The State of MarkMushakian.com

Dog looking into doorway

Before last week’s Spider-Man: Homecoming review took the Internet by surprise and caused a stir (a STIR, I tell you!) on social media with my sudden return to blogging, I hadn’t written here in about 3 months.  For any strangers out there who don’t know me personally, following my life by way of this blog could’ve left you on a seemingly tragic note a few months ago; I said I wasn’t feeling my best and then disappeared.  Sorry 🙂 .  I’m alive and well.  Mostly.

What I was dealing with at the time is something I may go into with a future post, but boiled down to the heart of the matter — it was anxiety.  The physical manifestations of anxiety, to be more specific.  Dizziness and vertigo, heart thumps, stomach issues.  I’d never been hit so hard with what I’ve dealt with for years, and it took me out of commission on a lot of things.  I had to miss my sweet, dear GF’s birthday lunch with her mom because I wasn’t well enough to drive myself.  I missed about 2 months’ worth of church activities.  The GF, Sydney, and I canceled a mini vacation we’d planned, all because I didn’t feel strong enough to fly and be away from home base.  My doctor checked me out and cleared me of anything obvious within a few weeks of the first event that took me out of my regular life, so I simply had to keep calm and slowly face my issues.  The first time I forced myself to drive down to surprise Sydney, after weeks of only being up for the 10 minute ride to work (and even then, sometimes barely), was a huge victory for me… and something I was very glad to be able to do for the sake of us.  By the way — kudos to the love of my life for being so patient and loving through all of this (and ongoingly).  Aside from the goodness of God, she is my greatest comfort 🙂 .  I’m much better now with all of these issues, and in the end it’s been a good thing as I have grown a lot from it (spiritually, emotionally, relationshipally) and started to pursue some healthy new paths, but that’s not really why I’m writing today.

Over these last few months quite a few things have happened that I would’ve normally written about: I attended my cousin’s wedding in Sacremento, I was prescribed eyeglasses for a mild astigmatism, I went to the San Diego fair and had many other adventures with my cute GF, I started acupuncture, we got a family dog after 9 years of being without.  That’s on top of the other miscellaneous events and ideas I’d usually share.  But in my attempts to be calm, I found that sharing these things in blog form had little more than a notion-appeal to me.  It was something that’d be nice, conceptually, but I just didn’t want to bother taking the time to actually do so.  I still chat with my friends, I share on my personal Facepage… when these issues cropped up so suddenly and strongly I became a blog and social hermit, but as they’ve subsided I have only wanted to return to my social life, not my blogging one.

There is also the sticky issue of Out of the Box.  I adore peering in on that little guy’s weekly exploits, I really do — I have no doubt that I’m the comic’s biggest fan, but even if I had felt like sharing a random blog post here and there, having “returned” to my site would then put a self-induced pressure on myself to start back up with the weekly comic again, as well.  Nobody was knocking down the proverbial door to get it to return to publication.  During this downtime a friend expressed sadness at the lack of Boxness, and when I broke my silence and posted last week’s review, I received some warm notes of appreciation for having written again… but ultimately, I look at the time it takes me to write and draw and I just can’t bring myself to do it more.

So, where does that leave us?  I’m still keeping this site, I’ll still write, Out of the Box will continue on (I mean, we have to get him out of there at some point, don’t we??), but ya know what I’m going to be spending most of my time doing?

Living my life.

Documenting my life can be fun, I enjoy provoking thought and entertaining with my posts, and it’s interesting to have a long written history of my growth and experiences, but after enjoying these 3 months of blogging freedom, I have no real interest in tying myself down by the tethers of consistent writing here for now.  Perhaps in the future I will be more prolific, but for now I am far more keen on experiencing my life and spending free time growing my artistic skills, smoochin’ my GF, relaxing, studying the Bible, or puttering around the house getting things done.  Out of the Box has not ceased, but it will now follow the same whims as any other blog post here — it will happen randomly and whenever I happen to feel like it.

I can’t say when I’ll write again.  It could be tomorrow or in a month.  I may post two comics in a week.  I might see a new movie I really love, but never get around to writing a review of it here.  If you’re entirely invested in my personal life, find me on Facebook and add me — so long as you’re not an obviously fake profile, I add anyone.  Send me a message and say Hi.  I’ll probably respond pretty quickly…

unless I’m busy enjoying my life 🙂 .

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Spider-Man: Homecoming

Spider-Man Homecoming Tom Holland in suit

Spider-Man: Homecoming
Time/place: 3:10 show at Krikorian San Clemente Sat. the 8th with Sydney

THE OPENING CREDITS:
As with pretty much every other Marvel movie character, Spider-Man was never on my childhood radar.  When he first came to the screen in film form, as Tobey Maguire in 2002, I simply wasn’t impressed.  The subsequent sequels and reboot did nothing to further my interest (especially Spider-Man 3… yikes), but when Underoos here made his cameo in Captain America: Civil War, I was smitten.  Spidey was a fun, young kid, with enthusiasm for miles, who was a real treat to watch.  Bringing this new version into his own movie, and featuring Michael Keaton(!), was probably going to be a good little romp, I figured.  Little did I know how low I had set the bar!

THE MIND:
Spider-Man: Homecoming takes its place in an esteemed category of movies for me with one simple trait — it’s pretty much perfect 🙂 .  From its clever and hilarious opening, the tone was set for 2 hours of fantastic story and a ton of laughs.

Tom Holland is fully engaging as Peter Parker, and I can’t wait to see more of him in the future… and not just in red/blue spandex, either.  But also definitely in red/blue spandex 🙂 .  Though he is several years older than the 15-year-old he plays, Holland fits the range perfectly.  It felt like I was watching a high school kid upon the screen, and that doesn’t often happen in movies.  Parker’s classmates, especially his best friend, all work in a similar way — these were wonderfully performed, and written, teenagers, and that added to the fun of the movie.  Of course, the picture is also just a ton of fun anyways.

Fantastically written and directed, Homecoming was filled with a skyscraper’s worth of genuine laughs.  I don’t tend to laugh out loud much with movies, but by golly this one had me LOL’ing pretty consistently.  The Guardians of the Galaxy movies do nothing for my sense of humor, but this sure as heck did.  I wasn’t alone, either.  The whole theater laughed and cheered throughout, and I really couldn’t have asked for a better audience to have experienced this movie with… including the cutie next to me.  The humor was generally fairly smart, but so was the character development and the world creation.  This movie most definitely takes place in New York, and quite a few laughs are elicited from that pitch-perfect environment presentation.  Aunt May, while still quite a fox, is wonderfully more adorable than anything else.  While the movie retains a light-hearted feel, that is not at all to say that it is light on sincerity of how it treats its characters.  Our “villain,” played by the always fantastic Michael Keaton, is one of the least villainous bad guys from any Marvel movie thus far.  As it comes about in his introduction, he’s just trying to make his way.  Peter Parker, similarly, is being pulled in multiple directions… though to an even greater degree: an interest in love, a teenage-enhanced sense of belonging among his new superhero pals, scholastic every-day responsibilities, friendship.  On top of all of this, he’s also in an almost father-son relationship with his reluctant mentor Tony Stark.  There are some fantastic character and plot turns that keep the movie fresh and dramatically pleasing amidst the laughs and good fun, but I’ll let you catch those for yourself when you see it… because you should definitely see it 🙂 .

Some movie-viewing moments will always remain etched into my memory, such as when the audience cheered as the Avengers first assembled during battle in that wonderful rotating hero shot.  Similarly, there is a moment in this movie in which the air was sucked out of the room… a pin could’ve dropped with deafening clarity.  It was a perfectly played moment, and I will never forget it.  You’ll know what I mean when you see it.

On the more technical/creative side, Spidey’s suit is brilliant in so many ways, as is how he makes use of his abilities.  The other uses of tech in the movie are also clever and fun — I won’t say more here, but see it and you’ll understand.  Sensing a trend here in what I think you should do?

THE HEART:
From the opening Marvel logo, I had a grin on my face throughout most of the movie’s run-time.  Every character beat was spot-on, messages were clear without being overbearing, and nothing about any character felt maniacal or simple.  The violence dished out by the titular character is somewhat tempered in this movie, but purposefully so because of his age.  In fact, the conclusions of the final act and the ensuing mid-credit sequence tell me everything I need to know about this friendly neighborhood Spider-Man… and it’s everything I could have wanted him to be.  Absolutely everything.

I walked into the theater ready to be entertained, and at the very least, take in the next piece of the Marvel movie puzzle, but as the very final moments of the movie played out before the credits, and I grew a little misty-eyed at the joy and admiration of a great movie moment, I had become an unabashed fan of this Spider-Man kid… girl… boy.  Whatever.  I loved watching him on screen and I can’t wait to see him again!

END CREDITS:
I left the movie theater with several skips in my step and a profound childish excitement bubbling up in me.  I had a great time with this movie, and with some reservation I say that it just might be the best Marvel movie, yet.  That placement might not hold true as time moves on, but I broke my blog-silence here of several months (which I’ll address later) just to write about how much I loved this movie, so… that counts for somethin’!

LIKE or LOVE:
Love.  Um, duh… did you not read all of that??  Spidey had already joined this universe in another movie, but this brings him full-circle as a well-rounded character that I am very much looking forward to watching again in his next adventure!

Michael Keaton Spider-Man Homecoming

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A Brief Pause

Hey kids… I’m not feeling my best, so I’m taking a tiny break here.  Nothing big, but that means I’m not pushing the publish button on Out of the Box for this week — which is the only reason I’m bothering to say anything.  See y’all soon!

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Out Of The Box – 333

Out of the Box weekly stick figure web comic 333 Dots Do Drugs?

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Out Of The Box – 332

Out of the Box weekly stick figure web comic 332 Both Grow

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Choosing Love

Mark and Sydney excited

As of today, I have been dating that adorable woman above, Sydney, for 6 months.  For those who know me, especially, let that sink in for a moment… half-a-year.  OMG, I know!

The preceding 6 months have, certainly, been the best 6-month-period of my life thus far.  As I wrote about in my post on the subject of our 4th monthiversary, this has been a fantastic time of learning and growth… and that’s on top of every bit of peace, laughter, and physical closeness that has gone into this relationship-salsa.  This isn’t the dull, rote learning of a general ed. college course one is forced to take and has zero interest in, though; I LOVE learning what I’ve been learning.  One of the greatest concepts I’ve come to better understand is this:

Love is a choice.

Over the years I’ve heard that piece of advice frequently offered in conversations of what makes a good relationship, but I had no real concept as to how it looked in romantic practicality.  During these months I’ve spent with The Syds, though, I have come to finally grasp an understanding of what it is like to choose to love.  I’m not perfect (shocking, I know), and much to my surprise, neither is my girlfriend.  We are both imperfect people who are so attracted to one another and cherish each other so much that we are able to bond despite these imperfections.  For someone like myself, who so often struggled with the notion of my own imperfection or being in a relationship where one must — GASP — compromise, this has been a novel experience.  Sydney and I have shared a countless amount of hearty laughs together in these 6 months, and we have also shared some very touching nearly-tearful moments of conversation… both of which strengthen our relationship in different ways.  There are times, though, when perhaps being who I should be in this relationship isn’t naturally forthcoming.  Don’t get me wrong — Sydney is one of the most wonderful people I’ve ever known, and she makes loving and being in a relationship with her extremely easy.  No qualifiers on that.. she’s stinkin’ great!  Due to the aforementioned imperfections, though, I quickly discovered that sometimes my immediate responses to situations with her weren’t ideal.  Being a mature adult, I’m able to apologize when I falter or express my feelings when perhaps I’m on the receiving end of a less-than-ideal response of hers, and she’s done the same.  As brilliant as this relationship has been, and it’s exceptionally smooth sailing 99.7% of the time, what has excited me even more than the fun, the firsts of smoochin’ and saying “I love you,” and the fact that she’s so foxy is that through this wonderful woman’s grace and compassion I have come to understand what it means to choose to love someone.

To look at it through another lens, love is action.  The feelings of affection, empathy, compassion, attraction — these are all parts of the whole that is Love, but if these remain internal, if they are never shared with the one who inspires their existence, these feelings keep to the lesser realms of love.  Love is action, in that to express love we must… EXPRESS love.  This may be done through a kind word, a patient ear to listen, or a selfless act, but love must be expressed.  We choose to express this love — we choose how and to whom — and in a relationship, this is a consistent activity.  At least, it seems that it should be 🙂 .  I choose to show this woman in my life as much love as I can muster in any given situation, because that is what I feel she deserves.  What’s fascinating to me, and something I never understood before, is how this becomes a machine of perpetual motion.  Even if I am not feeling something — perhaps I’m super tired or slightly irritable for reasons totally unrelated to her (or even if it WERE to be related to her) — by choosing to show Sydney love, my feelings grow, which in turn causes me to want to express my love even more.

And so on and so forth it goes, feeling building atop action and action building atop feeling.

Love is never a chore, either.  Though the loving actions or reactions may not be first-instinct in a given situation, and in all sincerity at points it has been really tough to grow past my selfish inclinations, I have realized time and again how fortunate I am to be able to show my girlfriend love.  Whether it’s in a way that she sadly hasn’t received much of before or if it’s just the simple fact that I open the car door for her every time she gets in, I have discovered what a blessing it is to be the one who is able to express this love to her.  She deserves more than I can likely ever give (and she might very well say the same about me), but I delight in the fact that I am the one who is able to portray the best version of love that I can for her.  It is my absolute honor 🙂 .  And so, though she makes it extremely easy anyways, I still take responsibility for making the daily choice to love this woman… and for 6 months and counting, I have enjoyed the heck out of being able to do so!

Just as I never fully understood what it meant to choose to love a partner (I have still barely scraped the top of the iceberg, I’m sure), I have no way of conceptualizing just how much better this relationship can actually get — but I can’t wait to find out 🙂 .

—————

And to my Thundernut, my Happy Smiley, my Pikachu/Togepi/Vulpix, my Sydster… while I’m slightly disappointed that the monetary/physically existent giftage can’t flow heavily from me right now, I hope you can enjoy this post in lieu of a hand-made present this month, and accept the gift that is my whole heart (I know you will… I mean, it’s totally adorable and sweet, so obvi you’ll love it).  I can’t wait to see you and spend the entire day with you, and I hope I can express just a fraction of how you make me feel… because I choo-choo-choose us ❤ ❤ ❤ .

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Out Of The Box – 331

Out of the Box weekly stick figure web comic 331 Ever Seen The Back Of A Dot?

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