Happy (almost) July!

An (unedited) excerpt of what I’m working on for a writing contest!
Continue reading “Happy (almost) July!”

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Listopia

I thought I’d make a post that introduces a bit more about me, the blogger. When I was younger, I passed the time on long car rides or waiting for mum after school by making “Top 5” lists of all my favorite things. My affinity for lists has, if anything, grown stronger over the years (the satisfaction of crossing off tasks on a to-do list as they are completed is my life’s blood). So, why not tell a little more about me in a list of entertainment-related Top 5’s? ūüôā

TOP FIVE BOOKS:

  1. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  3. The Once and Future King by T.H. White
  4. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
  5. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

TOP FIVE FILMS:

  1. Rent¬†(it introduced me to the play and I’ve worn the DVD down to a scratchy mess!)
  2. The Sound of Music
  3. Breakfast at Tiffany’s¬†
  4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  5. The Lord of the Rings¬†trilogy (lumping three into one isn’t cheating…right?)

TOP FIVE THINGS I’M GEEKING OUT ABOUT RIGHT NOW:

  1. Welcome to Night Vale (podcast)
  2. Sense8 (TV show)
  3. Kingsman: The Secret Service (film)
  4. Star Trek¬†(…as always)
  5. The reboot of Sailor Moon airing right now!

TOP FIVE SONGS AT THE MOMENT:

  1. “The Scientist” – Coldplay
  2. “Smile (cover)” – Robert Downey, Jr.
  3. “Still Hurting” –¬†The Last Five Years soundtrack
  4. “Believe” – Mumford & Sons
  5. “Give Me Love” – Ed Sheeran

TOP 5 ACTORS:

  1. Tom Hiddleston
  2. Idris Elba
  3. Robert Downey, Jr.
  4. Colin Morgan
  5. Chris Evans

TOP 5 ACTRESSES:

  1. Jennifer Lawrence
  2. Jessica Chastain
  3. Scarlett Johansson
  4. Samira Wiley
  5. Hayley Atwell

From there you can probably deduce more of my favorite films and the type of TV I watch. I may as well have “nerd” written on my forehead–and I quite like it that way.

Sensory Overload

It’s amazing how going on a run without headphones can change your perspective.

I jogged past two fellow runners this afternoon, and they were both plugged in. Normally I am, too, but due to a paranoia concerning data charges and the likelihood my iPhone would get wet in the drizzle, I opted out today. It was the perfect day for running–no sun, a light, damp breeze that kept me from dehydrating too fast. And I could hear everything around me.

Upbeat music is usually necessary for me, but today I was too busy being overwhelmed by, well. The world around me. Honking horns. Cars whizzing by. The smell of flowers that had a citrus-y aroma to them, the scent of grass after rain. The trees shook rain droplets from their leaves onto my shoulders, and I felt each one individually. I could hear the slap of my shoes on pavement, the sound of a man’s hearty laughter through the screen door of a house on Jastram; in a way it was odd to hear as I have lived in a house of only women for a very long time. I heard the pitter-patter of the sprinklers on lawns, I memorized the dips and crooked tiles on the sidewalks I blazed. Being hyper-aware of your surroundings doesn’t take much–all it really does take is the opening up of one of your senses you usually keep locked up in earbuds or behind sunglasses. In doing so, you might find the world around you is a lot more interesting than your dulled senses painted it to be.

Drive

Raphael Darstoff never told people what he did for a living.

That wasn’t true. Raphael Darstoff never elaborated on what he did for a living. When people asked, he always said, “I’m a driver.”

“A taxi driver? A chauffeur?” they prodded.

And he would nod at any and all suggestions, leaving his conversation partners befuddled and giving him an air of mystery. His effervescence diminished as he got older, though. Now a man of sixty-four, there were permanent creases in the dugouts of his skin and his eyes were a soft, unassuming blue. But even still, he never talked about work in detail. Not to his wife Ellie, to his children, to his friends.

In truth, Raphael Darstoff was a hearse driver. He was responsible for bringing the dead to their final destinations. It was he who led the slow, dreary processions down the city streets, paving the way for a chain of grief. It was a job like anything else, except it wasn’t. Not for Ralph. Continue reading “Drive”

Review: Inside Out (2015)

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If you want a film that speaks successfully to kids about mental instability, look no further than Inside Out. A fun-filled, hilariously wild ride, the film takes audiences on a journey through the eyes of the personified emotions Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust and Fear in their quest to make 11-year-old Riley Anderson happy again. Most importantly, it touches upon issues of depression and mental illness, and what it takes to combat them.

As someone with clinical depression, I can tell you right off the bat that¬†Inside Out¬†isn’t any kind of gritty, dark look into what it means to be depressed. Rather, it is a film about mental¬†imbalance, which comes in many forms, and it is executed in a way that is equally accessible to children and adults. In personifying the emotions within Riley’s brain, we see exacerbated versions of every primary emotion we experiences as humans. Our main protagonist is, of course, Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), whose goal is to keep Riley the bouncy, happy girl she’s always been. A predicament arises, though, when Joy is no longer in control of Riley’s emotions, and has to work with her complete opposite–Sadness–to get back to her. Sadness (Phyllis Smith of¬†The Office) is exactly her namesake; she can do nothing but bring a situation down–or so it appears. Over the course of the film, Joy realizes that perhaps sadness, which can lead to empathy and greater understanding between people, might not always be so terrible to feel after all.

But what happens to someone when some of their key emotions are “missing”?¬†Inside Out¬†explores this in Riley’s transformation. With Joy missing, she is taken over by Fear, Anger and Disgust and loses interest in the things she loves, like hockey. She even burns bridges with family and friends. What does that sound like?¬†Depression. Depression is¬†literally¬†a chemical imbalance within the brain, portrayed here as a positive emotion–Joy–quite literally gone missing. It creates a physicality behind depression that arguably helps children grasp the concept of mental imbalance.

Let’s not forget Sadness is missing too. From a very black-and-white perspective, it would appear that’s a good thing. But where are we without sadness to counteract happiness? How can we come to understand one another fully, without knowing what makes us sad as well as joyful? Sadness is inevitably part of life. It’s in all of us. Some of us just…have a little more joy missing. And¬†Inside Out¬†teaches us that the best way we can strive to live, is in¬†balance¬†with our emotions. Joy’s journey culminates in her understanding that she and Sadness work best for Riley as a unit, not apart. We can take this understanding and apply it to how we might focus on helping our friends and family who deal with depression, bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses. As sufferers of those disorders, we might take the idea of balance in the film as a reminder of what to strive for.¬†Inside Out¬†speaks to us with depression and mental instability in showing us we’re not alone; it speaks to our friends and family to show them the best ways to reach out and help and understand.

Jam-packed with humor, quirky references (I see you,¬†Chinatown) and a talented group of voice actors,¬†Inside Out¬†is a thrill to watch. More than that, however, it is a film that embraces mental instability and treats it not as a flaw, but as a part of being human. We all need to find balance in our lives–achieving balance of mind is no different.

Overall rating: 4/5

Friendship Best by 5/2014

I saw a post on Tumblr today that said something like, “Do you ever think about how some friendships have an expiration date?”. I’d never really thought about it before, but it applies to a relationship I’ve been grappling with for a little less than a year. For me, as I like to think for most, friendships have faded in and out of fashion and convenience and distances between. I’ve reconnected with a few I don’t normally speak to in the same way I’ve drifted from those I used to see everyday. But I’ve always had an addictive personality. I’ll latch onto anything if I’m certain it won’t leave me, and, well…perhaps the going away is exactly what we both need. This friendship is killing me to let go. It hurts every single day. And part of me feels like this is how emotional attachments will always end for me–in having to let go. For this is not the first time I’ve had to do just that. But this time, I think it might be for both our sanity.

It pains me to think this friendship has an expiration date. But over the last year it’s left the taste of spoiled milk in my mouth. I become someone awful in trying to keep this person with me here. And in turn, the person I thought was my best friend launches themselves at whoever will give them attention in my place, to save them from feeling smothered. When have I ever been the kind of person to smother anyone? I don’t know. It’s a horrible feeling. We never wanted to be the kind of friend the other regretted having, and yet somehow we’ve become that toxic friend exactly to each other. A fear in me forms like cancer in my blood every time I try to cut them out of my life, however–for when will anyone else ever understand me as well as they do, tell me things like, “I’ll always be here,” or “you’re my anchor”? The hardest part is accepting the fact that these words, while they may have been sincere at the time…are merely words. I am a writer–words flow freely from me when I let them. I should know that not all of them signify absolute truths. I expected too much of this person’s words, wrapping them around me like a comforting blanket. But this person is exactly what I’ve written here: a person. They cannot make metaphorical mountains into tangible ones to move for me. They cannot stay with me through all my bouts of feeling, hovering quietly until I need them so I can rest assured they’re always there. In the same respect, I cannot let myself be someone’s friend on their terms, when it is convenient for them.

Nothing has hurt like this in some time. My mind cannot adjust itself to the loneliness and regret in which we both placed me. But if I do this right, I will be okay again for the first time in a year. That’s a feeling I miss.

Memor(ial) Lane

(Two posts tonight, since I missed a post on the 22nd!)

It probably sounds stereotypical of a writer, but I love walking around cemeteries. My favorite is the old graveyard overlooking downtown Providence on Benefit street. It’s said H.P. Lovecraft used to walk around there and got his inspiration from strolling down the narrow, curvy path. I don’t go there to write, though. I don’t really know what fascinates me so much about those kinds of places. The old ones are my favorite–and perhaps that’s because they memorialize lives that ended so long ago that their names have faded with their bones. Some of the newer ones have my own family buried in them, and that is a different matter altogether. Death doesn’t resonate in its closeness until you are forced to shake its hand.

If I’m visiting someplace with a history to it, chances are you’ll find me Googling where the cemeteries are. I love old cemeteries because they remind me of just how long the world has been around, and how long humans have been struggling day-to-day to simply be what they are. I tend to think the world began when I opened my eyes for the first time and will end when I last close them, but we all know that isn’t true. Humans are deeply egotistical and self-centered; I’m certainly no exception. But I look at those faded names on crooked stones and I understand those people probably thought the way I do. Centuries don’t separate one human condition from another. The person whose grave I stand over, I always think, probably felt lonely sometimes like I do, scared, uncertain, ecstatic, drunk, ridiculous, rational, irrational…as human as I am. I go to cemeteries because I feel an odd connection with the dead I never knew. It is odd because it’s comforting–the fact that I often can relate to deceased members of the human race I’ve never met, more than I can to people with whom I interact on a daily basis. Sounds like the plot of an alternative rock song, doesn’t it?

We’ve all got something. I visit dead people to remind me I’m not alone.

Guided Epiphanies

From 642 Things to Write About:

You are an astronaut. Describe your perfect day.


PERSONAL LOG OF KAREN M. G. FIELDS

Today when I woke up, the stars were no longer strangers to me. It wasn’t something I expected to happen. It wasn’t calculated. It happened, and now I feel as though my insides are glowing.

There were no reports to make or tasks to accomplish. What does one do with a day off in space?–Look out the window and understand. I cannot touch them but they speak to me the way my daughter tells stories, with long-winded tangents and big, bright gesstures. I don’t know why they were so shy before. But now I look at them and know each of their names (did you think constellations were the only ones that named themselves?), and in the vast darkness I can call them my friends. I told them about my family at home. (They know where Virginia is because they watch over it like they do everywhere else). I let them know my secrets. They won’t tell. But it’s nice to know long after I’m dead the energy in the sky can ripple my confessions through the dark blue. I don’t know. Maybe I’m one of them. Maybe rather than die one day I’ll burn out. Maybe up here is where I belong after all–

I will delete this from the official log.

Sixth Sense

One:
Pitch darkness, tiny beads of streetlight peppering into
view from the small square windows. Your silhouette,
dark in the outline of the pale sheets. Blurriness
(for I can’t see much without my glasses),
and the alabaster shine of your eyes.

Two:
Your breathing, relaxed and syncopated with my
quick inhales of trying to relax into the sound of
your arm resting on mine. Voice cracking with
dehydration and sugary affection, laugh high
and bell-like against my breathy chuckle.

Three:
Dry, sticky mouth from swallowing my paranoia.
The thoughts in my head of what your mouth on my
tongue would remind me of: sweet butter, a tinge of
citrus, bitter droplets of past lovers who never could
give you what I wish I did not know you needed.

Four:
A stale-washed quilt in a stuffy room that smells
of too many exhales. Your perfume mixing with
make-up remover and no food since lunchtime.
The aromas of our different bodies mingling, itching
to know more about the other.

Five:
Fingers linking with the hand of another. Soft, gentle
circles with the tip of your thumb on my hand.
One kiss, two, three on my left shoulder–your lips
have left ink there, spilled sloppily with tiredness and wine,
but they touch me, you touch me–

Six:
Humming-shifting-pulsing, eyes teary and lips parted.
Your body curves parallel to mine until I close the gap.
Knowing it will never be like this again, not anymore.
Cherishing the way your chest moves up-down-up-down
under your arm. A possibility deep within me that you

will never,
ever
know.

Paths

My feet are worn from treading heavy paths for you. While I take each dusty step, you glide in front of me, never touching the ground. It would be so simple if I had wings like yours–bold, in spring colors, dainty like a flutter-by’s, beating strong like your heart and the color of your eyes. My wings are gone. I clipped then myself, with prongs of doubt and irrational comparisons.

Time moves in your direction–not backwards or forwards, but at your command, jostled, awoken from a linear sleep by your need for entertainment. And I move with it. Time and I are good friends now, following your lead day after day when we have the lucidity to differentiate day from night. My body feels heavy, but I keep walking. I’ve got no direction without you.