Hidden by Shapes and Shadows

Posted in Writing with tags , , , on April 9, 2014 by Phil Martin

Hidden by Shapes and Shadows

An excerpt from an untitled work by Phil Martin

Phil’s Portfolio

April 9, 2014

Two main characters contribute to an understanding of image insecurities my story speaks about. Eleanor is a young woman, and her friend in college is a young man named Zephaniah (or Zeph for short). Eleanor and Zeph are attacked by demons from another realm, but a guardian named Adela defends the humans and inevitably brings them to the other world. In the superficial realm, where most of my story takes place, Eleanor and Zeph utilize new abilities to help compensate their image insecurities. The two are also very important because they will help stop a powerful force that has wrecked havoc between two worlds.


Eleanor is a beautiful young woman, but she does not recognize her true radiance because of concerns of her appearance. Constantly comparing herself to other women of her age, she often feels she is ugly. She feels this way because she has an average

body type. She also feels blemished by a noticeable birthmark along the right side of her face. By hiding her birthmark with her dark indigo hair, she ends up covering her right eye. While Eleanor is half Russian, her eyes surely feature her Japanese heritage as well. (My last post tells you about Eleanor’s parents.) So, she receives stares for the shape of her eyes as well. Therefore, Eleanor feels often unsure of herself and undesired by most people because of her outward appearance.

My rough drawing of what I imagine Eleanor might look like.

My rough drawing of what I imagine Eleanor might look like.

Despite Eleanor’s feelings about her average body type, she has a vibrant personality. Eleanor is very mature for her age and very virtuous. She also excels as a saxophonist in her college’s jazz program and is very outgoing with those she feels comfortable with.

Upon entering the alternate realm, Lucian gives Eleanor shape-shifting abilities. With these abilities, Eleanor can assume any form of any plant or animal. Her shape-shifting become extremely important for my other main characters.


Like Eleanor, Zeph suffers from feeling ugly and undesirable for a mark on his face. A serious childhood burn has left the right side of Zeph’s face partially scarred. Although his scar is not as bad as it was in his childhood, it causes great anxiety for his reflection in the mirror.

My illustration of Zeph. As you might see, I'm not much of an artist.

My illustration of Zeph. As you might see, I’m not much of an artist.

Zeph becomes great friends with Eleanor by easily relating with her before they cross over to the alternate realm. First, Zeph is deeply immersed into the jazz program with Eleanor at their college. In the same ensemble, he plays acoustic and electric guitar alongside her saxophone playing. Another way Zeph easily relates is that he is the same age as Eleanor. By far the most obvious similarity the two share is their Japanese heritage. However, Zeph is a full-bred Japanese, with his mother being a first generation immigrant.

Because of their commonalities and struggles, Zeph and Eleanor become great platonic friends. Their strong friendship continues and helps their new purpose with their abilities in my story.

In the alternate realm, Zeph assumes shadow-shifting abilities from Lucian. With these abilities, Zeph can change into any shadowy form, and he can manipulate other shadow forms around him. Oftentimes, he will assume a shadow form that resembles a ghost.


Eleanor’s Parents

Posted in Writing with tags , , on April 3, 2014 by Phil Martin

Eleanor’s Parents

An excerpt from an untitled work by Phillip Martin

Phil’s Portfolio

April 2, 2014

Eleanor is one of my story’s main characters.

Eleanor actually has a combination of traits from a  few people I’ve met. To make her more distinct from actual people, I decided to make her appear differently. Like a scar, a very noticeable birthmark runs down the right side of her face to give her some distinction. Another observable thing about Eleanor is the shape of her eyes.

Eleanor happens to be the daughter of a Japanese mother and Russian father, both first generation American immigrants. It’s already interesting that Eleanor’s parents are an interracial couple. However, it’s also surprising to see a married couple of two different countries that have historically been enemies (World War II). While Eleanor’s parents might seem like an unusual pair, their story has a purpose.

Eleanor’s father, a Russian American immigrant, met his Japanese wife while on a mission trip to Amsterdam. The father returns to the Netherlands on another mission trip a year later and saves his wife from a horrible situation. From the second time they meet, he continually sees to her needs as they become attracted to each other. He helps her gain full citizenship into the United States, where they settle down on the east coast and marry. They have a son and daughter, the daughter being Eleanor.

This part of Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, shows the city where Eleanor's parents first meet. "Amsterdam" by Jaume CP BCN on Flickr.com.

This part of Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, shows the city where Eleanor’s parents first meet. “Amsterdam” by Jaume CP BCN on Flickr.com.

Eleanor will tell another main character Arlan about the story of her parents in more detail. She tells Arlan how her father cared for her mother to explain to him how a man actually loves a woman. Early in the story, Eleanor notices some problematic behaviors in Arlan as a result of him misunderstanding relationships, especially with women. Therefore, the story of Eleanor’s parents explains her ethnicity and appearance and helps Arlan in his character growth.

Wrestling with Time, Then Some

Posted in Blog, Writing on April 2, 2014 by Phil Martin

Wrestling with Time, Then Some

By Phillip Martin

Phil’s Portfolio

April 2, 2014

Writing the rough draft of my story by hand, in cursive has most effective. Plus, I continue to fine-tune my penmanship.

Writing the rough draft of my story by hand, in cursive has most effective. Plus, I continue to fine-tune my penmanship.

So I guess I’m on to posting on a monthly basis now? Oh dear.

Yeppers, I believe March 23 was my most recent entry before this one. Sorry, guys. Well, maybe it’s not too bad.

It feels so weird now that I’ve given writing a backseat in the past year now. Well, at least I haven’t placed my writing in the forefront like I’ve had it in the past. As of now, the only writing I’ve done has been reporting for my internship in my final semester of college. Although some of that has felt more of like a chore (after considering other career paths), I have enjoyed some parts of it. I’ve also continued work on my novel but only on a limited basis. I just haven’t had much time to work on it. I haven’t had enough time! I’ve been busy working through doing my best to make sure my transition from ‘college student‘ to ‘working post-graduate still trying to discover himself‘ goes somewhat smoothly.

If you get a chance to read one of my posts from the summer, you’ll see part of the reason why I’ve given my writing ability a backseat in my life. I believe God has given me the ability to write, but now I’m unsure if writing is truly what His purpose for my life is. It seems that in the past, while most of my writing was good, some of my writing was a poor way of expressing my inner conflict within myself and in my life. Along with too much transparency, I just let people’s praise get to my head, and I was growing uncomfortable with that. So, one of my spiritual goals for 2014 has been to use my writing ability God has blessed me with for good works, not bad. At times, I’ve wanted to share a piece in my college newspaper’s forum section again, but I feel like denying myself that has been very good for me and others.

I truly believe the story I started on Christmas Day, 2012, is a way I can use my writing ability for good works. My story will have some Christian themes in it because my faith is part of who I am. Another big theme about my story is what my characters will overcome. Most of my main characters will grow while they work through their insecurities with their body image — whether they are uncomfortable with their body shape, skin color, facial features, deformities, etc… My character’s growth through their struggle has a purpose in my story.

So yeah. That’s pretty much it. I wish I had more free time to write on my story, but I have to continue being a good college student.

Animarathon Revisited, Refocused

Posted in Blog, Friends, God's Love, Writing on March 23, 2014 by Phil Martin

Animarathon Revisited, Refocused

By Phillip Martin

Phil’s Portfolio

March 23, 2014

Forgive me for not posting for nearly a month. With figuring out my post-graduation plans and studying my final semester, I’ve been a little busy.


So, a day ago was Animarathon. This is a day-long anime convention my university hosts in its student union every third Saturday of March. Many students from my university, other colleges, and even high schoolers and graduates attend the convention dressed up in costumes. These costumes, which I understand, are cosplays. These cosplayers may dress up as superheros, villains, or other characters from anime and related pop culture.

A photo illustration of people cosplaying at another convention. "Cosplay - AWA14 - Dragonball Z" by Michael Mol on Flickr.

A photo illustration of people cosplaying at another convention. “Cosplay – AWA14 – Dragonball Z” by Michael Mol on Flickr.

Yesterday hurt. Memories of my past resurfaced as I saw several of the convention-goers walk to the Union on my way for coffee that morning.

A photo illustration of a young woman cosplaying Raven from the Teen Titans. "Photo Shoot: "Raven" Cosplay" by Knightmare6

A photo illustration of a young woman cosplaying Raven from the Teen Titans. “Photo Shoot: “Raven” Cosplay” by Knightmare6

Two years ago, I wanted to become a cosplayer. Now, I’ve never watched anime or read manga. So, my familiarity with the culture of Animarathon I could not identify with. Still I wanted to join a group of people from my college ministry. They were people I found interesting and wanted to fit in with. Plus, one of the girls I had found stunningly attractive dressed up as Raven, my favorite character from the Teen Titans. However, I became extremely angry when I felt left out and undesired for after I chickened out and didn’t go.

However, I felt that God may have helped me refocus my hurt feelings from that time. On my walk back from Dunkin that morning, I reflected on my frustrating experience two years ago. There was a reason why I endured that day, I thought. I was left out, but it was arguably unintentional by the group and purposeful for my growth in Christ.

There was a reason why I was open to dressing up in outlandish-looking garb like the many cosplayers. Because I have always been uncomfortable with myself. I didn’t realize it until yesterday, but dressing up would have been a coping mechanism for my lifelong insecurity of my own body image.

Then, feeling left out and rejected by the group of people, whether rejected unintentional or not, was very purposeful. I felt hurt and lonely because I wanted the group (and that girl) to appreciate me — to fully know and understand me on an intimate level, to fully grasp my value and worth — to feel accepted and happy. Somehow, I equated my need for appreciation as love. On that day, I still was investing so much desperate hope that I could fully meet this need in people.

After self-reflecting over two years, I’ve realized how flawed satisfying my need was since middle school. If you’ve read my previous post, you’ll see I’ve realized my need for appreciation is a mark of my brokenness of my sinful, human condition and that only the Lord can totally fulfill this need (like how God was well-acquainted with the ways of David in Psalm 139).

Also, many more life hurts like Animarathon have been purposeful for me. These include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Not being invited to parties
  • Having few friends in high school
  • Having women play with my feelings
  • Being bullied
  • Being called ‘scary’ or ‘creepy’
  • Lacking social skills to initiate or maintain appropriate relationships
  • Enduring many summer breaks at home feeling isolated and lonely

You might see this list and wonder, “Phil, your childhood must have sucked. Why would you say this is purposeful?”

Well, ever since this past summer at Colorado LT, I really feel that I now have been called to love on people like me. I developed a passion to care for hurting people — the disadvantaged, the lonely, the socially awkward, the shy, the rejected, the insecure — basically what Jesus calls “the least of these.”

With this passion, I felt driven to refocus my hurt feelings to love on people with developmental disabilities I have been a community friend to since January. I love the people I have been a friend to, and they have even touched my heart at times. My volunteering for them has given me joy. When you think about the entire population of people who have developmental disabilities, many of them may have been left out like I was. Many have been barred from close relationship with most others because they look or communicate differently, as a result of their disability.

As I felt like the Lord was speaking to me yesterday walking on my coffee run, I told myself, “Two years ago may have been rough, but now I have the opportunity to show people who are in a similar place the love of Christ.”


Posted in Blog, God's Love with tags , , , , , , on February 26, 2014 by Phil Martin


By Phil Martin

Phil’s Portfolio

Feb. 26, 2014

The night before, frustration from failed relationships this past year nearly brought me to tears. Although I was upset, I felt like I finally realized what I’ve been wanting out of friendships and romantic relationships all along. Surprisingly, it is not love at all.

What is it do I really want? And, why am I seeking it heavily from those I find attractive? The question came up a few months ago to discern why I have historically sought close friendships with all and deeper relationship with people I find physically attractive and appealing.

Appreciation is what I’ve really been longing from people, and I’ve mistaken that for love. It finally dawned on me as I was reading Psalm 139 (my favorite psalm of the Bible).

To better understand what I’m talking about, let me try to define what appreciation is. I’m not an expert, but please stay with me:

According to my American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, appreciation is “recognition of the quality, value, significance and magnitude of people and things.” An alternate definition my dictionary offers is as follows: “awareness or delicate perception, especially of aesthetic qualities or values.”

I remember an organization on my campus suggested a more general definition of appreciation at a Sunday meeting. More simply put, I believe a speaker then said appreciation means “to be fully known and fully understood.”

The second and more basic definition of appreciation resonated with me as I read Psalm 139. In verse three, David offers another way of defining appreciation; here he says God is “acquainted with all [his] ways”. It began to make more sense with what I’ve experienced in my adolescence and young adulthood.

As far as romantic relationships, I’ve been wanting to meet a future spouse who can can “fully know” and “fully understand” who I truly am to the deepest aspects of my person. I’ve been wanting to meet someone who can thoroughly perceive me, from my character to my outward appearance and find me desirable.

Along with seeking attention and approval from women, I’ve also been chasing acceptance in friendships through their measure of appreciation for me. Check my Facebook timeline, for example. You’ll find that I often share my favorite smooth jazz music — only because I know 95 percent of my friends do not listen to it. Therefore, I hope my friends will appreciate me for my unique music taste. I also wear red and often mention that red is my favorite color — only because I hope people will appreciate this association with me. I’m sure there are other ways I subtly try to be “fully known and fully understood” by my friends to feel accepted.

Despite my hopes to be appreciated — to be “fully known and fully understood” — by people in my life I’ve often become disappointed. I think about high school. People I knew in those four years dated more than once, but I remained single. I thought I was undesirable and that something was horribly wrong with me. This worry about my singleness accelerated my fear and feelings of loneliness from that time and into college. However, I soon realized that dating in the way my high school classmates did would have done more harm to me. Many of those relationships I witnessed lacked true commitment and vision for growing and maintaining relationship with the two people. Many of those relationships also lacked devotion to God. In effect, these relationships seemed shallow, risky and unfocused. Therefore, I would have felt the sting of emotional attachment after a meaningless and godless relationship dissolved.

Although I’ve always been single, I feel I have felt the sting of emotional attachment. I tend to invest a lot of my emotions into friendships, especially towards women in my life I’ve felt attracted to. I have often developed feelings for people in hopes that they would fully appreciate who I am. Many times I’ve become disappointed also because American culture practices many shallow relationships. Someone I spoke to compared our culture’s relationships to a peach: We have cordial interactions with new people we meet and begin to know (the surface and succulent fruit), but then we eventually reach a point where the relationship goes no deeper (the pit). For me, I’ve always wanted deeper relationships (analogous to a coconut or melon in relationships practiced in other world cultures), where I want people to continue delving into more layers of my being until I am “fully known and fully understood.” Unfortunately, people in my life can only go so far beyond the superficial in having relationship with me appropriately.

To conclude, last night I realized that only the Lord, our God, is truly capable of appreciating me — fully recognizing my qualities, character, aesthetics, and total being to the utmost level. Check out David’s words in Psalm 139:1-3:

1 “O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
2 “You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
3 “You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.”

I have to say I felt peace and bliss when I read this, especially the last verse. Community with people is good; God intended all of us to have community with one another. However, I will never attain appreciation from people to the deepest level I have always longed for. Not from my family. Not from my best friend. Not from a future spouse. But, only fully from Jesus because he is well acquainted with all my ways — “fully knowing and fully understanding” my entire being. Satisfying my great desire is for sure a mark of my brokenness, and why I desperately need the love of Christ to complete me beyond what people can provide.

Now I have to relearn what the heck love is. Remember, I have sadly mistaken appreciation for love. I also need to understand how I can appropriately provide love as a man of God, more than just merely receiving it from others.

The Dreamer of the Blind

Posted in Blog, Writing on February 12, 2014 by Phil Martin

The Dreamer of the Blind

An excerpt from an untitled work by Phil Martin

Phil’s Portfolio

Feb. 12, 2014

"dreamer" from Photobucket. http://bit.ly/1iSUckO

“dreamer” from Photobucket. http://bit.ly/1iSUckO

One of my favorite characters in my story has an incredible ability of foresight although she is physically blind. I’ve named her Ashlynn (Lynn for short).

Ashlynn is a young woman who was born with underdeveloped eyes. Therefore, she cannot see the physical world. She does, however, have a keen eye for the future. Ashlynn can see events before they occur. She may foresee in her dreams by night or in visions by her waking hours. Her foreknowledge makes her an invaluable character in my story and for the good of many my other main characters.

Ashlynn also has incredible insight about most things current. Although she has a visual handicap for the physical things around her, she can discern the character of nearly all people she develops a relationship with. This supplements her existing ability to work well with other people. For a person born blind, Ashlynn is also very resourceful and creative.

Although Ashlynn lives among the common people in the realm in which my story takes place, she serves important roles to her society. Among those roles, she consults Lucian with advise concerning future decisions that impact their capital city. Some of my other important characters gain insight from her as well.

Shedding Light

Posted in Blog, Clothing, Writing with tags , , on February 11, 2014 by Phil Martin

Shedding Light in Benevolent Beige

An excerpt from an untitled work by Phil Martin

Phil’s Portfolio

Feb. 11, 2014

Lucian is completely opposite that of his malevolent brother Florianwhom I characterized earlier.

To explain the title of this post, light best describes Lucian’s characterization. He sees to the very good of my other important characters. In fact, Lucian sees to the well-being of the society he serves in.

Like a few of my important characters in my story, people notice Lucian for his wool coat. He wears a distinctive beige coat that has brown trimming around the seams.

Most importantly, Lucian is lot more responsible and mature in my story than his brother Florian. Think of comparing light to darkness. Perhaps even more relatable, think of comparing Marvel Comics’ Thor with Loki.

Florian and Lucian are powerful brothers in the realm in which the majority of my story takes place. Eons ago they resided to see to the well-being of the citizens of Liora, the most sacred city and capital of the realm. Ultimately, Florian is consumed by his pride and envy for his brother, he desires for reckless and unlimited power. The opposing personalities of these two brothers causes significant contention in my story.


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