Saturday, July 26, 2014

MY NEW PROJECT

So remember like two posts ago when I was like "I'm not starting a Booktube channel"? Well, I started a Booktube channel.

THAT'S ME. THAT'S MY FACE.

If you want to watch my vidz, come subscribe! If not, that's cool too! But I am very excited about having started this channel, I know I'm going to have a lot of fun with it. I am planning to have some correlating posts here to my videos (for book hauls, monthly wrap ups and things like that) so STAY TUNED.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Crumpled Up Piece of Paper

It was snowing the last night we were together. We'd just left the bar and I was hurrying back to my car because I was cold, but also because the urge to cry was nearly overtaking me. My two companions were slower and one of them called to me, saying I was going too fast. Then I heard him say, "Sarah has four wheel drive." I thought he meant my car, which unequivocally does not have four wheel drive, so I asked him what the hell he was talking about, and he said, "no, YOU have four wheel drive." And it was the nicest thing he'd ever said about me.

It was also the last nice thing he's said to me.

---

His friendship was unique in my life, and almost nothing meant more to me. I found out it wasn't mutual in the harshest way possible.

It's one thing when a friendship falls apart because of a fight, or if you just grow apart. With us, it just stopped. One day he was there, the next day he wasn't. Like he died. Except he didn't. He just left and didn't return my calls. But it feels like he died. Except when someone dies you don't expect to possibly run into them at Safeway or the liquor store.

---

I've been writing and rewriting this post for a month. Working on it here and there, editing and erasing, writing until I start crying and then putting it away. I gave myself a deadline: July 3. It's his birthday. The third of a month, same as mine. Last year I gave him a new pendant for his necklace, and he wore it the rest of the time he was still talking to me.

I imagine he still wears it. I mean, I hope he does. It cost $70. I obviously never told him that. I didn't want him to know.

---

Here are some things that I know about him.

- he is the worst at remembering the names of any actors or actresses. Or people, in general.

- he was a soccer captain in high school who played World of Warcraft when he went home.

- he will drink every type of beer except Beer Thirty.

- his Noodles & Co. order of choice: macaroni and cheese with chicken and occasionally some hot sauce mixed in.

- he still has my gray hoodie somewhere in his jeep.

- I've forgotten more about him than I know about many other people.

---

I'm getting better at this. Sometimes I go whole hours without thinking about him. But it's hard, because our lives were so tightly embedded for so long that it takes almost nothing for something to come rushing back, some memory of something he said or that we did together. Moments that pop into my brain suddenly, flashing across my vision like my consciousness traveled back to that point in time and briefly lived it again. Driving past a gas station we stopped at once, past the restaurant we used to always go to for lunch, past the favorite bars we used to drink in. At work I see him every time I turn around. I hear his voice, his laugh, I hear myself telling him stories, I feel the way we looked at each other and read each other's minds. Sometimes you just didn't have to say anything.

Sometimes I still catch whiffs of his cologne. I know that's insane.

---

I've seen him once, since then. Before an Avalanche playoff game. I saw him on a restaurant patio, sitting alone, waiting to meet up with his sister for the game. I went and sat with him, and pretended nothing was wrong. I fully regret that now. I have many things I wish I had said to him. I'm angry and sad and hurt and I want him to know that. But I held it in then and pretended it was fine because sitting there with him, it almost was. He was acting the same, by the way, like we'd just seen each other the day before and were picking up where we'd left off, like it was all normal. (But I saw the way he looked at me when I was walking up to him, like he was terrified I was going to yell at him. He always hated confrontation.)

But I didn't say anything. I wanted to, but I didn't. I pretended it was like it always was. I didn't want a fight right before a playoff game I intended to enjoy. And part of me wanted to believe everything was fine. Like nothing had changed between us. But I could feel the wall he was putting up, even sitting there making small talk about nothing important.

I didn't say anything because I wanted him to volunteer an apology, an explanation. Evidence of the tiniest shred of regret or remorse. But I don't think I'm ever going to get that.

---

One time we went out after work for happy hour. We were sitting at a high table and it was a little wobbly. He'd just gotten another beer, and somehow he bumped the table just hard enough that it tipped over and spilled all over the table and then all over me. I would have been able to laugh it off, but he was more concerned that his fresh beer had been lost than the fact that he'd spilled it on me. And there was no apology.

I don't know why I'm including this story. Maybe because in hindsight it feels like some kind of hint. Like maybe that was a flash of what he was really like all along. (I don't want to think badly of him. But how can I not?)

---

That Taylor Swift song "All Too Well" makes me cry because of him. It didn't always, because I wasn't always this perpetually sad about how he treated me. But almost every line in that song I can connect to a memory of him - they aren't exact comparisons, obviously, we weren't living a mirror life to what Taylor and (presumably, allegedly) Jake had. But there were plaid shirt days, there were middle of the night kitchen adventures. One time he ran a red light when we were going somewhere. I met his family, I heard little kid stories. He still has my gray hoodie, unless Goodwill does now.

We got lost in translation and I asked for too much. He's the one who tore everything up. He hasn't called me up to be casually cruel in the name of honesty. I kind of wish he would. I remember everything, and he willfully doesn't.

I just watched Her the other night. As Theodore says of his break up: "I keep waiting to not care about her."

---

Some days I'm okay. Some days I barely think about any of this, and I'm able to listen to myself shouting stop it, stop it, stop, stop, stop every time he shows up in my head. Some days I'm able to push him out to the very edges of my consciousness and dim my awareness of him to almost nothing. But it takes very little for the avatar of him to force his way back. I wish I could say I'm getting better at blocking that from happening but sometimes I'm perfectly content to imagine everything is fine, everything is the same as it ever was, he still sits next to me at work and listens to me and still cares, about me, just a little bit. Still my friend, still.

---

It has been a long time since I've been betrayed in a way that wounded me as much as this has. And the thing is, I don't know how I was betrayed this time around. Was it that he never really liked me much in the first place, and he just pretended to be my friend because we worked together? I have a hard time believing he's that talented an actor, but I suppose it's possible. Or was he just so sick of being here at this job and this office that my continued association with it disgusted him as soon as he never had to come back? Is it just that he never wants to hear about this place again? (Because as we all know, I'm incapable of talking about anything else.) (...........)

I think it's likely something much simpler, and much dumber. I know him, still. I leave room for the above scenarios to exist in some way, but I think it's likely he's afraid of the fight we would have. He let it go too long, didn't answer me for too long, knows he's made me angry and upset. And instead of going through it to fix it, to repair what we had and build something again, he would rather be lazy and walk away and not deal with any feelings, mine or otherwise.

(As you may not be surprised to learn after all this, this wouldn't be the first time he shied away from my feelings.)

---

My few friends I've been willing to discuss all this with hate him now, out of obligation. It's the job of friends to hate guys who break your heart, that's just the rule. They've all told me to forget him and move on because I deserve better. And I know this. In my head, I know this. I deserve to have friends who care about me the way I care about them. But I'm finding it... difficult. I'm finding it impossible.

I have a few pictures of him in my phone still. I have a video if my cat where he's talking about her in the background. I have an origami frog he made me the day he gave his two weeks' notice and presumably knew I was sad. It sits on my desk, one of the only decorative items I have. (The other decorative item: an origami fish sitting on the back of an origami seahorse, both also made by him, left behind like me.)

I know it's not unique, what I'm dealing with. I know people go through worse things all the time. But the incredible lack of any type of closure for a friendship that mattered so much to me for 18 months is just unbearable for me.

Is writing this post going to help? I don't know. Probably not. So far not even time has moved me more than a couple inches past it yet.

Friday, June 27, 2014

JUNE BOOK HAUL

I have been buying so many books. TOO MANY. I have discovered a thing called BookTube, which is just a bunch of people on YouTube who vlog about books. And while I have no plans to start my own BookTube channel (I am lacking a decent camera setup), I have been hoarding book recommendations like crazy. My Goodreads To Read list is getting ridiculous. It's fine, though, because as a person who wants to be a writer, buying tons of books can be justified as research. That is now and will forever be my excuse.

Anyway, here is a picture of the books I have recently obtained:


This picture did not turn out as great as I wanted it to but I already put them away and I don't feel like redoing it because I'm lazy and it's Friday night and so here is this crappy picture, I'm sorry for failing you with it.

HERE WE GO.

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo. Okay, I have talked about the first two books of the Grisha trilogy on here previously. This is the conclusion to that trilogy. I am not going to give too much away here, because I don't want to ruin anything for anybody, but personally, I thought this final book was a perfect ending to the story. I've seen some haters here and there who were complaining about it for various reasons but I am ignoring them. This book is great, this trilogy is great, Leigh Bardugo is great... everything. Is great. And Leigh said on twitter that she's writing another series set in the same universe so that is very exciting! There is definitely a lot of room for more to happen in the world she created so I can't wait to see what she writes about it next.

Grave Mercy and Dark Triumph by Robin LeFevers. These are book one and two of the His Fair Assassin trilogy (?) (as far as I know there are only going to be three). I've already read Grave Mercy and I loved it. It is very hard for me not to love a book about assassin nuns who aren't really nuns because they fall in love. And murder people. But the murdering is sanctioned by the god they serve so it's fine. Also, they kill bad people, like rapists and traitors. I've been reading Dark Triumph and I'm not loving it as much as the first one, but it's still really great. This series is full of awesome ladies and I'm super excited for the third one, Mortal Heart, to come out later this year.

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. This one is on here because of all the BookTubers who were talking about the newest and I guess final book in this series by her. BookTube people seem to love this series a ton, but I have heard mixed things about it elsewhere. So I don't know if I'm going to like it. We will see!

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith. AKA JK Rowling if you did not know. That's mainly the only reason I want to read this, or finish reading it since I started it on my iPad. I got the hard copy of it since it was out in paperback finally and I prefer paperbacks. (I know I'm the only one on the planet who does, but they are just lighter to carry around which is what I like... unless I TRULY adore the book and want it to last forever. Then I buy the hardback.) I enjoy mystery novels as long as they are clearly more than just a procedural type of book and have interesting characters. I just read Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl and Dark Places and really loved them. While I know that it is not possible for JKR to have written something as messed up as those books are (I assume anyway), I am still really looking forward to this one, and then The Silkworm one day when that is in paperback.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. I have heard soooooo many people whose opinion I respect talk about how great this book is, so I'm glad I finally have it. I don't usually gravitate towards contemporary books, I'm more into sci fi/fantasy stuff, but I'm making an exception because it's possible I could love it the way I loved Eleanor & Park and/or The Fault in Our Stars. Also it's set in France, which is a place I very much desire to visit, so I'm hopeful I'll really enjoy this one.

The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove. This book looks SO COOL. For some reason, each continent on earth exists in a different time period. I love this idea, I think it is so ridiculously original and interesting, and I haven't tried to find out more than that about this book because I don't want to risk spoiling anything for myself about it. I'm probably going to be reading this one next once I finish Dark Triumph because I've been obsessed with it since I heard about it.

It feels like I've bought more books than this recently... and I probably have but this is all I remembered at the time I decided on a whim to write this post. I am sure that if I have any intense feelings about any of these, you will be hearing all about it.

Monday, June 9, 2014

I Have An Unpopular Opinion

Let's just start with a picture of Hazel and Gus being cute. Awww, look how cute they are:

All right, now that that's out of the way... if you haven't read The Fault in Our Stars or seen the movie, avoid the rest of this post because there's going to be spoilers.

I'm not the kind of person who likes to be a hater of universally loved things just for the sake of it. But I saw the movie version of The Fault In Our Stars this weekend, like everyone else did, and I did not particularly like it. SORRY. BUT I DIDN'T.

There were a lot of really good things about it. In fact, almost everything that was in it was directly lifted from the book. It was a very faithful adaptation in terms of events and story progression.

But I did not think it was genuine. I didn't get the same feeling watching it as I did reading it. I felt like the spirit of the book was missing, or at least dulled.

And look, I know not EVERYTHING from a book can be put into the movie. I fully understand that. But the things that were missing were, I thought, things that illustrated the whole point of the story in the first place.

I'm upset that the movie glossed over Gus' illness and final days. Yes, they included the gas station scene, and it was as heartbreaking as it was in the book. But they didn't include any other scenes depicting him as actually sick. They had one scene where he was getting chemo, wherein he also made out with Hazel. There were some scenes with him in a wheelchair. But that was it. The full ugliness of cancer wasn't in this movie, in my opinion. And I know it's maybe a rating issue, like if they'd kept the scene where Hazel found Gus half coherent in a puddle of his own urine in his bedroom... I mean, that's gross. So maybe they didn't want to risk a higher rating or something by including that. But even though it's gross, it's also, you know, real life. It's a thing that happens to people when they're sick and declining the way he does in the book.

I get that they were focusing on it being a love story, and maybe if it hadn't been a book first it would have been fine. But the book exists. And the book is infinitely better, in my opinion, at showing the reality of what cancer can do to a person who has it and the people who love them.

I thought the whole ending was rushed and thus the emotional impact was lost. For me. Clearly not for everyone else in the world who saw this movie and wept for the last half hour straight. I thought Hazel's dad didn't cry enough (which was one of the things I loved about him in the book), and I was sad her mom didn't make her celebrate her half birthday or Bastille Day. Too many of Hazel and Gus' existential conversations were left out and the letter at the end was too different from the one in the book.

And I didn't like Ansel Elgort that much as Gus. SORRY. AGAIN. BUT I WAS UNDERWHELMED. (Shailene was great though.)

This is a selfish thing, because I know it was not really necessary to include both of Isaac's eulogies in the movie when the first one is really the only one that matters. But the one he gave at Gus' real funeral was what made me finally break down and weep when I was reading the book. And I think it really says a lot about who Augustus Waters really was.

"Augustus Waters was the Mayor of the Secret City of Cancervania, and he is not replaceable," he began. "Other people will be able to tell you funny stories about Gus, because he was a funny guy, but let me tell you a serious one. A day after I got my eye cut out, Gus showed up at the hospital. I was blind and heartbroken and didn't want to do anything and Gus burst into my room and shouted, 'I have wonderful news!' And I was like, 'I don't really want to hear wonderful news right now,' and Gus said, 'This is wonderful news you want to hear,' and I asked him, 'Fine, what is it?' and he said, 'You are going to live a good and long life filled with great and terrible moments that you cannot even imagine yet!'"
(p. 272)

If this had been included, I could have forgiven almost everything else I had issues with. I'm still hopeful for a deleted scene.

I mean truthfully? My favorite thing about this movie was Lidewij's outfit. Her peplum blouse and the jacket and scarf she had? I NEED THAT OUTFIT. IT WAS AWESOME.

I've seen some people say they trust that this movie is good because "John Green loves it." First of all, this is not a good reason to like a thing. Books belong to their readers, which is something he repeatedly says, and something he even wrote into this book in a semi-roundabout way with all the Van Houten stuff. So the story became mine when I read it. While I'm glad the author enjoyed the movie made out of the book he wrote, his opinion on the movie is not more valid than mine. The story is mine because that is how stories work, and I did not like this movie's interpretation of that story.

And secondly, of course John Green loves it. IT EXISTS. I would be the same exact way if anything I'd written and published got turned into a movie, even if it sucked. He's lucky in that they were very respectful of the source material, but just because they didn't butcher it doesn't mean it's automatically good. Please use your own discernment when it comes to deciding whether or not you like something instead of relying on someone else's opinion.

I also saw Edge of Tomorrow this weekend and enjoyed it infinitely more, so... there is that. I know people are trumpeting around everywhere saying LOOK, A YA MOVIE MADE MORE THAN A TOM CRUISE MOVIE ON THE SAME OPENING WEEKEND! SUCK IT TOM CRUISE! LONG LIVE JOHN GREEN AND HIS ARMY OF TEENAGERS. But poop on those people. Both movies are worth seeing and it's annoying that people are comparing their worth when they are really nothing alike whatsoever and are not exactly intended for the same audience.

Besides, blockbuster sci-fi Tom Cruise movies that are actually intelligent do not come along very often, so it's exciting that this one qualifies in that category. The last one I can think of is Minority Report. It was really fun and entertaining with an intriguing premise and good acting and an incredible soundtrack. So... see it if you don't feel like crying every time Shailene Woodley cries. (She's very good at crying.)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Cheap Trick and a Cheesy One-Liner

Three Marvel movies have come out since I last wrote any posts about any of them... I guess I have some catching up to do. And I don't mind going back and analyzing these particular three movies (Iron Man 3, Thor 2: The Dark World, Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier) because I deeply enjoyed all three.

So here we go.

If you read any of my previous posts about the other Iron Man movies (as apparently a ton of people have, going off what the Blogger stats page tells me), you are aware that I do not much like Tony Stark. I think he's an arrogant douche. But now that we're on the third movie focusing on him, and the fourth movie where he plays an integral role, he is by far the most developed character in the Marvel movie franchise. And that character development has been an extremely rewarding journey.

An aside before we go into that: I wish we could come up with some fresher motivations for villainy in hero stories. I'm getting very bored with the idealist who turns evil because of some real or perceived slight against them on the part of the hero. I'd also like to see less of the trope where an experiment fries the inhibitors preventing someone from acting on their villainous tendencies, the ones that were socialized into submission to some degree. It is convenient to have villains with such cut and dry motives - they rejected me and now I have to prove them wrong," or "I can literally no longer stop myself from acting on my urges due to grievous injury to my mind" - because that makes it much easier to cheer for the hero as they lay on the beatdown. But I think it is much more interesting when the villain is just as human as the hero is. (This clearly explains why I am so interested in Loki as a character - yes, I'm aware he isn't actually human, but the brother bond between him and Thor humanizes him in a figurative sense. More on this in a later post!)

In Tony's voiceover at the start of this film, he says "I'm different now. I'm a changed man." This is true, but not just because he gave up the party scene and stopped being (quite as) rude to people at galas. He's not sleeping, and when he does he has nightmares. He has an anxiety attack when two kids try to talk to him about what he did at the end of The Avengers. He's shaken. He obviously has PTSD, even though he denies it. He's trying to figure out how to be the person his actions in the previous movie made him into.

This movie strips everything away from Tony. His home and laboratory gets destroyed. His confidence in himself - possibly the only thing besides money that he's always been able to count on - is shattered. He is forced to rebuild himself from the ground up. He has to teach himself how to be himself again. (And I think you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who could play that better than Robert Downey, Jr. can.)

That scene in The Avengers where Steve asks Tony what he is without his armor - that gets answered in this movie. My favorite battle sequence in this movie is when Tony infiltrates the Mandarin's compound with all the makeshift weapons he built instead of the suit. This is him without the armor - a ruthless genius warrior. And I've seen people arguing that Steve was dumb to ask him that, that of course Tony can do all that stuff without his suit. But putting aside the fact that I will always side with Steve Rogers over Tony Stark - I don't think that at that point, when Steve asks him that question, that Tony could. He would have thought of something, naturally, he is a genius, after all. But he hadn't sacrificed himself on behalf of the entire world yet. He was not yet a person who had been faced with losing everything. He wasn't someone who would let himself be stranded in a small town in Tennessee and improvise a plan to thwart a terrorist plot with the help of a little kid.

This movie basically takes that question Steve asks and extrapolates it into a full-on journey for Tony. I'm glad this movie went there. I'm glad it didn't gloss over what Tony did in The Avengers. My favorite thing about what Marvel is doing with their franchise is that they can do this kind of character development. I really genuinely loved Iron Man 3, which I wasn't able to say about the other Iron Man movies. For the first time, I liked Tony. I'm very excited to see what he'll be like in Age of Ultron after seeing how he's grown as a person.

Another thing I very much enjoyed: Pepper. The relationship between her and Tony has evolved and matured and in this they're true partners. (This movie even passes the Bechdel Test, when Maya and Pepper talk in the hotel room! A true accomplishment for a superhero movie.) (Sarcasm. Though it was nice to have a scene like that, and I hope for more in future movies.) It was great getting to see Pepper not only in the Iron Man suit briefly, but also being ridiculously awesome at the end with her Extremis powers. I understand why she had those powers reversed, but I was almost sad about it. Maybe now that she knows how exhilarating it is to wear the suit she'll get Tony to make her one of her own. Fingers crossed.