Saturday, March 29, 2014

How To Be a Grown Up

I went to see Lorde when she was in Denver last weekend, at the Fillmore. I had to wait in the cold in a line three blocks long and stand around for hours before she finally took the stage, surrounded by teenage girls taking thousands of selfies and never shutting up, but it was worth it.

It's weird, because even though I relate to so many of Lorde's songs and love them very dearly, I am not the target audience of those songs, necessarily. She writes them about her experiences being a teenager and probably intends them mostly for other teenagers to listen to and feel understood, to know somebody else out there has the same emotions and put words and music to them.

She played all my favorites, including the version of the Son Lux song "Easy," which was the best performance of the night because it's not a well known song, so nobody was singing along or waving their phones in the air filming her.

But her song that I love the most is "Ribs," because it describes so many things I have experienced, and so many feelings I've felt, regardless of how old I become. She told the story of why she wrote it - it was the only song she talked about all night. She said she wrote it after throwing a big party with her best friend and sister at her house after her parents went out of town. She wrote it about being a sixteen year old who is taking her first hesitant, frightened steps into being an adult. She wrote it because she was scared, and probably still feels scared, that she won't be able to go back, that she won't be able to do "kid things," as she said, that there's no return once you go down that path.

Being someone about ten years older than she is, I can confirm that you never stop feeling like that. I don't know if other people feel differently about this, but for me, at 26, I've never started to feel like an adult. I still feel the same as I did when I was in high school, I'm still just as terrified of growing up and having to function somehow in the real world. I don't think I'm ever going to figure out how to be an adult. I don't think I believe in adulthood. I don't think it exists. I don't think anybody knows how to do it.

I hope that when Lorde "grows up," she writes songs about what it feels like to still feel like a kid even when you aren't. To still not have anything at all figured out. I don't want anything bad to happen to her because I'm not cruel, but I want to hear songs from her about the raw emotions you feel once you realize that you never stop trying to figure out what the hell is going on with being alive.

The fact that Lorde is so ridiculously introspective, that she has such an awareness of basically just her existence on this planet, that she writes songs at age sixteen about things I still am scared of at age twenty-six, makes me so excited about what she's going to do in the future. I don't care how you feel about her - to me she is a jewel, and I think it was an honor to get to see her the first time she ever came to Denver.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

I Read the Divergent Trilogy

Recently I finished Allegiant, the final book in Veronica Roth's Divergent trilogy. There's gonna be SPOILERS in this post so be aware if you haven't read it yet. SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER

Okay. I went right to Amazon to read some of the reviews of it after I finished it because the ending was such a surprise to me. A hilarious surprise. I enjoyed this series, generally, though I had some issues with it, which did not change in the third book. I agree with pretty much everything in this review, which is long but worth it because it's on point. I don't feel quite as strongly about the book having wasted my time, or anything like that - I don't regret reading it, but the criticisms are all valid.

But what made me laugh so much about the ending was the fact that Tris dies. THE MAIN CHARACTER DIES. Regardless of the circumstances of the situation (please see above review - it was kind of a mess), I thought it was a pretty brave choice, ultimately. How often does this happen? Of the other three popular series in recent memory - Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games - this doesn't happen. Plenty of dark things happen, but none of them are the main character dying. I don't know this for sure but I do imagine most of these authors felt pressure not to do anything other than give their characters a happy ending.

So putting aside all the criticisms mentioned in the above review, I think it was kind of brave for Veronica Roth to stick with an ending like that. When I was reading it, I got to the part where whoever it was tells Tris' boyfriend that she died and was like "oh - wait, she's really dead, like not in a reviveable way? Hahaha what?" But yeah. She died. For real. (And then Tobias zip lines across Chicago and spreads her ashes all over a city where people still live... and somehow this isn't supposed to be gross. That's not just me, right? I'm just saying I wouldn't want somebody's ashes falling on my house while a mourning boyfriend zip lines above me.)

Obviously, Roth really believed in the ending she went with, and I admire that about her. And while I agree that it could have been executed better, it makes me excited for things she's going to write in the future. Because I think we can expect her to not do the predictable thing with her stories. So I will be eagerly anticipating whatever she decides to do next.

On a related note, I saw the Divergent movie, and this is literally all I could think about every time Eric was on screen, and I find it extremely hilarious.

Generally I thought the movie was decent, and the acting was really good all around - Shailene Woodley is so great and watching her in this makes me really look forward to seeing her in The Fault in Our Stars. And Theo James, who plays the Four/Tobias, is hot. Like, I never thought I would think Mr. Pamuk, who died trying to sex up Lady Mary in the first episode of Downton Abbey, was attractive. But he is in this movie. SO YEAH. That's my very fleshed out review for you. You're welcome.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

We Will Laugh That a Real Company Actually Made This and Thought It Was a Good Idea

I am in the market for new headphones, mainly because the ones I have are nice but hurt my ears if I wear them for long periods of time (for example, at work, where I want to tune people out for 8 straight hours). I know the kind I want to get but I was still looking around, seeing if there was anything else that caught my eye.

Well. Today, at Target, something DID catch my eye. Something stupid. Something incredibly stupid. Something so incredibly, ridiculously stupid that I almost couldn't believe it was real.

"We will laugh that women once wore men's headphones." Really. This is a REAL THING. That is their REAL SLOGAN.

I just. Okay. This is sexist, obviously, but more than that it is SO STUPID. The slogan is what makes me hate it so much. I could see an argument for "fashion headphones," I'm sure there are women out there who would totally buy headphones that look like this because they're trendy looking and different and shiny and match their favorite outfit and they just like them. I don't even care about that! That is fine! But "we will laugh that women once wore men's headphones." WHAT? Why are we taking something as gender neutral as HEADPHONES - something you use to listen to MUSIC, something EVERYBODY uses - and turning it into a men vs. women thing. Just, why. WHY. WHAT IS THE POINT OF THIS.

Here's what they look like. One is over the ear and one is earbuds. Because I know every woman needs FASHION EARBUDS that cost $99. (I know when I see a woman listening to music I always closely examine her ear buds to see if they're fashionable or not. This is something very important to consider when you mentally calculate how much that woman is worth.)

My intelligence is so insulted by this. Again, not even mainly because of the inherent sexism. It's that they apparently genuinely think that women are stupid enough to only want headphones that look like jewelry. And that if you're a woman who has been wearing regular old boring headphones that guys also buy, you deserve to be laughed at. I am pissed that this company is creating sexism in a rare place it didn't exist, solely to get women to spend money on something stupid.

I can't think of a single person who cares at all what someone's headphones look like. The purpose of headphones, in my opinion anyway, is to drown out the sound of everything around me and just let me listen to my music (or eavesdrop on you while you think that is what I am doing). I do not want my headphones to draw extra attention to me, and I especially do not want them to inspire strangers to come up and be like "wow, your headphones are pretty!" Which is the only possible reason I can think of to buy headphones that look like this. I want headphones to sound nice and feel nice on my ears. That's it.

Now, if you are a woman and you see these and are into them, that is PERFECTLY FINE. I am not judging you. And for that matter, if you are a MAN and you see these and want them for yourself? Go for it. Don't let the "women's headphones" label dissuade you. Do what you want. I actually think everyone SHOULD go out and buy these, because this company obviously really, really needs your money to help pay for a better marketing team.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sarah + iPad = True Love

I have an important announcement to make...

I've met someone.

This someone is named iPad Air and we are in love.

I have wanted an iPad since the first one came out, which was my senior year of college. Someone I knew had one and brought it around the SUB and I looked upon it with longing, thinking "someday I will have one of my very own."

But I was always poor, and I could never justify spending that much. Then this month rolled around, and it has literally been The Worst Month Of My Life, Wherein I Have Never Been So Depressed Or Filled With Anxiety, For Reasons That Shall Go Undescribed Here, so I was just like... okay, whatever, iPad, you're coming home with me. I looked up what kind I wanted online (iPad Air, space grey, 16G with wifi and no data) and spent two weeks watching YouTube reviews of the iPad because I was so excited to finally have one. Then, last Friday, with my paycheck newly deposited into my bank account, I walked into the Apple store and walked out with my iPad.

Side note that I found amusing: the Apple store was fairly crowded with mostly... old people. Like, everyone was a grandparent in there, asking the nice young people in the blue shirts things like "so I can download books on this? How do I do that?" Meanwhile I walk in and tell them exactly what I want and they bring it to me, I pay and then leave after a total of like maybe 10 minutes, half of which were spent waiting for someone to be available to talk to me.

Another side note: in case you're an anti-Apple apologist of some sort (like half the dudes I work with, ugh just stop), please understand I did plenty of research on other tablets - specifically the Galaxy Note 10.1, and I came to the conclusion that I wanted an iPad Air because I just didn't like the other one. Sorry, Android freaks, I am perfectly happy with my Tablet For Dummies. And anyway, it wouldn't have been the same satisfaction with any other type of tablet after I spent the last four years daydreaming about having an iPad.

So far, it has been a great success. I am very happy. I have taken it with me everywhere, and I have felt revitalized working on my various writing projects. At work when I'm not busy I can write, on my breaks I can write, I can take my iPad with me more conveniently to coffee shops than I can with my computer... which is what I wanted. I wanted to take away my excuses for not writing. It's no longer inconvenient because now I always have something to write on with me. Yes, I know I could have used a pen and paper, but getting the idea down quickly is a necessity for me, or else I lose it. I don't know if that makes sense, but writing it down physically makes it harder for me to stay interested in it. And it's working, because I have made more actual progress on the novel that I've wanted to write for ages than I've made in the last couple of years combined.

So yes. My iPad and I are in love. Maybe once I've had it a little longer and spent more time enjoying it, I will do a post on the apps I find the most useful (or addicting if it's a game - this stupid Blockheads thing has taken hours of my life from me).

(Watching True Detective. This show is super good and super messed up.)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Books That Are Good That You Should Read: The Grisha Trilogy

I just finished the first two books of Leigh Bardugo's fantastic Grisha Trilogy, Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm. They were so good and thus warrants a blog post. I will try to actually discuss the books instead of just gushing all over everything about how much I loved them. Please understand that I am restraining myself an incredible amount to do this.

I honestly haven't read anything like this. There are elements that are similar to others, but Leigh Bardugo takes those elements and uses them to transcend them into making something completely original and great. The books take place in an ancient Russia-like country called Ravka. Something evil called the Fold, or sometimes the Unsea, has plagued their country for decades, maybe more. It is a swath of just darkness that crosses their land and inside are horrors no one wants to face. Alina Starkov, the main character, and her longtime best friend Mal (who she also happens to be in love with) are members of the First Army and at the beginning of Shadow and Bone their regiment has been chosen to attempt to cross the Fold. When they do, the volcra attack - giant winged dragon monsters who basically just hunger for human flesh and devour anyone they can. Mal gets brutally injured by one of them and is almost certainly going to die, but then Alina puts herself between him and the monster and - miraculously, a bright flash of light drives the volcra away. Nobody understands it, least of all Alina.

It turns out Alina has been a Grisha all along. The Grisha make up Ravka's Second Army. They are people who were born with gifts, special powers. There are three different kinds - Fabrikators, Corporalki, Materialki - and they all have different specialties within their category, but no one is like Alina. Alina is a Sun Summoner. She can control light. The leader of the Grisha, called only The Darkling, is essentially her opposite - he can control darkness. He sees in Alina an opportunity to control the Fold, the darkness covering their land, and - he says - remove it entirely. But of course nothing about it is that simple.

All of the characters in these books are so well-wrought. I love them, even when I hate them because of their poor choices. The love story that blossoms - well, love stories, really, there are several by the end of the second book - was the first one that I've been actually invested in since... well, probably since Harry Potter, honestly. I haven't cared this much about a cast of characters since the Harry Potter series.

I want to write a more spoilery review of these two books but I KNOW people coming across this post haven't read them and I don't want to risk ruining them for anyone. To anyone seeing this post, I implore you to find these books and read them. Jump on this train before it's cool to, because I would be shocked if they don't blow up soon. Somebody already owns the movie rights, and I hope with all my hope that they will do this story the justice it deserves.

And deffffffinitely get on board before book three comes out in June: Ruin and Rising. IT WILL BE EPIC.