All posts by jlbhogal

The End of the Road: Final Thoughts on Yin Yang

Introduction Statement for Final Project

Yin Yang: Pandemic Poetry is an experience meant to let the reader virtually navigate through the CO-VID 19 global pandemic. It was a virus, tiny and microscopic, which created massive destruction to the world in 2020. How did it truly start? Who brought it where? What was the reason? Rumors, media, stories were created around it, and so were conspiracy theories. But after sometime, those didn’t matter anymore. What mattered was the now, the people who were suffering and believe it or not, benefitting from it. A nationwide lockdown took place in March 2020, drastically causing major alterations in the lives of the Americans for months to come, worsening during the second wave in November 2020. Lives were lost, or lives were bettered and all because of the coronavirus. But how can you determine it? Navigate through Yin Yang, and you will get all the evidence you need to make your case through videos, poems, images, audio and anonymous quotes. Was CO-VID truly disastrous, or is that opinionated? Was it darkness, or was it light? Who’s right and who’s wrong? There’s no closure, and never will be. But no matter what, just listen for the answer; see the answer; feel the answer. It’s in there; you just have to find it.

Final Project Link:

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This project was a lot of fun, to be honest. I won’t deny, at the very beginning I was concerned because I didn’t know if staying within my comfort level would be allowed for a project so new. But when I got the green light, I was excited. Prezi has been a great and comfortable support to me throughout this project, and although I used it in high school last, I never knew all the treasures it had hidden. I was able to find so many new and interesting features to help me better my project and bring to life what I envisioned. I think this project turned out better than I expected it. I learned how to take things one step at a time, and to not get overwhelmed thinking about something as a whole. And I guess I can say it also changed my perspective on the CO-VID pandemic as I am living through it. Yes, this was and is something that directly affected me, considering my graduation went virtual, my Masters started virtually and my teaching work keeps starting and stopping. It can get really frustrating at times, but looking at the pandemic from different point of views made me sit back and think about how many things I need to be grateful for, which I was and continue to be. And although so many people were destroyed by this pandemic, the lockdown gave a lot of jobs to other sectors like Amazon, Netflix, etc. Cases of premature babies drastically were cut down, giving way for healthy and full-term babies to be born. Business/retail magazines companies that were going out of business or being forgotten were noticed and important again. Everything in life has a good side and a bad side. It just depends on how it affects you to determine your perspective towards it. I don’t feel like I missed out on anything. I don’t wish I could have done anything more, and I feel satisfied with my work. It’s not perfect obviously, because I am not an e-lit author professionally. Yet in such little time, I think I can be happy with the work and content I have produced considering I am just a first semester graduate student. And I really hope my intentions and my thoughts behind this project are depicted in the way I would like it to.

It’s Coming Together…

I finally have a good feelings in regards to my story! Yin Yang: Pandemic Poetry is coming together, and I am feeling better about it than last week. Originally, I was considering of using Twine *shoutout to @hugogatica for your help!* but I felt it was too new for me to experiment with at a time like this…at a time when I don’t really have time. I realized that my backup option, which was Prezi, will become my main option. It’s a software I am really comfortable using, and it is allowing to put together what I envisioned (at least 98%). And although this piece of elit focuses on poetry, I am also highlighting other features. There will be sections depicting news clippings, audio clips, pictures and quotes from different scenes and people throughout this pandemic. The pandemic will be viewed from various mediums and lens so that the reader can really leave my text knowing a good chunk of what this world had to go through in 2020. My text is concentrating more on U.S.’s situation, but there will be mentions of how it’s a global pandemic, not just a national one.

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Things are coming together, and I am getting a decent amount done everyday. I would like to have it all done a week before it’s due, so I can give myself some leeway to fix and edit if needed. It has a lot of components, and I am trying to make sure of Prezi’s features to the best of my ability while staying true to my content. I am really hoping it comes together well and that all of you enjoy it and not only see,, but feel my intentions when you are presented with the navigation of Yin Yang: Pandemic Poetry.

Questions and Answers: E-Lit Final Project Progress

So, here we are…the blogs of e-literature stories is over. This can only mean one thing: the semester is coming to an end which means…the final project! I have a very clear idea of where I am going with my final project. I am not sure if any of you have read on the Google document what my intentions are, but either way, I will give you a summary. Here goes: My e-lit text will be titled Yin Yang: Pandemic Poetry. If it’s not obvious, I will be creating a collection of poems about the CO-VID 19 pandemic. It will show the evolution of the virus in this country from the first case in March to the current second wave in November. But this virus will be told from multiple perspectives; from people who suffered during these past eight months to people who actually benefitted from this diseases and its repercussions on society. The reason why I chose the Yin Yang image is because this visual reflects darkness and light; a way of experiencing this pandemic for people around the country and world. There are already two circles in the Yin Yang, but I will be adding more on each side, making it smaller as it progresses down or up. Each circle will turn into a picture of the virus as the mouse hovers over and once clicked, will bring you to a black screen of various symbols representing the people who suffered or benefitted from CO-VID such as nurses, doctors, elderly, delivery drivers, etc.

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Depending on who you will click, a poem will come up on the screen, representing the emotions that were felt in those people during a specific time. At first, I was thinking of putting audio but I felt that would be too much in the story. Leaving it silent would allow for the reader to experience a noiseless environment, contrasting what the actual author of the poem would have been going through. Not all virus circles will take you to a poem. Some will take you to quotes from doctors or media throughout the pandemic, some will just be images that speak a thousand words, and some will be news clippings of the situation here in the US. I have already outlined how many perspectives I will have for both Yin and Yang, and what each month will show when clicked on the virus circle. I even started writing my poems. It will be a lot, but I figured the faster I begin, the more time I will have to really give it my all. The only thing I am confused about is, what website or software can I use to make this story what I want it to be? In terms of an ending, I don’t think I will have closure in this text because with this pandemic, I don’t think anybody will really get closure. We will always question “Why did this happen? Why hasn’t it gone yet? Why now? Why so many lives lost? What was the reason?” and maybe we will never get answers. But all I know, is that this will never be forgotten by people who have lost or gained from this pandemic and people in the future should get a sense of the many heroes who stemmed from dark and light in this trivial and horrific time.

Hunting…using Twine

There was only one story for this week. It was an interesting way to end the exploration of these various e-lit pieces that have made up the chunk of this semester, featuring The Hunt for the Gay Planet. It highlighted the feature of Twine, which is what made me go back to the days of navigating through With Those We Love Alive.

I was presented with a story of a female exploring the universe for a planet called “Lesbionica” to satisfy her sexual desires. It required a lot of exploration; and no, I don’t mean physically swimming through space but more clicking choices of different planets. I was at a bar, with men surrounding me. As the character, I knew that wasn’t the right place. Even I asked myself as the reader “Isn’t she looking for a lesbian planet? Why are there men here?” But then, eventually I found my place. And there was the perfect planet, where there were a lot of supposed hot and naked chicks moaning making the character feel ecstatic. It’s also the place where she meets Trudie, where she experiences “love at first sight” or rather in this case “lust at first sight.” She is then taken to the Queen’s chambers. Aahh *sigh*, the queen’s chambers…one more momento of Porpentine Charity Heartscape’s work of twine. It was a dominating queen; a queen who wanted to keep arguing with me. And it wasn’t her fault…I guess I can say I proudly instigated her to shout at me, and that’s because I kept choosing the statements and responses to get her irritated. I have to admit…that part was fun.

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But thus, Trudie and the reader finally expressed their sexual attraction to each other by the end of the story. The reader overtook the queen and stole the crown to fit perfectly on her head. After kissing Trudie, she couldn’t help but express her excitement “Today the planet, tomorrow the galaxy!” Throughout the whole story, there is a constant black screen. No change of colors, no variations in visuals. It was just one…black…screen. But the action that was taking place played in my mind, so the blackness worked as a green screen; allowing the animation to take place in your mind while the words on the screen lead you through the story. Unlike WTWLA, it didn’t take long for me to finish and it was very straight to the point. Are there deep meanings to the phrases in the story? What is the overall intention behind it? It definitely didn’t seem dystopian and violently disturbing as WTWLA. The emotions were conveyed with clarity, and I didn’t experience any sense of ambiguity in this navigation. The story was something that was very different although it somewhat reminded of Queerskins, focusing on the homosexual characters. But it was fun, adventurous and I really enjoyed getting the queen angry. I think I can say that was my favorite part throughout the story. In the end, The Hunt for the Gay Planet’s way of navigation made me nostalgic, providing me with an ending of closure and victory, exclaiming “I am the love that dare not squeak its name.”

A Fairytale: From Red to Redone

I was excited to read both Redshift & Portametal and RedRiding Hood.  The first seemed so interesting, considering that it was about confronting climate change and moving to another planet to create life again. Unfortunately, I couldn’t navigate through it but the video was enjoyable.

But, RedRiding Hood was very short, quick and so different than what I grew up reading. In the description, it was said that this story was being re-told from a feminist perspective. But honestly, I wasn’t really sure how this was being told from a feminist lens. There were many interesting elements to it, undoubtedly. A black-haired woman, winking at me. The music was very rock for me. Then the young girl, or in this case Red Riding Hood (who never wore a hood in the story) looked irritated when her mother gave her a basket to collect X’s as flowers. Her mother seemed glamorous; someone who considers style and fashion a priority. No wonder she think it’s okay to send her young girl out in the woods. While the grumpy un-hooded Red Riding Hood walks through the woods, a wolf is shown to be following her. But then he changes into a young boy who is still half-wolf, running after her on a scooter.

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As she moves away and decides to pick the “X” flowers, she suddenly gets into a sleep, as if the flowers were drugged. At first I decided to wake her up, but when I did, a male entered the room while she was asleep, checking with a flash light if she was still awake…or conscious? Then, a figure moving in her womb. Was she pregnant? When did that happen? Did those flowers do something to her? I went back to the beginning of the story, because I felt like I missed something, a big part of the story that would help me make sense of the ending. But even though I replayed, decided to let her dream, I still was back at square one none of my questions answered. They showed the baby developing, but where? How? When? It seemed all abstract to me; no real clarity on what that section was trying to explain. The grandma was killed (I assume) and the wolf ended up in the bed. It sticks to the original story. The scene zooms in on the eye of the grandma, and suddenly the grumpy, un-hooded Red Riding Hood is back in the bed, pregnant.

This retold version of the classic European fairy tale left me with a sense of uneasiness. It was very strange and I am not sure how to connect the dots mentally with this story. My mind left this story feeling cloudy, with no clear way how I was supposed to feel. Was it feminist, or was it just modernized? I don’t know what I was dealing with, but I am hoping that it is cleared out soon…

From Fusion to Confusion

I guess you can tell from my title how I felt towards this week’s readings. When I read the titles, I assumed I was going to experience a clear and straightforward story. But by now, I should know that in this subject I really can’t judge a book by its cover. Starting with Reconstructing Mayakovsky, I didn’t understand what I was getting myself into and nothing changed by the time I felt I was done with the story. I say “felt” because there was no beginning, no end. I ended the story when I just gave up, wondering where it was leading. It was up in the air, like the stars on the black screen. It was set in a Russian futuristic era, but I couldn’t visualize any elements that screamed Russian futurism to me. In order to join the Revolution Nostalgia Disco Theater (after clicking Theater), it told me that the three primary sources of inspiration were love, art and revolution. I couldn’t comprehend what context that was being given in, even though I received a PDF of an invitation to this disco theater. I would say the only thing I liked was the quote presented on top of the screen: “There he is that great browed quiet scientist, before the experiment, furrowing his brow. Name searching – a book- The Whole Earth its title-list. The Twentieth Century. Whom to resurrect now? There’s Mayakovsky here. Let’s find someone brighter- This poet’s not handsome enough. Reject.” Even though I couldn’t find the deeper meaning in this, the syntax of it created a magic in itself. I didn’t need more. I felt satisfied.

I felt more connected to Letters to Linus in the sense that it was an emphasis on prose and poetry using the unique graphic of a hypercube. I was presented with an open cube with various phrases, that seemed interesting to me. I began with “away the sun,” in which the “language is the most powerful tool in the world.” I loved it. It is the most powerful tool. From language stems communication, writing, reading; all the skills needed to advance and grow in life, both mentally and emotionally. Then, “shut up the revolution,” where “your mind is a construct of the world. Your imagination is an illusion.” Do we see what we want to see? Are there facts, or does the world revolve around opinions? The writer talks about buying English. Is language something to buy? Is English the product that defines literacy and intelligence, making its value expensive? As I progressed, I decided to “blow off language,” where helicopters were used “to overfly target sectors, dropping poems warning of the evils of poverty.” There was a civil war between literacy and an illiterate population, fighting to prevent poverty to become a determining factor of a person’s future. I chose to “lock in my feelings,” in which the writer asked “you believed you had a unique and complicated mind, would you feel outside of history, outside of society?” There’s nothing wrong to to be different, to be complicated, to be atypical; that’s what makes us all the same.

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I “cut out the public,” where the author demanded to “squeeze poetry from stones, earth, flesh; out of trash cans, cardboard boxes, abandoned basements, sewer grates…” Poetry is everywhere and it can be pulled out from the most beautiful of places and the most unimaginable. I ended to “break down resistance,” saying “I am trying to run to you, the Earth said, but I just go around in circles, year after year.” The relationship between the Sun and the Earth, in which this planet of life is desirous of becoming one with the ball of fire, wanting to illuminate itself with the warmth and light. I ended to “take away the sun,” only to be taken back to the beginning. Just like when the Earth starts a new year around the Sun, going around in circles. After reading these phrases, I really enjoyed but I couldn’t understand the connection between each section. It seemed disconnected, each individual side of the cube being a story in itself. For me, it was an overall experience that concluded with mixed emotions. Each story had its own flavor of fusion, but in the end, the fusion soon turned to confusion.

Like A Dark Labyrinth

I think I can officially say that Inanimate Alice was one of the easiest stories I could navigate AND the first I completed from start to finish, although I was considering giving up at one point. It was complete in itself. It had all elements: it moved like a movie, it was told like a story and it was navigated like a game. I really enjoyed reading it in the sense that not only was it titled as “Episode 4” but it represented the ideas of identity and peer pressure, in a subtle yet thrilling way. It started off with the famous black screen, providing directions on how to move through the story. I was presented with tense but exciting music in the background and a picture of building that looked something like an apartment building, small and intimate. As each page “flipped,” there was the sound of a camera clicking. Using the index finger point, as Alice of course, I headed up. The movements provided a perspective of how Alice must feel, walking up the iron stairs surprised that iron would collapse beneath the feet. Once the stairs fell, I was given the choice to click the finger pointing in four different directions, like a compass. When I clicked right, Alice said her friends got out of the way. When I clicked up, Alice managed to haul herself on the stairs. When I clicked down, the bottom 1/2 of the stairs sheared off. When I clicked left, Alice’s friends ran off leaving her dangling but in the end, came back. As the story kept progressing, icons kept being added as if becoming “chapters” in the story.

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Then the background of Alice’s life was depicted. She and her family left for Moscow, which they showed through the outline of a Russian doll. And finally, they ended up in a town in the middle of England. Throughout the story, each singular line was presented with a lot of static in the background, which became very disturbing and irritating forcing me to mute the story at times. Later, the map of where she lived with multiple aspects of her life to “visit” including her friends, school, house, the city and her project. Alice finally met kids of her own age, “not just animated characters [she’s] created [her]self.” She could feel 14 years old, act like her and was surrounded by diversity in her neighborhood. She could “go to school, like a normal kid.” Unfortunately, I couldn’t read everything around the yield sign but I let it go. In her house, I was given a walkthrough of her place with images to allow me to visualize how skinny the stairs were, or how the bathroom could only be reached by passing through her bedroom. Alice confessed it was “kind of horrible,” but she liked it and that she “won’t be leaving anytime soon.” Her project was displayed on a table-like device, explaining to her friends about iStories and the creativity that goes along with it. She toured the city and I felt like I was travelling through England. Forget about her feeling the history, I could feel the cultural context behind the buildings she was seeing. This was accompanied with sweet flute music playing in the background. I really got the vibe of getting accustomed to the English views, as Alice was learning about where she lived. Just like her, I could see the “weeds grow in the cracks of the pavement.” Later on, the device was the main image and from what it seemed like to me, there was music playing in the background like sitar or tanpura, both of which are Indian Classical instruments.

But then just as I was getting used to the England atmosphere, I was taken back to her having to figure out how to get to the top of the building. “And now I’m going to die,” and the words shrank and faded out. I chose to play the game and I led myself into an abandoned, wrecked, scary, terrifying building that seemed ghostly at every turn. The music was filled with fear, horror and mystery with phrases such as “Why do I feel like someone is watching me?” I kept getting more and more nervous, that someone would jump in the screen. I turned in different directions but I kept getting lost, travelling in circles with rats and water trickling down. At last after feeling frustrated and worried that I was never going to get out, I asked Brad to help me out. And after following his direction at every step of the way, I (or Alice) finally reached to the top of the building and my friends cheered me on from the lot. Alice was happy, but I didn’t know how to feel. I experience all that fear for a view on the building? Just for that? Just to become part of the crowd, to carry on tradition? At the end of it all, yes I was relieved that I got out of that dark labyrinth but just for a view? Not so sure…

From Motions Come Emotions…

Motions is a story that is female-oriented, a story that sheds a light on the harsh reality of many women around the world. Motions highlights the topic of human trafficking and contemporary slavery. It begins with sounds in the background, like a train is starting to move. I wondered to myself, does this story focus on the motions of a moving train taking the passenger to an unknown destination? Or is the motions of a changing destination? Of not having a home, or family bound with blood? Or the motions of a racing heartbeat, an anxious and fearful mind? Throughout the story, “ant-world post colonialism” was being explained in the background of the story. However, I accidentally went back in the story instead of forward and I was met with different content; changed content based on my previous reading of the same page. The words were altered; again, the sense of motions. These slaves were forced to work against their will; battered, beaten, bloodied. “It is their country but it is not their country, Bystanders not participants, Serving from sunup to sundown, For a family not their family.” They are held hostage and working for the economy of the country, like London or Melbourne but they are bystanders in their workplace, not participants. Made to be part of a family that treats them worse than an outsider.

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All these women became “only a statistic.” They would get $20,000 for organs, an offer that made them believe that it was better than begging; at least they would be rich enough to buy off starvation. These slaves had the worse choices given: “This deal is the nearest you will ever get to paradise. If you stay here you could starve. Decide today.” What should they decide? Be beaten to death or starve to death? It’s not a question that provides an easy answer. The sense of motion was constantly emphasize with the use of moving images in the story. And this was carried on into a line that I found very powerful, “One thought above all others plagued you…you could have avoided it…That there was no one you could blame: you had brought this upon yourself.” It’s still their fault. They are their own reason for creating a hellish present for themselves. No one is else to blame; only the slaves. And eventually, the mood was changed with an accompaniment of music that had a very Mediterranean/Middle-Eastern. Not something I expected; something I could not make sense of. It wasn’t only women though, and I learned this through a little passage about child football players. Any age; they can be fooled, they can be tricked, they can be taken for a ride. A ride emotionally, a ride on a train. Children or women were constantly being compared to slave ants. Humans being compared to bugs. Who would have thought? It’s not like the slaves didn’t ask for help. They tried to escape, but all they could do was bang on the door. But “the banging was purely rhetorical.” It was just put out there, not meant to be answered, be heard. It was for the slaves to vent out their frustration, their anger at fate. It was rhetorical, not meant to be cared for. So no, don’t worry about it. There was a repetition of lines, but were hard to read against the black background. The black background, as if an abyss; a never-ending abyss where the slaves jumped in and were taken to the unknown. And then, towards the end: “What will the ending be: suicide or escape? When do we start to re-board the beginning?” Nonsensical music, instruments and notes jumbled up. It asked the question: kill yourself or attempt for freedom and maybe be killed by another’s hands? No sense, no easy way out just like the music. Do we start to re-board? Re-board what? The train that started this journey, setting food in London or Melbourne…or life?

I See the Moon…Through the Window

Once again, a different experience altogether for this week’s readings. It was simpler for me to follow, and its structure made sense to me. Let’s start off with David Zuern’s Ask Me for the Moon. It was very beautiful and poetic, building up scenes of people’s lives that weren’t so beautiful and poetic. The place of Waikiki in Hawaii, would be a place where one would dream of vacationing or relaxing; a getaway from tough and harsh reality of life. Of working every day, or getting up early and going crazy to earn some greens ($$$). But Hawaii is a dream getaway for us, the tourists. Not the people working there. We desire to leave for a few days but then it becomes a burden for the workers there. And it’s not just us, they have to work for every customer that walks through those doors, whether native or not. Hotels, grocery stores, you name it, someone is working hard. And their benefits? That will only come if they are a union member, but what about the ones who aren’t? Who are considered the “outsiders?” There is separation and differentiation in every aspect of life, whether religion, culture, or even union laborers. The land is heavenly, but the lives of many workers, hellish. There is the “secretion of hope and work.” With their “…pulse of expectation [they] hear their own breath.” Their lives are spent “in frigid kitchens, in fluorescent corridors…” and “all work, is night work.” Their days are literally turned upside-down, inside-out. They stay awake when everyone is sleeping and experiencing a dreamscape, while the laborer hands are becoming hard and rough with scrubbing and cleaning. Throughout the story, there was a very sudden static yet creepy sound that lasted for a few moments. I am not too sure if that was something wrong in my computer or it was done by the author for a certain purpose. It could be possible that it was supposed to give an eerie feeling to be able to comprehend how night life would be as a laborer, with strange sounds occurring everywhere you go. Maybe? I really liked how there was an option for notes, provided with background information associated with this “poem.” It gave me a clearer understand of what the context and purpose of this “poem” was, even though I had a rough idea. But you know how it is. There is always a sense of doubt somewhere in the back of your mind if what you think is correct. There was historical piece of information also added, discussing the phrase “fragment of the body.” The source discussed how Menenius Agrippa, a Roman patrician, prevented the overthrowing of patrician rule by comparing the current government and the significance of patricians to the body. This made me wonder if this analogy was used because of how laborers were vital to the economy of Waikiki and Hawaii in general, just like every body part is vital for a healthy mind and spirit, as well as the functioning of the body itself.

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One stanza is very powerful, as written: “hospitality, what we might have created, in a clasp of hands, or exchange of breath, we produce, without touching, in the frigid room, on the clean shop floors, of the welcome factories, sanitized, breathless.” No matter how hot or cold, dirty or clean, early or late, these laborers produce quality service every single time. They will be breathless, but they will not fail to serve. Another elegant analogy is the following: “the rustle, of palms, the broom, against the pavement.” The comparison of the sweeping broom to the rustle of the palm trees was something I found very unique and captivating. There’s beauty to the eyes with the sight of trees in Hawaii, but there’s disturbing sounds to the ear with the laborers working late nights to make ends meet.

In terms of Window, I couldn’t access the actual piece so the opinion I will be giving will be based on the video provided in the website.  There were images of views outside a window, with a variety of different sounds. Nothing special, but that’s what makes it special. They were ordinary sounds, things we hear every single day of our lives. But it was celebrated in this piece; it was revered. The images kept changing, as months kept changing. For March, “fence panels fight the wind.” A sound we wouldn’t give a second thought about, but Cage did. As the video progressed, there were a couple of stories told. “We stop to listen and suddenly we are here, at home in these quite unnecessary sounds – the important detritus of our daily lives.” It couldn’t be written better. I looked up the definition of “detritus” because I didn’t know what it meant; better yet understand the connection to the story. It read “waste or debris of any kind.” So, these sounds, these present moments are debris? Are waste? At first, I found that very harsh to think but I realized within a few moments that it’s true. We don’t value time as its going by; we don’t value the small minute details in life that should make us grateful for being alive. It’s all music and art around us, but we don’t have the eyes for it. We trash it; let it make a mess around us without thinking of picking it up and noticing each piece. We are instead busy making “touchscreen connections.” We would rather find reasons to like our life via a touchscreen than with people and things in front of us, next to us, in us.

These readings taught me something interesting this week: to value our lives and to appreciate the things around us. No place is perfect, no person is perfect so finding perfection is probably a goal that can never be achieved. The thing is, flaws are what create beauty in us and in our surroundings. Like Waikiki, things that seem beautiful and perfect on the outside are hiding a lot of pain and sadness behind its picturesque views. But like Cage, the little things that are in our own view, things that we can personally experience, is what should be respected the most. Next time, look around you. Look around and “observe a change in the sky or hear [if] the wind is up, or notice some other shift in our co-existence.” Observe, accept, appreciate, enjoy, repeat…