jumbled thoughts

“Summer romances end for all kinds of reasons. But when all is said and done, they have one thing in common: They are shooting stars — a spectacular moment of light in the heavens, a fleeting glimpse of eternity. And in a flash, they’re gone.”
— Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook

I suppose it’s both a curse and a blessing, to feel this much.

Another shard from my already fractured chest broke away the other day when a homeless man in Christiania, most likely a refugee from Africa, was so kind and lovely to me and my friend who were sitting on a park bench when he and his companion arrived to set up camp. They did so a ways from us, out of courtesy, and then the one in red went across the path to sit on a bench elevated on a little hill. When we got up to leave, after having been sat there chatting for quite some time, he turned to us and said in a pleading voice that shattered me, “You are leaving? We mean you no harm!” As if they were the cause of our exit. How tragic, to have no home, to sell “antiques” on the streets to make ends meet, and to constantly feel as though you are a bother. A burden. He must have had people leave because of him before, for him to have such a desperate response. Once again, I wanted to cry.

“Be glad of your human heart, Feyre. Pity those who don’t feel anything at all.”
— Sarah J. Maas, A Court of Thorns and Roses

A conversation I had yesterday:
“How do you ever get over these feelings?”
“You don’t, you just learn to live with them. There’s not much you can do but live life and see where things go. Life isn’t a fairy tale, as much as people wish to believe.”
Thank you, Andrew, for helping me to finally understand.

Also part of said conversation:
“I’m too much of a dreamer sometimes. I look at the possibilities instead of the realities.”
And they break me.
Advice to self: Stop worrying about far off possibilities that you can’t control, and focus on the little things, here and now, that you can. You’ll be much happier that way.

I just absolutely love words. Quotes, lyrics, prose and poetry… I connect with them in such a deep, intense way. It often feels as though someone else has read my mind, felt exactly what I feel, and painted those emotions with words so that I might understand myself better.

I had my fun, I played around
Without a love to tie me down
I always used to kiss and run,
I never wanted love to catch me
I thought I had a heart of stone
But now I’m in the danger zone
I can feel the heat is on,
Soon the flames are gonna catch me
— Billy Ocean, “Red Light Spells Danger”

And for one desperate moment there
He crept back in her memory
God it’s so painful
Something that’s so close
And still so far out of reach
— Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, “American Girl”

I’ve been particularly drawn to poetry lately. I find it raw and unfiltered; often straight to the point, like a knife to the heart, twisting and telling me, “ah, yes, you’ve felt that too.” The three most recent poetry books I’ve read are the princess saves herself in this one by Amanda Lovelace, The Universe of Us by Lang Leav, and Love Her Wild by Atticus. I loved all of them, and definitely recommend giving them a read. I’ve started getting the urge to highlight and mark my books, something I never used to do because I historically have been absolutely OCD about keeping my treasures in pristine condition. It’s nice to save the lines I love best, or connect to, though, and be able to flip back through books and find those passages easily. On another book-related note, I’m reading a book called Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer right now, and it’s impressively good. I don’t typically read nonfiction, or travel novels, but I think I want to pursue more of those types of books in the future, as this one is so well-written and eye-opening.

Do you ever wonder at how strange it is that we often let a number define our worth, or control how we feel about ourselves? I put on a couple of pounds while I was away this summer. That puts me right back at where I was before starting freshman year, before I lost ten pounds in a month from so much stress and anxiety. I’ve been slowly gaining it back this year, and when I got home and could finally look at myself in a mirror, I thought I looked good. With more defined womanly curves and all that jazz I’ve been genetically blessed with. But the minute I stepped on the scale, I felt like shit. Shit because the number was higher than it was when I left, higher than my mind wanted it to be. It’s literally two pounds; it shouldn’t matter. I probably look the same at 125, 128, 130. But the way I feel… It changes, sometimes drastically, with a slight tip in the scale. And it’s bullshit, because if I think I look good, and am healthy, who cares what the scale says? Why do I care? It’s not as bad as it used to be. In all honesty, I can’t imagine it ever being that bad again. But it always manages to creep back up, even when I think it’s gone, that I’ve conquered it for good.

I’ve been so down about being home, stuck in Florida for an extended amount of time after three months of movement and freedom. I miss the friends I made abroad, and the thrill I get from being out in the big wide somewhere. Seeing things, doing things, meeting amazing people. It seems so much more valuable to me than a college education. But seeing as I’m not quite willing to drop out, or take a gap semester and lose my scholarship, I’ve just booked another plane ticket instead. I’ll be traveling back to Europe from mid-December to mid-January for just over a month. And I am SO EXCITED. It’ll be hard to prioritize and balance seeing places vs. people, but I’m just happy to be getting out of the American, Floridian, privileged college bubble again. Next summer, I think I want to go to South America (maybe parts of Central America, too). And then the following summer, Asia. And maybe the summer after that, if I have the money and can get some work over there, Australia and New Zealand. And even aside from those places, there’s so. much. I. want. to. see. It’s sad to think that even if I dropped everything and traveled for my whole life, I’d never get to see it all. However, from this last trip, I’ve learned that traveling and seeing the world is probably the single-most important thing to me. I don’t want to settle down, not in my twenties. I want to live an exciting, fulfilling, and beautiful life now, rather than wait around working some boring career job and dreaming of the day I’ll do what makes me happy. There’s no time for that in this life. None at all.

“I’m not going to die,” she said. “Not till I’ve seen it.”
“Seen what?”
Her smile widened. “Everything.”
— V.E. Schwab, A Darker Shade of Magic

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flying

Does it feel, feel like you never gon’ find nothing better?
— Charlie Puth, “Does It Feel”

When I love a song, I love it. I listen to it on repeat, sometimes for hours, other times for days. Music has this beautiful way of painting pictures in my mind, scenes from daydreams that I can replay over and over or expand upon, depending on the lyrics, rhythm, and my mood. Poets do it too, paint pictures with words. I’d like to have that skill, one I believe is a magic of sorts. Words have an indescribable power.

As I was thinking about this on my flight yesterday (today?), I had a few semi-poetic thoughts myself.

1. From all I’ve read and seen of love, most lovers must be like clouds. They appear embracing and safe and lovely, but if you take a leap of faith (or foolishness), they won’t hold you up.
2. Soaring above the horizon of clouds, the setting sun looks like molten lava.
3. Sunrise turns the clouds into cotton candy: pink mist that gives me hope in this beautiful, twisted world. Then the cloud-mist changes, absorbing the sun’s rays until it’s an orange creamsicle. The pastel hues are gentle, like watercolors, and they soothe my exhaustion, lulling me into content as I stare out the airplane window for hours, watching the sky change.

Now I’m sure a writer could turn these observations into majestic prose, but I’m not a “real” writer and am too jet-lagged to bother with trying to be at the moment. Meanwhile, Iceland is EXPENSIVE. Which I knew, but I didn’t quite know it was $27-hamburger expensive. Needless to say, I’ll be consuming a steady diet of bread, peanut butter, and bananas for the remainder of my stay.

I recently read this quote on the back of On Booze, “a collection of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s best drinking stories” (I haven’t read it, so I can’t confirm or deny this claim), and thought it was perhaps the truest, most relatable quote I’ve read in my life:

“First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.”

Tell me about it, Fitz.

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Read in 2016

Here’s a chronological list of what I read (or rather, finished) in 2016. 75 books… The highest number since I’ve started tracking my reading. Woo hoo! I also started, but didn’t complete (with the full intention to this year), at least 9 books, and I had several DNF books (with no intention of ever finishing), as well. Happy New Year!

1. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
2. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
3. The Ice Dragon by George R.R. Martin, illustrated by Luis Royo
4. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
5. The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks
6. The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas
7. The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan
8. Passenger by Alexandra Bracken
9. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
10. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
11. The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
12. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
13. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
14. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer     (re-read)
15. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer     (re-read)
16. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer     (re-read)
17. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer     (re-read)
18. Midnight Sun draft by Stephenie Meyer     (re-read)
19. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer     (re-read)
20. Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined by Stephenie Meyer
21. The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide by Stephenie Meyer
22. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
23. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
24. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling     (re-read)
25. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
26. Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
27. The Tailor by Leigh Bardugo     *
28. Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
29. The Demon in the Wood by Leigh Bardugo     *
30. The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson
31. The Offering by Kimberly Derting
32. Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes
33. The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson     (re-read)
34. The Girl Who Fell by S. M. Parker
35. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
36. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale     **
37. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
38. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
39. The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
40. The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss
41. The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski
42. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale     **
43. Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes
44. Gathering Darkness by Morgan Rhodes
45. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
46. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas     (re-read)
47. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas     (re-read)
48. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas     (re-read)
49. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas     (re-read)
50. Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas     (re-read)
51. Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas     (re-read)
52. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
53. The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
54. This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz
55. City of Thieves by David Benioff
56. Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin
57. Iron to Iron by Ryan Graudin     *
58. milk and honey by Rupi Kaur
59. Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse
60. The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan
61. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, & Jack Thorne
62. One Direction: Who We Are by One Direction
63. Frozen Tides by Morgan Rhodes
64. Germans as Victims? by Robert G. Moeller     *
65. The Question of German Guilt by Karl Jaspers     *
66. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale     **
67. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
68. A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
69. The Reader by Bernard Schlink
70. On the Natural History of Destruction by W. G. Sebald
71. Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas
72. Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi
73. In My Brother’s Shadow: A Life and Death in the SS by Uwe Timm
74. Crabwalk by Günter Grass
75. Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston & James D. Houston     (re-read)

* Novella, thesis/long essay, or short story
** Audiobook

Thanks for reading.

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

29069989Title: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, & Jack Thorne | Goodreads
Release Date: July 31, 2016
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Rating: 5 stars

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes darkness comes from unexpected places.

A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

The summary is all you need to know going into the story. Yes, there were some typos. Yes, there was a strange use of punctuation (which I attribute to The Cursed Child being a script rather than a novel).

But this book was freaking intense and wonderful. I LOVE Scorpius Malfoy. And I love that Harry and Draco worked together for their sons. Draco has obviously matured and endured more hardships in the nineteen years since his time at Hogwarts; I appreciated getting to understand his character better. And it’s so cool that Harry and Draco’s sons—the sons of arch nemeses—are best friends. The friendships in this story, both new and old, are amazing. The Cursed Child is a wonderful mix of past, beloved Harry Potter characters and new characters (or characters from the Deathly Hallows epilogue). I also learned through this book that I really hate time travel in the wizarding world. It is a total mind f**k.

Do not hesitate to devour this book. It is worth the hefty price tag, though you can get it for 40% off online here and here.

What did you think of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child?
Let me know in a comment below!

Thanks for reading.

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The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Yoon_9780553496680_jkt_all_r1.inddNovel: The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon | Goodreads
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Format: ARC
Source: B-Fest
Rating: 4.5 stars

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

The Sun Is Also a Star is the story of a girl and boy from different backgrounds meeting and falling in love. It’s also about family, cultural identities and assimilation, and the challenges of immigration in the United States. The novel is set in New York City and takes place over the course of a single day. Despite it being a young adult contemporary novel, which is a genre I generally avoid, I found The Sun Is Also a Star to be brilliantly composed, well-researched, thought-provoking, and fun.

Let’s start with the basics.

Natasha is a seventeen-year-old undocumented immigrant living in NYC. She moved to the U.S. with her mother at the age of eight to join her father, who’d been trying to make it as a Broadway actor for several years. She’s smart, cynical, and hardworking—a no nonsense kind of girl who knows what she wants and how to get it. She doesn’t believe in love, fate, destiny, religion, or even dreams; she believes in science, and science alone.

Natasha’s world is falling apart. Her dad is living in la-la land within his own mind—he’s failing as an actor and has pretty much given up on work and the world. He’s resentful of his family and feels he gave up his dream career, his “God-given talent” of acting, for his wife and two kids. One night, he gets a D.U.I., revealing to a police officer the illegal immigration status of his family. The Kingsley family is thus issued a deportation order, which ruins all of Natasha’s plans for the rest of her senior year of high school, college, and a career. The day that her family is supposed to leave the United States—presumably forever—Natasha sets out into the city to find someone, anyone, who can help her get the deportation order reversed. Why should her life be wrecked because her father made a stupid mistake?

Enter Daniel. Daniel was born in America and is the youngest son of Korean immigrants. His older brother Charlie’s suspension from Harvard leads his parents to exert more pressure on Daniel to attend Yale and become a doctor. Daniel’s parents know what it’s like to be poor, and the thought of their sons living in poverty someday haunts them. They think they know what’s best for Daniel and refuse him any room to design his own life and career.

Daniel is a dreamer. He’s honest, self-deprecating, passionate, and funny, and he aspires to be a poet. Daniel believes in God, in fate, and in “meant to be.” Most of all, though, he believes in love. When Daniel and Natasha cross paths, is it purely due to coincidence, or has a string of events caused by fate led them together? Upon first look, they’re polar opposites of each other, but as the day goes on, they discover they have more and more in common: dysfunctional families, problems with their parents, and an undeniable connection with each other. Whether it’s simply chemicals in their brains, as Natasha believes, or a grand destiny, as Daniel thinks, the 12 hour love story of Natasha and Daniel is fascinating, funny, and heartwarming. I found that it was easy to put aside the little voice in my head that likes to chant “unrealistic” at me while reading YA contemporary novels and go with the flow of Nicola Yoon’s story. The relationships, cultures, science, and politics involved make it different from any other novel I’ve read, and I appreciate the personal touches and amount of research Yoon put into her story. The format of The Sun Is Also a Star, which consists of chapters that alternate by POV, sprinkled tidbits of outside perspectives, and short chapters on topics such as love, irie, and scientific theories/studies, was delightful and interesting to read.

I thoroughly enjoyed Nicola Yoon’s sophomore novel, The Sun Is Also a Star, and I recommend it to the non-believers and those who enjoy a bit of whimsicality in their contemporary reading. It hits shelves November 1st, so be sure to grab yourself a copy!

Thanks for reading.

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