sad songs

“We met at the wrong time. That’s what I keep telling myself anyway. Maybe one day years from now, we’ll meet in a coffee shop in a far away city somewhere and we could give it another shot.”

I’m sat alone in Letna park, in a patch of shade overlooking the Old Town of Prague. The three Australian girls I met in my hostel room last night have just left me, and for the first time in over a week, I have a chance to think. To reflect, to write. And in a way, to grieve.

Last night, I saw a man in a suit hand over the lead of a black lab puppy to a haggard-looking woman who was clearly on drugs. He paid her 100 CZK in cash and she yanked the dog harshly, holding the leash tight and dragging it upwards by the neck, making it yelp. Watching it all sort of broke my heart, and I wanted to cry. 

Some people might say I’m a pessimist, and a lot of the time I’d agree with them. But deep down, when it comes to it, I’m a dreamer. A hopeless wanderer, with itchy feet and an open mind prone to fantasies. I love adventures, and the idea of romance, and I want it all, together. I used to want it abstractly and from a distance; it was more of a “someday” sort of dream than an active one. Until I got a little taste. Just a drop—three days. But it was enough.

Enough for me to want more, and to realize I probably won’t get it. Not this time, at least. It’s odd, because I’d never really worried about being clingy before I traveled. I’ve always been pretty good at separating my feelings, isolating the annoying or unnecessary in the presence of someone who might not reciprocate them. And I’ve had flings, and even hookups, during the last three months abroad. They’re fun, and they don’t last. We go our separate ways. We might stay friends on Facebook, or we might not remember any more about each other than a blurry face and a first name. That’s the unspoken rule of travel: you let go. Everyone’s here to meet people and see the world, not to stay or settle down or fall in love. Not in a way that lasts, at least. But somehow, despite knowing all of this, I sort of did.

I don’t wish it didn’t happen, not really. He’s a good, good guy. One of the best I’ve met. In fact, I can only think of one other guy I’ve known, back home, who comes across as pure and lovely as this one. My cynical British friend insists I’m naive about it, too hopeful and foolhardy. But I know. I’ve met good guys, I’ve met decent guys, bad guys as well. But only a few are… tender and pure. I don’t know how else to describe it. It’s more of a feeling, that they respect you, treat you like an equal. They might be more reserved with touch because they’re a bit shy and don’t want to overstep your boundaries. They’re sweet and can express their feelings but they don’t overload you with them. They feel lucky to be with you, but not because they’re insecure. I’m doing a shit job of trying to articulate it, but like I said, when I meet one of these guys, I know.

I feel fortunate, really. It was a beautiful thing for me, and I’ll always have the memories. But it still hurts. It feels like I lost something that I only barely managed to grasp as the time slipped away. Part of it is lust, of course; I’m not entirely immune to that feeling, or the knowledge that it’s a factor in all of this. But for me at least, there was an audible click. And the hard part is not knowing whether he heard it too. Or rather, whether it was loud enough to last. Like I said, I’ve never worried about being clingy, but expectations are different with travelers. Snapchatting or messaging a few times a day at home would be normal, but I’m suddenly worried it’s too much. That maybe I’m a bother. This is all internal fear; nothing he’s done has implied as much. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised when he messaged me that day, after we’d said goodbye. I left expecting it to be over, and was prepared to resign myself to it. I prefer to leave rather than be left, so perhaps I’m overanalyzing the signs, preparing for the worst and to be the first person to take that step if need be. It’s such a long shot for anything to come of it… And yet I want something to. That’s what makes me a dreamer, and that’s what makes it hurt. Because in some parallel world or storyline, something like this could happen, and does happen, for people. The knowledge that, if feelings and motivation were mutual, something grand could emerge from a simple travel fling makes the leaving hard sometimes. Painful even. Because they often aren’t or maybe they are but the two people don’t know that they both feel the same way. Want the same thing. We’re too scared to be honest, to make ourselves vulnerable, and who knows how many opportunities we miss out on because of those fears. I fear rejection, because rejection ruins the dream. And if you let it, taints the beautiful memories. 

I’ve never had a breakup before, never had my heart broken. Not in love, anyway. This is probably the closest thing to it I’ve felt, and I don’t quite understand why. Why him, why now. I wasn’t even looking for anything that night, had worn a loose dress and little makeup and thrown my hair in a bun because I was tired of going home with someone. Tired of missing out on dancing with my friends because I’d met a guy. It’s funny how you find what you’ve been looking for when you finally stop searching for it. And it’s sad because the beginning was almost the end for us; we were both about to move on. 

I could have stayed another night. Thought about it, but not really. I was going to stick with my new friends and see another town, because after all, that’s what I’m here for. Not boys, but places. And the people I meet along the way. But then he came the next day, and stayed up all night with me, long after our friends had gone to bed, because I had to catch an early bus and didn’t want to sleep and didn’t want to miss a moment of this goodbye. I can’t say how much I appreciated that. To sleep with someone—twice—without any sex. Without feeling like I owe something, or that someone expects it from me. Not to say I didn’t want to, because I did. But I think it means more to me this way. It’s more special, rare, and therefore treasured. 

It’s hard right now to imagine meeting another guy. Charlie Puth’s lyric “Does it feel, feel like you’re never gonna find nothing better?” comes to mind. I’ve only thought that before about one other guy, the only other good, good one that I’ve known. (Known and been interested in, I should say.) And even with him, it wasn’t to this extent. That adds to the sadness, because I can’t help but wonder about the “what if’s” and the “might be’s”. Will the feelings fade? They have to, if nothing comes of them, because people move on from real relationships and breakups all the time. They survive, and thrive, and fall in love again. At the moment, I don’t understand how, but I guess I’ll just have to trust the journey. Travel is crazy, and can make you crazy, I swear it. Yet I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. 

After a week, I think that’s what I needed to say. To get it out of my system, or at least sort it out a bit in my head. Writing down my feelings helps me validate and understand them, and I’ve been in a bit of a limbo this last week having them bounce around with no sort of sense. This has been a stream-of-conscious post, which I love doing when I want to dump my thoughts and feelings onto paper (or in this case, the notes section of my phone) without worrying about making them sound orderly or pretty. Despite the fact that I’ll probably post this on my blog, it’s not for anyone else. If you can take something from it, all the better, but I wrote it for me, and I hope that if you’re reading it, you can understand and respect that. I’ve been pretty open and vulnerable, and I hope to God that doesn’t make me come across as fucking clingy. Or crazy. And that I can stop worrying about those words entirely. 

“So we’ll just let things take their course, and never be sorry.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz

13503109-1Novel: This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz | Goodreads
Release Date: September 11, 2012
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Format: Paperback
Source: Borrowed
Rating: 4 stars

On a beach in the Dominican Republic, a doomed relationship flounders. In the heat of a hospital laundry room in New Jersey, a woman does her lover’s washing and thinks about his wife. In Boston, a man buys his love child, his only son, a first baseball bat and glove. At the heart of these stories is the irrepressible, irresistible Yunior, a young hardhead whose longing for love is equaled only by his recklessness–and by the extraordinary women he loves and loses: artistic Alma; the aging Miss Lora; Magdalena, who thinks all Dominican men are cheaters; and the love of his life, whose heartbreak ultimately becomes his own.

In prose that is endlessly energetic, inventive, tender, and funny, the stories in This Is How You Lose Her lay bare the infinite longing and inevitable weakness of the human heart. They remind us that passion always triumphs over experience, and that “the half-life of love is forever.”

This Is How You Lose Her is a collection of short stories following characters from the Dominican Republic who have immigrated to the United States. The stories are centered around relationships, love, family, and the idea of being with someone and what that means. The collection is full of manipulation, both by males and females, strife, stereotypes, and foul language. I found it eye-opening.

The first story was by far my favorite. It chronicles the fall of Yunior and Magdalena’s relationship and I thought it was well constructed and well done. Díaz managed to portray the situation in such a realistic way that really reached out to me as a reader. The last story, “A Cheater’s Guide to Love”, was probably my second favorite and also the longest. Most of the stories follow or contain Yunior, but others branch off to follow different characters, all of whom are experiencing the hardships living in America brings and forming connections—both good and bad—with other Dominicans.

Overall, I really enjoyed This Is How You Lose Her. It sparked my interest in Junot Díaz’s other books and gave me new perspective on a facet of hispanic (mainly Dominican) culture and society, especially within the United States. The collection of stories is not beautiful in a happy way; it’s actually kind of a downer filled with tragedy, repeated mistakes, misery, and heartbreak. While some of the stories were dull, I thought the entire collection as a whole was cohesive and illustrious, and I recommend giving it a shot if the premise interests you. I’m glad I did.

Thanks for reading.


Top 10 Favorite Fictional Relationships

Hellooo. In honor of Valentine’s Day this past Sunday, I thought I’d compile a list of my favorite bookish relationships (because aren’t fictional relationships the best kind?). I am definitely a fangirl, so narrowing down my list to ten was a little tricky. But without further ado, here are some of my favorite couples in literature! (P.S. They aren’t in order because that would just be too hard.)

  1. Katniss and Peeta The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins.
  2. Will and TessaThe Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare.
  3. Adrian and Sydney | The Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead.
  4. John and Savannah Dear John by Nicholas Sparks.
  5. Celaena and Sam | The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas.
  6. Aelin and Rowan The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas.
  7. Violet and Finch All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven.
  8. Étienne and AnnaAnna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins.
  9. Alice and Jasper | The Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer.
  10. Juliet and Warner | The Shatter Me trilogy by Tahereh Mafi.

There are so many other couples I love, especially ones where I love one of the characters so much and the other is just fine, so they didn’t make the list. I don’t want this list to be confused with being my favorite romances, because while some of these are, many are not. (For example, I adore The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, but it’s kind of tragic and contains one of my favorite characters, not couples.)

What are some of your favorite fictional couples?

Thanks for reading.


2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Wraparound

AH, how it pains me to say this: hockey season is over. It ended on Monday, June 15 when the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. Chicago won the cup and then: The End. I was planning on doing an extensive recap of the playoffs, including each round, once the season ended but honestly I don’t want to anymore. The 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs were an absolute roller coaster of ups and downs, but they were two of the best months of my life, too. My home team made it all the way to the Final for the first time since 2004, when they won the Stanley Cup. While they didn’t end up taking home the big, coveted hardware this year, I couldn’t be more proud of the players, the organization, and the fans. We had a record-breaking season that was so, so fun to watch and the support this city has shown for the home team has been unprecedented (aside from maybe 2004) and unbelievable.

I’m going to quickly gloss over the rounds and their outcomes:

  1. The Lightning faced the Detroit Red Wings with home ice advantage in the first round. This round was probably the most difficult aside from the fourth because the Lightning struggled to counter the Red Wings’ clutch-and-grab style of play. Bolts won in seven games.
  2. Next, the Lightning found themselves up against the Montréal Canadiens, who swept them in the first round of the playoffs last year. The Lightning won the first three games despite not having home ice advantage, but it took them six to close the Habs out for good.
  3. The third round was the Eastern Conference Final, and the Lightning were up against the 2014 ECF champions: the New York Rangers. This series played out like a track meet, with blowout games followed by tight defensive games. It went all the way to Game 7 in New York, but the Bolts pulled out a big shutout 2-0 win to become the new Eastern Conference Champions. They are the only NHL team to beat three Original Six teams in the playoffs to get to the Final.
  4. And finally, the Lightning faced their fourth Original Six matchup in the Stanley Cup Final: the Chicago Blackhawks. A modern day dynasty, the Blackhawks won in six games, despite the Lightning having home ice advantage. Every game was close, with neither team holding more than a one goal lead at any point until the third period of Game 6, which the Blackhawks won 2-0 to capture the first Stanley Cup for Chicago on home ice since 1938. The Lightning were burdened with injuries in some of their stars, lost their spark, and ran out of gas a little too soon. Congratulations to the Chicago Blackhawks on their third Stanley Cup victory in the last six years. They earned it.

I was fortunate enough to attend every home game during the playoffs. My little brother did the pregame Thunder Skate for the Lightning three times: once during the ECF and twice during the SCF. I got to take him the third time and we sat right across the hall from the Blackhawks’ warmup soccer game. I made my first meme (and second and third) during the playoffs to use on Twitter. My dad flew to Game 6 in Chicago and got to see the Stanley Cup ceremony. The on-ice pregame show was absolutely stunning at every home game. The entire playoffs experience was amazing and I am so incredibly grateful that I got to take part in it, up close and personal. This season and these playoffs have been unforgettable and I can’t wait for October. Go Bolts.

And now, here is a gallery of images from my 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs adventure. Mon Dieu, merci.

I Was Here by Gayle Forman

51BFWYC2-nL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Novel: I Was Here by Gayle Forman | Goodreads
Release Date: January 27th, 2015
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Also Published On: Lit Up Review

Cody and Meg were inseparable.
Two peas in a pod.
Until . . . they weren’t anymore.

When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, who broke Meg’s heart. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.

I Was Here is Gayle Forman at her finest, a taut, emotional, and ultimately redemptive story about redefining the meaning of family and finding a way to move forward even in the face of unspeakable loss.

This one was somewhat of a let down for me. I’ve been a fan of Gayle Forman’s since If I Stay was a light blue hardcover featuring a bird and a tree (what even was that cover??). She’s made my auto-buy list with her life-changing duologies that keep me self-reflecting weeks, months, years after reading them. The only reason I didn’t automatically purchase I Was Here was because I’ve been tight on money and trying to save. But I’m thankful that I didn’t purchase Forman’s fifth contemporary novel because I will never reread it.

Now let me just put this out there – this novel was by no means bad. In fact, I quite enjoyed reading it: it was a quick, easy, and, for the most part, engaging read. However, it didn’t live up to my extremely high standards for Gayle Forman. I Was Here is a novel about suicide, or rather, the aftermath of it. Cody is the former best friend of dead Meg, and she’s left to put together the pieces of Meg’s surprising suicide. The novel deals with friendship, with coming of age, with family, with small town life, and with love. It had all the ingredients for a great cake of a story, but overall it fell flat for me.

Here were my biggest issues:
1. Cody falls in love with the guy who broke Meg’s heart. They both lost their virginity to him.
2. The pacing of the novel is a bit slow and, at times, boring.
3. The big reason for Meg’s suicide – depression – is obvious to the reader from the beginning, but Cody never figures it out on her own.
4. Forman touches briefly on all of the issues explored in this novel, but doesn’t go into the depth readers experience in her other novels.
5. For a novel about teen suicide, it sparked hardly any emotion in me as a reader.

My favorite characters in this novel were side characters. I liked the character development of Cody’s mom, adored Meg’s little brother, and enjoyed the humor of Meg’s old roommates. I liked Cody and Ben both separately, and together in a platonic way. That being said, Cody and Ben together were just alright. While their romance did take a backseat in this novel, I think I Was Here would have been better off if it hadn’t existed at all. Their relationship brings this novel to the brink of the new adult genre rather than YA, and it just feels forced/cliche/fake/unnecessary to the focus of the plot.

The pros of this novel are great character development and evolution of relationships between characters. The characters provided depth where the issues did not. The plot is slow, but still manages to be engaging. I think every reader will be disgusted as it unfolds to reveal the events leading up to Meg’s death, and in this regard the novel is a success. Forman draws attention to the dangers of online pro-suicide “support groups” that prey on vulnerable young minds. As always, Forman tackles a deep issue, but with less grace than I was accustomed to in her previous novels. The many typos in the book and the lack of depth to the abundance of issues covered makes me think this book was written in a rush, with little revision or review. In addition, Forman’s writing had an inferior quality to it when compared to her other works.

Unfortunately, it is very difficult for me to write a fair, balanced review when I feel disappointed by a book, particularly one I was really looking forward to reading. I Was Here was not a poorly written, disgrace of a novel. Not at all. It was a far cry from Forman’s If I Stay and Just One Day duologies, but I rated it a 3.5/5 stars on Goodreads. There were certainly elements that I appreciated and I don’t regret reading it. But it didn’t change me the way I wanted it to, the way Forman’s other novels did and the way suicide novels like All the Bright Places did. It was underwhelming and that’s okay.

I remain neutral in recommending this novel. If it sounds interesting to you, then pick it up and you will most likely enjoy it. If you’re looking for a life-changing novel, I’d suggest reading one of Forman’s other books.