LFL's Anniversary Blogging Celebration!, Topic Tuesdays: Music

Let’s Talk About Some Problematic Things About Kpop.

Dear, guys – welcome back to Letters From Liz!

As many of you all know, I’m a huge kpop fan. I discovered kpop back in 2018 at a local laundromat where they were playing Twice’s “Knock Knock” on their television set and was instantly hooked to the catchy song. Soon afterward, I went down the rabbit hole that is kpop; different boy and girl groups, watching survival TV shows to debut new groups, and the most expensive part of it all: collecting.

I officially got into the kpop community during the pandemic in 2020. During this time, collecting wasn’t as intense as it has been for the last year. The community definitely was a lot smaller when I first joined it, and since then it has expanded to be this phenomenon that can be intimidating at first glance.

While kpop has become internationally known and wildly popular, many of us enter the community not really knowing that in any community, there are just things that are problematic as you dig deeper into the subject. I specifically want to talk about two things that have been on my mind as I’m writing this; to say the least, I think many kpop fans can agree that some of these things are problems that we just condone because there’s nothing else we could do, unfortunately.

The Curse of Pre-Order Benefits:

In the kpop world, a pre-order benefit (POB) is typically a photocard that you get when you order albums during its pre-order period. A pre-order period typically runs until the album release date, or on the date that is provided on certain sites. Before the pandemic, POBs weren’t a big deal; in fact, many people didn’t collect them! It was just a nice thing people got when they ordered their albums in their pre-order period. When I first got into collecting Victon, I didn’t even know what a pre-order benefit was! I bought my first POB on eBay when I realized it was a card I didn’t have, and when Victon announced their Mayday comeback during the summer of 2020, I bought my albums under the one website that was had a POB with the album. Since then, it’s nearly tripled. For their full-length album comeback, there were way too many to even sit here and count! If I had to guesstimate how many photocards were for that last comeback, I have to tell you that it’s pages. Tons of money went into getting these photocards, and even then I still don’t have all of them! The thing about collecting is that many collectors want to have completed collections of their favorite members. Again, another toxic mentality to have within the community; collectors think that the more you have in your collection, the better “stan” you are. Also, it feels better to have everything than to have missing slots in your collection, which again is crazy to think, but it’s a mentality that many of us have in collecting and somewhat tolerate in the community. The thing is when a group makes a comeback and pre-order details come out, sometimes it becomes more stressful than fun to collect, and a lot of people who were once in the community aren’t in the community anymore because of the stress collecting can be and has become.

The fact of the matter is, pre-order benefits became a big deal during the pandemic because entertainment agencies weren’t making their money through concerts and offline fansign events. Collecting became this huge thing during the pandemic, and companies hopped on that bandwagon and made it a battle of all battles to collect them all. So, in order for consumers to buy through specific sites, they include their own special pre-order benefit, which in all reality look the same like they are no different whatsoever. I hope that in the future, POBs doesn’t happen as often once the pandemic is mainly in control, but knowing that these sites and companies have already seen success in doing things like having lucky draws or POBs, I highly doubt they will just stop doing so. It’s just the new norm of collecting and as collectors, we just condemn it.

Line Distribution in Songs:

A little backstory on what inspired this part of the post: so back in August, a new survival show aired called Girls Planet 999, which if you’ve been a fan of the now-damned Produce series, you would know this was just another way for Mnet to make idol survival shows again without bringing back the Produce series. The network definitely had to be careful that there weren’t any scandals happening behind closed doors (i.e companies bribing their trainees to the debut lineup) so when the final lineup was announced back in October, it wasn’t that surprising that certain members were in the final lineup. For a show that had 33 Korean, Japanese, and Chinese trainees, only 2 Japanese members made it to the lineup, as well as 1 Chinese member. But, when 50% of the votes came from Korea, it was suspected that most of the final lineup would consist of Korean members, of which 6 of the 9 members are. Anyway, after the uproar in the community wondering how Huening Bahiyyih (TXT Huening Kai’s younger sister) got to be in the final lineup for Kep1er (which speaks for itself: she has a huge international fanbase), people anticipated their debut album release, which was finally released on January 3rd. While their title track is the most catchy song of 2022 thus far (and probably will be because, well, go listen to it), many people are upset about the line distribution of the title track and the rest of the album as well. Specifically speaking about their title track, one of the non-positioned yet members got a huge fraction of the lines while others literally had as little as 7 seconds of lines in the song.

Unfair line distributions have always been a problem within the community. If the member isn’t the center, main vocal, or main rapper, you most likely won’t hear much from other members. It’s common for the main roles of a group to have the most lines in songs, but for larger groups (I would say 9 members and more), line distributions can get a little tricky and borderline unfair. Line distributions (unfair ones) have been in the community for generations on end, but with kpop being a more internationally known genre (and Korean companies creating new groups and advertising them as a “global group”), fans all over the world demand for more even distributed lines in songs. It definitely pushes the agenda of companies when things like that happen: while some fans will argue that certain member’s voices just “fit” certain concepts more than others, but when there is a major distinction between a member and their lines and the other members, there’s typically a “favorite” that the company has. Again, this is an issue we as listeners can’t control; it’s a company-level thing and we as listeners don’t typically have a say. But, it influences our liking to certain members and even our dislike of the members with the heavy screentime and/or most lines in the songs. It definitely makes it a competition against the members in the community when in all reality, the members just want their fans to support them as a group because they all deem each member a major important part of the group.

But yeah, I just wanted to discuss some of these issues now that we entered a new year, and kpop already made January its “unofficial comeback season”. I wonder if there are kpop listeners and collectors who feel the same way!

Topic Tuesdays: Random

Stories Currently in the Writing Universe!

Dear, guys – welcome back to Letters From Liz!

It’s been a while since we had a regular post up like this, huh? In all honesty, I’ve been having so much fun writing for The “Something” Series and it’s been great to sit in this universe with Grace and Jamie and write about the lives they are living. It sometimes baffles me that even though I write these for my own creative space, people still read it and enjoy reading about these characters as much as I love writing about them. I even had a reader comment on the recent post of the series telling me they look forward to reading a new part of the series every week! It honestly warmed my heart so much and it motivated me to keep going and write some more scenes for the weeks to come.

Although this series has been taking up most of my time, I have been branching out to other stories that have been put on hold or aren’t in the main writing list (if that makes sense). Perhaps I will write a new series for Tuesdays as well? We’ll see, but for now, I am playing around with some ideas for stories and would love to at least share one with you guys!

The Teenage Tell-Tale:

So, since I’ve been busy with The “Something” Series, I totally forgot that within the universe, my babies aren’t babies anymore! They’re literally teenagers, which means they are going to start doing teenager shit and get into teenager troubles!

So, Milo is a 13-year-old boy who’s the oldest in his family and doesn’t know really much about life outside of his four walls. He’s an introvert; he typically stays to himself and does his own thing. His passions follow his dad’s; music. He composes music and occasionally sings it; if anything, he writes and plays for his best friend, who is the performer of the group. All and all, Milo keeps to himself most of the time.

The same can’t be said for his best friend, Mollie Sue; Mollie for short. She’s a 13-year-old girl with spunk, sass, and always gets herself in trouble. She doesn’t mean to purposely get herself and those around her in trouble, she just doesn’t know how to not get herself in sticky situations. She comes from a pretty talented family, and she honestly does it all, but her passion is dancing. She hopes to make it a career when she gets older, but for now – she just does it every other day after-school.

Going back to Milo, he’s starting to get feelings for this girl in his grade… her name is Sophie and she has caught Milo’s attention significantly. He likes her, but he’s too shy to say anything to her and her group of friends aren’t the nicest people in the bunch. He’s afraid that if he tells her that he likes her, she will bully him and go back to his friends and embarrass him because he’s not one of the popular guys in their grade. Mollie, on the other hand, is starting to notice Milo’s behavior and wonders what is going on with him. Milo hasn’t told anything to Mollie because he knows hoe she feels about the mean girls in their grade; she does not like them and he knows she will have something to say to him if he tells her that she likes one of them. But, he notices that Sophie is different. She talks different and looks different and she seems like she’s the smartest one out of the entire group. Milo just admires her from afar, until he’s out into a situation where he’s talking to her… and working with her on a project… and spending time with her outside of school.

Milo and Mollie are two characters that I’ve been writing about for almost 13 years now. Milo is the son of Jennifer’s best friend, Milo (he had his son with his ex-girlfriend at the age of 16) and Mollie is Jennifer’s youngest sister. Milo and Mollie were only born a month a part from each other, so they’ve been literal best friends since birth, and grew up with each other. While their friendships is completely platonic, they both have a love for each other that not only lasts through their teenage years, but even adulthood and they have their own kids.

The “Something” Series:

As we all know, The “Something” Series has been the main focus on the blog because, in all honesty, it’s the story that gives me the most inspiration and I honestly just love living in the lives of these two main characters. So funny story: I have scenes written out about these two to last me until like… the beginning of July. It’s funny to see what scenes get published in real time because I look back and go “wow, I remember when this particular scene was being written back in like February!” Haha but yeah, in the timeline right now, Jamie has come back from Korea to see Grace and in hopes to start a new life here in New York City. There’s definitely a lot that needs to be discussed between them, and from what’s the come oof, it’s going to be spicyyyyyy.

Anyway, I hope you guys are enjoying the creative pieces as much as I enjoy writing them!

Topic Tuesdays: Random

It’s Been A While, Huh?

Dear, guys – welcome back to Letters From Liz.

It’s been way too long since I sat down and wrote something that wasn’t creative writing related. I’ve been really enjoying being on the blog and writing out The “Something” Series because it allows me to be in a head space where I don’t have to worry about personal things or thoughts that would trigger my anxiety. Also, I’ve been really enjoying living in these world of characters, so that’s why the blog has been mainly creative writing as of lately.

I wanted to come on here and just free write some shit because I sometimes miss it. There are days when I want to sit down and write these type of blog posts but worry that I might be saying something too personal or simply no one cares about what’s up with me. I guess in the long run I do these type of posts for myself; to allow myself and time and space to air out some things that have been on my mind or just some things I want to share to the public.

First things first: surgery has not happen yet. My last test needed to take was delayed due to scheduling conflicts and availability, so I had to wait a couple of months to get the test completely done with. Two weeks ago, I went to the sleep center to take my sleep study test; it primarily tracks your sleep to detect any sleep disorders and issues regarding sleep so that when they put me under for surgery, there’s no problems or issues. It was extremely different than what I thought; they hooked me up to about 20 different wires and then had to hear a net around my head but nevertheless, I went to sleep and woke up and now it’s finished. I have some blood work that I had done last week and now we are waiting for the results and then I’ll officially be in the pre-op process. This process has been an extremely long one; sometimes I fear that I’ve done all the testing and preparing for nothing because God forbid one of these very last things on the list doesn’t clear me or something. Sometimes it feels unreal that this is a process towards weight loss surgery, but here I am, almost at the very end.

Secondly: the journal article process is also coming to an end! (Hopefully!) My mentor and I got reviews back from the editors a couple of weeks ago and we have just one minor revision to do and hopefully we are good to go! This article has also taken way too long to conclude: we discussed possibly doing a collaboration piece back in Fall 2018 when I was a Teacher’s Assistant for Ro, my mentor. We then started to do some brainstorming and reading over the Summer of 2019, but then I got hired at my job at the bookstore and things were put at a halt while I was working and she was teaching at the college. Then the pandemic happened which then I used it as an opportunity to reach out to Ro and ask her if she was still wanting to work on he piece since we both now had time, and long and behold: our very first draft was 30 pages and it was written in a week. Personally, I enjoy writing (and reading) academic pieces like this and it’s a field I would love to be a part of one day without the whole slaving myself at a graduate school trying to get my PhD in Rhetoric Composition and Writing Studies. Within this process I’ve been diving into some Zoom conferences about the topics I would love to be more well-rounded on and taking notes on the presentations and whatnot. But yeah: mid-April is our next submission month and hopefully it’s our last before publication!

I’ve been diagnosed with something new. It’s something that I figured I was dealing with for years, but always stayed silent or believed it wasn’t that much big of a deal until I realized I literally had a breakdown and had to talk about what was happening to me. In hindsight, I spoke to both my therapist and psychiatrist about what was happening and both came to the conclusion of PMDD. It’s pretty much a severe case of PMS and it usually is onset before your 30’s. Severe depression and impairment of functioning is usually apparent during the first two week leading up to your period and boy it’s not fucking pretty. Since then, I’ve been taking medication to regulate my mood swings throughout the month. So far, I’ve been feeling a bit better and my last cycle wasn’t as brutal as the one in late January/early February. I still have my highs and lows, but for the most part I am trying my best to get through each month as calm and okay as possible these days.

Lastly, I am just taking it one day at a time. I go to work on the days I am scheduled, I go to my appointments whether they are for my bariatric surgery or mental health, and I’m still doing my collecting thing! I’ve been finishing up my Seungsik album collection for Victon’s latest comeback and gathering the other photocards that I want for my collection. I’m thinking about redoing my binder collection and my collection area: I have some more space and are getting into a lot more groups that have really good discographies! I’m also trying to be a bit more active on my collection account because it does give me great joy to make layouts and post parts of my collection! Also, two of my favorite boys in Victon have birthdays in April, so I got to plan ahead on those collection pictures for that!

That’s all I really have to talk about! Life’s just been slowly going as the days pass and I’m taking it one day at a time, especially while I wait for this bariatric surgery clearance process goes on.

Welcome back to the blog, readers. 🙂

LFL's Anniversary Blogging Celebration!, Topic Tuesdays: Love/Relationships

“Hi, I’m Liz!” : Dating with Social Anxiety.

Dear, guys – welcome back to Letters From Liz!

So with 2020 finally out of the way and with 2021 here to give us more opportunities to better ourselves, I realize that in leaving 2020, I wanted to keep something up that I actually started last year!

… I started dating!

Late last year, I started to feel like I wanted to meet new people and challenge the fear I had about potentially getting into territory that requires… liking people in a romantic matter. Nevertheless, I felt like I needed to make that leap of faith and just downloaded an online dating app. And the rest is history.

I won’t lie; actually sitting down to create the online dating profile in the first place was the most anxiety-producing thing. I just felt like I wasn’t going to have people interested in me and that I was just going to be sitting on the app with no success. My best friend gave me the courage to just face that fear and go for it, because honestly what could I possibly lose? So one day on my way home from work, I sat on the bus, downloaded the app, and made the profile.

I got some matches here and there and spoke to a couple of people, but nothing really came of it. There was this one guy I matched with that actually wanted to meet and hang out, and while I was excited and nervous to have my first official date as a single person, at the end of the night it wasn’t a match and we went our separate ways. Since then, it’s been more of a miss than a hit, but I’m not stressed out about it.

The more I got around to the app and starting to experiment around it, I got less anxious and nervous engaging in conversations with people that I matched with. Sure, you don’t know these people, but the sole purpose of being on this app is to meet people!

I’m specifically on an app but allows me to write whoever I matched first, which in all reality has been helping me get over my fear of speaking to new people.

But, I can’t say dating has been the cure to my social anxiety; as a matter of fact, dating has been challenging my anxiety in ways that I haven’t seen in a really long time.

For starters, having those social cues that I haven’t been able to have in public due t the pandemic was interesting. My first date was awkward at first just because I didn’t pick up on the social cues in the beginning; i would stop talking randomly or just seem very tense and distracted and just in my head for the entire date. The same thing with writing the messages first: it causes me so much anxiety to think of something to say to these matches and to be able to keep up with them is just one of the hardest things to do, especially if they just aren’t willing to keep up the conversation with you in the first place.

Nevertheless, I am learning that this dating scene doesn’t measure my level of attractiveness and my ability to be liked on these apps. It doesn’t measure if I’m a good catch or not, it doesn’t determine whether or not something is wrong with me if no one is swiping with me; it literally means nothing at all but the fact that someone saw your profile and decided to either swipe left or right on you; nothing else.

Sometimes, I have to tell myself that.

As we speak, I have been somewhat taking a break from swiping and actively being on the app just because my mental health hasn’t been the greatest lately and before I can take care of someone else, I have to take care of myself. Although sometimes I allow my anxiety to believe these stereotypical things like “guys aren’t swiping on you because you’re a fat girl” or “you’re too boring and old, no one wants you”, I try my best to remember that I don’t have to take this seriously, and whatever comes from it, comes from it.

Personally, dating for me has helped me improved some areas of my social anxiety, but it also enhances some areas of it as well; that’s just what comes with the whole anxiety thing. Again, it’s about not allowing it to stick with you and make you believe that you are incapable of trying new things, finding and experiencing love, and just being a damn woman in her mid-20’s.

My anxiety can tell me whatever it wants about dating and the new people that come in my life… either way, I’m allowing these experiences to teach me instead of holding me back.

Topic Tuesdays: Music, Twelve Letters of Lizmas: 2020

Favorite Albums of 2020!

Dear, guys – welcome back to Letters From Liz!

So, the year is coming to an end, thank the high heavens. Although 2020 as a whole was not the greatest (obviously), the music that came out of it has been someone of the best in a really long time! While there are plenty of albums that I enjoyed as a whole that didn’t come out this year, here are my top 5 favorite albums that have musically made 2020 just a little bit more bearable.

5.) “Positions” by Ariana Grande

Ariana Grande's Positions Is a 2020 Pop Fairytale: Review | Consequence of  Sound

I wasn’t expecting to like this album as much I did, but man, this album was good in such an interesting way. While many people didn’t like the album for it’s sexual innuendos, I think it’s an interesting blend of what Ariana Grande’s music was when she was younger and the maturity of her growing the fuck up. I definitely enjoyed hearing her go back to some of the sounds she once had in her music, but it was also interesting to talk about natural topics like being in love and having sex and being sexy and all that. The lead single, “positions” was an interesting choice; while the sound was extremely different than her previous stuff, the lyrics to me just felt subpar and not greatly developed like the rest of her lead singles for her previous albums. The b-sides though are so fucking good though! Find me listening to “my hair”, “love language”, and “34+35” on repeat.

4.) “BE” by BTS

BTS album BE: The tracklist | Entertainment News,The Indian Express

So, this BTS album came out late last month and when I first heard it through, I instantly fell in love with it. This album, compared to their last album Map of the Soul: 7, felt extremely personal. Many of the songs were written with the thought of the pandemic in mind and how life really came to a halt due to the pandemic within this last year. BTS were gearing up for a world tour this year before the pandemic happened, and their sorrows for that not happening were expressed through this album. It just had a chiller vibe than what they usually put out, but nevertheless, it’s still such an amazing album and one of my top favorites. Besides their title track, “Life Goes On”, my favroite b-sides from the album is “Fly To My Room” and “Dis-ease”. And of course, “Dynamite”.

3.) “Continuous” by Victon

VICTON are coming back strong with their 6th mini-album „Continuous“ |  Review - True East Asia

Can’t be a top favorites without my boys! Victon’s 6th mini album, Continuous was underappreciated at the time but so fucking appreciated as time passed. The title track, “Howling” was amazing, but not my favorite at first. My favorite track was their b-side, “Nightmare” at first, but as I started to listen to the album as a whole, I started to find myself really enjoying the concept and the music as a whole and it’s honestly an amazing album to listen to if you’re ever interested in getting to know Victon! Besides those two tracks, I think “Petal” is going to forever be that song that makes me the absolute fucking happiest… and by that I mean ugly cry some confusing tears; am I crying of sadness or happiness; who knows?

2.) “Fame” by Han Seungwoo

Album Review] Fame – Han Seung Woo (VICTON) – KPOPREVIEWED

When it was announced that Seungwoo was making his solo debut this past summer, Alice’s were excited and ready for this masterpiece to drop! When it finally dropped and the title track, “Sacrifice” came out, I was instantly hooked, as well as the rest of the album. As a person that discovered Seungwoo during PDX101, I was really happy to see him do some solo work outside of Victon and being the first person out of the group to make a solo debut. The sounds on that album feel very Wooya; a lot of sing-along rap and vocals that showcase that he does both extremely well. My favorite tracks off of his solo debut mini album is “Reply” and “I Just Want Love”; one very cute song and the other… extremely sexy.

1.) “EQUAL” by WOODZ (Seungyoun)

woodz | 1st mini album [equal] | (cosmic ver.) poster only

This album was no doubt my favorite album to come out this year! When I tell you I fell in love with every single song on this album in the first listen, I mean that shit! Seungyoun (another person I discovered through PDX101 and stanned during his X1 days) released his first solo mini album back in June with EQUAL. He din’t come to play when releasing this gem, you guys! The high notes in both “LIFT UP” and “Accident” literally took my soul away from me when I first heard it, the single “Love Me Harder” was something I haven’t heard come out of Kpop before (personally), and “BUCK”is just that one fun song that makes anyone milly rock or twerk to (I’ve done both). Everything about this album was just amazing, and I can’t recommend this masterpiece any more than I have. This album, in a weird way, doesn’t even feel like your typical Kpop songs; I sent this album to my IRL friend, Anthony (a casual Kpop listener) and instantly loved the vibes of the album. Seungyoun as an artist just feels so different than other Kpop artists; I don’t know why but I think when being first introduced to WOODZ as a solo artist, the music just… felt different.

And that’s that! I’m excited to see what instantly become my favorites next year *coughVictonFirstFullAlbumcough* 😉

What were some of your favroites of the year?

The "Something" Series, Topic Tuesdays: Music

The “Something” Series: The Playlist.

Dear, guys – welcome back to Letters From Liz!

So, I originally had something else planned for this first day of December…

Back in November, Play M announced that Victon would be making their comeback with their first full album, “VOICE: The Future Is Now” on December 1st. I was so fucking excited and ready for this comeback, like was mentally preparing for this comeback for months; we knew that they were getting ready for their first full album!

Update: VICTON Dazzles In New Group Photo For “VOICE: The Future Is Now”  Comeback | Soompi

Look at Seungsik in the center with that platinum hair looking just… a m a z i n g.

Anyway, two weeks prior to their comeback date, it was revealed that a staff member at a production company the group was filming in was positive for COVID-19. The boys got tested and all came back negative, but they are required to self-quarantine for 14 days, which overlaps their comeback schedule. Their album was delayed until January 28th, 2021. All I’m saying is that I better listen to this album before my surgery or literally in my hospital afterwards because like… I need to hear it whatever the circumstances are!

TLDR, we are deciding to use this post to talk about music still!

So, my best friend, Ro (I feel like I mentioned this already but here is a retelling of it) is currently writing a really interesting book that started out as fan-fiction. 300+ pages in and a second book in the works, homie got a real juicy story happening. Their process of writing it has been with the help of some Spotify playlists! In numerous playlists named after the main characters of the story, Ro adds songs that relate to these characters and what they’re going through and writes along to the playlists. I felt really inspired to do something similar to that process, and created “the something series” playlist!

The “Ro” Playlist.
The “Chan” Playlist.

So, just as a simple thank you to those who’ve been keeping up with the lives of Grace and Jamie, I’m sharing some of the music that I listen to when writing them and brainstorming the universe as a whole!

Enjoy listening, happy reading, and I hope you find some new cool music in this!

Topic Tuesdays: Raw & Personal

11/8: love me, even with my anxiety.

To my future lover,

I don’t know how we will meet. Possibly you’ll come from a mutual friend and they introduce me as “Liz, she’s my short, sweet and sassy friend!” and maybe you’ll find that really funny. Maybe I will meet you on my way to work and you notice the pins on my denim jacket and ask me what they are. Maybe I’ll meet you at my future job, during a job event, talking about the things that interest us or about the funny things that happen at our job. Maybe I will just shoot my shot one day, come to you and say that your tattoos look nice or that your hair looks so bad-ass. Maybe I’ll be bold enough to see you at my current job at the bookstore, write my phone number on your receipt in hopes you’ll call or text me. (For reference, I did that to a guy earlier this year and although we aren’t dating, he’s an amazing fucking friend).

I say this because I will probably tell you that I like you way too early in our relationship, I will probably get flustered and red when I say or do something that I think is major when really, you didn’t even read too much into it. I will probably get way too attached way too soon and express the fact that I will be afraid of losing you because there have been so many in the past that have left because I was “doing too much” or I left because I thought “I wasn’t good enough”. You were probably catch on extremely quick to the fact that I’m hypersensitive, I’m anxious, and the sweet fun-loving girl you got to know isn’t always going to be there. Sometimes, I’ll be the opposite; sometimes I will push you away because I feel like I’ll hurt you or that I’ll be too much for you in my bad moments. Sometimes I will hold onto things for hours on end because my anxiety will not let it go for the life of me. Sometimes, I may annoy you, disappoint you, anger or frustrate you due to the way I handle things.

I hope that you love me through it all.

Reassure me. Tell me that I can be loved. Tell me I’m good enough. Tell me that my feelings are valid and that whatever bad things I may be thinking or feeling, that they will pass soon. Hug me when it looks like I’m about to fall apart. Shush me when I cry while you rub my back. Listen when my irrational thoughts are pouring out and I can’t stop. Distract me with things that will make me smile, like silly random videos, or pictures of my favorite Kpop group; literally about anything that leaves a smile on my face.

Most importantly, I hope that after the storm, after the tears and the anxiety attacks and episodes, you still smile and see me and love me for… me.

Love me for the moments when I’m laughing and I can’t breathe because of the laughter. Love me for the moments where we go on adventures and explore the city together. Love me for my body, big or small, short or tall, and love me for my hair; light or dark, short or long; love me by being here and by being my favorite person in the world.

Love me, even for my sadness. My bad days. My lonely days. My mental disorders. For me.

Topic Tuesdays: Raw & Personal

10/22/20: presence.

I am always worried that time isn’t on my side. I think if there’s one thing I’m afraid of more than dying is the fact that time goes by extremely fast and I will always be left behind. I feel like my processing of things has gotten a lot more slower as I got older; perhaps I now take the time to go through and feel the things happening in my life rather than “pushing it under the rug” until the hill is at it’s highest and I cannot walk over it anymore. Being in this current body, we are now more present and aware of things and sometimes it takes us hella long to get through it and move on.

It’s already the middle of October of 2020 and sometimes I still feel like I’m processing the things that occurred in my last relationship that ended late summer of 2019. While it doesn’t affect me and bother me as much as it did when it first happened, it still lingers and trails behind me like a distant memory, reminding me what my life was a little over a year ago and how different things were. It’s crazy to think that I wasn’t working at the bookstore, I didn’t have the friends I have now, and my appearance was much different than it is now. So much has changed, and time definitely has passed by, but I feel like I’ve been stuck here. Perhaps I’m just struggling to let go of my past and the moments that linger into my present.

You know time is passing by when the seasons change, which is weird because I am always looking forward to a new season. Every season feels like a beginning of a new chapter, a new chance at doing something amazing and cool, and the outfit changes you are able to make is also one of the best things to do during a season change. Even with those exciting changes, I still feel like I’m constantly left behind, like I still have so much I’m holding onto, waiting to just gather more shit as the time catches up to me.

I understand this may be a weird concept to grasp; aren’t we all worried about time passing by too quickly? What if we missed the good things to come being too worried about the time passing by? Aren’t we all taking time for granted because no matter what, time is forever moving along whether we’re ready for it for not?

I ask myself these questions every day. Am I really the only one that dwells in time while everyone moves forward and lives their lives like normal people in society? I feel like I’m constantly thinking about how my life should be like in this present moment; how much time is enough to move forward with my life? How much time to I need to process things that are happening and things that happened in the past? Will I ever be willing to move with time within the same pace? Sometimes I try to see if I can move with time, to keep up with it and live my life according to how fast it goes, but no matter how hard I try, time passes, seasons change, people and their daily lives change, and I have no control of what happens when it does.

I can’t control how this virus is working. I can’t control how quickly it’s spreading again and how slowly it’s taking to resolve and be done with. I can’t control how my daily life looks like; socially, personally, and professionally because of this virus. I can’t control how much time has passed and I don’t feel that same love for my job like I did a couple of months ago. I con’t control the things that are constantly changing, so why am I so caught up on the things that are said and done, dead and gone, which no hope of resurrection in my life? Why can I just enjoy the time I have in this moment instead of holding onto time that doesn’t exist anymore?

It’s time to let go and have spend time the way it’s supposed to be spent: well and present.

It’s time to be present and to only think about what is happening in this very moment. It’s time that I laugh with my friends and appreciate their presence. It’s time that I start doing things that I want to do in this very moment and not think whether or not my past is making me think otherwise. It’s time that I take more pictures and cherish the moments in that present time. It’s time that I appreciate the time spent with family, with friends, with coworkers, with moots in the kpop community, and with potential new people that come into my life in the future. It’s time that I become more present; physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I just want to be here for everything before time runs out, before my presence disappears, before other people’s presence in my life disappears due to time passing; I just want to be here.

Topic Tuesdays: Music

The Real Issue Behind Victon’s Choreography Video.

Although we love and support celebrities and idols in the media, we also have to be aware that they aren’t perfect and they are allowed to make human mistakes. Just because they are well known and have to upkeep this image, it doesn’t mean they can’t slip up and make mistakes.

Especially if they are kpop idols.

This isn’t something that many kpop groups and idols haven’t dealt with before; Kpop as a genre of music is now on a worldwide scale which comes with the responsibilities of being more aware of the things they say, post, and do in the media. Fact of the matter is that South Korea isn’t the United States. They aren’t as open and vocal about the things that we are here. There are some topics an subjects that are not widely known in South Korea; to the commoner, people may not see what these kpop idols do wrong when they do or say insensitive things. If it directly doesn’t disrespect their own culture, why bother? Well, Kpop idols are not just commoners. They are people in the spotlight, they are targeted to a larger audience, and no matter what – people are watching them, even across the world.

I think a lot of kpop groups don’t realize just how big they really are sometimes. That includes Victon, a kpop boy group that slid under the radar for the first three years of their career. They are slowly but surely being a household name in kpop, and although for them as people may not see that, their fans see that, and because of it, it’s about time they start to take in for consideration that they now reach a larger audience outside of Asia.

For context: about a week and a half ago, Sejun posted a video on his Instagram page of him, Seungsik, and Subin dancing with a choreographer.The song they were dancing to was Toby Nwigwe’s “I Need You To”, which is a song about Breonna Taylor, an unarmed Black woman that was fatally shot in her own home earlier this year. It has caused an uproar in the media with people demanding justice for her death by convicting the police officers involved. This story was a big thing here in the United States and it’s something that is still happening here.

When Victon’s Sejun posted the Instagram video, he had taken it down immediately hours later, on the same day. Of course, the internet still had opinions and thoughts about it, how insensitive and ignorant it came across for these boys to dance to a song that had such a deeper meaning to it and no doubt many people had emailed Play M, Victon’s company, to express their outrage on this matter. Days later, Sejun came onto VLIVE, the live-streaming site for Kpop idols and K-related media, and spoke briefly about the situation and how sorry he was for not being more aware on the meaning of the song. It wasn’t greatly executed since the atmosphere of the VLIVE was more chill and laid back, which made the apology more so lackluster.

Two days later, Sejun posted a proper apology video on his personal Instagram page, Subin (who was also in the video clip) apologized on his personal Instagram story, and Seungsik apologized on the official Victon Instagram account.

Here you can find the original posts and translations of the posts:

Here is the real issue behind this whole thing, in my opinion…

These boys, were present with their choreographer when this video was posted; you can tell this was their choreographer because this person was the one counting them down before dancing, the one that was looking over their dancing while they did it, and if you know the group, they are clearly not one of the members of Victon. Now, I totally understand and respect that people were upset that these boys would willingly dance to a song that was made for awareness, but we have to realize that this song is in English, which these boys are not fluent in. Also, the subject matter (although some idols spoke out about the BLM movement during this time) was most likely not advertised in Southeast Asia, so even if they knew what the lyrics meant, I don’t believe they would’ve put two-and-two together and realized this song was about an actual event going on.

While as idols that are being widely popular and well-known throughout the globe (meaning they now have a solid international fanbase in a place like the United States), it is their job to now start thinking about their actions and their words on a universal scale. They are now being observed by more people; it’s not just Asia that knows their existence. Personally (and this is outside of Victon because although they are getting bigger, they aren’t on a BTS/ATEEZ level of popularity), companies need to realize that if they want to target larger audiences with their groups, they need to become aware of the issues and the culture difference that is across the world. I’m not saying that they have to know every little thing happening here in the U.S (it’s simply impossible for kpop groups to know everything happening in the countries that have huge fanbases in), I’m simply saying that in circumstances where they are given something to dance or sing to or even wear, they need to be more aware of the message they are sending to their international fans. We’ve been here with Jihyo’s Halloween costume back in 2018. We’ve been here with Hongjoong’s hairstyle in ATEEZ’s comeback during the summer. We’ve been here with so many other kpop groups and while some of them are the idol’s responsibility to learn and be more sensitive to what they say and do, we need to realize just how constructed the kpop industry is.

People dress them. People make their music. People come up with the dancing of said music. People do their hair and makeup. These idols, as sad as it many seem, are just programmed to follow the rules and their agency because it’s how they were brought up in this industry. They were trained and trainees to be this way and as debuted idols, they follow the same lifestyle.

While people are upset at Sejun for posting, Seungsik & Subin for being present in that video, and all three of them for not saying anything until people said something, it’s not their fault. I’m not even saying this because these boys are my absolute everything in this group, I’m saying this because it was the job of the choreographer to not let shit like things slip up and make their people look bad. As a company, you would think they would whatever it takes to not make their talent slip up like this, y’know?

But no one is on this choreographer for listening to this song, coming up with choreography, giving it to the boys to learn, have the boys learn it, and then thought it was a good idea for someone to come in and record it for them. No one is literally talking about how as a choreographer and a person who works within the company, it is their responsibility to know these things before they give these things to their idols.

We can’t expect kpop idols to be fully aware of the things that are happening around the world, just how we aren’t “expected” to know things that are happening in other places outside of the United States. While yes, we we do have people that can inform us and we have social media to keep us inform of the things that may be happening around the world, we may not know every little thing happening, and we aren’t expected to as shitty as that sounds. So, why do we expect those in non-Westernized entertainment industries to know? They need to be respectful and aware enough that sometimes their actions have consequences, but in this situation, it was more of their choreographer’s responsibility to have that awareness before they decide to teach their idols a lesson.

I’m in no way giving my boys in Victon an easy pass just because they are my favorite kpop group to date. I think that something should’ve been said as soon as that video was taken down and I think Sejun shouldn’t have tried to apologize through VLIVE the other day without proper PR guidance. I’m glad that these boys came out and apologized for what happened, and I really do hope that in the future, they become more aware of the fact that these things exist in the world and as someone in the public eye (whether or not they understand to what extent their popularity expands to) and that as public figures in the entertainment business, you should be cautious about the things that you post and allow yourself to do.

No, we shouldn’t cancel them, because cancelling people for having a language and cultural barrier doesn’t solve the issue at hand. What does, though, is educating their idols that there are certain songs, styles, and situations that are simply not meant to be interpreted in song or dance and are not meant to be expressed by them. Allowing your idols to educate themselves on issues like the Breonna Taylor tragedy is not just an “American” thing. It’s a human rights thing. At the end of the day, no one’s life should be jeopardized due to the color of their skin, their culture, or how they identify. This isn’t something that just happens here in the U.S; this can literally happen to anyone.

Those are the type of things our kpop idols need to be educated on.

Topic Tuesdays: Raw & Personal

10/18/20: to my best friend.

There’s a different type of love I have for you in this friendship of ours.

We are freakishly common and in sync but also so incredibly different; I feel like I get to know new things about you every day whenever we talk and I’m always amazed to learn just how unique and different you are to what I thought you were.

For starters, I was scared of you. You already know that, but yeah, I was scared of you because you were the type of personality that seemed like it would clash with mine. You were loud and outspoken and assertive; I was quiet, shy, and immensely submissive. You engaged in conversations with me and I thought to myself, “how is this person just talking to me? Like, do they actually want to be my friend?” I don’t know how we went from strictly talking about our Victon boys, to doing watch parties every other night during the summer, to having theoretical conversations about Victon if they weren’t idols and created “AUV”, to where you are now the person I constantly talk to everyday on the phone, through video chat, wherever; for most of my day. This is just the beginning the story of how two people became best friends within two and a half months of knowing each other.

Like every friendship, there will be things that I love about you and things that make me want to knock the dumb-bitch juice out your hand and make you listen to the words coming out of my mouth. The things I love about you, though, outweigh the other things. I love how passionate and creative you are when it comes to this AUV fanfic (novel) that you are writing. You created these characters based on our boys and us and they seem to amze me on how they feel like real people. They deal with real life situations, they experience emotion that hits close to home, and might I say that my AUV self is someone that I’m aspiring to be because she’s a bad ass bitch that takes no shit from anyone! I love how we can spend hours on end theoretically talk about what is yet to happen and what’s going to come next based on what is written in paper. I love how I can guess what things are yet to come and you respond with “get out of my head, Liz!” because, again, we are motherfucking twins from another life. I love how I can get lost and join you in this universe; this happy and safe space, and read about how our lives would be like if we were just these two small girls who fell in love with Seungsik and Chan while dealing with some real life situations and problems, getting to know all these amazing characters and their different personalities and, too long didn’t read, I love how you got AUVLiz down flawlessly. To know that you’ve picked up on some of my infamous words and mannerisms and write them down on paper makes me believe that you are someone that actually listens to me when I speak, and pays attention to how I say things and the way I behave and react to certain things. It’s something that a best friend of mine has never took the time out to notice about me.

I love how whenever we are on video chat, you can constantly make me laugh. Like, stomach hurts and I can’t breathe type of laugh. It’s the type of laugh that not many people can bring out of me, and perhaps it’s just because you touch my inner beeg dumb energy and you get my dumb humor, but no matter what we are doing on video chat, you make me laugh, actually you leave me wheezing. The filters you put on during our video chats will forever leave me weak; we could honestly laugh for 5 minutes straight without any words being said. No thoughts, just laughs. I love how we can just be on video chat for hours on end, like we are doing in this very moment while I write this and you pack kpop orders, and we can just sit in silence, being each other’s company while we do whenever we got work to do. We’ll check in on each other every now and then, talk for a bit, and then continue what we were doing, again in each other’s company; being each other’s company, while we live in different states.

I love that I am able to be hella affectionate with you. I love that I can tell you to be careful and take care and that I love you when we end our calls. I love that I know that when we meet up in person in the future, we will be cuddling and holding hands and constantly hugging each other because we both are not afraid to show love to one another. I love that I can call you pretty, or beautiful, or a total hottie, and not feel weird about it or be afraid that I’m coming off a bit too flirty. I love that I can be my complete self with you and be the way I want to be with my friend, which is show platonic intimacy and value the friendships I make in this chapter of my life.

I wish, though, you saw the value in yourself the same way I and many of your friends do. I wish you saw just how much of an amazing person you are and how smart, funny, interesting, kind, and helpful you are to me and many of us. I wish you were able to see that you are a human that deserves love, that deserves happiness, and that deserves to get back what you give out to the world. I wish you were able to take care of yourself, that your body needs you to take care of it to feel better and to be as present as you can be. I wish that you would listen body cues, to relax when you need to relax and take care of yourself when your body needs you the most. I wish you weren’t so hard on yourself, that you didn’t see yourself the way that you do, that you didn’t based your decisions on your self-image and self-worth. I wish you were able to believe me when I say you’re one of the most important people in my life and I would literally be so heartbroken if anything happened to you.

I hate how much I worry about you. I hate that I constantly feel worrisome when you’re having a bad day. I hate that sometimes I don’t know the right thing to say. I hate that there will be times when I feel like the absolute worthless best friend because I won’t have the answers to your problems, that there will be things that I will not be able to give you my unbiased advice on, and that sometimes I won’t always be there to pick you up from your darkest places. I hate that sometimes that while we call each other twins and we are able to understand each other really well, there are times where I’m not able to connect with you, that there are things I won’t ever understand and won’t ever comprehend due to our different lifestyles. I hate those days and nights where we don’t feel as in sync as we typically are, and perhaps those days are just not our days, but no matter what we always end up coming back to each other, when we are ready to goof around and accompany each other’s agendas via video chat.

I want you to know that I always worry about those bad days. I worry about those days when you’re feeling absolutely worthless and hopeless, where you’re crying and you’re feeling lost and you don’t know what to do; those days scare me because of our distance. I want you to know that despite your bad days, you are never alone, that I’m always a phone call away, a message away, a video call away; I am always closer than you think, and because of that I will always keep my promise on being be your side and for always being there for you. I say that out of pure love for your being, that not only have I fallen in love with you as my best friend, but I have fallen in love with you as a human being.

At the end of the day, you are my person. You are the person I would always come to for any type of support; whether that is work support, personal life support, mental health support, literally any type of support I need I will always come to you first, because you get me. You are the person that no matter how many disagreements and no matter how many disconnections we may have on certain things, we can always set those differences aside and do what we do best for each other: be there, love, and support one another and be each other’s person to always go to if we need to. I thank you for allowing me the space that I need in you, to voice note you in a panic about my work or to cry on camera about my worries about you and myself and everything in between that my anxiety strives off of. Thank you for understand how my mental health looks like, because you deal with your own and see it to the same importance as I do. Thank you for being as present as possible and for seeing so much fucking worth in me and our friendship; it’s highkey a first and it still blows my mind to have someone that I really fucking care about care about me in the same way I do for them. It’s a feeling that I never got to experience in a friendship, so thank you for being my first best friend to allow me to feel this.

I love you, and I hope you stay safe, stay healthy, and remember that I care and love you so fucking much.

사랑해요 ~ !!