Day One-Hundred-Seven (Eragon)

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I love fantasy novels. I love Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Inkheart, Narnia, Cirque du Freak, The Ranger’s Apprentice…all those classic coming-of-age novels. I’m always a sucker for a hero’s journey. So when I decided to read Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and Eragon as my summer reading the summer before 8th Grade, I thought I was making a wonderful choice. First I would suffer through Sisterhood of the Pants and all that teenage girl garbage and then I would get to the high fantasy sword-fights. Except that Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants turned out to be an amazing story of loyalty, friendship, growing up, and finding oneself. Eragonas far as I’m concerned, is about as interesting as a piece of turd. Scratch that. It’s not even that interesting.

Allow me to explain, because this is an opinion I will never waver on. I firmly hate this series with a passion. The first issue I had with this book was in the writing style. Christopher Paolini was remarkably young when he wrote this novel. Which is impressive. He wrote an entire saga at a fairly early age. Good for him. If only his writing didn’t read so….flowery? Pretentious? Stuffy? Everything is written like he cracked open a thesaurus to see how many big words he could cram in to get the word count high enough. Descriptions are overly indulgent. Books like Harry Potter or Percy Jackson are engaging because the writing style fits the age group that it is meant for. It hooks you in and it’s not distracting or overly complicated. It’s perfect for the characters and the style of the novel. Unless Eragon was going for sanctimonious and dry, I believe it missed the mark.

My second major qualm with the book was the setting. The world building wasn’t very original at all. It was textbook Middle Earth, with a little Narnia thrown in for good measure. It seemed like something a Dungeons and Dragons player could easily come up with if they were being lazy. It all just felt so stock and unoriginal. I wasn’t hooked into the world at all. It didn’t seem like a world Christopher Paolini created, it felt like a world he borrowed. And then lauded as his own. Which was irritating.

That being said, that wasn’t my biggest issue. My biggest issue with the book was that it was Star Wars. Like…it wasn’t even trying to not be Star Wars. Whiny small-town protagonist, sly self-interested ally, old mentor, irrelevant uncle, badass princess to be saved, evil emperor, his more intimidating sidekick….it was all just so blatantly the same. I love Star Wars. I don’t need to see another version of it where absolutely nothing is changed. I hear Yoda….oh wait, sorry, Oromis…even shows up in the second book.

To be fair to the series though, I never made it past the first novel. Maybe it gets less flowery and pretentious. Maybe it starts diverging the plot a little more. Besides, I did kind of like Obi-Wan and Han Solo…..er, I mean Brom and Murtagh. They were both stereotypes I enjoyed and I heard Murtagh has a decent character arc in later novels. I do know a lot of people enjoy this series and good for them. I’m just never going to be one of them. But, on the other hand, I would highly recommend Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. That is a book I definitely need to reread.

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Day One-Hundred-Six (Dancing)

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Once a theatre kid, always a theatre kid. I’ve learned over the years to love acting. I’ve loved singing since Elementary School. I’ve always loved role-playing and pretending to be someone I’m not. I’ve always loved show weeks and I’ve always loved all the crazy chaos, teamwork, love, intensity, and challenge of live theatre. It’s a great feeling to see it all come together and have other people see what you’ve been working so hard on. That being said, I have always detested dancing. My body doesn’t want to move in weird shapes. I lack rhythm entirely. My physicality is as awkward as the rest of me. And I definitely don’t pick up moves quickly.

Today was my first dance practice in over four years. I haven’t had to memorize a dance since High School. From what I can remember, I always hated learning dances. But I would eventually pick it up and I would always get it by the show week. I’m just really out of practice and totally out of sorts with it. While the night was fun, it was also a little bit intimidating. What if I can’t pick it up by the week of the show and I’m just a huge embarrassment? What if this really isn’t for me after all? What if everyone sees how bad I truly am?

But, honestly, I do enjoy dancing. I always loved when a show would come together and I would finally pick up the dances. It was the same with Orchestra. It would take me a few weeks, but eventually the piece would stick and it would feel like such an accomplishment to speed through the piece that started out as such a struggle. Besides, I’m still exhausted, sick, and emotionally worn-out from the week at camp. By next rehearsal I’ll be wide-awake and ready to go. I still need some time to recuperate and to let this past week really sink in.

Dancing is a beautiful art though. It looks so easy when seen onstage or in performances. But it’s really a lot of hard work and determination. The wonderful thing about dancing is that it really makes the rest of the world fade away for a little bit as you get lost in the music and the steps. Maybe it’s not my thing, personally. But it is a rather gorgeous form of art.

Day One-Hundred-Five (Taking Chances)

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Over the course of the past week, I have learned many lessons. I’ve learned to be strong, I’ve learned to be kind, I’ve learned to be assertive…It was a crazy week, but it definitely changed me for the better. But one of the most vital lessons I learned was that life is so much better when you keep yourself open to new experiences.

Being a counselor was not something I was prepared for. It was not something I ever, in a million years, wanted to do. It was not something that I thought I would be any good at or I would ever enjoy. But I did it. Whether I did it well is irrelevant. What matters is that I made it through and that I gave it every ounce of effort and energy that I had. For the first time in a long while, I gave something my all. I pushed myself to the limits. Looking back, despite how challenging it was, I don’t regret it at all. It was so very rewarding and life-changing. And it only happened because I took a chance and took a shot at doing something I never in a million years thought I’d be any good at.

In a smaller sense, the week was filled with little activities. Yoga, dancing, fishing, sports, going out with strangers, going out with friends (and the guy I like…), go karts, basketball, playing with little kids…lots of stuff I’d never done before. But, over the course of the week, I was constantly trying to be a yes man. Okay, more like my co-counselor made it his mission to force me out of my shell at every possible opportunity. But the point still stands. For the week, I was open to new experiences. I took chances. I did things I’d never done before. I put myself to the test in every way possible.

After this week, I feel more prepared than ever before to take chances. Could it be too hard? Possibly. But then it’s just a really intense learning experience, just as this past week has been. Could I hate it? Maybe. But then I know what to avoid. I’m tired of being the girl who hasn’t done anything. Who just kind of silently exists and passively observes. I’m tired of watching life on a screen, reading it through the pages of a book, and observing it at a safe distance. I want to live life. I keep flashbacking to all the times my co-counselor urged me to take a step out of my comfort zone and I shook my head viciously before he lightly pushed me out of it anyway. How can I be expected to live life and grow if all I do is stand  still and watch my life pass me by? It’s time I start really living. And that starts by taking chances. By being a yes man. By being an active participant.

Day Ninety-Six – One-Hundred-Four (Camp)

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And I’m back! After a week away, I am back to talk briefly about my experience while I was away. I’ve been too busy this past week living life as it comes to write any entries, so there’s a lot to catch up on. So much that it will be physically impossible to sum it all up in this one entry. But I’ll do my best. Perhaps it will be spread over multiple days. There is no way I can accurately sum up what a life-changing experience this was in one tiny entry.

As a child, I always longed to participate in camp. My experience with the theatre camp did not begin until Middle School and camp life always seemed so neat. Bonfires, swimming, arts and crafts, making model cars, late nights outdoors, fishing…it all seemed so neat. I wanted so badly to have a shot at it. What I never anticipated was that one day I would become a camp counselor. I don’t really like kids, I’m highly introverted, I hate bugs, and I am incredibly passive. Nothing about my personality matches what is needed to be a successful camp counselor. This experience got even more challenging when I was put with the youngest boys. It was like a living nightmare. Everything I never wanted and wasn’t prepared for whatsoever.

The ensuing adventure often felt like being thrown in at the deep end and only knowing how to doggy paddle. If that. Picking things up as I went and pushing myself to the limit every minute of every day. Currently I’m so sick and tired that I can barely get out of bed and my eyes are struggling to stay open. Being overwhelmed, stressed, and out of my depth became my constant state of being. I was not prepared to ever scream this much in my life. I was not prepared to interact with little boys. I was not prepared to go away for a week to a place where I knew no one. I was not prepared for temper tantrums and unbelievable stubbornness. I was not prepared for the lack of sleep, water, and food. I wasn’t prepared for any part of this experience.

That being said, I would not take one second of it back. The kids may have been a pain in the ass, but they could also be so sweet and fun. I loved playing with them, goofing around with them, and learning how to interact with them in tough times. I became so much more confident and assertive over the course of the week. I made friendships I never could have anticipated in a million years and, even if I never see any of these people ever again, they made for an incredible week. Shoutout to the unbelievable co-counselors in my cabin who were so supportive, understanding of my difficult situation (literally not getting my cabin until the day of), welcoming, friendly, and kind. Seriously. I would have been a goner without those two looking out for me and making sure I was okay. Also another shoutout to all the other counselors and adults who welcomed me with open arms and made sure I was holding up throughout the week.

Will I go back? Right now I can’t say. I’m currently recovering both physically and emotionally from all the stress. I’m already missing it in a weird way though. At least if I go back next year I’ll be more prepared. At the end of the day, once all of this finally has time to settle and I’m no longer sick and exhausted, I can see what lasting change has occurred. As of now, I truly feel like a new person. I took on a challenge that was so out of my pay grade it was ridiculous. And, with the help of some amazing people, I rose to the challenge and made it through the week in one piece. Whether I go back is irrelevant. I did it once and it made me so much stronger. I’ll never forget that or all of the people who made it happen. On top of it all, I made a small difference in these children’s lives. Maybe I even helped my co-counselor’s a bit. That’s far from nothing.

Day Ninety-Five (La La Land)

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Is this movie over-rated? Sure. Is it heavily flawed? In some ways, yeah. Would it be better if Sebastian was black? Probably. Did it most likely win all the awards because it was a movie tribute to the movies? It’s definitely possible. Probable, even. Does any of this detract from the overall experience? Personally? Nope.

I love this movie so much. I love Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling’s performance. I love how much this movie genuinely adores the art of movies. It reminds me of the lesser known Hugo in that way. I love the songs. I love the pacing. I love the atmosphere. And, most of all, I love all the emotions. It’s impossible not to get a little bit choked up at the end. They could have had it all…

Anyway, the movie is solid. It brings out the dreamy romantic in me. Which is a part of me that is always just a hairs breath from the surface. It reminds me of why I love the arts and it encourages me to pursue my dreams. It was a gentle reminder that it’s okay to do what you think is right and it’s okay if things don’t always turn out the way you want (or think you want) them to. That’s just life.

I saw the movie for the 3.5 time last night, and it’s become an instant classic to me. A movie that I’ve already seen 3.5 times and I would definitely see many more. So I highly recommend this movie. It’s a little pretentious and over-rated, sure. But it’s really worth seeing.

 

Day Ninety-Four (Spinning Doors)

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It was in 4th Grade, the first time I can remember a teacher believing in me. My music teacher wrote on my report card that I should audition for District Chorus and at first I thought I read it wrong. Why would he suggest that I join an elite group? I’m not “elite” material. I auditioned in 5th Grade and made it. In 6th Grade I joined the Chamber Choir. I have loved singing ever since.

It was the summer after 7th Grade, when I got my first (and second) real crushes. My first crush was this practically perfect kid who I was in a show with. Half the cast was in love with him. The other half of the cast was in love with the other attractive practically perfect lead guy. The second crush was my brothers dorky, but sweet, friend. He always treated me like a friend too, though. Both of these crushes changed me. The first one, because he gave me feelings like I have never felt before. The second because he was there for me at a time when nobody else was. If I have a type, it’s the fault of these two boys.

My Junior Year of High School I auditioned for the school musical. While I wasn’t friends with the “in-crowd” of the play, I soon developed a pretty sturdy and badass friend group. These friends were always supportive, often funny, wholly loyal, and incredibly hard-working and intelligent. It was a fun time and this group was instrumental in the journey I took to find the best version of myself that I could be. I will always be grateful for that.

My Sophomore Year of College, I took up some random Freshman girl from Hillel’s offer to see a show. I didn’t know then that I had just met one of my best friends from college. I took the chance and invited one of my other best friends to the show. The three of us became inseparable ever since that fateful night. We’ve been with each other through the highs, the lows, and all the rest. College absolutely would not have been the same without them.

Where is my Elementary School music teacher now? Hell if I know. Where did those two crushes go? I think one’s in a band and other is…yeah, no idea whatsoever. I haven’t spoken to him in about five years. Where is my High School crowd? All over the place. All over the world, even. Where are my two best friends from college? Currently still at my old college, but only for a year or so more.

My point is, lot’s of people enter and exit our lives. Some pass without any scenes of note. Nothing remarkable about the way our paths crossed. It happened. They’re gone now. It would be impossible for every single person you ever interact with to make a noticeable difference. But a lot of people do. Some for an incredibly short time and some for a long and full time. But only a handful stay for the long-haul. That’s just a fact of life. A lot of the people who once mattered so much to you will one day become faded memories of the past.

Throughout Middle School, High School, and College…this fact destroyed me. Why did people have to go? How could people have such an effect on me and then disappear so suddenly and so totally? It doesn’t help that I have an unhelpful knack of getting attached to people who I don’t know all that well. Why does everyone leave me? Why do I lose everyone I care about eventually? Why is life so unfair and hard?

But, over the past year or so, I’ve come to a new philosophy. Sometimes a soulmate isn’t the person you end up living happily ever after with. They’re any person with whom your paths aligns with for any time and where both are changed by the time spent together. But sometimes, a lot of the time, people are just meant to be teachers and friends. They guide you on your way, leave an imprint on your soul, and then leave you to figure things out in your own time.

Any relationship that has touched me is far from gone. These people live on within me. They are in my every step, my every choice, my every wish. They all had their part in shaping me into the person I am today. And that is far from nothing. It’s heartbreaking when a major player in my life leaves. When I know things will never be the same. We will never be the same. It shatters me every single time. Especially when I see these people years and years later and see the person they’ve grown into while I was gone. It’s a bittersweet feeling. Bitter, because they’re gone. Sweet, because good for them. 

I wish life wasn’t so transitory. But I’ve accepted that this is the way it is. Now, I just want to experience as much of it as I can. Make all the connections I can. See where it takes me. Hold the memories with me. It’s important to let people in. Whether they will eventually leave or not. Because it’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.

Day Ninety-Three (The 100)

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I thought catching up to this show would be a relief. I could know what the fandom was talking about. I could understand the angst. There would be no more running and hiding from spoilers. Except now that I’ve caught up, I don’t feel better at all. If anything, I want to erase my memory and rewatch the whole journey all over again for the first time. Either that or time travel to next year so I can watch all of Season 5 right now. I do not want to wait. I need to know what happens to these characters. Do Bellamy and Clarke finally get together? Are Abby and Kane okay? What about the crew in the sky? Who are the prisoners? Will this little girl be a welcome addition or the Dawn Summers of the series? I need to know these things.

I’ve been meaning to watch this show for awhile now. And by “meaning to watch” I moreso mean that it’s been assaulting my tumblr feed for the past four years or so. A couple of weeks ago I found a Bellamy/Clarke image set that gave me feelings and it was in that moment that I knew I had to finally watch this show. Oftentimes I watch shows for reasons that are small or insignificant. I joined this fandom for one ship. What I didn’t expect was to be blown away by the entire show, all of the characters, and all of the ships. I also didn’t expect my heart to be shattered into a million pieces. But that’s cool too, I guess.

My favorite character’s, hands-down, are Kane, Lincoln, Sinclair, and Bellamy. Everyone is fantastic and it would be impossible to rank them. Roan, Raven, Monty, Jasper, Abby, Clarke, Murphy, Finn, Wells, Luna, Lexa, Octavia…they’re all just so great. It’s a shame that most of them have to die. In ways that range from mildly upsetting to “I’m never getting over this as long as I live”. Moreso because of the writing and acting and less so because of the latent racism and homophobia. I don’t think the show is as racist and homophobic as the internet makes it out to be, but it’s definitely problematic. Killing off the one black lead character in episode three? Killing off a gay character so sloppily that it’s almost like her cause of death was “death by gay sex”. Like…come on, show. I know you can do better than that.

But, what this show is really great for, is it’s moral conundrums. The show can’t go five minutes without a nigh-impossible decision arising. Different character’s take to leadership positions throughout the series. Each character has varied levels of success with their position of power and the decisions they make. I do not envy the amount of difficult decisions that Kane or Clarke have to make, in particular. Even if they do commit a few mass murders between them. It’s cool. They’re not the only ones on the show who do this. You get used to it.

This show is all about feelings all the time and I can’t wait until it comes back. Whether I like it or not, I am now a committed member of the fandom and I have to see how this goes. I need to see Papa Kane again. And Bellarke. And Raven and Octavia being kickass. And Harper and Monty being adorable. And IT WAS 5 YEARS HOLY SHIT SO MUCH HAS PROBABLY CHANGED. So yeah. 10/10. Watch this show.

Day Ninety-Two (Hormones)

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I don’t know what this says about me. But I don’t get cramps and I don’t get irrationally angry when my time of the month comes. No, the way I can tell is more…depressing. I can tell because my thoughts start to go like “what am I doing with my life. I don’t think I’ll ever be happy again. I’m not prepared at all for this world because I’m a piece of shit. Nothing will ever get better again oh life is a miserable joke”. The thoughts get scarily existential and mildly suicidal. It’s the only time I’m like that. Usually, fortunately, I can catch the fact that this is hormones talking. It helps that these thoughts are almost always followed by “wait….why was I sad again? Hang on…”

See, I don’t get the whole stereotype that women faint at the sight of blood because we’re so dainty. We bleed like crazy every single month. And it’s not like little splotches. It’s like a rainfall of blood pouring out of your body in massive amounts. I don’t see any guys putting up with that. The whole stereotype is ludicrous. I know this affects different women differently. But it sucks for all of us.

Camp begins in 4 days. At least I don’t have to bring a bathing suit. The reason I speak of this today is because my thoughts are currently too muddled and hopeless and depressed to make any logical sense out of how I feel about today or what I even did. Mostly because they’re depressing for no reason other than mood swings. Fuck periods. They’re terrible. 0/10 would not recommend. Hopefully I’ll be in a less tumultuous mood tomorrow.

Day Ninety-One (Fate)

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I believe in fate. I can’t read my own fate and I have no idea whatsoever on what the future holds. But I do believe in fate. The reason I chose this picture today is because this song was a life-changing moment for me. “And the call isn’t out there at all, it’s inside me”, Moana sings. That one line turned my head around. Changed my perspective. Snapped everything into place.

In the story of Moana, Moana longs to explore the sea. She knows she has some great purpose out there on the water, but her village and her parents warn her to stay on land. She tries to be the dutiful young princess, but she can’t resist the call of the ocean. Eventually she leaves the island, goes on an adventure, and saves the day. When I saw this movie with my sister, I couldn’t help but relate to Moana. My parents want me to lead the cookie-cutter nuclear family american dream. That would certainly be a nice, easy, and normal path. But my heart has always longed for something else. Something more. I can’t sit still and enjoy the practical pragmatic path. It’s never been for me.

But understanding what this voice inside of me is saying has been immensely frustrating. Does it want to do theatre? Write? Act? What the fuck does it want? I still don’t know. I don’t know if I’ll ever know. But that isn’t the point. The point is that…I don’t think our fates are written in stone. I don’t believe that everything that will happen is already destined to occur. But I firmly believe that our destinies and fates are within us. They’re in our hearts. When I do something that isn’t right for me, I feel it in every bone in my body. Everything feels wrong, no matter how hard I try to ignore it. It eats me alive. When I do something right, I feel that too. It’s like the train is back on the right track. Like my character is back on her quest. Everything seems to click again and I feel like myself. I can’t control it. It’s just a feeling.

Today I auditioned for another show. It’s a much smaller scale show than the one I auditioned for earlier this summer. I got in. When I told my parents, their reaction was…lackluster. Not very enthusiastic. Mildly judgmental. From their perspective, my main concern at the moment should be getting a job so I can support myself. I get where they are coming from and I agree that this is a major concern. But does this mean I should put the rest of my life on hold while I search for a job? With no knowledge of when that end date will even be? If I’ve learned anything this summer, it’s that I’ve got to start reaching out. Explore. Go on adventures. See what it is I want to do. Create memories. Have new experiences. Test the waters and try new things.

For the first time all summer, I’ve felt like I have a purpose again. It’s a little concerning how often getting into a show has done that for me. Like…when in doubt, do a show. But the camp feels like fate too. Both just feel…right. Like it’s where I was meant to go, what I was meant to do, how I was meant to grow. My parents both treat these two commitments as nonsense and a waste of time. I find that I cannot agree with that assessment. Perhaps it’s not helping with the career issue at present. But it’s something to keep me going, keep me socializing, keep me inspired, and keep me happy. Something to make me feel like me again. To challenge me and help me grow into a better version of myself. And maybe that’s worth something too, yeah?

Day Ninety (The Emoji Movie)

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That’s it. I’ve had my moment of perfect despair. I’ve hit rock bottom. It is only up from here. I can not express in words how utterly terrible this movie is. And not in an entertaining way. It’s boring, makes no sense whatsoever, the character’s are godawful, the jokes aren’t even remotely funny, and it’s just plain insulting half the time. I think there’s some cynical message somewhere in here, but I can’t think too deeply about it. The movie clearly doesn’t. It’s boring and uncomfortable to watch. My brother and I came to hate-watch it and…well, I expected to love it. In the “this is hilariously terrible” way. Instead all I felt was despair. I couldn’t even get worked up enough to be offended or angry. It was that awful.

On top of it, tonight was the first time I went to the theater on a Sunday night since the fun manager quit. My two least favorite manager’s have taken his shift. And I’m pretty sure the one manager thinks that I was seeing this movie because my taste is that bad and not because I wanted to see it ironically. So that’s just great.

After the events of yesterday, I didn’t think my emotional state could sink much lower. But seeing my two least favorite managers, followed by an absolutely horrid movie, may have finally tipped me over the edge. This, right here, is rock bottom. It’s only up from here.

If anyone is reading this, I implore you not to see this movie. Please don’t waste your time on it. It’s not like “Chicken Little”. It’s not laughably bad. It’s offensively bad. On top of everything, it thought it could be “Wreck-It Ralph”, “Inside Out”, and “Spy Kids 3-D”. No. Those movies were all much better. And yes, I’m including Spy Kids 3-D in that list. I have never seen a movie this utterly crappy. They cast fucking Patrick Stewart as the poop emoji. How dare they. This isn’t a movie. It’s a blatant ad with no thought, no purpose, and no meaning. This movie is hell.