Goodbye 2017, and Hello 2018!

Happy New Year 2018 Doodle!Well, I’ve survived another year, which is absolutely fantastic. And that means that I have another year to reflect on in my usual New Year’s looking forward/back thing. While I don’t think I can truly do the year justice (mostly because I don’t really remember what happened for most of it…), I will mention a few points I’ve been thinking about.

**Looking Back**

Notably good books from this year include: Ninefox Gambit and Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee, Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman, Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke, Hearts & Other Body Parts by Ira Bloom, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, Caraval by Stephanie Garber, Warcross by Marie Lu, An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard, and The Graces by Laure Eve. I’ve also met my goal of reading at least one book a month. So thank you, you wonderful books you.

I also read a lot of manga this year, more than I probably can mention here, but my top three are Yona of the Dawn by Mizuho Kusanagi, Noragami by Adachitoka, and Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya (which I finally finished from when I was a kid.) High recommendations for each of these.

I participated in Inktober, which was fun.

Also, I’ve been meaning to mention this for a while but I love love love the music composed by Phil Lober. Sountrack to my life. In other music news, however, I think this year most resembles Paramore’s After Laughter album, particularly the first half.

I’ve started playing Warframe with my friends. And you guys. It’s so fun.

I did not finish my novel. Again. But I think once it’s done, I’ll be so happy.

**Looking Forward**

I’m going to actually finish my novel this year. Yes, I know I say this every year. But this time it’s true!

I’m also going to try to make more art this year. I could use the practice, haha.

There’s a photo comic I’ve been wanting to make for a while… so maybe I’ll make it this year if I find the time.

By this time next year I’ll have graduated from college and will hopefully have a job. I am both terrified and excited beyond words.

Because of this last fact, I’m actually finding it hard to look into the future… which is unusual. But I shall persevere.

And finally, Little Atmospheres: I can’t guarantee I’ll blog more, mostly because my life isn’t too exciting just yet. I may also try to reinstate the 4 x This Week Posts, but again, no guarantees.

***

Well, thank you guys for this year! And here’s hoping for a better 2018. It’s been fun, you guys.

x

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4 x This Week: Piano/String Cover Music, More Books, and Suddenly Weirdly Creative

Warcross and Caraval and a Reflection
Warcross from last week, Caraval from two weeks ago. And look, I caught their reflection! So fancy.

Once again I have skipped a week, but I’m back. Mostly.

**1**

First, some music. Recently I discovered some awesome piano/string covers by Sam Yung on YouTube, which made my day. The first one I listened to was the cover of Hikari from the Kingdom of Hearts soundtrack, but I also love the Paramore and PVRIS covers. And just, like, everything.

**2**

BOOKS! Finished two good ones: Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee, which I’ve been excited about since forever but finally got around to this week, and Warcross by Marie Lu, which I devoured in one day.

**3**

I’ll be out of Phoenix by this Tuesday and back in Washington. I’m not gonna miss the heat, but I will miss my sister :(

I will also miss the time away from the drama that is my household. I guess I’ll be going back to Seattle and college and all by next Sunday, so I won’t be “home” long, but still.

**4**

I had a weird burst of creativeness today (or Sunday, I guess, since this is going up Monday?), the kind of happy-but-almost-sad-high I typically get right before I get sick. I don’t know if that makes any sense. It kinda feels like the way your stomach drops when you stand on a cliff or a high building and take in a gorgeous view.

I don’t really know why that makes me happy—the feeling before I gets sick, I mean—but my theory is that it reminds me of when I was a child and got sick, and thus got to stay home. It’s weird, though, because if I feel ill in any other ways I usually hate it and have panic attack. I’m not good with my body shutting down. But when I feel specifically like this, I don’t know, it just puts me in a writing mood for some reason.

x

4 x This Week: Help I Hate My Characters, More Ambient Music, Shepherd’s Pie, and a Tongue Twister

Monday. 2:54 a.m. Nearly forgot to write this post. So a-here-we-go~

**1**

I’m hitting a bit of a writing wall right now, mostly because of some character things. I may write a longer post about it this week, but for now I’ll try to summarize. Lately none of my characters have been clicking for me, and there have been certain points in time when I’ve just hated all of them. Like, what used to excite me about them has suddenly vanished into thin air. After some introspection, I realized this is likely due to events in my own life—but how so, you may ask?

Well, it has come to my attention that the way I perceive my characters is directly related to the way I perceive people in general—not specific people, mind you, but humanity as a whole. Lately, however, certain people in my life have lessened my opinion of relationships (not necessarily romantic) and other people in general. You know how it is—you run into someone who is so infuriating or downright evil that it makes you want to tear your hair out. So opposite your own soul that you cannot believe they actually exist. So present that it makes you question the sincerity of every other person you have met or ever will meet.

Perhaps that is an exaggeration, but you get the idea. Because of personal issues I am dealing with, the characters in my writing are suffering. And, as you may know, writing is usually a pretty personal experience.

My characters now seem too… optimistic about encountering other characters, whereas I suddenly find myself more pessimistic about meeting new people. This also comes at a crucial time when my main character is supposed to be forming her friendships, and creating lasting bonds—something that is now difficult for me.

For a moment I considered taking a break from writing my main work and focusing on some other side thing, but I felt a little better about my characters today than I did yesterday. Mostly I think it’s just personal stuff I need to sort through.

The most interesting thing about this whole experience is probably that I never realized just how closely my characters were connected to my own state of being. Whether or not that is a good thing, well, I guess I’ll find out in the weeks to come.

**2**

Flipping the switch here, I’m always looking for ambient, soundtrack-like music, particularly when I’m writing. Some time ago I posted about jazzhop or something like that. This week it’s, let’s see—“chillstep,” which I guess is like dubstep, but… chill; lofi (lofi hip hop?); and some trap-Japanese mix, which sounds weird (I mean the name, not the actual music), but is good.

**3**

I tend to make this shepherd’s pie a lot, using this recipe. Just made one today, actually.

**4**

Tongue twister I heard somewhere that my sister and I quote a lot:

How many Lowe’s could Rob Lowe rob if Rob Lowe could rob Lowe’s?

x

4 x This Week: Phoenix, Aimer, and Lightless Rooms

Airplane Sunset on My Way
Sunset from my airplane seat on my way into Phoenix. How did I get this gorgeous shot? I have no idea.

The photo is a bit deceptive. It is beautiful. Light. Almost whipped-cream adjacent.

This post is not.

**1**

I’m in Phoenix! If anyone is reading these 4 x This Week posts (which you’re probably not, but I’m trying to practice being an optimist), you might remember that I mentioned that I would be visiting my sister in Arizona two weeks ago. And then I didn’t. And I went to Seattle last week instead.

Well, I finally made it to the Grand Canyon state. As expected, it’s hot. Like, really hot. As I am typing this (at 8:36 at night, sun is down) the current outdoor temperature is 102 degrees. Now, 100+ degree weather is not what you would call my forte, but I’m coping. We have air conditioning. The sunsets are amazing. I’m adjusting to the heat… sort of.

I can’t say the weather isn’t exciting, though. Saturday there was a weird storm thing happening. In the morning it was sunny as usual, and then all of a sudden in the late afternoon it was raining and the wind was blowing hard enough to break the palm trees down the road. It was kind of fun, but then again I didn’t have to go outside, so.

Update: It’s 10:00 and there’s a storm. Lightning, wind, dust, the works. And yes, it is 92 degrees.

Second Update: 10:15 look it’s raining. A lot.

Still 92 degrees though.

**2**

Right now I’m listening to Aimer. She’s a singer from Japan and I absolutely love her voice, as well as the rock/emo influences in many of her songs. I just found out she’s on Spotify, so she’s been on repeat for a few days. The first song I ever heard from her was Brave Shine, which I highly recommend. Also, I really appreciate the whole blanc/noir theme of her two collection albums. And cats! With crowns!

https://i2.wp.com/aramajapan.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/aramajapan_blanc-noir.png?fit=1024%2C518

**3**

Writing: right now I’m at 42,816 words in my latest draft (give or take—I skipped over a section but also tend to write a lot of notes). I feel like the story needs to happen along faster, or that 42,000 words is a bit much for how far I actually am in the story. But then again, they say that when writing you should worry about the word count later. For now, just write.

Right?

Also I think I have too many characters moving around in the story right now… which I feel has actually been a problem for a long, long time. I guess I just never felt like addressing it. Well, not properly, anyway.

So if the person who is reading this right now is actually me from the future, I hope you’ve done something about this. And if you haven’t? SIT DOWN, GRAB A PEN, AND FIX IT.

NO, DON’T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT.

FIX. IT.

**4**

Besides all the stuff above, nothing is really happening right now. I mean, if you don’t count my inner turmoil (which is almost always happening, *eye roll*). The thing is, I knew something like this would pop up eventually—that one day I would sit down to write this post and realize that there is nothing of interest for me to write. Nope. Nothing. Blank.

Most days I just wait for my sister to come home from work, since I’m not at school and do not currently have a job. It’s just minutes upon hours upon days upon months of in-between, transitory waiting time. And in those minutes to hours to days to months, I get these flickers. Flickers of fear, flickers that I will be forever in this waiting limbo. Doing nothing, contributing nothing, enjoying nothing. Just… waiting for something to happen to me that is not a blood sugar crash or a panic attack.

I can rationalize and say that this transitory state is, by nature, transitory. But I can only realistically see this and/or feel it to be true once I am outside that state. It’s like being in a room that’s completely dark, a room whose dimensions are unknown. It could be five feet across. It could be a hundred. But I won’t know until I cross the lightless room, touch the walls, and possibly find a light switch. Until then, I am endlessly in the dark, waiting, waiting, waiting.

For eternity? Maybe.

…Anyway, sorry. Got a bit depressing there for a moment.

On a lighter note, I have realized that Emma, my current read, is actually the basis for the movie Clueluess. Huh. You learn something new every day.

***

Well, that’ll be all for today, folks. Stay tuned for the next 4 x This Week, where we’ll discover whether or not our young heroine can pull herself out of her own misery. Will she be forever waiting in a lightless room? Will she find a job? Or is her life about to take a turn for the worse? Find out next Monday!

4 x This Week: Bohemian Rhapsody, Noodle Soup, and Say No to the Zombie Apocalypse

Noodle Soup from Silk Road Noodle Bar
Perfection in a bowl. Noodle soup from the Silk Road Noodle Bar. Not sure what it’s called, but it’s number A1.

I’m changing up the numbering style for this post, maybe this’ll be better?

Also I realize that I’m just ripping all of my pictures straight off my instagram account. Oh well. I’ll try to give you more original material next week.

**1**

Right now (well, before I took a break to write out this post) I’m listening to/singing Bohemian Rhapsody while sitting on my living room couch, writing. The lights in this room are out. But not for atmosphere, no. It’s because the light switch is broken *cry*. So far, I’ve written about five lines of text. This is my Sunday.

**2**

I saw my friends in Seattle! I missed them so much, even though it’s only been like a month since I’ve last seen them. Instead of making a depressing comment about how I’m sad to be back in my home town of Washougal (near Vancouver– not the Canada–and across the river from Portland– not the Maine), I’m gonna recommend some food places I went to this week.

Silk Road Noodle Bar. For some reason I always end up going there at like 4:00 p.m. when it’s empty. Like, really empty. But you should get whatever noodle soup A1 is (I can’t remember the name, just the number). It is all I have ever wanted in a noodle soup.

Portage Bay Cafe: Breakfast. Yum. I’ve only been there the one time, but omigosh it was delicious.

**3**

On my hell no list: caffeine and zombie apocalypse movies. I have indulged in both this week and have realized my mistake.

Caffeine affects my system pretty badly, and mixed with my anxiety it feels pretty much like a race to death. Heart pounding. Hands shaking. Paranoia, paranoia, paranoia.

One sunny afternoon I decided I would drink a white mocha (which I’ve had before, by the way), but there was a bit more caffeine in this one, and I was jittery for hours afterwards. But, like, I like the smell of coffee. And the taste is good at times. But coffee does not like me. So warning to my future self: never again.

Now, zombie apocalypse movies. I have always hated them. And always will. I watched one with some friends on the Fourth of July, thinking that it can’t be that bad.

It was that bad.

I don’t think I scare that easily, but there are four subjects that I stay away from in movies and books at all costs:

  1. zombies
  2. apocalypses
  3. deep outer space
  4. and diseases.

This movie that I watched ticked off three of these four items. And no, it did not include deep outer space. Anyway, it was a bad idea. At first I thought it just made me more depressed and uncomfortable, but then I realized it actually scared me. Like actually scared me. It’s been five days and I’m still having horror flashbacks.

Again, warning to my future self: NEVER AGAIN.

**4**

I started reading Emma by Jane Austen this week. So far, I like it. From Austen I’ve only read Pride and Prejudice (one of my favorite books) and Persuasion. Some time ago I read that P&P, Persuasion, and Emma are the three essentials from Austen, but a quick internet search tells me that that might not be the truth. Thoughts on Austen, anyone?

***

That’s all, I think. Man, I want some noodles now.

Music! Soundtracks! Epicness!

Suggested music for: studying, writing, art-things, and feeling like your life is an epic movie. For starters.

I love listening to soundtrack-esque music. It makes me feel like a hero when I’m doing my homework or washing dishes. Lately I’ve had a lot of work to do, so I’ve been listening to these a lot. Just thought I’d share it with you.

You may want to break out those high-quality headphones/speakers. Just sayin’.

Mattia Cupelli. This guy is making AMAZING soundtracks. One I’ve been listening to frequently is titled Waves. Just… I have no words to describe its beauty.

Eurielle on HDSounDI’s channel. Eerie and delightful. Have I mentioned before how much I love HDSounDI’s YouTube channel? Well, you’re hearing it again!

I discovered Eurielle through HDSounDI. (Actually, I think I discovered Mattia Cupelli that way too.) She’s got a such a lovely voice, haunting and angelic at the same time. I particularly like Song of Durin below.

(Also, someone in the comments suggested opening this song in two different tabs, playing one, and then playing the second one thirty seconds into the first. I have done it. It is great. Creates an interesting round…)

Aldnoah.zero soundtrack composed by Hiroyuki Sawano. I saw the first season, but I haven’t seen the second yet. I’ve heard… mixed things about this anime, but I’m always a sucker for nice visuals and awesome soundtrack, so.

(And the soundtrack is AWESOME. Maybe my favorite movie/tv soundtracks so far.)

This video is near one and a half hours long, so if you want to pick out a couple tracks, they’re listed in the video description on YouTube. I suggest 13. MKAlieZ, 07. as-inaho, 26. A/Z-Piano:5ZAiVers and 20. aldnoah0rch-&z, as well as the first song Breathless.

Or, you know, all of ’em. Because it’s really hard to pick.

Tori No Uta (Feather in Dreams), piano arrangement by Shinobu Takaishi

Since we’re already talking about anime, I’ve known about this song for a while, but thought it would be nice to put here to. It’s the opining Air, as a piano solo arranged by Shinobu Takaishi, is also quite amazing.

Love love love soundtracks. Hope you like them too!

Geek Love <3

Hello all! In lieu of a proper post, I decided to post some awesome-tastic videos. I am in THE ZONE right now when it comes to writing, and ironically that means this post is going to be a little short, ha.

Unfortunately the blog is going to have to suffer a little more neglect. *sigh*

Anyway, you might remember this particular video by Google from April Fool’s Day, which I am in love with:

Then there’s something out there for the Mario fans, particularly those of you who have played Mario Kart (still the best racing game ever, *cough cough*). This first one is absolutely adorable:

And the second one’s just funny:

Enjoy!

No Meat, Just Music

In my last post I might’ve mentioned something about more meatiness in my next post.

Well, I lied.

Sort of.

Anyways, I just wanted to share this music with you guys, because it’s been replaying in my head over and over and over again since yesterday. Music, may I add, that takes up a good portion of my writing playlists.

This is the music of my creative habitat. I’ll try to keep the descriptions short and let the music speak for itself.

So shhhhh! Stop talking, me…

2Cellos–This one’s called Il Libro Dell’Amore (The Book of Love) feat. Zucchero. Although all their songs are extremely beautiful, this particular one has to be my favorite because its music video is made out of paper.

The Piano Guys– I could go on and on about how much I love the Piano Guys. For days. They are my number one choice for good-mood-good-writing-music. Seriously, if my book were to have a soundtrack… these people would have to be on it. Favorite song from them? Well…

As you can see I’m very much in love with the cello. I also like the piano (which shows up in other videos, promise).

This is a taste of the background music to my writing environment. Well, part of it, at least. Hope you enjoyed it.

18 Today

Today is my 18th birthday. *pops some confetti*

(And yes, I just posted about my best friend having a birthday six days ago. Cool, right?)

I wanted to do something special for the blog today, as a sort of gift-to-my-blog-and-me, but time has gotten the better of me and before I knew it 17 became 18 and 17 was gone.

In any case, I might do a part II to this post, partially because it’s actually 8:37 on October 3rd and technically I have three and a half hours of 17-ness left. But I know I will not have time to blog tomorrow, and so I have decided to write this beforehand.

And since it is my birthday, I thought I’d share some me-related things.

It makes me very happy that my birthday is on a Friday this year. Fridays are my favorite days.

I was thinking of talking about music in this post, but I am very moody when it comes to choosing favorites. I was considering talking about some Ellie Goulding/Piano Guys/Coldplay/Paramore/Florence + the Machine/someone else I probably forgot, but today I settled with Marching On by OneRepublic, which I think fits me and my year quite nicely:

(I chose this video because I liked the picture and it has the original song that isn’t all remix-y.)

I have no idea what I’m doing for my birthday. I literally told people who asked me what I wanted to do to “surprise me,” because I like surprises.

And with that, I have nothing more to say. Or at least, nothing more that I can think of. As I write this it is 10:01, with exactly 1 hour and 59 minutes left of 17. Wish me luck guys. I definitely wish you the same.
Friday, October 4, 2013. I am 18 today.
Much love,
Jackie

TAKE THAT, TRACK_04 or How to Rename Individual Songs on Custom Mix CDs in Windows Media Player

[WARNING: This is going to be a very rant-infested post ultimately leading to instructions on how to rename/edit information about individual tracks on custom mix CDs in Windows Media Player. If you’re lazy like me or you get sick of hearing me complain at any point, the actual instructions are down below, under the three little dots (• • •). Oh, and you can also click pictures to make them bigger. ]

[Or, if you’re here just to listen to my awesome ranting skills, read on.]

I was very fed up with technology yesterday morning. In fact, I was about ready to throw my laptop out the window. But of course, I didn’t, because a) I need this for writing and blogging and all that good stuff and b) my family would think I’m crazy. Again.

It all started months ago when I was attempting to organize my tangled, monster of a mess of a music collection. Seriously, almost every other track was titled Track_04, and it was driving me insane. Anyway, I had this custom mix CD kept very nicely in one very nice folder and each song was very nicely labeled. Organized, set aside, perfect.

Now, this CD was actually a CD my cousin had given me and my sister, consisting of an amalgamation of different songs from different artists who would normally never be on a CD together.

Think Demi Lovato+Blink-182+Jason Mraz+Foo Fighters.

Nice. Neat. Labeled. Ish.

Yeah, say goodbye to that.

I use Windows Media Player (yes, I know what you’re thinking. There’s such a thing as iTunes, you want to scream at me. I know it. You know it. I don’t care) for the sorting and keeping of music. Usually works very well for me. I like it, I’m totally fine with how it works. I’ve never really had to pull out my hair while using it (except this one time I accidentally synced my mp3 player, a story for another time.)

But then I got this idea into my head that I wanted to update the info on my songs. You know, so they don’t say Unknown Artist or Unknown Album or (my favorite) Track_04.

If you use Windows Media Player you may or may not know about its ability to look up this sort of information about songs. If the information is incomplete, all you have to do is right click on the song/album/whatever and select Find Album Info. Easy right? Looks like this:

Edit Info Screenshot_01

Well, it says Find ALBUM Info for a reason. Custom mix CD=not a real album, so you see the problem.

But I thought hey, maybe I can find the album info for this one tiny little song on this one tiny little custom mix CD.

*right-clicks on song*

*Find Album Info*

*Slams head against wall*

If you only get one thing out of this whole entire post, let it be this: DO NOT CLICK FIND ALBUM INFO UNLESS YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY SURE ABOUT THE SONG OR YOU ARE CERTIFIABLY NUTS OR YOU WANT A HOLE IN YOUR WALL.

Now, what happens is that it matches the song to its proper album, artist, title, etc. Done. Okay. Yay. But wait, there’s MORE. You see, every other song on that CD is then matched with other songs from the album of the song you so foolishly clicked Find Album Info for.

Suddenly Help I’m Alive by Metric had become Gift of a Friend by Demi Lovato, and I was helpless. Useless. Because no matter how many times I tried to change the artists, the albums, the titles, I just couldn’t do it. They were all lumped together under a very wrong album title with very wrong artists listed.

Okay, music is still music and I very well could’ve just shrugged my shoulders and said, “Oh, fine, whatever. You win, Track_04. I’m going to go eat a snack.” But of course, being provoked like a bull being shown a red cape, I kept looking for ways to change the information of the individual tracks to essentially break apart the CD. (That is, besides snapping the physical CD in half and throwing it in the food processor *cackles maniacally*.)

Do not click Find Album Info again, no matter how tempting. If you do click it, and then scroll down through the disappointing match options until you find something that says Edit the information manually, just know that it is very limited in terms of what you are actually changing.

Edit Info Screenshot_02

I wanted to actually be able to change the information (manually) of each individual track, but it just wasn’t happening.

Eventually I gave up and stuck exclusively to radio and Pandora and sometimes I’d listen to my own music collection with a stress ball in one hand and a mug of scalding-hot green tea in the other–to drink when I needed relaxing and to splash into my eyes when it didn’t work.

…I’m kidding about the green tea.

Anyway, the point is I quit on trying to fix what really was broken for a good while. That is, until yesterday, when I tried to fix it again.

And after an angry morning of failure, I was finally able to do it.

TAKE THAT, TRACK_04.

Because the internet was essentially no help (really, what do you even put in the search engine for something like this?), I decided to put the instructions on how to fix this very specific problem into this post. Enjoy.

• • •

How to rename/edit information manually on individual tracks in a custom mix CD in Windows Media Player.

  1. Find the song you wish to edit the information of and right-click it. (Usually when I do this my Library is in the Songs view.) DO NOT RIGHT-CLICK THE ALBUM. It’s bad news all over again.
  2. Click Advanced Tag Editor.
    Edit Info Screenshot_03
  3. This is where the magic happens. In the new window that pops up, you are now able to edit things like the Title (TAKE THAT, TRACK_04), the Genre, and, very importantly, the Album Title.Edit Info Screenshot_04
    However, even if you change all the album titles of all the songs on your CD so that they’re all different, they will still stick together in one album glob/group. Now, if you’re like me, you’ve probably tried to change the Artist by changing the Contributing Artist, like so:Edit Info Screenshot_06
    This is WRONG. It solves nothing. So what do you do?
  4. Still in the Advanced Tag Editor Window, click the tab that says Artist InfoEdit Info Screenshot_05
  5. This is the most important part. You can change the Artist, but that does just about as much as changing the Contributing Artist. You must change the Album Artist in order for the song to be grouped right. As soon as you do this, the song will probably move to its proper place, according to what you changed the artist’s name to.Edit Info Screenshot_07
  6. Now the information should be correct. However, the picture on the album will probably be wrong, or missing (unless the song joins an already existing album in your Library when you change it).
    Edit Info Screenshot_08
    To fix this, all you have to do is find a picture online of the album cover, right-click it, and select Copy Image.
    Edit Info Screenshot_09
  7. Now, back in Windows Media Player, find your song and right-click on the album cover.
    Edit Info Screenshot_10
    Select Paste Album Art, and the picture should appear.

Edit Info Screenshot_11

And that’s all there is to it! You must repeat this process for every single song on that CD. Tedious? Yes. But at least there’s no hole in the wall this time.

So, good luck to you lovers of correctly-identified songs. I hope this helps.