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

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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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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.

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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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