Okay, so fireworks have gone off in my life. I think the month of October was the climax of this year. I couldn’t write all the things that happened when they were still fresh in my mind because I suddenly had no time (or couldn’t make time). Events just continuously fired at me, it was a little crazy! Everyone suddenly wanted me to play bass. I made new weird friends who want me close. People who I have been friends with became even closer to me. People have also started to discover my talent in drawing more… I’m telling you, I’m suddenly so popular. Then there’s Inktober, the artist challenge in instagram that drained/broke my favorite pens. Oh, and I also started updating A M N E S I A again on asianfanfic. To be honest, it may not even be a busy month for a normal person, but for me who usually has at most two to three particular happenings for each month… It’s like a person who never exercised for a long time suddenly walked nonstop for 20 minutes. It felt great and all, but it really tired me out.
As we have learned for almost two years now, if I don’t write my feelings down, it builds up and I will eventually break down. As God have been granting all that I’ve prayed for, it may seem like all I have to write about is how thankful and in-love I am with Him and I finally have no more things to complain about. Yeah, I’m still very thankful, that’s true. I can’t stop saying how in-love I am with God, but now I’m introduced to frustrations I thought I would never meet. They all seem too fictional or tumblr text worthy, I should say. I didn’t expect it would actually happen to me because as I said, nothing really ever happens in my life. So yes, I am back again with the negatives of a situation. Maybe it’s because I’m suddenly being granted all that I wanted, and you know, as they (Daughtry) say, “Be careful what you wish for, ‘cuz you just might get it all”. I got it all alright, but it came with some pain, too, and we have to get it all out.
Ha, I remember the very first time I wrote about Illuminate in (Current Fears). I talked about how it’s probably an illuminati stunt and that it’s better to resist it even though it was a Christian event. But more than that, I talked about how lonely and jealous I was seeing all of the friends I wanted to be with all crowded up in a bus seemingly having such a good time without me. I also talked about how losing/ letting go of friends will always be a thing I have to do for God. I’m reading it again now and it’s actually surprising how similar things were back then to how it is now, but I was more pessimistic and emo about it because I really thought there was no hope of me having friends. But anyway, back to my point—Illuminate.
The second time I wrote about Illuminate, I talked about how conflicted I was about deciding whether or not to go to that event. I eventually went and had such an overwhelming time (and I cried so much in public for the very first time). To this day, My Life is A Beauty is still one of my favorite posts… Maybe it’s because I’ve been so emotionally stressed during that time. Maybe it’s also because I finally wrote down the confusing feelings that I’ve always had for a certain someone and was eventually able to have such a nice closure.
This time, Illuminate hasn’t been a very emotional ride. I didn’t get jealous, lonely, or teary-eyed. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It was a fun day.
When we were told our Wildfire band was given the privilege to play for Illuminate, I was so excited. I remember the last time I went, the reason why I burst out into tears was because of the music. It was such a weird and exhilarating spiritual experience that brought me emotionally closer to God. The music opened up my heart/feelings so easily to God that I really wanted others to feel that as well. As a musician myself, I realized ever since that day clearer than ever before that the reason I am serving God in the band was to build that bridge for those who can’t express themselves well to Him. So I was really so honored to be a part of that bridge that helps open teenagers’ hearts to God.
Now that I look back, I don’t know if anyone had cried in the recent illuminate as much as I did back then because of the music, but I really prayed someone would at least feel closer to God because of my contribution. Because at “I Surrender,” the sound guys heavily amplified my bass and you could feel its vibration like it was the Holy Spirit. Haha, I don’t know if people felt it too, but I definitely felt emotional even while playing bass on that song.
Ohhh I felt so cool being able to play with such a good bass amp. I could feel the ground shaking! We also had in-ear pieces and it made me feel so professional. To be honest, when we were setting up, I resisted the in-ear pieces since I thought it would be fine to just play without it, but from where we were, everything was echoing and I could barely have a clear sense of what I was playing even though the amp was literally just right beside me. So I had myself set up and it was so cool how I could control who I wanted to hear and shut out who I didn’t need to hear (with an app!). It was so useful because I could directly hear what I needed and shut out all those that confused me.
However, I only wore it on one ear because when I played bass and heard it through the in-ear monitor, man did I feel like TaeYeon immediately taking of an ear-piece because it got way too loud. Seriously, it felt like my right-ear drums were going to die if I kept it on since the bass amp, as I said, was right beside me. But anyway, it felt like I was dreaming because it was such a great experience to be able to play for such a big congregation with such a cool sound system.
It was really tiring though. We had to go there super early at 2 PM which is 4 hours before the event just to set up and rehearse. I really thought I would still have energy when it started, but the four hours really drained me. I felt a little out of it when the actual event happened and only focused on when we were going to play because I just wanted to get it over with.
OH! Just a few days before the event after band practice, I sat by the church steps with Christelle and she suddenly sighed in frustration. She talked to me about how bad Jessica was and was asking me for help on how to deal with it. She was nervous because leading worship for Illuminate was of course much more serious than for our youth group. A lot of teenagers will be very judgmental towards the music. She didn’t want to be humiliated because of Jessica’s shaky keys. She didn’t want Jessica to ruin everything while she is trying her best to make it sound doable.
During practice, I couldn’t really pay much attention to them because I’m on the other end of the room, but when I listened to the recording, I fully understood what she meant. I’ve said before that Jessica has really improved since last year, but she still has a long way to go. It really all comes down to what she’s singing. She pretty much sounds fine singing her favorite songs… just that when it’s time for worship, it often just suddenly goes flat. It’s really bad considering the fact that she likes being the lead singer and loses key whenever Christelle does the background vocals. And her voice in general gets really flat. It really was painful to hear that when you know she was about to sing to a big congregation and you, a person in the same band, have almost no way to fix it.
I rode with Christelle that night and on the way home, that’s all we discussed. It was so funny because she was even telling her mother about it and her mom was giving all sorts of Christian approaches to it. Christelle wanted me to tell Jessica something because she knew Jessica wouldn’t properly listen to her because she was younger. I assumed it was also because of her sunbae mentality since she was in the band much longer than Christelle. Anyway, Christelle and her mother’s words convinced me that I could help because I am the “music expert” that people look up to (seriously, I don’t like being acknowledged like that but eh ok). I am Jessica’s sunbae and she listens to me. It’s also because I am a person of few words that my words seem like they have more meaning than normal. They also said that my voice sounds very calm that correcting/teaching her in love would work. So being a little pressured by that, I tried to find ways to tell her to fix things. I messaged Jessica about some parts but I wasn’t exactly direct about it. I prayed for God to find a perfect opportunity to tell Jessica something properly when I know she will listen because I didn’t want Christelle to suffer from this too much. I knew all too well what she was feeling and I wanted to get some of that weight off of her.
On the actual rehearsals, I was actually able to tell her something while Christelle was also there. I thought I would just teach the “simple is best” rule to Jessica, but I was able to teach Christelle that too. I’m really glad they got closer to being one voice because of that. At least that’s one step closer on improving not just Jessica’s voice, but also their teamwork as singers. Because really, their voices sound almost the same but sometimes they are both doing different dictions, doing unnecessary holds, and doing unnecessary vibratos in random parts making it really confusing, awkward, and embarrassing for the congregation they are leading. Now that I’ve been gaining more confidence to speak out what sounds good and what doesn’t, when another opportunity comes my way, I’ll be the sunbae that I am just like that day. 😛
Anyway, back again on Illuminate, Jessica told us that Centine was going to come. As her being that certain someone from all of those old letters, I was excited to see her again. When the event was starting, I waited for her, but she came a little later. When I finally did see her, I kept stealing a glance, wondering when I would ever get the chance to greet her in this packed event. It was only after Illuminate that I finally was able to approach her and I hugged her for I don’t even know how many times.
Now that I think about it… after having fun with her (with others around us), I think I saw her with new eyes. The longing I had for her back then (the longing that so torturously lasted for 5 years), didn’t seem present anymore. Yes, I was really happy seeing her again, but it just suddenly seemed easier to let her go that night. I guess I’ve actually moved on from having a crush on her. Maybe it’s because of the closure I had on the previous Illuminate. And maybe it’s because all that I ever really wanted back then was for her to acknowledge me as her friend, and she did so now with open arms. All I know now is that I’m so happy I am slowly getting over her and I can finally lay all my awkward feelings aside towards her to comfortably enjoy our stand in being friends.
I made some new friends in illuminate too, and not just any friends—Filipino friends. It’s funny because just a few weeks ago, I was talking to Ronali about how I didn’t have Filipino friends because I had a bad experience with them back then. It’s a little weird though because I’m so used to people in Wildfire acting like normal human beings that when I met this particular Filipino group, I had a bit of a culture shock. Yes, the fact that all of them were Filipinos is a given since I am so used to such a culturally diverse group of people, but I’m not just talking about that. I literally mean these Filipinos are quite… idk… really expressive, I guess?
Because the moment I came up to them with trash to throw that illuminate night and introduced myself as a Filipino, I was, in a way, unexpectedly bombarded. A boy kept firing dumb Tagalog jokes, a girl I barely knew out of nowhere back hugged me, and a few others gathered around me. It was really nice to meet them at first, but as time went on, they really drained a lot out of me. I expected them to just stay with their group after dinner like any other people with their cliques, but they, especially that one kid with the dumb Tagalog jokes, kept tagging behind me. I mean I met a lot of other people too from different youth groups, but none of them got obsessed with me like they did.
Receiving such high praise from a lot of people about my bass playing was pretty nice but even that felt so weird since I hoped they can recognize more of God’s work than giving me all the attention (that’s another reason why I play bass–to show everyone that God can use anyone in unexpected areas). So people following me around was on another level.
The spotlight really has such a powerful effect on those under it and those looking at it.
To be honest, keeping up with the Filipino’s enthusiasm was hard for me. I could see that they all wanted to hang out with me, since who would expect that cool girl bassist (who apparently everyone mistakes as Korean???) was actually Filipino, amiright… In the past, I once made up my mind to treat well those who were interested in me, but that night, it was so challenging. Maybe it’s because I’ve been there with blasting music since 2PM that I eventually came to a point somewhere around 7-8 PM when I wanted to shut everyone off. Small talks were still welcome, but I just wanted to be alone to recharge. Good thing there was like an activity where we all had to be quiet so that if you want to pray together, you can. During that part of Illuminate, I was able to close my eyes and rest on a bean bag on the side of the room near speakers that played soft praise songs.
I really needed to rest because we still had a few songs to go through after it, and I’m glad I was able to do that. It didn’t last long though because that’s when the Filipinos happened to find me again and hoard around me. It bothered me so much and I’m pretty sure they knew that, but since I kept denying it, they stuck around. They asked me too many times if they were being annoying and believe me, my thoughts screamed out yes, but hearing how insecure they were with themselves through that question, I kept saying no. But even when I denied it so much, I guess my face and actions said something else because as I said, I was at a point when I just wanted to shut everyone off. I didn’t want them to feel bad, but I hoped they at least caught on how I needed some space because that’s the only thing I wanted.
I had a hard time loosening myself up to them because having friends who cling to me so suddenly at the first thirty minutes of knowing each other was simply unheard off in my history of making friends. The liked me too fast and I couldn’t grasp how that became possible to them. I’m so used to building friendships slowly with people who have deeper thoughts like I do so it was such a culture shock to get involved with these kids. My thought process, too, was in a way more matured and organized compared to them. They were too carefree and said just about anything that they wanted that I could hardly relate since I’ve been so used to being careful of my actions and my words. They reminded me of how stupid and close-minded I was back then and I guess that’s another reason why I wanted to shun them off so badly.
To be very honest, I do not want to keep these friendships up with the Filipinos since they’re just taking more of my time and energy. I am already surrounded with nice friends in Wildfire that I felt I didn’t need the Filipinos at all. But that one kid, Andrei with the dumb Tagalog jokes (gosh it’s weird to have a friend with a similar name to an imaginary friend), won’t stop inviting me to their youth group. Since I do not want to be a bitch, I gave it a chance.
The only reason I’m going through with these friendships is because I feel like God has introduced them to me for something. I know one of these reasons is to have fellowship with people from the country that I was born in (because I’m really so out of touch), but I feel like God is trying to teach me so much more. God has introduced to me an unexpected plot and I want to see where it will lead me.
Two weeks after Illuminate, John messages me out of nowhere on a Tuesday afternoon and begs me to rescue their youth band for St. Andrews youth service. Apparently Jonathan ditched them last minute and their bass player decided to play drums, leaving them without a bass player. I, again, did not want to go because I did not want to play music for a while, but since I was their only last minute rescue card, I went. I’m glad I did because it was a fun experience to meet a new band. They were really few and closely knit unlike Wildfire with our own cliques, so I quickly felt comfortable. It was easier to get to know them in a way. The only thing that pissed me off was their time management. We start late and end late and I basically got in trouble for staying up so late just for band.
Anyway, I met Jorge, Sebastian’s brother there for the first time.
I’ve always admired Sebastian in our Wildfire band. He has such a strong desire to lead and play worship and has a growing sense of the band ear. I feel at ease knowing the band would be on good hands with him in the future when I leave. (Because seriously, Cashew and Jess can’t lead properly music wise no matter how many times they’ve already done it.) Sebastian has such a leader personality and thinks very seriously about the deeper meanings of the songs we sing. I always admired that about him. Jorge, on the other hand, wasn’t as driven as his brother so it took me a while to figure out they were related. I only assumed they were brothers or cousins since they talked and sounded exactly the same, but I couldn’t wrap my head around it completely since Jorge is laid back and a little timid, and he was paler than Sebastian. I only confirmed it after the service lol.
I see Jorge around in Wildfire but never really talked to him nor even noted of his existence. But talking to him the most was probably the highlight of that whole youth service. At the first night of practice, I had to coach him on his beat since he wasn’t exactly a drummer and he was a bit confused on many areas. On the second night, I kept encouraging him and even taught him how to play that one part in one song. (Yes, I revived my inner drummer that night. It’s interesting how well I can play it without practice whatsoever. Of course I’m far from being an expert, but I really did well for a somewhat first timer lol). When it was time for youth service morning, I lent him the drumsticks that I have never used in my life (because the Refuge drumsticks were broken) to help him gain a bit more confidence and stability. And when they Anglicans had their Catholic-like communion, both of us stayed out of it because it felt weird for the both of us to go up there and be fed by a woman-priest when we both didn’t believe in such practices. I also discovered that it was his first time playing and attending the Anglican service like me. Basically, we related a lot on many areas, and he relied on me more than any other member on that whole three days.
But let me tell you something… On the second night of practice, John was super late and we all had a lot of time to fool around (hence me reviving my inner drummer). Since there was absolutely nothing much to do but wait for our tardy leader, Jorge and I jammed to Ed Sheeran songs a lot and mannnnnn… I felt so weird whenever he played and looked down on me. Since I sat by the bean bags and he was on a high chair or on the armrest of the couch, he was above me and I could easily tell where he’s looking. So when he sung Ed Sheeran songs and had his eyes on me, forgive me for being so delusional, but I felt like the feeling I went through was how Stephanie would have felt if Jinwon sang a song for her. Heart-fluttering. Conscious. Panicking. I had a hard time looking back at him because I felt that if I met his eyes, I would probably develop a dumb crush on him.
Anyway, Jorge has a better talent in guitar and singing than Sebastian, maybe because he was older. I wonder why he didn’t join the Wildfire band when his brother did. I mean he’s fifteen and Sebastian is 13 (which absolutely shocked me since Sebastian sounds way older than his age). I wish he joined our band since he plays really well. I would love to get to know him more, too.
The same day after the youth service, Wildfire and another youth group hung out at the beach and we all had fun. I brought my guitar and a lot of us jammed to some songs. Then I also went to play some Frisbee, and found how good I still am at that game…
ANYWAY, there was this guy who followed my instagram for a while now and I have been friends with him on Facebook even though I barely knew him. I never talked to him or even knew that he existed until that day in the beach and he praised me a lot for my drawing skills. At first, I was happy that someone would actually complement me for my artist side besides me being the talented instrumentalist in the band, but the moment I dreaded finally came:
He asked me to draw him.
Well, at first he asked me if I can draw him, and I looked at him and said a hesitant yes. He’s features were pretty comical so it would be easy to draw, but I knew where this was headed. He wanted me to draw him and I honestly answered how I always did towards that question. Eli once asked me to draw her too and this was the same thing that I said:
“I’m a very picky artist. I don’t just draw anyone.”
I, in a roundabout way, said that I do not draw anyone just because they ask for it. But still, he insisted me to draw him.
In that moment, I related with every artist in social media who have told stories of how negatively people react when they do not want to draw them.
Because really, when people ask an artist to draw them, what do they gain from it?
- Want proof that the artist can indeed draw anything well, especially their face, to accept that they are an artist?
- Want to show off to everyone that they have a friend that can draw them for free?
Since I aspire to be a professional artist in the future, I do not just take drawing lightly. If people want me to draw them, at least acknowledge that it takes a lot of work, and pay me for better results. That’s what a commission is all about. Ronali, our youth leader, asked me to draw two pages for her coloring book. It was one of the most challenging things I’ve drawn but I truly worked on it and gave it my all because she was willing to pay me. I mean, I know if I do things for money, that makes me a little greedy, but I think it’s worse if people take advantage of my time if I just draw for free. Also, of all things about me, I want my artist side to be taken even more seriously than my musical side.
Whenever I draw, I study a person’s features for a long period of time. Drawing to me most of the time is basically staring at something longer than normal—that’s why I draw TaeYeon and the other girls because ehem, they are pretty and I could stare at them all day. When I chose to draw someone, it is because at that very moment, the look like an artwork placed on Earth by God himself. Isn’t it such an honor to be drawn because of that reason rather than pressuring the artist to draw their portrait for some personal gain?
On Eli’s case, I was actually able to draw her since she invited me on her birthday party and I had to come up with an easy gift that wouldn’t require me to go outside. So, for free, she got what she wanted even if at first I really didn’t want to. But that’s because it was her birthday and she was my friend.
But that guy was basically no one to me. I barely knew him and there wasn’t a specific occasion to back him up. I also didn’t want to say that he should pay me because he might get the wrong impression from it. But still…
I don’t know. I’m just a little pissed because he called me a drawer… UGHH. And when I did sketch him out, I didn’t expect him to post it on his instagram with a dumb caption on it. It was such a low quality sketch in my opinion (since it was free) and it did not reach the standards that I already had for my own profile. And the caption he had on was something along the lines of me drawing it for him as gift when it’s not a gift at all. He personally asked for it so it was not a gift. I had him take it down immediately because he had quite a lot of friends and I didn’t want him to spread this stupid idea that I can draw anyone for free. Fortunately, he was not negative about it and did as I told him to.
So yes, this is how my October went. I played bass for congregations and was finally being taken seriously as a sunbae in the band. I got closer with my friends and I met some new friends. People recognize my talent for drawing. For once, I do not feel lonely or depressed. Everything I’ve ever wanted was granted to me, but each introduced new problems. They are pretty hard and annoying, but I found that God is finally starting a full course on how I should deal with people (because I barely dealt with people). All I have to do now is pray I can adapt to this new lifestyle of being needed, admired, and wanted by random people instead of growing to unbearably hate how I’m losing most of my silent weekends.