retired teacher, before she decided to become a housewife instead. Every time I went home bringing the results of my exams from school, she always wanted to see it and checked where I got my mistakes. Then every weekends, we had this little blackboard at home complete with a box of chalk and an eraser at our balcony and there she taught us math and english. I always hated math but still I tried my best answering the equations written on the board. Sometimes, she also made written exams based on my lessons at school (she’ll check my notes) and to be answered under timed pressure. My favorite part is when it’s ‘break time’ and she made us either pancakes or fried bananas coated with sugar, with matching orange juice.
Such was a pleasurable experience then. Because as you grow older, school becomes tricky. Exams that need to be answered becomes more and more difficult. Exams that need to be passed becomes more and more critical. The preparation for the board exams was a long journey. Literally, it was months worth of time. Figuratively, it was physically, mentally, emotionally and even spiritually demanding. Truth is, it was just like any other exams that you take. Questions for the exams were the ones you studied at school, so that means you have a chance of answering it correctly. What makes it difficult is the degree of its importance and its significant meaning in your life. Because when you’ll pass it, you’ll already be a professional, certified with liscense to practice your course.
When we arrived at the examination place, both my parents wished me luck, of course. I just smiled, said thanks, and waved goodbye to them. As I turned around, I already saw some of friends and classmates making their way inside as well. Aside from my parents’ moral (and financial) support, the ones who have been there for me were my friends and classmates too. Of course, who else can better understand your situation than those who were in the same situation as your in as well. Being with them all 4 years of my college life, plus the extra time we spent at the review center, all us knew that it was the most awaited day. It was the time that we’ll be able to know if our hard work paid off or not. It really helped having my friends and/or classmates during the course of the review because it somehow lessed my anxieties and worries. It’s because we were somehow sharing each others’ burdens and that we helped each one to carry it, making it feel lighter.
The first set of the exams were unbelievable. I don’t know where the hell they got all those questions. Some were even basic questions but you just weren’t sure of the answer. Some were tricky ones that’ll make you doubt your answers if it’s the right one. What more when the second day arrived. I literally got headaches answering all those questions. I was even more worried when somewhere during the exams; I got pretty sleepy and groggy. When the last set of exams was done, that’s it - I was just relieved the whole thing was over. I told myself that I did everything I could and that it will be up to HIM for the results. That’s right. Another thing that kept me sane during the whole journey was my faith in HIM. I think me and my friends had gone to a lot of prayer vigils and blessings just to help boost our morale in passing the exams. I think we’ve asked helped (and called) for several saints already just to help enlighten our troubled minds. The waiting time for the results was so nerve-racking that I kept on praying to God to please let me pass the exams. Please dear Lord, I pleaded many times.
Merely two months later, the results were in. It was a sunny afternoon as I had received text messages after text messages from my friends announcing good news of them passing the exam. Until I recieved a text message ‘congratulating’ me for passing the exams. Turns out that she happens to received news from the office that the official examination results were in. Turns out, as well, that she happens to get accessed to the internet first than I did. Finally, turns out that she immediately informed him of my passing of the exams than me. Funny how it seemed that the very people whom I was dedicating my hardwork for, were the first ones who knew that everything paid off - my parents.
***based on my experience taking the Licensure Exams for Nurses
Fading sunlight beam touches the old wooden floor. I can sense the gentle breeze of the wind outside the open window. I hear the birds chirping as they would sound in the early morning. Except it wasn’t early morning - it was about 3pm in the afternoon. I am quite certain of it. I lie in bed, still eyes closed and I reached out my hand, searching for another being beside me - yet I found none.
Now I am certain it is afternoon now. Time for yet another one of her afternoon desserts.
I got up and looked at my reflection on the built-in mirror in the middle of a wooden dresser overlooking the bed. Black, messy hair from being asleep, kinda pale-looking face and I just as I thought my tummy sounded like it’s been emptied for a while.
"Just wait, alright?" I said to myself, still a little dizzy from waking up.
Bed is kind of messed up: the sheets untucked at the edges; pillow casing almost removed from the pillow; sligtly crumpled cover page of a magazine I was reading before I fell into slumber. The magazine. Yes, I remember now. I was reading beside her. She was reading as well, beside me of course.
It was one of my favorite moments being with her. It was part of her daily routine - reading. Usually after having her lunch, she picks up from the numerous piled up magazines in the rack either something she hasn’t finish reading yet or something she hasn’t flip open the pages before. TIME magazine was her favorite. We have bundles of it because my uncle, her youngest son who works abroad, avails subscription of the said magazine and he usually sends a couple of it via a package that we receive yearly. Sometimes, he sends over a couple of Reader’s Digest too, which is, my personal choice.
Getting outside of the room and I usually find her sitting already on the dinning table, in her old and musty duster, short and curly grey-ing hair, wrinkles and saggy skin brought by aging while staring at the scenery outside the window positioned at her left side. When she notices me, she finally invites me over to have dessert. Usually, it was fried sliced bananas coated with sugar. Sometimes, pancakes toppled with maple syrup. Sometimes, biscuits or junkfoods just brought outside at a nearby mini-store. Of course, there would be drinks to help chug down the food, usually her super-sweet orange juice or iced cold softdrinks.
Of course I would be happy eating and sitting beside her.
"Free food, yay!" I thought to myself
And then there was silence. Actually, more like tranquility. There’s not much of talking or chatting whenever I’m eating beside her. But there’s no hint of loneliness or sadness as well. It was more like, peacefulness. We’re just there, two beings munching and drinking to fill up our emptied stomach. And the truth is, I feel at ease. And as I stare at the scenery outside the same window she’s staring at, the vast and clear blue sky can be seen. I liked it.
It’s the same peacefulness I feel whenever she caressed my hair while I sit beside her sobbing either after getting scolded by my parents or after having a fight wih my sister or brother. Usually, I run up to her side, while she sits watching television shows on the living room. I like how she respects my preference of just keeping quiet after she asks me of what had happened or what’s wrong. It’s just me, pouring out my tears beside her and her, pouring out her sympathy for me. And whenever I’m done with it, she either changes the channel on the television to my favorite cartoon shows or she goes over her stock piles at the kitchen cabinet and offers me food.
However I’m not saying that she was spoiling me, because indeed she didn’t. What I can cite as an example was that whenever I’m watching television for a long time, like for how many hours, she didn’t like that. Whenever I’m going to bargain for a couple more minutes just so I’ll be able to finish my favorite show, she’ll do the ultimatum - shut down the powerline. Oh yes. Fortunately for her, the main switch of her house was located inside her room, so she often did that.
At first, I thought “It’s brownout again.”
But then I noticed that after a couple of times, it always happens. That whenever I get stubborn on turning off the television, brownout happens. I mean, it wasn’t coincidence anymore. Also, I explored and finally discovered the switch in her room when my sister hinted me that it [the brownout] might be our grandmother’s doing. Well, at first I was kinda pissed off of her doing that. I thought, “How bad can her electric bill will be given that she isn’t really using too much electricity at all?!” But then later on, I just didn’t mind it. Truth is, I kinda miss her doing that; because right now, she isn’t with us anymore.
One of my most cherished memories of her before she passed away was that one moment when I was feeding our dog. Our Labrador stays at a corner of our house where there’s an overlooking balcony above it. So whenever you’re going at that specific corner, you can see whoever is standing there at the balcony, of course with a little extending of your head to see who’s there.
It was a quiet, sunny afternoon when I was feeding our dog. Suddenly, from up above I heard someone shouted “Bwah!” as if trying to scare the wits out of you. I found out it was my grandmother, she saw me attending our dog. Of course, I was shocked, or kinda surprised of what I heard. But I was more surprised that she did something like that. She’s not the playful one, cracking jokes or pulling on little pranks. As I’ve said, she was the quiet one. But she did that and we both giggled afterwards. I won’t forget that smile on her face.
Now, whenever I feed or attend to our dog, I always look up at that balcony where she used to stand. I was half expecting she’s still there, but she’s not. Whenever I watch the television for countless hours, there’s no one nagging to turn it off already. Whenever I see the inside of her room, there’s no signs of life either. And that those magazines are just stockpiled onto another, collecting dusts for no one seems to read them anymore. Although occassionally, I still read a few of them. But I know it’s never gonna be the same again.
I know I will always miss her presence on every corner of our house. For every corner, she has buried memories on it. Memories filled with either moments of happiness or of sadness. But I know her presence is with Someone greater than all of us. And I know whenever I stare at that window at her dinning room which she used to stare at; a vast and clear blue sky can be seen bringing that feeling of tranquility.
And I’ll always like it.
***written by me, dedicated to you - wherever you may be.
"Friends are the givers of our strengths and the receivers of our weaknesses."-happycinnamon.com
Just finished reading A tale for the time being by ruth ozeki. I came upon this book via goodreads.com (believe they’ve got tons of book recommendations that each of us will like). Anyhow, given its genre science fiction, I should’ve anticipated or even expected that the story’s unending questions will be answered well, by science, of course.
Ruth Ozeki’s third novel, shortlisted for The Man Booker Prize 2013.
In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao plans to document the life of her great-grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace—and will touch lives in a ways she can scarcely imagine.
Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox—possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future.
Full of Ozeki’s signature humour and deeply engaged with the relationship between writer and reader, past and present, fact and fiction, quantum physics, history, and myth, A Tale for the Time Being is a brilliantly inventive, beguiling story of our shared humanity and the search for home. (via goodreads.com)
I like the opening lines by Nao. Simple yet inviting. Every time it’s Nao’s part of the story, it’s like you’re really reading the diary and feels like Ruth at the same time. It’s Nao’s character and her misadventures being a gaijin (outsider or foreigner) in Japan was what made me kept on reading and kept my interest on the book. A typical teenage girl that, after her moundful of bad experiences in Japan, turned her from an innocent, optimistic girl to someone who lost all hope to live her life. It just kinda freaked me out the way the transition of her character happened. The starting pages were still enduring but as the story progressed, her experiences became all too painful to bear. There was a part when I can already feel her pain, like I think I’m gonna be sick or something. Well, that just means that Ozeki really did capture my attention through her words. I’m talking about her ijime or bullying experiences at school. How cruel can students be to an outsider, not even giving her a chance to get to know her. But I’m sure it is happening in the real world, that’s the sad part.
I also well appreciated her encounters with her great grandma. Old people are the wisest, that’s why I really appreciated a lot of her great-grandma Jiko’s teachings and reflections. I’m close with my grandma (when she was still alive) that’s why it touched my heart during those moments of Nao and Jiko-san. Sometimes, when we can’t get help or guidance from our parents in times of our troubled times, our grandparents are there. Well, I think I was kinda half expecting that Jiko will die somewhere in the story and that would be Nao’s wake up call, as well as her father. Jiko was kinda like the lighter part of the story. She was the one thing that guided Nao and kept her sane. Although she couldn’t prevented Nao from meeting screwed-up people (like Babette) and eventually giving up her ‘body’ to some guys - I was somehow displeased by this.
In addition, I learn a lot of Japanese words/phrases and it’s proper selling and meanings through this book too (which I really liked given that I’m interested in Japan). I got thrilled with that one time reference of the character in Eureka Seven which was Anemone and I was like 'Oh yes, because it's Japan, alright. Land of the animes'. Likewise, I also learned some Japanese customs too. One thing is about the traditional way of taking a bath in Japan. Another is the traditional way of the funeral services. Also, I think the setting of the story - both in Japan with Nao and in Canada with Ruth - was well described in details, appropriately and creatively that if it was a movie it would be ‘visually stunning and amusing’. In a scene at Canada, in Ruth’s part of the story, I imagined an image of the seashore with rolling waves meeting and washing up the sand, being her place island-y. With Nao’s part when she got to the temple in the mountains, I imagined a long, steep of stairs going up to an old, huge temple with bamboo shoots nearby and grand mountains by the backgound. I very much like, as well, a scene where it was described that Nao walked along a path with canopies of Cherry Blossom trees along the sides - I kinda imagined myself doing so, too. It was like that for me. It was kinda ironic, the story about enduring life’s hardships yet its backdrop is something serene and calm.
Another thing I liked with the book was how was past and the present intertwined with each other. And it’s very well explained by science. The moment the diary got to the hands of Ruth who was miles away from Nao, science had an explaination (and it’s real science, alright, it has real-life basis). Actually I got a little headche from that explanation. Quantum physics theory really played a role in the story too. It somehow what explains everything in the story, especially somewhere in the end. Quantum physics theory is kinda hard to explain and I’m not about to do a science presentation in this review. Just imagine this: someone, just like you lives in another time in another place under another circumstances. He or she may or may not exactly look like you, it depends of the time difference. That is where, I think the concept of having the Time Being. With Ruth trying to know more about of Nao as she was reading the diary, she forgot or wasn’t aware that she was reading a diary written years ago. She thought it was a present diary when in fact it was a past diary. Everytime the diary was being read, Nao becomes a present being. So we cannont really say whose in the past and whose in the present because Nao can still be a present person only in a different timeline. Got it? Go on, comprehend just what I said slowly.
In the end, she hadn’t been able to see Nao or even contact her. It’s because the diary was of someone years ago and she isn’t even sure of the owner’s whereabouts currently. This was somehow disapointing for me because I was hoping that they’ll see each other in the end. I also thought that Ruth and Nao were somehow related or connected, as in a family tie or something, but they’re not. But who knows? If it’s quantum physics theory, it can be concluded that both Nao and Ruth are one and the same, only in a different time and space. In the end, there wasn’t really a conclusion between them. But don’t worry ‘cause Nao’s life story was a closed one and she had resolved her family problems and her own mishaps too. Maybe, I liked the book, teaching a lot about life, but didn’t really meet my expectations when it comes as to how things turned out. Because in my mind I was thinking of a different ending, for different twists and turns. But then again, even if it’s fiction, it’s still patterned after real life situations. And in real life, not everything you wanted happens the way you like it to happen. Yet, what we can do is to heed old Jiko’s last message to both Nao and her father: TO LIVE.
Storyline: 3.8/5 Isn’t it still an interesting plot that reading someone else’s life via a diary do affect us in ways we can’t understand? Yes, I think so. Especially that in the end, the one you were betting on triumped against all odds so that’s good. And I appreciated the end part wherein it was Ruth’s turn to write back to Nao.
Characters: 3/5 Sadly, I was only interested with Nao’s character. Her sometimes witty, funny comments about the things she sees and how she endured her miseries by having a diary as a safe haven and by holding onto Jiko-san’s teachings. Ruth’s part and her life in the island didn’t much perked me up, although it was interesting how she’s much affected by the diary.
Writing Style: 4.5 / 5 Ozeki describes each moments/situation/scenes in the book with much details that one needs to be able to visualized it properly. Also, I appreciated she used appropriate words to decribe Nao’s bullying but not to the point that it gets morbid or gross to read. Because the interactions and exchanges of point of view between the 2 main protagonists is alternate (Nao’s turn then it was Ruth, then Nao again and so forth), the story is not hard to follow through.
Lip Sync Battle with Jimmy Fallon, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, & Stephen Merchant
epic!! hilarious!! LOL!!
Summer Is Over - Jon McLaughlin ft. Sara Bareilles
I’m addicted to this and the lyrics are so meaningful it goes straight shot to your heart. The melody is also catchy and I always picture myself lying under a tree with the sunshine kissing my skin and the warm breeze brushing against my face. Because of course, it’s a summer, melancholic song.
"Assumptions suck. They’re like expectations. Assumptions and expectations will kill any relationship."-A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
"As long as you keep trying to be a good person and making an effort to change, then finally one day all the good stuff you do will cancel out all the bad stuff that you’ve done"-A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
SHAMAN KING: Osorezan Revoir Chapter 162-170
It’s in those chapters where you’ll be satistified with Yoh and Anna’s love story. It’s their first encounters way back when they were younger. I really loved this special side story of the manga. I never thought I’d really fallen in love with these couple. Although I already loved them way back when the anime was airing on local tv. But I’m more in love with them in the manga. Probably because their story were more elaborately told in the manga than in the anime.
They’re super cuuuute! AND the following scans were my MOST favorite moments in the side story. I really just literally melted with both of them. Besides the lovestory, there’s a lot more about the revelations of the characters during the course of this side story. I love Shaman King since I’ve seen it way back. And I can’t even believe I was able to read the manga too, given it’s 300 chapters. *headache*
Go ahead and google these scenes and I recommend you read the manga as well.