Saturday, 28 November 2015

Sad Stories

Practically my whole morning has been spent getting wet.  It started with dragon boating training - my bench partner described the boat as 'a freaking water park' which is incredibly accurate - and the rest of it was spent spouting waves of tears while watching the final episodes of the short-lived TV show, Red Band Society.

Being a hospital drama, I should have known there would be crying involved when I began the series on Wednesday.  I got attached to the characters within forty minutes of footage.  Kara, the cold-hearted ex-cheerleader who needed a new heart; Leo, the charismatic superhero who has almost survived cancer; Dash, the hilarious boy with a lung problem who wants to go out with a bang; Emma, the complicated, intelligent girl with anorexia and insecurity issues; Jordi, the cute Mexican boy with family issues and a whole lot of independence; and Charlie, the 9 year old in a coma who knows everything.

I must say, Red Band Society really won the idea of a hospital atmosphere over for me.  It's made me excited for my work experience next week, even though I'm sure I'll end up disappointed.  For some reason this show makes me feel like becoming a Doctor would be worth it, that helping people in serious need would be happiness enough, that hours spent in a hospital doing surgery and putting your brain towards fixing a body would be plausible.  Or maybe I'm just gullible and pathetic, basing real life decisions on some drama ABC concocted up.

The show was full of family drama, romance, love for Nurse Jackson, and then finally there was one scarring death that left me crying over every little thing after.  The saddest thing of all though, is that there is no Season 2.  After 13 episodes of a beautiful show, it's over.  I don't understand how the 'numbers' were apparently too low to save it.  How could people not watch this show!?

You'd think it's stupid to spend your time entertaining yourself by crying unnecessarily over fictional stories depicted by people who understand the medium, so why do we do it?  It's like when Day loses his memory of June in Legend, or Augustus' matter-of-fact death in The Fault in Our Stars, or when Tris dies.  Even the final scene of Mockingjay is melancholy, and neither Peeta nor Katniss died.

I reckon all must be right in the world when your only source of sadness comes from TV shows or books.  I'm currently reading All the Bright Places and I feel like I've spoilt it for myself.  I think I know he dies.  The beautiful, different, deep Theodore Finch is going to kill himself, and I am going to cry.  He's one of the first male characters I've liked more than the female, and one day he will be gone.

These stories feel so heavy, and I wonder why I can feel empathy for these characters but not for real people.  If anyone real were going through the same situations, I would feel awkward or judgmental.  I wouldn't know what to do.  Maybe it's because books and movies show us everything.  In real life it's not possible to know all these personal inner feelings of people, but directors and authors make sure we know when they write it or film it.

Or maybe sad stories are simply inaccurate.  Maybe this utter understanding and empathy doesn't exist in real life because we never really know what a truly real and complicated person is going through.  And maybe it's because sad stories are the only way to expose ourselves to the surrealism of watching sad circumstances in detail from an outside viewpoint.

The thing about sad stories though, is that they're always remembered in this melancholy light.  Every time you hear the name or think about it, every emotion comes back.  They're memorable.  I can't say the same about happy endings.


Friday, 13 November 2015

Coming of Age

This girl today was telling me about how her English class were doing their orals based on the theme 'Coming of Age' and I guess you could categorise the books I've been reading lately under that general heading.  As you probably already know, the jump between the lengths of the third Harry Potter book and the fourth go from short and sweet to long and increasingly complicated.  So after enjoying the tedious journey through the Goblet of Fire I decided to take a break by reading some teen book, and never really got back to it.  I will return to the fifth book after finishing my current book though - don't you worry.

I've seen a change in my book and movie choices lately, from revolving around chick flicks and rom coms to focusing on more relatable aspects of life - because in case you haven't noticed, there's not a lot of love going on in mine.  Although the majority of the texts we read, hear or see nowadays depict a romantic relationship as the centre of life, I think we need to realise all the other more important individual aspects as well, because friendships and personal feelings are way more complex than what we deem as 'cute couples'.

Even in Paradise - Chelsey Philpot

The second YA (young adult) book I read -I think?- was this one about Charlie, an all girls' private boarding school girl, who falls in with this classic John Green character-type, Julia.  Julia's family is dazzling, larger-than-life, mysterious, adventurous, owns this palatial beach house, and contains her hot brother, Sebastian.

If I remember correctly, Charlie gets so deep into Julia's life that she begins to neglect all her previous friends.  She doesn't seem to care either.  It's like she's dumped them for someone she deems as better and they're not good enough anymore.  In some ways, I feel as if she wanted to be more like Julia, go on adventures like Julia, be rich like Julia, and I also understand how easy it can be to see people who have qualities you wish for, and immediately think they're worth more somehow.  I know it's horrible to neglect your friends, even when there's all those quotes about surrounding yourself with people who are already who you want to be.  I just reckon that while it may be easy to get caught up with certain people, the friends you're close to always deserve all your respect and attention, or at least some sincere apologies if you stuff up.

But then, I read this article today where the writer said something about how as you grow up, you stop seeing your friends in this hierarchy from closest to less-close, and you begin to see them as separate relationships or just influential beings of sorts.  Maybe once I start seeing people as names rather than closeness ratings, all these 'ethical friendship dilemmas' won't apply anymore.

Charlie was also this artsy sculptor character who kept this memory box throughout the whole book.  At the end of the book she uses all the little memory trinkets - sea shells from the beach house, the rock from her first encounter with Julia - to make this sculpture, and I just think that's so cool.  Memories are the most influential things, and turning them into a piece of art would actually represent something real.

There was also this quote: "You don't judge people do you, Charlie?  You just kind of watch them." (p148) and it epitomises how much I liked her character.

13 Reasons Why - Jay Asher

I've read the blurb of this book quite a few times over the last few years, but I never picked it up because I thought it seemed too depressing or boring or not cute enough.  After a friend recommended it though, I thought about it some more and even went through the trouble of buying it rather than borrowing it.  That just goes to show how much other peoples' opinions can impact mine, even though it was definitely worth it.

The book is written in the point of view of Clay, about a girl named Hannah Baker who commits suicide and leaves tapes describing the thirteen reasons why she did it.  The reasons go over many different aspects of high school and friendship and respect, and to be honest, I reckon Hannah was incredibly stupid at many points throughout her story and Clay knew it.  It was like she was just searching for reasons to die, instigating them, and then finally acting upon it.

It's crazy how rumours can spread, how they can go from something seemingly innocent to something warped by other peoples' opinions.  The thing is though, when you do something you think honestly won't matter, even when people begin talking about it, it still doesn't really.  People talk about other people and what they do daily as a way of small talk, or as just another conversation.  It doesn't matter to them, but if it's about you or something you're part of, it seems so much bigger than it really is.  And while these may be seemingly meaningless conversations, they still impact how people think of you and your reputation, and therefore how people treat you.

Hannah writes all this 'bad poetry'.  She goes to this garden cafe and writes her feelings in incomprehensible semi-sentences in her notebook.  She talks about how people change for other people, and how daunting it is to sit in the diner where everyone hangs out alone.  One of the people who constitute as a 'reason why' is the publisher of this lost and found zine, filled with the things he finds on scrap pieces of paper people leave lying around the school.  While what he publishes by her isn't right, the idea just seems appealing.

Never Sometimes Always - Adi Alsaid

This one's about an 'artsy' pair who want nothing but to go through high school originally.  As freshmen they write this 'nevers' list of all the cliches they refuse to do throughout high school, and at the end of their senior year they decide to do them all.

I just love the 'artsiness' of it all.  They people-watch on this bench at this beautiful harbour, the girl dyes her hair pink, they take a road trip to watch some indie band (this was actually a cliche), they build a treehouse in the middle of the night at school, they bring cupcakes to a notorious party house, the girl recites an inappropriate slam poem as a joke.

I dog-eared quite a few pages in this book and here are some quotes I'll share from them:

I start thinking about exactly that: how people can edit a thought before sending it out into the world.  They can make themselves seem more well-spoken than they are, or funnier, smarter.  I start thinking that no one in the world is who they say they are, then my mind goes to how I also edit myself, not just online but in real life, except for those real instances like right now where I'm ranting - even though that's a lie because I've had this train of thought before and damned if I didn't tweak it in my head a few times to make it sound better - and then my mind starts racing so furiously I can't control my thoughts, and I start thinking about robots and wondering if I'm even a real person.  Then I have to watch cartoons to shut my brain off. -p81

I know it's weird to even say or think this, but that book has made me who I am... But certain lines felt like they were thoughts I'd had my whole life that just hadn't taken shape until I read them.  'A little better than you found it' is how I see everything now.  Not just the world, but everything.  People, too.  I want people I know to be a little better off than when I found them. -p111

'How's your day been?' Julia always hated the question.  It had always felt to her like a question asked between people with nothing else to say -p236

It was lazy.  Love was lazy as hell.  Love laid around in bed, warm from the sheets and the sun pouring into the room.  Love was too lazy to get up to close the blinds.  Love was too comfortable to get up to go pee.  Love took too many naps, it watched TV, but not really, because it was too busy kissing and napping.  Love was also funny, which somehow made the bed more comfortable -p229

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac - Gabrielle Zevin

This is the book I'm currently reading and it's basically about this 17 year old girl who loses her memories from the last 6 years.

It's haunting the way she wonders why she's friends with the people she's friends with.  When she asks her real best friend why she even likes her boyfriend, he tells her honestly that it's because she likes being seen with him, the same way she likes being seen with her 'friends' in the cafeteria, who she realises she doesn't enjoy the company of.  It's crazy how being seen in certain ways can affect how we spend our time, and I'm trying to make my actions more genuine than to have anything to do with reputation.

She's also the co-editor of her school year book, and when she asks her best friend why she likes it, he says it's because the year book is what people refer to in the past and the present.  When you're young, you look at the people in the Yearbook to see who you aspire to be, and when you're older the Yearbook is what you take out to remember that time: the people, the activities, the school year.  So the Yearbook is basically a community memory bank, something people truly do refer to, an impact on reputations and school and the creator of nostalgia.

Reading this made me think of my own failures at becoming the sub-editor (and then editor) of my own school's yearbook, which I found out about earlier this week.  Sure I was disappointed, but at the same time, the girl who did get it deserves the position just as much as me.


I reckon we gain so many ideas from reading books without knowing it, and there are also so many books I've read in the past that have had a huge impact on my worldview, and so many I would love to reread to fully appreciate this time round.

I think it's time I got my life sorted out, so that the only problems I have are the ones happening to the characters in my books.


Tuesday, 3 November 2015


I've always had the stigma that poetry was all metaphors and analysis, full of flowery words that were a complete waste of time and made no sense.

Yesterday night I was talked into going to this slam poetry reading (I know. How hipster does that make me?) and I found that the poetry wasn't 'poetry' at all.  Each reading felt more like a life rant, rife with metaphors and descriptions, but seemingly full sentences that made sense all the same.  These poems were eloquent, somewhat relatable and absolutely intriguing.  They were like spoken short stories, but extremely personal ones.

I don't think poetry can be said or read or written without being meaningful in some way.  The words are so specific and limited, and I guess the entire purpose of writing poetry is to convey some form of inner emotion or thought that's been eating up your brain.  I can't imagine being one of the girls who stood up in front of the staring eyes, against the backdrop of the pristine bookshelf behind them, sharing something so personal through a beautiful medium.  They were so brave.


The first girl I saw spoke of the young being the old.  If I remember correctly, she said We are the young with grey hair.  She spoke about how we are so so stressed, and we drink caffeine, and we have all these issues that the previous generations never seemed to have - or at least that's what I think she was saying.

She spoke about how we comply to the walls the other generations have built around us, and how we need to learn to say no.  I somewhat get this, but maybe you'll get it more than I do?


I'm not a humanitarian type, and when it comes to the less fortunate they have a tiny place at the back of my mind, but I don't acknowledge them very often.  I know.  That makes me sound like a terrible person.

This girl recited this poem that sounded like a rap, entitled Welcome to Australia.  At first I thought it would be funny, rife with Australian puns and shrimps on barbies; but it was about the refugees in Syria, yet another neglected and rejected group of people I'd prefer not to acknowledge.  Her poem was so emphasised and intriguing and heartfelt, and I think that's what poetry is meant to be.  She used her writing to send a message of awareness, and maybe I should be more humanitarian than the cold-blooded human I seem to be.


The most relatable poem of the night would have to have been The Price of Doing Well At School.  I've been considering the issue of the repetitiveness of school for a long long while now, and it's gotten to the point where I can't believe this is my life.  She spoke of a memorised timetable and how tests are just tests and she knows it, but why does it seem like the make it and break it of life?

Some will become doctors and lawyers and businessmen, and some will just fall.  According to her poem school is an institution where they test sixteen year old girls on how well they cope with anxiety.  Every test was another battle, and it's like these stupid answers and questions are the bane of our existence.

I know I used to feel the same way, where I would measure time and dates by which assessment I had or had already had.  But now I feel nothing but absolute worry at the lack of stress and care I feel for these tests and assignments.  I would never half-heartedly do an assignment, but I don't feel particularly motivated either.  Studying for tests never involves taking those detailed notes anymore.  I use material from class and read the textbook.  I have so much confidence in myself and that will be my eventual downfall.


One of my friends recited a last minute poem on anxiety.  It was one big metaphor that finally made sense at the very end, like some kind of mystery novel where the final chapter reveals everything.

As a human being who undoubtedly feels emotion, the idea of having anxiety trapped inside oneself is obscurely relatable.  All those times you're dreading an event, dreading the people you're about to see, anxiously awaiting the encounters you've been imagining in your head; it's like the feeling is trapped and you just. can't. get rid of it.  I tell myself 'normal people do these things' 'normal people would be doing this.  There's no need to be nervous.' but I just am, and I guess that's the only reason I'm ever constantly unhappy.  I'm so busy being anxious about whatever the next event is, whether it be someone one-off or even a weekly activity.

I'm getting better though.  I've been talking myself into realising that there's absolutely nothing to be worried about, because nothing is ever that bad and I'll always be able to talk my way through whatever the event is, no matter how awkward or inferior I may feel.  If I decide I don't want to feel that way, I won't.


There was this girl who was so immensely brave who shared a huge piece of her identity.  She was so eloquent and her metaphors were personal perfection and I feel like she could be one of those inspirational speakers or a writer in Rookie or something.


Here's the first poem I realised I somewhat liked.  It's from Stuck in Love and yes, I realise that this is the second post in a row where I've mentioned it, but it's a really good movie.  You should watch it.

Anyway, a poem by Rusty:

In the sea of desks
There is talk of bags and games
And long pipes that leak dreams
With the strike of a match.

And there's a loudness to the whispers I hear.
Whispers shouldn't be that loud, should they?

There's a girl over there who everyone knows
And men without ears who will stand at the door
For a price.

And long hallways; there are always angry mobs of dwarves,
and rats


I mean, I can't say I know exactly what it means - but it just sounds so so nice.


Maybe I'll attempt writing some poetry some day.
Or not.