Local Inspiration

  Hopefully, I’ll soon be heading to downtown McAllen to gather some inspiration. I’ll be taking my notebook along to jot down some quick ideas.

  My goal is to make a compilation of the things that I’m generally interested in so that I can create my own unique style within that of Japanese street fashion.

  Does anyone have any suggestions such as stores, accessories, or things for which I should keep my eye out? I would also love to hear in what fashion genre you’re interested and what you do when searching for an outfit to expand your wardrobe.

Self-confidence: Introversion

  I often wonder why it is that I can’t leave my home without checking my reflection countless times for what I refer to as “errors” in my appearance and outfit choice.

  At first, my mind logically conjured the idea that it might be my self-diagnosed “OCD”(Obsessive Compulsive Disorder); but once I’d rid myself of that thought, I instantly came up with vanity.

  But the thing is, I’m not a vain person. So I decided to talk to one of my closest friends about this problem- and this was unusual because I’m often the one who people come to with their problems. I told them that I always fidgeted with even the most minuscule “faults” of my facial features, makeup, hair, and accessories.

  “Maybe,” they had started almost uncertainly, “you’re an introvert.”

  I had stared blankly at them for a moment, taking my time to contemplate their assumption and helpful input. I quickly came to the conclusion that this was inaccurate; after all, wasn’t I speaking to my friend confidently?

  What I failed to think about was that when we first met, I was quiet and it took over a year of our being in the same studies for us to actually communicate. I reluctantly began to admit that I had every sign of being socially impaired.

  “An introvert?” I murmured cautiously, my brows furrowing downward in deep pondering. “Maybe…”

  I couldn’t look people in the eye when they talked to me, nor could I compliment someone or start even a mundane conversation. I couldn’t walk up to someone and ask them if they liked something. It’s not that I didn’t want to, it was just that at the time, I really couldn’t.

  I slowly began to become even more insecure and worried. I stopped talking to friends and family members for about a month or two, I stopped doing the things I loved like drawing, writing, taking photos, and playing the guitar. I rarely left my room, and even less did I leave my house.

  That’s when I started to believe that I couldn’t do anything right. I went three days without eating one time; and just when I thought it was getting to be too much, I gathered enough courage to leave my comfortable place of isolation and meet a friend who was very worried about me.

  They ran up to me as soon as I stepped foot in the small cafe and smothered me in affection that I’d long forgotten. That’s when I began to get fatigued. They were just looking at me for an unusually long time. Was my hair messy? Did my makeup smear? Did my outfit not match?

  “You’re so beautiful.”

  I was stunned- how could they believe I was beautiful? That’s when I knew that what I was missing wasn’t the support from friends, but confidence in myself and the things that I could do.

  It didn’t matter how others saw me, as long as I loved me for me and saw past the physical appearance.

  My friend and I met each other regularly to work on this problem. That was about five years ago; we still meet each other frequently, but now I joke around and laugh and look straight into their eyes when they’re speaking- and although I still battle with my insecurities, it’s more about things of importance such as the bills and work and my studies.

  Have confidence in yourself; be proud of who you are, and don’t be afraid to have aspirations and goals. Do what you love, dress how you feel, be open with others. It’s hard at first, but if you show others that you’re comfortable in your own skin, you might just inspire them to be as good of a person as they can be.

Parent’s Guide to Understanding Visual Kei

  I know that I haven’t posted anything recently(I’ve been very busy lately- what with my second blog that’s still in progress, and all the work I’ve had- and really, I’m not complaining) and some of my dedicated readers may, or may not, be disappointed.

  I’ve gotten several requests from friends to write a post dedicated entirely to the “Do and Do not”s that come with having a child who has recently plunged into the world of blasting Japanese music, and men that look and dress like woman.

  That’s right- here’s the Parent’s Guide to Understanding Visual Kei.

1.)Your child is unique, so if they suddenly want to wear mismatched colored contact lenses, dye their hair ridiculous colors, and/or start dressing what is to you, ridiculously, then I assure you, it is most likely not a phase. Instead of trying to stifle their creativity, try to channel it into something less dramatic; maybe they can start out with a load of extra accessories, then build from there.

2.)Don’t let your child walk out the door looking like a geisha- Visual Kei isn’t about suddenly going from normal to crazy. Like the clothing, let them start off with simple or intricate makeup designs that best suit their age, face, etc.

3.)Be prepared to hear nothing but facts about with whom your child is currently infatuated. You’ll learn a lot.

4.)The likelihood of that “girl” actually being a female is close to, if not, ZERO. That’s right, Hizaki is a male who wears dresses- that doesn’t make him gay.

5.)Having your own opinion is very important. Let your child know how you feel about their interest in another culture. Think about it this way, at least they’re trying to learn something new.

6.)Japanese band merchandise can sometimes be expensive; but it’s worth it for a birthday or Christmas; or, you can make something on your own.

  That’s all I have gathered for now. Thank you for reading- I hope this helps you understand better what your child, niece, nephew, sibling, etc. is interested in and how to deal with it.

Music Rants: Why I Believe Japanese Music Is Best

  I have no idea why, but as stated, for some unknown reason, this post is dedicated to why I think that Japanese music is better than any other(well, I’m mostly targeting/picking on American music).

  My main argument and discussion about this topic centers around the fact that there are very few singers(good ones, that is) here in America. Unfortunately, younger and more recent generations of all people have stereotypically rejected real singing and human voices in general, and instead have found a love for techno.

  I, myself, happen to like only a few songs that involve techno, and even then it falls under “nu metal” and “rock.” What can I say? I prefer meaningful lyrics, vocal talent, and real instruments over remixes and the mechanical wizardry of modern society.

  Japanese music does have its own faults, considering the fact that they have a whole lot of techno, but not every genre of anything is perfect. I love the style: most Japanese bands look and sound great, and they usually aren’t just a bunch of pretty boys or girls(and believe me, some of the men in Visual Kei bands are literally pretty, cute, or beautiful).

  I love the sincerity in their voices and instruments as they sing and play. The lyrics are sensible, and carries great tunes and skills.

  Here are a few bands that I love with descriptions and such so that you don’t freak out when you realize that the cute girl you saw is actually a guy, and vice-versa: 

  Versailles Philharmonic Quintet. Though disbanded, the vocalist who goes by Kamijo Yuji owns his own record company and is very active in the music industry. A band member passed away in 2009 by the name of Jasmine You, reducing the band to only four members, still all male. Masahi is the drummer, Teru is the guitarist, Hizaki(who is a man dressed as a woman- listen to the music before judging, please) is the other guitarist, and Kamijo is the vocalist. The theme of the band is “Vampires.” The costumes are very elaborate. Songs I recommend would be “Philia”, “Vampire”, “Masquerade”, “Glowing Butterfly”, “Serenade”, “Flowery”, and “Prince.”

  The GazettE. This band is also all men, and has five members. They used to have a member named Yune, but he is no longer in it. Ruki is the singer, Kai is the drummer, Reita is the bassist, Uruha and Aoi are the guitarist. Ruki can also play the guitar and piano. Reita wears a bandana or noseband over his nose. Uruha has beautiful lips and thighs- I have to say that he looks most like a woman, or very beautiful. They have all had very interesting looks in their careers. Songs I recommend would be “Guren”, “Reila”. “PLEDGE”, “INSIDE BEAST”, “Dripping Insanity”, “RED”, “REMEMBER THE URGE”, “Silly God Disco”, “Burial Applicant”, and “Taion.”

  BUCK-TICK. This band is considered one of the founding fathers for Visual Kei fashion. The lead singer is Atsushi Sakurai. This band is the oldest in this list. Songs I recommend would be “Galaxy”, “Kagerou”, and “DRESS.” All male.

  MEJIBRAY. Songs I recommend would be “Avalon”, “Raven”, and “Killing Me.” All male, again,

  Alice Nine. All male band members. Songs I recommend would be “Heart of Gold” and “Blue Flame.”

  SID. All male(I like male singers more- the vocal range is great). Songs I recommend would be “Hanabira”, “Uso”, “Rain”, and “Monocrome No Kiss.”  

  I’ll stop ranting and raving now, and ask about your opinions. If you looked any of my suggestions up(If you’re not fluent in Japanese, looking up the lyrics in English would be wise, but before that, just listen to the voices and instruments and formulate an opinion) and want to share, please do! If you have any suggestions for me, let me know, and feel free to ask questions!

Love is Free

  Love is the greatest gift we can give- love can ease the pain of loss and sadness, give people hope for the future, help others to gain a new perspective of life, and so many other things.

  Four letters and a single syllable has never been so strong. A mother’s, siblings, friend’s, and others love can sometimes seem smothering, but it’s all worth it.

  Giving is better than receiving, and I love to live by this moral and principle.

  My birthday is in a month, but my mother and grandmother’s is first, followed by my sister’s in October; rather than thinking about my “wishlist”, I’m trying to think of something that my family members would like. I can’t afford anything expensive, and I may have to make the gifts myself, but I think it’s all worth it.

  This is my view on life and love- and there’s a saying that helps me through the tough times, and it just so happens to be the famous “Serenity Prayer.”

  This prayer says so much- the first time I read it, my heart was truly touched and I felt so glad for my blessed life.

  The Serenity Prayer.

  “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; Enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him Forever in the next. Amen.” -Reinhold Niebuhr.