day by day

Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.
– Carl Jung

Day by day, I’m feeling better. I still have highs and lows, but with each passing day, I feel myself return more and more to normalcy. It probably helps that a few close friends are back in town, and that my time in Tampa is dwindling. I’m excited for the independence and social life going back to university entails, and can’t wait to see my lovely friends, who I realize I’ve missed dearly. xoxo to you all 🙂

Today, I started thinking about Italy. Or more specifically, visiting Italy. This winter. I’ve always wanted to, and it’d be nice to avoid the brutal heat of a Mediterranean summer, but it only just occurred to me that I could actually fulfill my dream of seeing Rome, Pompeii, Cinque Terre, and more by the end of the year. Or early next year, at the very latest.
e x c i t e m e n t.

Also today, I went to the art museum downtown with one of my best friends and his girlfriend, who I got to meet in person for the first time. We brought my little sister along because I’m home alone with her the next two days, and Abby and I had a lot of laughs looking at art we didn’t understand and taking goofy pictures.

On another note, I’ve learned a good deal in the last week. One of the things I’ve realized is that even if someone is super fun and wonderful in person, if it’s constantly a hassle to get in touch with them and make plans to hang out, the friendship might not warrant the trouble. I have this guy friend who I love spending time with but who just plain sucks at communicating through text and committing to a plan, and after a year I’ve finally reached my wit’s end with it. It’s not that I’m unfriending him, and I’m sad because I truly enjoy his company, but I’m not planning to reach out anymore. It’s just frustrating and tiresome, and usually goes nowhere. That’s the thing with relationships: they involve two people. My parents taught me to go after what I want, but you can’t always live by that rule when it comes to wanting something from another person. You can’t make someone want you, or like you, or hang out with you or even talk to you. And you shouldn’t have to. If they aren’t interested in putting an equal amount of effort into the relationship, whatever kind it may be, then don’t force it. Try not to take it personally, and let it go. There are seven billion people on this planet—there’s no sense wasting time and energy on someone who won’t give you either.

“Sometimes you just give the wrong people the right pieces of your heart.” 

Another thing I’ve realized is that distance provides perspective. I’m unsure whether I made this clear in sad songs, because I didn’t have much distance from the situation at that point, but it wasn’t love. Maybe it was the beginning of something we like to call “travel love,” or maybe it was the potential for something more, or perhaps I just got a small taste of something I wanted but couldn’t have. Either way, it still hurts, and was the first “heartache” of sorts I’ve ever felt. So it’s been a bit difficult to deal with, and will likely haunt me for awhile, but it showed me something important. A few things, actually. One, I have the capacity to feel that way about someone. Two, now I know that the ability to want and have and lose someone can cause immense pain, both in my mind and chest. And three, it showed me that there are people for me out there. For nearly a year now, I’d thought there was one, and I was so scared of letting him slip away. I fought for him because of that, maybe more than I should have. (Maybe that’s why I’m not fighting for this one—that, and I can take a hint. If feelings aren’t mutual or timing isn’t right, there’s nothing to fight for. Which all goes back to that “it takes two” philosophy I mentioned earlier.) But this second person and experience I had abroad showed me there was someone else. And given that things have seemingly ended there too, at least for now, I have faith there are more out there. More of those good, good guys who are tender and have pure hearts and make me melt a little inside. If neither of the ones I’ve known so far were it, then there have to be others.

“Stop chasing the waves. Let the sea come to you.”

In the meantime, I’m nineteen. I in no way, shape, or form want to settle down (and by that, I mean commit to a person or place that will keep me from doing what I want with my twenties). There’s way too much fun to be had: places to see, people to meet, parties to go to, and things to try. Sure, it would be nice having someone to share some of that with, but I’m scared that committing to someone would mean tying myself down. I like to feel free. Besides, it seems like I’m away too much to have a relationship at home, and home too much to have one abroad. I’ve been told by many people that I’m naturally flirty, and compliments spew easily from my mouth when I mean them; I’m an open, honest person with little filter, which is both a curse and a blessing. Because of this, people sometimes think I want or am looking for something when I’m really not. And half the time, I’m totally clueless about it all. I have lots of guy friends, and I love them to death, but I’m not interested in many guys. I’m picky. I have to feel something and I usually don’t, even if they’re textbook attractive or have a great personality. Something just needs to click for me and oftentimes it doesn’t, hence why I have lots of male friends but haven’t had many boyfriends. When I do like a guy, it’s overwhelming because I’m not used to having the emotions that come with interest, or at least interest beyond the physical. So I end up convincing myself I’m crazy, which really doesn’t help things at all. Because then I actually drive myself crazy. Note to self: CALM DOWN. Your feelings are valid. Your lack of feelings is valid. You aren’t insane. You aren’t doing anything wrong or weird. You simply think you are because you are a teenage girl with hormones and a tendency to overthink and worry. 🙂

I have to remind myself sometimes that there’s no rush, and that if it doesn’t work out it wasn’t the right person. That things falling apart isn’t necessarily my fault, and that rejection shouldn’t always be taken personally and internalized. It helps to look at myself and the guys I go for—often it’s not the nice, model-esque, tall-dark-and-handsome, but rather his funny and witty best friend, who may not be as cute but who makes me laugh and has pretty eyes. And other times, it’s the guy who’s both. So if a guy isn’t interested in me, it doesn’t mean I’m not pretty or funny or whatever—the lack of interest isn’t a reflection of me and my worth. It simply means I didn’t click for him, just like many great guys don’t click for me. I’m learning that it’s okay to have feelings (or more often for me, to not have them—I think that’s why I was taken aback after Poland), and to not overthink my actions or another person’s. Sometimes I get too inside my own head and overanalyze things that I either shouldn’t or can’t. Like I said, when it comes to a person, my strategy for everything else in life becomes absolutely useless, and maybe that’s why I’ve always felt so lost when it comes to pursuing guys (hence, why I usually don’t) and why I’ve sometimes stayed in friendships long past their expiration date. I’ve found in the last seven months that it’s best (and easiest) to just be my confident, relatively carefree, and sassy self, and things usually end up falling into place, one way or another.

“The flower doesn’t dream of the bee. It blossoms and the bee comes.”

In 2017, I’ve really grown comfortable in my own skin, have let go of a lot of society’s expectations of me, and, all in all, have learned to love myself. I’ve become a much happier, more free spirited, and less harried individual. I am so proud of the person I’ve become, because I fought to become her. By no means am I perfect, and I will certainly continue to grow, but it’s nice after this rough past week to be able to sit here today and type this:
I
am
okay.

Or I will be, in any case.

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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

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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