Hello! This is Sterling with a final update. This update in particular encompasses the past three weeks, so it might be slightly long-winded. Proceed with caution.

As per usual, I’ll do my best to limit my therapeutic ranting on how things felt. While it may help me, a seemingly-negative headspace might hurt others (though I like to consider myself an optimist). Besides. This is meant to talk about more than my feelings.

So, as someone going through this time in modern history, I feel like it’s vital to blurt on my thoughts. Perhaps my grandchildren will be fascinated by it. These past three weeks have been somewhat ridiculous. I’m not sure how I did it, but I managed to fall behind in three courses. I thought I had done way with over-procrastinating in high school, but apparently not. Maybe being at home that has reawakened such habits. I have admittedly procrastinated with this course, though I had still managed to get things done while working on several theatre shows at once. And now that all of it’s ripped away, I’m moving slower than ever. I didn’t know how much I appreciated academic pressure until it was gone.

Thankfully, my professors are kind and understanding and as of right now, my grades are looking surprisingly good. However, if I’m being honest, I would like to be done with all of my courses except for this one. I work at the pace of a snail in the day and then ramp it up in the night, which is familiar but exhausting. In DS106, I have let myself stack on the work and get overwhelmed, though I still enjoyed it every time. Now that I have time in the summer, it would be neat to still pursue creative avenues of expressing myself. Stepping out of my comfort zone is important: that includes socializing and interacting with others as social media booms more now than ever. I’ve liked to consider myself a jack of all trades when it comes to the content we’ve created, but certainly a master of none.

This summer, though, I’ve been intrigued by two concepts: writing and image editing. Writing is one of my passions, and as I write on roleplay-based forums I easily have that covered. Maybe some NaNoWriMo training is in order as well. For image editing, I’ve recently returned to Instagram after a long hiatus and saw this photography account that edited people to look more vibrant. They looked unnatural, yet genuine in whatever they were selected to portray in their portraits. Most of that oddness came from the power of editing.

I’ll admit that I can be a little ‘vain’ – if you’d even count what I’m about to describe as a vein of vanity. When we were at school, my roommate can attest that I on occasion spend minutes in front of the mirror. I look in the reflection, and I see everything wrong. My shoulders are too thin. My cheeks have gotten fatter. My torso isn’t quite long enough. Yet, I find myself looking back up at my eyes and the strong-ish brow and jaw I find confidence in and I stay there for a second longer. Why not emphasize my eyes with the glow of two moons? Illuminate my hair with fire? To edit my environment rather than my body seems like a healthy way of self-empowerment to me.

Especially since I’m stuck at home with people reminding me of my traits constantly, causing me to forget a lot of the ‘progress’ I made at school. Sometimes it feels like I am, or was someone else entirely. These creative outlets are where I can focus on expressing myself, for I now know a story can make up anything. I wouldn’t be opposed to doing Daily Creates on occasions of boredom throughout the summer. Now that my internship in France is cancelled and I’m jobless (for the summer), I’ll either be at home or doing volunteer work. Updating my website isn’t something I’d be opposed to, as well.

Regardless, I’m going to do my best and move forward without regrets. I’ll cherish what I have learned, and the moments I had like meeting my radio show group members. Stay creative!


Update:「Week 10」

Hello! Hope y’all are doing well. This is Sterling, back with another update.

As you can tell, I couldn’t break out of my habit of procrastination. Being at home is like moving through molasses. I’d stopped associating being at home with doing homework: even during my final years of high school, most of my homework was done by traveling there in the early morning. Before then, I did homework at daycare. For work that is supposed to be done at home, it isn’t very easy. Not to mention that I don’t have all of the pressure that comes from having physical classes. It is nice to be able to take my time – I am a slow worker – though that lack of face-to-face interaction is slightly demotivating.

Regardless, it was fun to take a break from all of the classes that have changed and to face DS106: my creative constant.

Update:「Week 9」+ Revisions

Featured image is a gif I took, sitting in a gazebo during my walk.

Wow. What an absolute roller coaster of the week this has been. I started off quite productive, though as one can tell, ended up getting crunched for time yet again. Old habits die hard, though this has honestly been a big adjustment period for us all. I’ve had to catch up on the work I missed from being sick for the entirety of last week, and on top of that work on moving back home. I love being home, but when I’m here I’ve always had things to do like visit friends or practice Tae Kwon Do but now I’m stuck. I’ve felt gross being stuck in one place all day and my acne has broken out. Movement is probably what I was known for at UMW, always on the go doing everything, and now that I’m doing nothing other than homework it has been a challenge.

Today, in a one-hour span, I learned that the play I have invested hours into is cancelled, as well as my study abroad and internship trip in France this summer. It isn’t surprising. But it still hurts to know that my acting debut, in a role that was very deep and created some of the most growth for me as an actor will not be happening (we were originally going to perform tonight). The trip that I have been planning for over a year and have invested thousands of dollars into is being refunded. All of my scholarships and letters of recommendation are nullified. I have to announce it and freeze my GoFundMe, which had also accumulated upwards of $1000. My big plans for the summer after are now unlikely to happen since that will be the summer of France. Though I know it could be far worse. I am extremely grateful to be happy once again and to live in a harmonious household.

Today, I was able to take a walk. Apart from the walks I took when I was sick (which didn’t feel great), I can’t remember the last time I walked just for the purpose of walking. To not be zeroed in on a destination or stressed about an assignment. The sun felt better than ever and the breeze was powerful. That, in addition to the nice 6 ft bubble people have been giving, was a refreshing experience. I hope to have more moments like that to inspire creativity for video week. Filming locations will be optimal! Needless to say, I’m looking forward to it.

On the other hand, I have been able to work on a couple of small revisions. Also, quick note that my Daily Creates will not be linked in this post since they have been discussed here.

The first assignment I chose to revise was my Infocom Commercial, which was also used in my radio show. Like in the newer version, I decided to eliminate the 8-bit music and use the Tears For Fears “Shout” instrumental for the entirety of it so that it was more unified. Sound effect had to be slightly re-worked and re-considered. I also balanced the music and the voices better, and had to specifically amplify certain parts of the track to get the effect I wanted such as the beat change from the ‘game’ part to the ‘advertisement’ part. I worked on this one because it displays one of my passions, and I knew that I could do better. However, I doubt I will be truly satisfied until I can get new voice acting for the intro part: my dad seems to be a pretty good candidate.

The other assignment I decided to revise was my radio show sticker. The fact that I layered pre-made images over each other meant that some had different textures and designs that crept in unnoticed. I chose to erase all of the extraneous gray lines off of the design. I also sought to unify the level of sharpness the clipart possessed: some are more “sharp,” and defined pixels could be made out whereas others were far softer with smooth edges. Now it is something I wouldn’t mind having as a sticker on my laptop.

Let’s get through this.


Update:「Week 8」

As one can tell from other weekly summaries, this week has been quite an adventure. I went from completely dismissing the coronavirus to having school closed for a few weeks. I’ve been in the dark this whole week – classes and all – since I was out with the flu. Of course, challenges this week included trying to complete my Daily Creates. They were few in number, though not on the top of my list at the start of the week. Unfortunately, I was not quite sure how to interpret these so I did what I thought matched best:

Another challenge of course included those I encountered with the radio show project, which was detailed in my post. In short, those included creating the script, trying to use the vocal booth, and trying to blend the four differently-edited audio clips. I am proud of what we did, and I think it is very informational. With more time, collaboration, resources, and different circumstances, this could have been slightly different though I am not unsatisfied. I hope people will use my script to be able to understand my words. I actually just watched the Clue (1985) movie and I think it would be very cool to see or do a radio show orienting around a mystery like that. To create something featuring alternate endings, like Clue, would be a great project to take on.

I have reviewed the assignment more in-depth in my post. To be honest, even though I never feel like I have enough time to finish the regular assignments, I am eager to return to them if that is next on the agenda. I enjoy the original content and freedom of imagination. Perhaps these next few weeks at home, without my crazy amount of extracurriculars, will help my content production level.

Update:「Week 7」

Howdy, and welcome to a full reflection! (Woohoo!) Here is some angsty mood music to enjoy as you read… since my summary might be a bit uncomfortable (sincerely sorry):

Let’s cut right to the chase.

I found myself feeling deeply-unsatisfied by this week’s assignments. As you can tell from the audio week posts, I truly enjoy audio editing but my works this week did not reach the mental standard I was projecting on them. I believe a large portion of it is because I used my voice in them. No one forced me to pick assignments that would involve me using my voice, though I had visions and inspirations I wanted to fulfill. I like to think that I am confident in my body and my behavior, but my voice is what causes me the most insecurity. Even after pitching my vocals down, my voice sounds rather fake in my own ears because I know. I wonder if it would have been better to just go with my natural voice – someone told me it sounded deep this past week and it made my day – but many of these voices were ones I had imagined being voiced by someone with a lower range than I.

(Short break from the edginess.)

The rest comes from the fact that they feel incomplete. Upon reflecting, I think I would like to eliminate the 8-bit dungeon music (no matter how much I love it) and only use the “Shout” instrumental for my Infocom Commercial. I think I would like to transition the music in my reading of “Mnemonic” better, as well as completely redo “Beautiful Dreamer” with just humming. My radio show sticker should have the font altered and the extra lines edited out. I probably wouldn’t submit any of these things to a class if I had to see my instructor and peers in person. Presenting them would be even worse.

Now that I had time to finish everything, I was dismayed that none of it possessed any kind of “wow” factor. (Is super-rushed work better for me?) Not that I think all of my works are the best, but I like to think that they reach a certain standard. I continually find myself becoming less humble about these works as I shift into seeing them more as grades than creative outlets. I’ve been told that I am gentle and relaxed in person, though I feel like I come off with a certain attitude on my blogs. I’m always paranoid about my social etiquette. Text is so easy to misconstrue, yet it is my favorite method of communication. Writing my feelings here is therapeutic, though it may turn on me later.

This made me miss reading and writing (for fun).

On a more positive note, though, I did have fun coming up with the ideas for all of my projects! I felt like the commercial was unique and targeted my passions, and as I noted in that post, was my favorite assignment. I love “Beautiful Dreamer” and would love to re-visit it when I’m not wrapped up in what could be classified as ‘dysphoria’. I’m even more motivated to write: reading lots of 80s poems to find ‘the one’ was a really fun part to my week and I’m in the process of making an account on the NaNoWriMo website (National Novel Writing Month). The challenge was just trying to make all of my ideas cohesive at once and just trying to accept how I sound. If I don’t do those things, then I’m in for some trouble with the radio show. My harshest critic is myself.

I’d like to end with a haiku I made some time ago:

Happier than I
Is the one who lived a life
Just short of dreaming.

Senior Year Sterling (High School Edition)

I’ll have to take this break week to update my older blog posts, comment, and evaluate my motivations. And, perhaps live just short of dreaming. What better way to do that than by reading?


Week 6

Insert more positive and technical prelude…

This week’s challenge was time and energy: I had to take the “L.” Being in two plays and involved in several clubs and projects has been eating my time. I’m getting exhausted thinking about my 9 AM – 11:30 PM day tomorrow with practically no breaks. My weekdays have felt like fever dreams and I’ve had an almost-constant headache. Eating a mere brownie somehow turned into a surreally-vulnerable and nostalgic moment that made me feel like I wanted to be a kid again (even though I’m still not really an adult). Thankfully, the last day of one of my plays is Sunday so I will finally be able to tie up some loose ends in my blog posts from the prior weeks. I had to narrow my assignments down and just take pride in what I could do, though it was a slight bummer because graphic design and editing is one of the ones I was looking forward to the most. I trust that I will do well and comment much more for the rest of the semester to accommodate any losses I may take tonight.

For those interested in working with me on the radio show, I promise that I am a diligent worker. I take group projects very seriously and I am familiar with graphic image editing and base audio editing. I like to think that I am creative and have quite a bit to offer, so please consider me. The past couple of rushed works were almost unavoidable and not reflective of my true work ethic. Please visit here to check out my audio samples!

Here are my Daily Creates – if the fact that making the last meal one made me a little sad is not reflective of how my week went, I’m not sure what else is haha: (Will link ASAP)

I don’t want to leave this post on a depressing note or anything, so I thought I’d let you all know that my roommate and co. are watching This is Spinal Tap (1984), which is a mockumentary of a heavy metal band trying to make it big. It is said to have defined the mockumentary genre, and has many similar zooms to the popular American version of The Office. It is very funny so far and I’m sure my friends who are more actively paying attention to it would highly recommend it! My roommate also cooked me some stir fry so I’m feeling pretty hopeful. It’s really nice to see people now, even if it is fleeting. : )

Update:「Week 3」+ Analysis

Again, I recommend more 80s Japanese music to listen to as you read: this one in particular struck a chord of tender nostalgia. I’ve listened to something similar as a kid, but every time I hum the tune I remember to my mom, she cannot place the song. It’ll take me a few days to remember the tune myself. Regardless, this kind of music is like elevator music but with words. And I mean that in the best way possible.

This one is from Tatsuro Yamashita called “Whispering Sea.” It actually came out in 1978, but this release with Mahi Mahi Rider from the old KIKI radio station of Honolulu (which is now FOX Sports) was done in 1984. I have a lot of family in Hawai’i, and having spent some time there in 2018, I can imagine listening to that on a cassette as I walk near the beach. In fact, listening to this song on my way to class made me feel like a protagonist. Do you find that your favorite songs make you feel like a main character?

Anyways, enough with the rambling. One thing I made sure to implement this week was Google Keep. It’s the Google version of a notes app, so I can access it on my computer and my phone. I used a checklist of the assignments and crossed them off as I went. Another thing I did recently was watch Back to the Future (1985), which was really fun. Certainly worth re-watching: especially with friends. I’m discussing it in my story analysis. Hoping to draw some inspiration from it in my future assignments as well!

A screenshot of Google Keep.

Challenges this week again included time management. Even though I did start on Monday, I spread myself too thin and worked a bit on all of my assignments at once, which was overwhelming and not very effective. However, little ideas would keep popping up for each that I couldn’t deny. I also had a bit too much fun with the Daily Creates, the one for today taking me hours. The fact that I’ve been cast in the play doesn’t help. This early start is still progress, though, so I hope I can complete all assignments with enough time to sleep on them next week.

I only finished three assignments with a total of 8 stars, though I like to think that I put enough effort and meaning into each of them to collectively amount to something close to 12 stars. They were all assignments that I enjoyed, and even though there aren’t any more writing weeks, I hope to write more since it is probably my favorite creative medium. A bit off-topic, but it was neat to see how I was featured in Professor Bond’s Week 2 Reflection. His responses to my ideas, especially on perfection, were meaningful. I am here, able to “write it up, say what we were trying to do, how we tried, where we think it went wrong, what we could have done differently, and evaluate what we learned for our efforts.”

For the story analysis, I was very happy to read about hypertext fiction. As I’ve established in Week 1, I’m a huge fan of interactive fiction, and it brought me back to the mid-late 2000s when I was first exposed to hypertext works. I’ve used Inky to write a few stories of my own that revolve around the same concept of clicking on words to progress in a story. If you’d like to read further on my thoughts of interactive fiction (including hypertext), please consider reading this report I wrote last semester (or my final project). I enjoy how Szumer discussed video games as a form of interactive storytelling, and that “we often get ‘a million-dollar game with a five-dollar script’” as people prioritize graphics and game mechanics over the story, which is absolutely my favorite part of any video game. I’ve been playing The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt lately, and I agonize over my story choices far more than my lack of virtual combat skills.

This week, I’ve decided to analyze Robert Zemeckis’ Back to the Future (1985) using Kurt Vonnegut’s method of visualizing stories. One could argue that it looks something like this (a la cafe napkin):

Though, of course, it follows a more general story pattern that involves an overall increase in fortune:

BttF should probably be exaggerated more than what I drew, though the movie’s whimsical yet thrilling nature kept me from leaping to either extreme. Of course, his family’s complete 180 in fortune is notable but Marty McFly doesn’t seem to dwell on it all too much. BttF is a great story to analyze because many of the situations are hilariously ambiguous and produces an interesting waver mid-plot. It was great to see how the curve was not as simple as the basic plots outlined by Vonnegut. Even though the second video doesn’t apply quite as much to this aspect of fictional storytelling, I really enjoyed the concept of us – people – making up the machine. The system learns from people drawing connections, for a mere Google search suggestion tells all.

Here are my materials, please check them out:

Update:「Week 2」

Enjoy a picture of my cat that I used for my Daily Create! Here is some mood music. To enjoy while you read:

This week was very hard. (Who on Earth let a sophomore like me sign up for a senior-level course?) I vastly underestimated the amount of time I had, though I’m glad I could at least touch base with They Lived (1988). I hope to go more in-depth about the film’s psychology and more with next week’s writing theme, for I feel like I express myself best with words. I’m borrowing my roommate’s Hulu account to re-watch the film – haven’t watched that movie in years! It will be a great refresher. I’m also much happier about my blog’s layout now that I have personalized it a bit more, and I am eager to work on the home page.

One thing that got me through the week was 80s Japanese music. I have trouble concentrating when I listen to words with lyrics, though I was starting to get tired of chillhop. Therefore, what else to listen to than music with words that I do not understand? Mariya Takeuchi and Tatsuro Yamashita have taken me through hours of homework: they are taking me through this post now. Foreign oldies are a true gem!

A struggle I had was that my blog posts say that they are posted on January 25th when I absolutely posted them on the 24th. I never set a posting delay, and I’m thinking my blog should be in the correct time zone. In my time clutter, I found myself spending too much time on digital image editing when I probably could’ve done something similarly effective with less effort. Perfectionism isn’t always the answer.

I managed to complete 2/4 Daily Creates and 2/3 Assignments. As an artistic person, I knew that I would have fun doing the assignments, yet I let myself succumb to stress and try to finish them last-minute. I pride myself on being meticulous – especially being an Honors student – though I put too much time in other homework. I pledge to start on my assignments earlier since I truly enjoyed doing them, and like my other courses, Digital Storytelling needs to be a class I let myself love. Though if you couldn’t tell from my other posts, I’m already falling in love with this new creative outlet.

What I learned this week: Many things are not what they seem. I can be a hero. It is easy to forget about what is ‘invisible’. And like the aliens in They Live, digital images and arts are all around me: I just can’t see them.

Please check out my Daily Create and Assignment posts at the bottom of this one. ^_^