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This piece was actually inspired by a conversation I had with someone.  This person had dealt with more childhood trauma than anyone should ever have to, and it was so bad that their brain blocked a majority of the memories from that time.  They also had a difficult time remembering things that were happening in their every day life.  Writing this was my way of trying to further connect to and understand what that must be like.

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What is laughter,
What is joy?
If I had it before
I don't recall it anymore.

What is sorrow,
What is pain?
If I went through it before
I can't remember anymore.

It doesn't matter if it was good or bad
My brain won't let me reflect on the moments I had.
Oh, what a relief you might think it to be,
But for me, I believe this is what you call agony.

Were there smiles,
Were there tears?
Your face is one
I can no longer hold on.

Were there shouts,
Or peaceful talks?
Your voice is one
I no longer hear anymore.

It doesn't matter if it was happy or sad
My mind won't recall any of the moments we had.
Oh, what a relief they may think it to be,
But for me, I believe this is what you call misery.

My memory is one I can't unfold
All I know about me are the stories I was told.
Oh, what I would give to remember life clearly,
I don't know, but for many I'm sure it'd be plenty.

©S.T. Apr. 19, 17
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Manga Review – Uzumaki

Oh, where do I begin with Uzumaki?  I had such a hard time writing this without spoilers, because there is just so much I want to say about this manga.  I may actually write a second part to this, just so I can share all my feelings and thoughts that will contain spoilers, so those that don’t mind them can read it, and the those that do mind can avoid it.

The images of the manga featured in today’s review were all scanned from my copy of the Deluxe Edition.  I apologize if some of the images I share here are a little blurry.

Without further ado – Uzumaki by the amazing Junji Ito.

 

Uzumaki Cover
Cover of Uzumaki Deluxe Edition

The Basics:

My best friend (who I sometimes refer to as my soul sister) bought this as my birthday gift off Amazon.com.  This manga is three volumes long and 19 chapters long, not including a lost chapter and afterword.  I have the Deluxe Edition, which has all three volumes, including the lost chapter and afterword.  I found this version of the manga at my local Barns & Nobel for $27.99 without tax, and on Amazon Prime for about $18 without shipping.  Uzumaki is rated OT for older teen, and is full of graphic and disturbing images.  If you’re into horror, especially psychological horror, then Junji Ito’s work is for you.  On a scale of one to ten for graphic content, I’m going to rate an eight.

I read the first two chapters the night my friend gave it to me, and knew right away it wasn’t something I should read at night.  I’m the kind of person that certain images stick with, so even though I love all things spooky and bloody, I have to be careful not to take certain things to bed with me otherwise I may have difficulty sleeping.  That being said, quite a few things in this manga made me cringe and shocked me, and during the day I handled it just fine (lol).

Uzumaki chp 1 intro
Chp. 1 – The Spiral Obsession. Pgs 4 and 5 of the Deluxe Edition

The Plot/Story:

Kurouzu-cho is a small town on the coast of Japan.  A town that happens to be cursed.  Shuichi Saito, a withdrawn high school student who commutes out of town for school, believes this place is haunted by the pattern of a spiral.  He tries to bring the bizarre feelings this town emits to his girlfriend, Kirie Goshima’s, attention, but she doesn’t really start to see it for herself until he invites her to his house to witness some strange behavior his father has been displaying.  From then on, things take a spiraling down fall as Kirie narrates to us the strange events that took place in Kurouzu-Cho.

This story pulled me in right away.  Immediately the story indicates to you through it’s narrative and images that there is something wrong with this town.  Within the first few pages, it also becomes clear that whatever is going on here is also effecting the people in incredibly strange ways.  I found myself curious as to what was going to happen next, and I wanted to know how all of these things were happening, and despite wanting to be hopeful, the entire time I read this all I felt was impending doom.

I have been looking forward to, eventually, getting my hands on one of Junji Ito’s manga, so when it was given to me as a gift I was so excited! I had been watching several YouTube videos talking about his stories, and I was so happy to have him added to my collection.

I fell off track a little there (sorry), but all that being said – I very much enjoyed Uzumaki. I felt a variety of things going through this story, I can’t stop thinking about this story, and I highly recommend it.  I haven’t read anything like this in a while, and I am so happy.  I’m rating the story a definite ten out of ten, especially considering I plan on reading the whole thing again soon and I want others to read it so we can all talk about it.

 

Uzumaki pg 7 chp 1
Chap. 1; pg. 7 Deluxe Edition

The Artwork/Style:

Junji Ito created Uzumaki in the 1990’s, so the art style is older but amazing.  The attention to detail brings the town and the characters to life.  How realistic the artwork was made all the different expressions and reactions from them feel very believable.  I’m not sure if the original volumes of the manga feature these, but separating each volume in the Deluxe Edition are colored pages.  These pages are, in my opinion, very stunning, and are definitely eerie (as the whole manga is).  Without even reading the text, I could tell right away that there was something wrong – just by looking.  If you enjoy older anime and manga, then I think you’ll definitely enjoy the artwork Junji Ito has created.  I may be a bit bias here (I’ll admit it, because I’m so in love here) but I got to give the artwork/style a ten out of ten.

However, if the older styles aren’t really your jam, you may not care for it at all.  I still recommend giving a chance despite artistic preferences because the story is so intriguing.  As I said before, if you enjoy psychological horror, then I highly suggest looking into Junji Ito.  The story of Uzumaki is definitely creepy on it’s own, and I think his art style only adds to that feeling.

 

Uzumaki pg 18
Chap. 1; Pg. 20 Deluxe Edition

Overall:

Maybe I’m still excited by simply owning a piece of Junji Ito’s work, but I really enjoyed this story.  It had me totally sucked into it’s twister of a story, and it still does.  I cannot recommend it enough, because I really do want to talk more about the experience that is Uzumaki.  I’m looking forward to reading again myself, as well as looking forward to collecting more manga by Junji Ito.

Graphic Content:  8 out of 10

Story/Plot:  10/10

Art/Style:  10/10

Uzumaki pg 600 - 601
Chap. 19 Completion; Pgs. 600 and 601 Deluxe Edition 

©S.T. Jul. 11, 17 *Disclaimer – the writing is my own, however none of the images you see in this post belong to me.  I do not own any rights to any images used, only the writing portion*

 

Coming Back

I didn’t mean to take such a long hiatus from posting.  The last couple of months were busy and, honestly, very emotional for me.  Taking a few months off from posting is not the greatest way to kick start my blog, but oh well.

Here’s the jist of what was going on with me:

  • Left a job I commuted to
  • Became a nanny for my nephew
  • Got my first visit from my mom and little sister in the first time since they moved
  • Lost money and gained some depression

Cool, right? (don’t answer that)

So now, I’m back!

All those things above are things I will (eventually) touch basis on, but that’s not where I want to start when it comes to posting again.  I thought about it, and I’m leaning towards writing about some topics that are going to be difficult for me to share, but that’s also why I want to share them.  Sometimes the hardest stories to share are the stories that should be shared.

Some of the topics I’m hoping to write about may include:

  • My stalker (who I have never written about in any capacity, except for in private journals)
  • My father (who is extremely difficult for me to write about, because I have never shared anything about my relationship with him on any blog I have ever had.  I don’t talk about him unless you know me personally)
  • School struggles, including when I used to hurt myself and fighting depression
  • Other multiple insecurities and difficult life decisions, like my boyfriend of two years going active in the military.

This is some serious and heavy stuff to get into, but I’m also looking forward to writing about some more light-hearted topics as well.  Such as…

  • My grandparent’s love story
  • Stories of things that shouldn’t have happened, but did (some super embarrassing stuff, I can assure you)
  • Concerts I’ve been to (I love music)
  • What inspired certain poems
  • And more! Hopefully

So tomorrow I’ll pick one of these random topics to write about and get to posting again.  I’ve really missed my blog.  I’ve been writing outside of it, but I’ve missed being here and I’m looking forward to being more active.

My blood is ink.  When I don’t circulate it with writing, it clots.  Imagine how clotted my blood must be after not actively writing for such a stupid amount of time.  I physically feel different when I’m not doing it, and I know it’s because I’m carrying all this stuff with me that I can’t seem to let go of in any other way.

©S.T. Jun. 4, 17

Connecting to Marilyn Manson

When I went into junior high school, I cut almost all of my hair off. It had been the first time I have ever cut my hair. I had this long, curly, dark brown hair that I had my cousin cut completely off for me. And then I added purple streaks to it.

I looked like a little boy…

The school I went to had uniforms when I attended it. You could wear black, khaki, or tan pants, and a white, black, or red shirt. So, naturally, I wore all black. I didn’t really look like the other students and immediately felt like I didn’t really belong there.

I remember students asking me if I was a boy or a girl. I also remembered being asked if I was goth more times than I can count, and I wasn’t even sure what that was at the time. That though wasn’t nearly as bad as being told that wearing make-up wouldn’t help anything. You don’t always have to be bluntly told you look like a dike to know what a fellow peer thinks of your appearance. In a math class I had, a boy even asked me my bra size as a joke. I just laughed, embarrassed.

I was also being told that I’d end up flipping burgers for a living repeatedly, by someone I felt should be more on my side. I struggled with grades because I never really wanted to be in school. It wasn’t enjoyable for me. And I guess some people can’t relate to that no matter how common it is. I knew this particular person never believed in me, and I just never figured out how to cope with that. Not at that age anyway.

Teachers didn’t believe in me either. I got caught drawing in class once by one of my English teachers. She bluntly asked me if I honestly thought my art was worth pursuing, and oh yeah, where did I get all that paper. I also had a math teacher lean over my desk in class and whisper in my ear that I shouldn’t be proud of the C I got her class. C’s weren’t that good. This didn’t change in high school either.

To top it off, I lost someone I loved. My grandma felt like the only real person I could talk to. I remember being able to walk next door, go right into my grandparent’s house and being able to talk to her. I would talk about everything, pour my heart out and she would just listen. It was so relieving to have had her there. There is so much about that woman that I am grateful for and will never forget, but she is entirely different topic of her own.

My grandma got sick when I was in this already nightmare of a school. She got diagnosed with cancer, and later during surgery, was cut by the doctor. I thought at the time that it was Cirrhosis of the Liver. She passed away during the Christmas season while I was in eighth grade, and I was not the same after that.

I was changing during that too. I was starting to write dark, depressing, suicidal poems (my mom always encouraged me to write, but that is also a different topic). I would cut myself with safety pins during the lunch periods, or under the desks in class. I was asking for answers for why these things were happening to me, and I was being told that I would never get an explanation; I would not be granted the wish of understanding because I wasn’t really Christian or Catholic. I was a lair and a sinner, and I was going to Hell. I began to really question my thoughts and beliefs, and eventually came to the conclusion that I didn’t believe in God. I figured he had his chance to prove himself to me and failed.

While I was attending junior high school, I let my hair grow out. I continued that going into regular high school. I grew it out until it started hitting the top of my pants, and I dyed it black, red, and purple numerous times in various ways. I also took on the goth and punk style people decided to label me as. I was gifted a trench coat, and wore that on a regular basis. I allowed myself to do what I felt like, but that didn’t change the constant feelings of not belonging or feeling understood. I felt out-casted by peers, rejected by family, and misunderstood by friends.

I had to go through all of that first before I could explain why Marilyn Manson and his music is so important to me.

My freshman year in high school was a difficult year. I had just lost my grandma the Christmas season before, and I was dealing with a lot of rejection and neglect with half of my family, not to mention what was now the normal interactions I had with peers and teachers. It was at this time that I discovered Marilyn Manson. I had heard his remake of Sweet Dreams and was determined to find more of his music. Thankfully someone I knew then happened to have, what I now know is, his Mechanical Animals album. I memorized his name then and bought my first Marilyn Manson CD, The Golden Age Of Grotesque. I was in relief and obsession. I felt like his music had a sound and the words for all the things I was feeling and going through. Later, another friend I had gifted me his book, The Long Hard Road Out Of Hell, and that book is still one of the most important books in my life.

The Long Hard Road Out Of Hell gave me the ability to truly connect and relate to the person that Marilyn Manson was. It was the first time I realized I wasn’t alone. That book, along with the music, gave me a shoulder to lean on. Marilyn Manson made me feel OK with myself for the first time. It was finally OK for me to be me. He was misunderstood, rejected, even violated at similar, if not exact, same times as myself, and it gave me a relief I have never felt.

To this day, I still listen to him and read his book. It all helps me remember what I love and encourages me to do what I want to do with my life. I know what my struggles have been and the reasons for them, and I believed that I have the ability to look back at those and see them because of things I’ve read in that book. It has all contributed to the things I have believed and thought, as well things I believe and think now.

Marilyn Manson, as well as many other things I will write about in the future, has helped me gain a deeper understanding, acceptance, and love for myself. I read a quote of his that said, “I never said be me. I said be you, but better.” Misunderstood or not, being my best me is what I strive to be and he encourages me to do so.

©S.T. Dec. 13, 13 (Edits made Feb. 19, 17)

Wanting

Wanting

I want to be seen,
Like the Sun and Moon sees Earth.
To be viewed from all angles,
Exposing the good and bad in me equally,

Hiding nothing.

I want to be felt,
Like the sand feels the ocean when rushed upon.
To have every part of me swept up
And caressed as a complete whole.

Carried away, heart and soul.

I want to be tasted,
Consumed like prey for lions.
To have everything I am stick to your tongue,
So there can absolutely be no doubt

I cannot be lived without.

I want to be heard,
Like screeching winds kicking up tornadoes,
Thunder promising only despair.
To have my screams be heard by all ears,
So it can finally be clear

I am actually here.

©S.T. Aug. 7, 14

My Mom

img_20150606_181510
My Mom and I during her 58th birthday

I was not an easy child to deal with. I was born angry, that’s what I remember being told many times before. My switch was easy to flip, and my tantrums or bursts of fury were very frequent and appeared out of no where. I picked paint off the walls whenever I was put in time out, I threw and flung furniture across rooms, and I kicked holes in walls and doors. Yet my mom handled every bit of my hell with pure love, acceptance, and understanding.

For example, I remember coming home from elementary school, and unleashing my anger on my family. Mom had tried spanking me before and it either didn’t help or made things worse. She just didn’t understand where my behavior was coming from. One day after coming home from school, she knelt down and gave me a hug. She asked me what was wrong? And I burst. I cried and told her about some kids who were taking my lunch money or food from me. I don’t think my mom spanked me ever again after all this, and instead we did what we now call hug therapy. I think this led Mom to her understanding of what an emotional child I was and how difficult sorting those feelings out was for me.

Mom never saw my siblings (Joe and Jessica), and I as a group of children. She always looked at each of us as who we are as individuals and connected with us each on that level. The rules she gave us were unique to who were. When we talked to her, she listened to what each of us had to say. The bonds she created with all three of us is unique and strong because of how she treated us, talked to us, and interacted with us on each individual level.

As I turned into a teenager, I didn’t get much easier to handle. Yet Mom never faltered in her ability to support and love me. When I wouldn’t listen, talk, calm down or anything she gave me other outlets to get those ugly things out of me. She gave me my writing, she gave me my art; and when I started writing on my bedroom walls, she read what I wrote and embraced the new way I chose to express myself. Anyway I chose to express myself she accepted. No matter how I appeared, Mom always saw me for exactly who I was. She has always loved me for who I am, and whenever I lost sight of myself, she did all that she could to remind me of what kind of person I am.

If it weren’t for the journals she had given me and recognized what writing did for me, I’m not sure I’d still be here. There were even times when she wrote me letters to communicate with me. I still have them, and cherish them immensely.

Mom isn’t just my parent, she’s my best friend. As I got older and older, and has our bond and trust grew stronger and stronger, I opened up more. I can tell her anything, talk to her about everything, and I have no fear of judgment or rejection. I never have. She did exactly what a parent should do for their child, which is make them feel like they’re significant and that they belong. Because of all the ways she accepted me, supported me, and loved me, I do feel those things.

I can’t speak for my siblings, but I would be astonished if they didn’t feel or think of our mom in the same or similar ways as I do. In Joe, Mom recognized his musical ear and helped him gain music as an outlet by getting him a guitar. She never hesitated to let him play his music and when he started creating a band in and a little after high school, she allowed them all to practice at our house. Mom also recognizes internal struggles Jessica has, and does everything she can to support her through them. She may not always know what to do, but she always listens and gives the best advice she can give accordingly. Our mom is our boulder, grounding us whenever we feel like we’re just floating around in space.

I would, and definitely could say more about who my mom is – what kind of person she is – but I think for now I’ve got it covered. My appreciation and love for her goes far beyond anything I could ever write, and I hope I never fail in letting her know it.

©S.T. Jan. 16, 15

Judge – Manga Review

This is actually a review I wrote a while ago.  The date at the very end of the post, next to my signature, is the date I originally wrote this.  I’ve made some edits since then, and I’m excited to be sharing this.  So, without further ado, I hope everyone who comes across this enjoys it.


Before continuing, I’ll quickly explain the breakdown of my review. I’ll be starting off with the basics – how long the series is, how much I bought it for, and what the recommended reading level is (I’m not sure if all manga have these, but I know some of the ones I’ll be writing about do). I’ll briefly explain the plot/story next. I’ll be sure to warn ahead of time if there’s anything I think will be a spoiler for anyone. I’ll also let you guys know what I think of the artwork and style of the manga. At the end, I’ll give my overall thoughts on the series, and based off my number scales, I’ll let you know if this is a series I recommend reading or not. The majority of manga I’ll be reviewing will be completed series, rather than one volume at a time.

The number scale I’m using is a typical one to ten scale on how much of something there is or how much I enjoyed reading things. There’s an example of this in the basics for the manga I’m reviewing today.

Today’s review is of a series called Judge, created by Yoshiki Tonogai. Here we go!

judge_2
Volume 1 cover found on Google Images

                                                     

The Basics:

This Manga is six volumes and 32 chapters long. Each volume was bought at my local Barns and Nobel for $12.99, not including tax. This particular manga is rated OT for Older Teens. It does have violence and some gore, along with some harsh language. In my opinion, the violence and language are well placed and don’t take away or distract from the story in anyway. Actually, it’s completely necessary for it to be there, as it’s part of the story. This, by far, is not the goriest story I’ve read or seen. On a scale of one to ten (one being not gross at all and ten being so over the top I could barely handle it), I’d say the level this manga hits is a three.

The Plot/Story:

Two years after causing the death of his brother, Hiro is kidnapped and confined inside an abandoned courthouse. Awaking there with an animal mask on his head, he discovers that there are others who have been kidnapped as well. All of them soon face judgment, as they each are tasked with deciding whose sins are greater. Lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, sloth, pride and greed (all represented by the animal masks each character starts out wearing) are all under judgment of each other. Every 12 hours, the group must vote on someone to sacrifice to make up for the sins they have committed, until there are only four survivors left.

Judge has a decent amount of twists in it. As I read, I found myself wanting to know more and more about how everyone got there, what their histories were, and who was behind the whole set up in the first place. People are definitely not who they seem to be in this manga, and it really did keep me on my toes. Even at the very end, I found myself surprised.

The development and speed of the story is just right. For only being six volumes long, the story is not rushed or cut off short. The pace the story sets suits the eerie mood of the manga. Character development was decent. Trust was either made or broken among the characters during certain events and choices that took place throughout the story, and the consequences of their decision making were well reflected in each person. This made it easy to either side or become suspicious of certain characters.

In the beginning, it did feel like the protagonist was being a bit too hopeful for what the situation called for, as I saw him attempting to be the hero by trying to find ways to get everyone out alive. Despite the others around him having major doubts, he still attempted this. However, overall, I do think that the rationality of the characters and the thought processes they each had made sense for each individual person in the story. The story goes back into each character’s background just enough for the reader to understand what their particular sin could be, and to relate to how they are feeling and thinking.

My one to ten rating for the story, based on how much I enjoyed it and its pace, is an eight. I would definitely pick up this manga again and give it another read. I also have recommended it to friends, and let a couple of them borrow the series so they could read it for themselves. It’s a well written story that will keep you guessing as to what the true purpose of the judgment is.
Now, as I began writing this review, I did learn that Judge is actually a sequel to a series called Doubt. I haven’t read that series yet, so I’m not sure how the two play into each other. However, in the future I will be collecting that series as well and therefore should be doing a review on that. This will probably take some time, but I’ll be sure to let everyone know when I’ve officially began reading Doubt.

Artwork/style:

The first few pages of each volume are actually colored, which I really appreciate. In high school, the majority of manga I collected was always in black and white, so when I first saw colored pages I was surprised and in love. The colors used in those first pages definitely set the tone for what’s about to happen in the rest of the volume.

judge-1183965
Colored page from volume one.  Source:  mangareader.net

In my opinion, the artwork style isn’t anything special. The style in which the characters are drawn is a style I felt I’ve seen before, so because of that, I’d rate the character art as a five out of ten. This didn’t necessarily bother me, as the style of the environment helped better set the mood. As the characters cast their votes for the sacrifice, more of the courthouse becomes unlocked to them (I won’t explain it anymore than that, you guys just have to read it for yourselves), and the more eerie the atmosphere feels. The courthouse in itself felt like a mystery to me, as well as what the characters where doing there.

judge-1206330
Source:  mangareader.net

 

Overall:

I felt like this series was a good read. For those who read or watch this kind of genre (horror, suspense) it may not feel like anything new to you. For those who aren’t so familiar with it, this may be a good first series to pick up to get you started. I do recommend it to others, and as I said before, I would read it again. It’s just the right length, it doesn’t leave any loose ends, and I felt satisfied after I completed it. The major good thing is, I don’t regret investing in this short series.
Ratings:

Violence – 3 out of 10

Plot/story – 8 out of 10

Character art – 5 out of 10


 

Let me know what you all thought in the comments. If there’s any other points you would like me to touch on in future reviews, please let me know. Also, is this a manga you would consider reading? Is there a series you would like me to pick up and read? Any questions or suggestions are completely welcome.

As before (and always), thank you for reading, and I’ll catch you all for the next review!

©S.T. Nov. 6, 16  *Disclaimer – the writing is my own, however none of the images you see in this post belong to me.  I do not own any rights to any images used, only the writing portion*