This is how you lose her

This is how you lose her. 

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You lose her when you forget to remember the little things that mean the world to her: the sincerity in a stranger’s voice during a trip to the grocery, the delight of finding something lost or forgotten like a sticker from when she was five, the selflessness of a child giving a part of his meal to another, the scent of new books in the store, the surprise short but honest notes she tucks in her journal and others you could only see if you look closely.

You must remember when she forgets.

You lose her when you don’t notice that she notices everything about you: your use of the proper punctuation that tells her continuation rather than finality, your silence when you’re about to ask a question but you think anything you’re about to say to her would be silly, your mindless humming when it is too quiet, your handwriting when you sign your name in blank sheets of paper, your muted laughter when you are trying to be polite, and more and more of what you are, which you don’t even know about yourself, because she pays attention.

She remembers when you forget.

You lose her for every second you make her feel less and less of the  beauty that she is. When you make her feel that she is replaceable. She wants to feel cherished. When you make her feel that you are fleeting. She wants you to stay. When you make her feel inadequate. She wants to know that she is enough and she does not need to change for you, nor for anyone else because she is she and she is beautiful, kind and good.

You must learn her.

You must know the reason why she is silent. You must trace her weakest spots. You must write to her. You must remind her that you are there. You must know how long it takes for her to give up. You must be there to hold her when she is about to.

You must love her because many have tried and failed. And she wants to know that she is worthy to be loved, that she is worthy to be kept.

And, this is how you keep her.

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DISCLAIMER: Excerpt from Junot Diaz, This is How You Lose Her.

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I collect moments, not things.

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Life is about spending time tinkering your favorite old toy, reading a good book and crying about it, listening to your playlist, successful / failed surprises, whole-heartedly appreciating anybody who’s brave enough to show you simple act of kindness, sitting on a passenger seat singing songs on the radio out loud with someone you love, passionate kisses, long tight embraces and a whole lot little moments.

I figured you have to immerse yourself with anything that will make your heart happy, no matter how simple it is. Life’s a lot more meaningful by letting yourself go and feel what’s there.

Found. YOU. YES, YOU

In times of nothingness I have found you. You’re in between the thought of a stranger to me and someone I knew. Nonetheless, you are considered a blessing and I hold that idea with me. How can someone be so gentle? I have known you so little yet it meant a lot, considering you brought something out of me I thought I no longer have. You say every day might be short-lived but yet again you always remind that life is surreal. I recall the date I have my first date with you and it was pretty awkward. But, t’was something you don’t really get a lot. You and I both, we were a complete mess. I couldn’t hide my imperfections and I thought, “Way to go for a first impression?”

It feels nice to be treated well by someone most especially if both of you feel the same way, that even if you don’t say it, it radiates. No matter what you do, you can’t just hide that certain chemistry. You know it’s sincere if you’re not expecting something in return, it comes out naturally, and you don’t take credit for any of those gestures. I still prefer the unconscious effort more than anything.

Your presence felt like home and somehow, in all the silences, awkward pauses, and unexpected laughter, I feel the safest. In every instance of you holding my hand and me, leaning towards the familiar crevice between your neck and your shoulder, there is a warmth that reminds me of a place I often connect with accepting hugs and cozy blankets.

You never fail to make me laugh, despite all our troubles. You seem to know everything that’s on my mind. You serenade me with your gentle ‘I love you’s and ‘I miss you’s. You always know when I need you. You say that you’re mine, forever, and that you’ll never let me go. You tell me that my eyes shine brighter than the stars in heaven, and all those profoundly-structured compliments. You bring all those romantic movie scenes to life, and built me the perfect love story. You seem to make me want to run away and leave everything behind. You make my life seem like a dream.

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You. Yes, you.

And cherish the moments you least expect to happen. You take it all in like as if you know so much but not at all. You experience the most unexplainable feeling yet cannot put them into words. The uncertainty of what is happening makes everything beautiful and even if you try to grasp it and keep it, all you can do is inhale it and let your heart fill the emotion.

People with good effect within us don’t come by often, for all I know it’s one in a million. Even though things will eventually fleet or chances are it will fade away. I couldn’t thank this moment enough for making me feel okay. With that being said, I say cheers to all the little good genuine feelings you gave me. :)

Happy 182 days baby! I love you!

Movie Blog: That Thing Called Tadhana

Where do broken hearts go? And can they find their way home? “That Thing Called Tadhana” tries to answer those questions and more.

Tadhana. Fate. Destiny. Do you guys believe in it?  How about soulmate?thatthingcalledtadhanadsweetbox

Let me tell you upfront that this is the HUGOT film of the year. Most chick-flicks revolve around the blossoming of love. Others focus in the moving on process. This film tried to cross those boundaries and let everyone know that both of them can’t just happen on the same day.

Ever since I missed the initial screening of this movie, I’ve waited for it to be released. Due to positive reviews from fans and critics, the indie film has been picked up by Star Cinema for nationwide release on February 4. So when I finally got to watch it, I was so- so about it.

Before you continue I should warn you that this may contain SPOILERS!!! A lot of emotions and a whole lot more of feelings. So if you think that you will not be able to handle them, you can always press X and come back after you see the movie.

One more thing, PLEASE DO NOT JUDGE ME.

Part of this year’s Cinema One Originals Film Festival is Antoinette Jadaone’s  ‘That Thing Called Tadhana’. A Rom-Com that tells the story of Mace (Angelica Panganiban) and Anthony (JM De Guzman) met, by fate and chance, at the airport in Rome on their way back to Manila. Mace recently got out of a terrible breakup from an eight-year relationship. With nothing better to do, Anthony decides to accompany the damsel in distress from crying in a street corner to heaving large luggage along Session Road. Through a series of embarrassing but endearing events they eventually learn more about each other spurring them to go on an instant trip to Baguio and Sagada to find escape, release and consolation for their romantic miseries. In the process, they found hope for a new love and a new beginning with each other.

The movie started really strong. With the way Angelica’s character, Mace, was throwing away clothes (and even thongs) to fit the baggage allowance on her way back to Manila from Italy, you’d expect more funny scenes and kilig moments just like how JM’s character, Anthony, saved her in that dilemma. The palpable chemistry between the two makes for an engaging and pleasant watch. The two characters were well defined at the beginning– their language, their decisions, etc.

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Antoinette Jadaone’s That Thing Called Tadhana has a small scope, having only two characters and a story that relates to something deeper and more poignant, resisting the kilig factor common to romance films. What’s remarkable about this movie is its simplicity. The movie was mostly just about the two of them – talking, walking, eating, singing, etc. But the lack of actors does not equate to lack of depth. Since it is just the two of them in 95% of the scenes,  you’ll expect that the story will find a way to add some twist. The story also inserted the narrative of the Arrow Pierced with a Heart, which somewhat gave a break on listening to the two characters talk about their past and hopes for the future.

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It is a movie uses the first encounter concept, similar to Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise, which made the film a thoroughly pleasant experience. It is the best Filipino version of Richard Linklater’s “Before” trilogy with a little inspiration from E. E. Cummings’ poem, “I Carry Your Heart With Me”. It was effortlessly romantic despite the absence of any kissing scene; funny without trying to be. Through excellent scriptwriting and realistic portrayals they were able to illustrate the painful, torturous and excruciating walk one goes through after a betrayal and  they were able to capture it down to the last detail. The past is the villain so conversations were prevalent, but it was never a bore especially because they convey the ones that always hits home.

The movie provided a stirring start and with an even more provoking ending. It tells a story that even how dark, cold and tedious your night was, the sun always rises again — beautiful as the glorious Sagada Sunrise—to usher in a new day for your renewed heart ready to make and fight for your destiny.

It’s rare for a movie to simultaneously make you laugh and cry at the same time. That Thing Called Tadhana does it effortlessly, that I walked out of the cinema with a ridiculous grin on my face and overflowing emotion in my heart. In under two hours, Angelica Panganiban and JM de Guzman had me enthralled.

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The movie appealed to the emotions of the viewers as the characterization of our leads seem to be based on real life events, too real that 4 out 5 of those who’ve watched can claim that it’s their story they were watching. It takes ordinary life situations and turns them into a little gem of a movie. It shows that a character-driven plot and well-written dialogue are enough to make for a great story. The compelling storytelling makes the hour and a half movie feels longer, but in a good way. There’s no unnecessary side characters, no filler scenes, no nuances often common in romantic comedies.

Tadhana avoids being predictable. Just when you think they’re about to kiss, the movie takes on a different route. Just when you think you know what’s going to happen next (because it’s what happens in every freakin’ Filipino RomCom!), they turn the other way. They take every Filipino RomCom tropes, then dissect and disassemble them into something fresh, yet familiar.

I found myself squirming with glee in my seat in almost every scene. It may not be a love story in the strictest sense of the concept, but there’s no point in denying that JM and Angelica look great together. Be it in the petty bickering or the intense gaze between the two, it’s easy to like the two, together or as individuals. While Angelica ravishes in her hysterical crying and witty line delivery, JM charms with his controlled tears and quiet gazes.

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Honestly,  this is my first time to watched an indie film so I’m not sure if I’m writing this review right. Anyway, I have watched only this film from the line-up of Cinema One Originals this year. I am glad That Thing Called Tadhana is one of them. The movie isn’t perfect, and there are lapses I am willing to overlook. The gentle moments and silent understanding between Mace and Anthony more than make up for it. They didn’t answer all the hanging questions on love, but they didn’t really need to. Also, what is admirable about the film is how it showcased Baguio and Sagada, you’ll actually invite your company, or probably your partner who is best watching this with you, to go to Baguio. The sea of clouds was fantastic and it would be great if the cinematography managed to capture the clouds while Mace releases her anguish over them. The movie shows what traveling can do to broken hearted folks and how it can develop two people together.

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That Thing Called Tadhana is a meet-cute type of movie, but with more realistic insights on how love affects us mere mortals. In its raw and unpolished takes it succeeds in making us not just see a character but rather a part of ourselves in the film.No heart is hard enough not be swayed or melted with a love so true that it consumes you whole. Mace and Anthony aren’t just movie characters—they’re your friend, officemate, classmate, sister, brother, neighbor, and heck, even you.

Unlike most indies, this one had wide mainstream audience appeal; which definitely a good step forward for Philippine Cinema. The story is completely relatable and brought to life with pithy witty words and delightful disarming performances. I think I want a sequel

Here are some #HUGOT lines from the movie that most, if not all, can relate to.

  1. “Para sa mga umibig, nasaktan, ngunit umibig pa rin. You know, tatanga-tanga.” At the beginning of the film, this lines appeared, which brings some truth in them. This suggests that the film is dedicated and made for those loved and lost, but chose to love again.
  1. Kung mahal mo, habulin mo, ipaglaban mo. Wag mong hintaying may magtulak sa kanya pabalik sa’yo. Hilahin mo. Hanggang kaya mo, wag kang bibitaw.” If you love someone, set them free, right? And if they come back, their yours? No, no. Mace believes that if you love someone, you run after them and fight for them. You don’t wait for destiny to push them back towards you. You pull them hard as long as you can.
  1. “Alam mo ‘yung sinabi ni F. Scott Fitzgerald? There are all kinds of love in this world, but never the same love twice.” You will surely see this quote in a different light after watching this film.
  1. “Kasi ‘yung ganyang kalaking pagmamahal, ganyang overwhelming love, imposibleng walang pupuntahan eh. May mababalik sayong pagmamahal. Not necessarily sa taong pinagbigyan mo, pero sigurado ako, mababalik ‘yan sa’yo.” No matter how hard or how long it takes, chances are, you can always recover from a heartbreak. As Anthony said, it’s impossible for an overwhelming love to go to nowhere. That love will always come back to you. It may not necessarily come from the person whom you gave love to, but love will definitely be reciprocated.
  1. “Pano ba makalimot?”“Pwede kang uminom gabi gabi, pwede kang umiyak gabi gabi, pwede kang makipagdate kung kani-kanino, o pwede ka ring makahanap ng new love.” There are many ways to mend a broken heart. You can drown yourself with beer, you can cry every night, you can go out and meet other people, or you can find a new love.

For you guys, who haven’t see the film..here’s the trailer and the OST the film.

 Enjoy, and feel free to let me know if you enjoyed the movie! Happy love month!

 Disclaimer: All photos were from That Thing Called Tadhana’s Facebook Page.

Poetry #6 – Of Love [or Pain (or Happiness)]

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The principle is: the brain decides if it is pain or pleasure.

One trusts what is initially felt,

as if nothing could have endangered happiness;

or as if one cannot see through the cracks.

Maybe, just maybe: It was Nobody’s fault.

Nobody ever thought that maybe what was wrong was the timing,

and nothing else.

The ill-fated brain becomes a fool

If everything goes right,

because although happiness is sometimes quite elusive,

one can always fumble towards it.

And the brain, quite left out,

will never believe that in truth, the principle is:

the heart decides if it is real.

Two Thousand and Fourteen

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Another year is about to end. Wow. 12 months surely passed by so quickly. I won’t be calling this a thank you and a sorry blog anymore, just to make things a little different and since many such fine memories happened this year.

For me, it’s been a mix of earthquakes and rainbows. The year began very silent and a bit emotional but it was also a crazy, busy few months that made time go faster than expected. 2014 has been a roller coaster ride: stepping out from our comfort zones, learning to appreciate other people, accepting flaws and finding beauty in it, charging things to experience and gaining wisdom from it.

Since I am set out to the real world, I learned so many things, learned how to appreciate the little things, and realize that no act is too small. 2014 taught us a lot of things, introduced us  to a lot of people, opened our minds to innovations, and helped us accept and love the people around us. Indeed, Adventure is out there, and out there I go, and these are the most important things that I have learned so far:

Hard work pays off. Sometimes, it’s not always the brains and the charms that work their wonders, hard work still prevails among other things. You should learn how to focus on your goal and keep pushing and keep trying until you get it.

Responsibilities are harder when you get older. I don’t know about other people my age, but my responsibilities somehow got heavier than before. I felt like, there’s no space for screwing up and you have to carefully think of your decisions before it’s too late.

People pleasers don’t always have it good. I must admit that I used to be one because I thought that things would be better that way, but no. You will be more respected as a person who follows his/her own beliefs than a person without their own stand in life.

Learn to be contented in life. That sometimes enough is just what we need.

Continue to be positive. There have been a lot of people who noticed how a happy person I am and it felt great. What’s even better is that, my positivity can be contagious which made me a little proud of myself since I’ve always wanted to be THAT PERSON, a person that brings joy to everyone.

Goodbyes. A few people dear to me had to leave to start their new journey. Sad, but parting is inevitable sometimes and you just have to be happy for them.

Hellos. “If someone goes, someone new comes along.” New people came into my life and for that I am more than thankful. Some of them became friends, a few beaus and some old acquaintance eventually became good friends.

Today is a New Year. A start of a journey for some, the end for others or for those walking a long path, it’s just another day. No matter what point we are in right now, this is the time to remember all the good and the bad for the past 364 days. It’s been a fun, wild ride but surely something to be thankful for. For all the blessings that we have received, for the family and friends that we still have, for the love that we still share, for the laughter and tears that we can still give. Most of all, for another chance that we get to breathe again and make a difference in this world.

Forget all the sorrow and pain of the past year and embrace all the good things that happened to us. If not for trials we are not as strong as we are now, and if not for the optimism and hope, we are not where we are now.

Welcome 2015 with a bang, with a thankful heart and a vision of a blessed future. Let go and let God. Wake up each morning feeling brand new and encouraged to do something worthwhile. Do not be afraid to fail but be courageous enough to stand up and try again. Do not hesitate to fall in love for even with uncertainty, love is always beautiful. Laugh hard, cry hard. Walk with your head held high but with your feet kept in the ground. Be motivated and accept the challenges that life will offer. Dream big and believe in yourself. Never fear change for it will help you grow.

This 2015, as we continue to seek for adventures, may we also remember to thank Him for everything He has done for us. Not everyone is lucky enough to survive this catastrophic year, and for those of us who did: may we continue to seek for beauty and spread the love.

May everyone have a happy, blessed, and wonderful year ahead. This chapter may be blank for now, but let us all grab our pens and construct wonderful memories once again. Good luck, and God bless.

Bonne année à tous!! :)

Date A Man Who Loves You More

Book Review: Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

kafkashoreSUMMARY from GoodReads:

Kafka on the Shore, a tour de force of metaphysical reality, is powered by two remarkable characters: a teenage boy, Kafka Tamura, who runs away from home either to escape a gruesome oedipal prophecy or to search for his long-missing mother and sister; and an aging simpleton called Nakata, who never recovered from a wartime affliction and now is drawn toward Kafka for reasons that, like the most basic activities of daily life, he cannot fathom.

Their odyssey, as mysterious to them as it is to us, is enriched throughout by vivid accomplices and mesmerizing events. Cats and people carry on conversations, a ghostlike pimp employs a Hegel-quoting prostitute, a forest harbors soldiers apparently unaged since World War II, and rainstorms of fish (and worse) fall from the sky.

There is a brutal murder, with the identity of both victim and perpetrator a riddle – yet this, along with everything else, is eventually answered, just as the entwined destinies of Kafka and Nakata are gradually revealed, with one escaping his fate entirely and the other given a fresh start on his own.

REVIEW:

Finished my reading assignment for myself for this month. Actually I started reading this book some months ago, around July in fact, but only got serious with it late last week, and finished it just now. My head’s still spinning. I feel like I can’t think properly, but I also feel like I’ll forget all my thoughts and feelings about the book now. When I finished reading, my immediate reaction was ‘There is no way I can possibly write a review of this’. Mostly because I could not even dissect my own opinion of the novel.

*SOME SPOILER ALERT*  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Kafka on the Shore has two ongoing plots that seem to parallel, yet seem to have nothing to do, with each other. Kafka on the Shore opens as 15 year-old Kafka Tamura, who is described by one of the characters in the book as a “cool, tall, fifteen-year-old, lugging around a backpack and a bunch of obsessions.” He prepares to run away from home. Living in Nakano Ward, Tokyo, Kafka is fleeing his father’s twisted, Oedipal prophecy – a prophecy that predicts Kafka will kill his father, and sleep with his mother and sister. Although both mother and sister left home when Kafka was just 4 years-old, Kafka is resolved to ensure that the prophecy has no chance of realization. At times, Kafka is accompanied by a spectral alter-ego named Crow, who encourages him by spouting the mantra: “You have to be the world’s toughest fifteen-year-old” but often he is alone though he never seems to have any trouble getting help from benevolent strangers. He flees to Takamatsu, where he establishes himself as an assistant in the Komura Private Library, thanks to the help of the librarian Oshima. When Kafka’s father is murdered, however, the threads of reality begin to unravel and time oscillates. As the narrative of Kafka’s journey progresses, the plot is intersected with the parallel odyssey of the elderly Nakata. After undergoing a strange childhood experience during the Second World War, in which he fell into an inexplicable coma after seeing a flashing light in the sky, Nakata was left with a blank memory and the loss of his reading and writing abilities. Now designated mentally-impaired, Nakata’s old-age is distinguished only by his strange talent for talking to cats. After a run-in with the mysterious Johnnie Walker, a man who murders cats and eats their hearts, Nakata sets out on his own journey across Japan – a journey that sees fish raining from the sky and a pimp modeling himself on Colonel Sanders (of KFC fame). As Nakata’s and Kafka’s fates look set to collide, it is clear that resolution for both cannot be achieved without further bloodshed. And the closer the plot comes to its conclusion, the more reality loses its shape to the riddle of existence.

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Just like Kafka, and most of the characters in the book, he has lost something and is trying, in his own way, for the most part without realizing it, to get it back.

“Narrow minds devoid of imagination. Intolerance, theories cut off from reality, empty terminology, usurped ideals, inflexible systems. Those are the things that really frighten me. What I absolutely fear and loathe. Of course it’s important to know what’s right and what’s wrong. Individual errors in judgment can usually be corrected. As long as you have the courage to admit mistakes, things can be turned around. But intolerant, narrow minds with no imagination are like parasites that transform the host, change form and continue to thrive. They’re a lost cause, and I don’t want anyone like that coming in here.”

First things first: I’d be lying if I said I understood this book. I don’t, for the most parts. I’m not even going to attempt to summarize it, because I don’t think I can. It just isn’t that simple. This novel is weird. Really weird. But in a good way. My reading experience of Kafka on the Shore was full of confusion – in fact, I’ve finished it now and I still don’t understand what the hell was going on. There’s a man who collects cats’ souls to make flutes, fish falling from the sky, a ghost of a woman who’s still alive. I mean, I should have expected this sort of craziness from Murakami, but this was definitely beyond the level of crazy that I’m used to. All I can say is that it’s brilliant, and thought-provoking.

Nevertheless, the story was strangely addictive. Despite my constant state of confusion – and the many times I flinched at something horrible or eerie – I did actually enjoy the book. Kafka on the Shore is not a book that offers answers. Kafka is a labyrinth of metaphors and whether you ever make it through this labyrinth and get to the centre is not a certainty. I’m certainly not there yet. Every time you turn a corner and think “ah-ha!” thinking you have finally got it, Murakami sweeps out of your way and you’re left puzzled once again.

I keep getting the feeling that understanding what the story is about, what all the metaphors and symbols are trying to tell me, is just around the corner. But the above quote, spoken by Oshima, stuck out to me as perhaps the best explanation of what Murakami is trying to do. You know that underneath the randomness, the weirdness there is a depth hidden like a yet to be explored world.

Both narrative paths were quite interesting to read and both Kafka’s and Nakata’s paths introduced a number of other characters that were equally interesting and amazingly well developed.

The characters in Kafka on the Shore are amazingly well written. I felt like I could see each and every character so clearly in my mind’s eye. On top of great characters, Kafka on the Shore is a book this is easy to get lost in. This is a novel that has incredibly blurry lines between reality and the fantastical.  It challenges the reader to decide what is real, what is imagined, and what is possible within the bounds of reality that is represented in the story.

“And you really will have to make it through that violent, metaphysical, symbolic storm. No matter how metaphysical or symbolic it might be, make no mistake about it: it will cut through flesh like a thousand razor blades. People will bleed there, and you will bleed too. Hot, red blood. You’ll catch that blood in your hands, your own blood and the blood of others. And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm is all about.”

Kafka on the Shore is a book that pushes the limits of imagination by twisting experience within the boundaries of reality. It is not set in a world invented entirely by the author’s mind but is, instead, grounded in contemporary Japanese society and culture. As a reader, I found this abstraction uncomfortable – but not in a bad way. It is uncomfortable because it naturally sends you looking for answers, trying to work out why. But as the above quote illustrates, Murakami did not write this book to offer a simple plot with eventual resolution. Rather, Kafka on the Shore is comprised almost entirely of riddles, few of which are given any kind of answer.

I believe everyone’s journey from youth into adulthood has a little bit of magic in it no matter what. There’s no doubt that relationships, love and life can take on a magical quality during those times. There’s some beautiful moments, some brutal moments, and some that are just flat out weird. This blend of fantasy-literature/magical realism made for an enjoyable read.

My main problem with the novel, though, is the same one I had with 1Q84. There are no explanations, no conclusions. The hundred-and-one weird and wonderful events in the novel remain a mystery to all involved. Sure, a lot of people might like that in a story, but for me it’s a little annoying – if a fantasy takes place in the real world, I want to know why and how it happened as it did. Why did the man want to make souls? How did Nakata make it rain mackerel? Why did the ghost appear?

Obviously, I really enjoyed this book, but it’s one of those books that is hard for me to articulate why I found it so enjoyable. Sure, this is a fantastic book on a technical level.  And it’s a great book on a readability level.  But it’s frustrating when I can’t point to why I like something so much.  Maybe it’s that combination of technical skill and storytelling that makes this book feel so different and special to me.

Overall, I would highly recommend this novel. If you like fantasy and are looking for something thrilling and addictive, give Kafka on the Shore a read. I know this won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but even so, I would still recommend that people give this book a try. The book is weird. Really weird. But it’s a powerful story that will, at the very least, challenge one to think about this very strange, very familiar world. But if you want a light-hearted read, or are easily confused, this is not the book for you.

What I Want: Things And Stuff

Reblogged this article from Thought Catalog:

Love, it does not arrive in it’s perfect form.

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“So what is it, exactly, that you want?” she asks. Then she jumps right into it. “It seems like for me it changes every day. I just know that, at least right now, I don’t want anything serious. I can’t be serious with you, because, well, you know. Life.”

I nod the affirmative. (Life, man.)

“But, yeah,” she continues. “What do you want, out of, like, this?” She points back and forth at me from across the table, like a person ushering an airplane in for a landing.

“I don’t know,” I say. “Not exactly. It changes for me too. A lot. But at this point, keeping things casual is good. Good for me, anyway. So we’re on the same page. I’m casual as a motherfucker.”

But this isn’t really how I feel. Not anymore. I have been keeping it casual—more or less without fail—since George W. Bush was president. I think I’m finally ready for some change I can believe in.

So I say this:

“Well, shit. Actually, what I just said is patently untrue. For starters, I want you. Desperately even. And the things that I unwillingly associate with you. Many things. Things that come with the greatest of romantic relationships, the ones you read about in the best of books and the ones you see in the sappiest of movies. The romantic things I aspire to now despite my having spent much of my life pretending to be apathetic or averse to the idea of them. The stuff you can experience from relationship inception to declaration of love and hopefully death and beyond, if there is a beyond.”

I can tell she is taken aback by this sudden outburst, because she is giving me a look like I am about to leave her for her older brother.

“W-what?” she says.

I tell her I am going to keep going and request that she please hear me out. I think that this is my chance to deliver words that will make a person fall in love with me, which is essentially what I have been aiming for my entire life.

“I’ve given this a lot of thought, apparently, and can tell you in one sentence that what I really want is The One, if indeed such a thing as The One exists. And if The One doesn’t exist, I’m going to be fucked because I realize now I will strive for The One until either I find her or die alone looking for a hand to hold. What I want is to be happy, and the end-all-be-all of my happiness is going to come sometime after I find the perfect person for me to spend the rest of my life with. In this way, I am like Ted Mosby, and you know what? I’m not going to apologize for that. If I could traipse my way through life completely happy alone, and without qualms re: living out my days unspoken for, then I would absolutely do it, no questions asked and zero fucks given. But we can’t always help what we want.

“I want to end my workday and look forward to seeing someone afterward, instead of looking forward to spending time reading a book and drinking whiskey, a pastime that can be vastly improved upon. I want someone to marathon House of Cards with me. Someone to introduce me to trashy television shows I’ll pretend not to like. I will act like a martyr when we switch it on; even though this special someone will know that I’m just trying to hide my glee about watching Glee, in an attempt to retain some of my perceived masculinity. I want a girl to recite repetitive commercials with me, the ones we see all the time on Hulu, which we will use to air the late night shows from the day prior while we prepare dinner and drink wine together in comfortable clothing.

“I want to take the worry that I will live most of my life alone out of the existential equation. I want a reason I consider viable for self-preservation, and I want that reason to be a human being. I want somebody who wants to be with me, to spend time together—whether we’re embarking on radical adventures or doing boring, monotonous things that are no longer boring and monotonous when they’re conquered in the company of The One you harbor love toward.

“I want to be the dude who can’t always stay late at work because he actually has solidified plans with his significant other. ‘It’s our anniversary tonight,’ I’ll say, ‘so I really can’t—I’m taking her on this date that starts at the subway station where we kissed the first time, the night of our first date.’

“When my grandfather asks me if there are ‘any live ones’ I want to answer ‘Yes, there is, this one: here she is, and yes, I agree; I did do good.’

“Someday I want to walk in the door after work, maybe in some suburb, or the city, or even a fucking farm way out in rural who knows where—it doesn’t really matter to me because by then I will be comfortable in believing that it is who I’m with and not where I am that really matters.

“Then I want to kiss whoever this ends up being and ask her how her day was. I will smile a bunch because we made this life together, this life that is what I always knew in some way would make me happy, happier than anything else I had ever experienced or done. I want to go to bed with her and be thrilled that I’m sleeping next to someone and not alone, no matter how much of the space or sheets she seizes as her own.

“I want all of these things. But, you know, what I need is something else entirely—a different but important thing to consider, you know?”

She looks at me for a few seconds, says, “That was…strange. You have clearly given this way too much thought.”

“I know,” I say. “I can’t help it.”

“Well, maybe you should just let it happen. Stop thinking yourself out of happiness.”

“Yeah. That might be a good idea. Probably. I’ll try it.”

“I have to go,” she says.

“I thought so.” 

Book Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor park FINAL updatewebSUMMARY from GoodReads:

Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor…Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor.

Park…He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

REVIEW:

I first read Fangirl, then it was time to pick up the ‘big one’, Eleanor & Park. Would it live up to its tremendous hype? Was it even possible to make me ship a couple as strongly as I shipped Levi and Cath?

I just finished reading Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. Since, I’ve been MIA for quite sometime and I haven’t done anything I open up this blog and begin typing. I don’t want the magic to fade in my mind at all before I capture at least a tiny speck of it here. And, because I am so enraptured and enthralled, perhaps you will also capture a tiny speck of the same magic emanating from my computer screen to yours.

Fangirl will always occupy a special place in my heart but Eleanor & Park has this slow, messy, beautiful, strange, broken, healing quality to it that sucked me in from the start. We’re presented with two teenage protagonists with issues and passions and insecurities of their own: the overweight and under-loved Eleanor, and the half-Korean, fully-music-obsessed Park.

Not wanting to give away any of the plot, my summary doesn’t do the book justice. Just suffice it to say it is way better than I am making it sound.

Technically, this is a Young Adult novel. This is a lovely, carefully observed novel, about the way in which we move from strangers to intimates, and vice versa—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

Our so-called lovebirds meet on the school bus in Omaha in 1986. Eleanor is the new kid. She wears men’s clothes, she’s curvy, she has wild red hair, and she’s shark bait for the bullies. They do not get off to the greatest start. They’re both humiliated, cranky, and none too complimentary towards each other in their thoughts. Her mother has recently remarried, her step-father is a violent and controlling drunk. Eleanor has four younger siblings, and they all share a single small room in a tiny house in Omaha Nebraska.

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Park is half-Korean, sensitive to his oddity. Even his younger brother looks whiter than he does. He hides behind headphones and comic books on the noisy bus ride to school. The two of them meet when Park takes pity on the new girl, and offers to share his seat on the bus.

The story is told in two voices in alternating chapters so we get to know, and love, both Eleanor and Park equally. As their relationship develops and deepens we also get to know and appreciate Park’s parents, who play an important role in the story. Slowly, Rowell builds their budding friendship and growing attraction. Most of their interaction occurs on the bus at first, although they share English and History classes. It is the careful, delicate shifting of their relationship that is the book’s amazing talent. Awkwardly, they maintain a big space between them, studiously ignoring each other, but eventually finding things that connect them. Eleanor finds herself reading Park’s comics. Park notices the names of songs and bands written on her notebooks.

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These characters are placed in families that are also drawn with the same careful specificity. Eleanor’s home life bursts with the details of poverty–the safety pins that hold her clothes together, the cheap food her mother feeds them–beans and rice mostly. Park lives a more middle-class existence, with his own room, and only one brother.

Rowell seems to really “get” teenagers. Everything out of the mouths of these teens seemed authentic and true. It’s so sad as I read it because I suddenly realized that the horror that Eleanor lives in the pages of this book is likely the horror that some of the teens are currently actually living. I could have listened to Eleanor and Park talk about 80’s pop culture all the livelong day. I don’t even know what kind of shippy magic Rowell is wielding, but she made me swoon over a hand-holding scene.

Eleanor & Park also has one of the most shared, YA covers. It’s cute, and I’d seen a lot of people talk about how cute the story was, and how cute the romance was, and it was generally all rainbows and unicorns. Eleanor & Park is authentic and realistic, right down to the teenage awkwardness and self-awareness. The book captures the ways teens try to find themselves in the context of their families–what do they accept as normal, what do they chafe against. Exquisitely Rowell describes the growth of the relationship: the electric kick of the first time you hold hands with someone, the fear of being awkward at kissing, the fear of meeting the family, the way you become desperate for some privacy so you don’t have to enact your entire life in front of other people.

The plot? Well, there isn’t much, which is exactly right. It’s about how Eleanor and Park develop their relationship in the context of high school culture, and that is really enough. So Eleanor & Park is about the romance, yes, but it’s also about pushing through life, just trying to make it better in any way you can. The chapters are short and the writing style is amazing, which basically meant that I was reading while waiting in a coffee shop and eating, and giving up sleep in order to read some more. I was so invested in the characters within the first few chapters that I just had to know what they were going to do next.

This book is weird, and I mean that in the best way. Rowell has a way of putting together characters and descriptions and sentences like no one else would do. Sure, that might but some people off, but to me sinking into a Rowell novel is like sinking into a warm bath, and you just want to sigh and roll around and let all the loveliness was over you. Her descriptions are distinct because they’re honest.

Personally, I wish Rowell had dropped Eleanor’s body shame a bit. I mean, she’s got red hair and untamable curls, she’s the new kid, she’s wicked poor, gets her clothing from thrift store, and has to wear that to shreds–isn’t that enough? Did you have to make her obsess about feeling fat too? It’s not like she gets much food, even.

Basically, Rowell knows how to make me swoon, and she also knows how to make me feel. She has a way of understating really strong and dramatic things that somehow causes them to have more impact. And Eleanor. Perhaps this storyline veered a bit into melodrama, but my god, Eleanor’s horrible home situation and her nightmare of a stepfather made me ache. But it also made the tenderness and unconventionality of her relationship with Park all the more beautiful.

I loved the pace of their relationships, the safe havens they created for each other, and the healthiness of their love. It was so lovely to read about a teenage couple who seem to bring out so much good in each other. Equal parts heart-warmingly cute and heart-breakingly brutal, Eleanor & Park is kind of like that eclectic mixed tape that you need to listen to at just the right time in your life, and it will feel like it’s speaking directly to you.

With “Eleanor & Park” Rowell reminded me of what it was like to be 16 again. From insecurity ugly face and oppressive gut feeling on the first day of school, to ecstasy by making a whole night disappear with long telephone conversations about everything and nothing. It took me a single chapter, and I found myself suddenly in both forgotten and repressed teenage world again.

Here are some quotes from the book which I love. No spoilers, just hand-holding…

“Holding Eleanor’s hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive.”

“The first time he’d held her hand, it felt so good that it crowded out all the bad things. It felt better than anything had ever hurt.”

“Ever since the first day they’d met, Eleanor was always seeing him in unexpected places. It was like their lives were overlapping lines, like they had their own gravity. Usually, that serendipity felt like the nicest thing the universe had ever done for her.”

“Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”

As for the ending, it’s good. I won’t say whether it ends happily or tragically- no spoilers policy and all that- but it fits the book. While it’s clearly understandable, there’s just the right amount of ambiguity, and it’s really just perfect.

It’s a good book. It’s a written romance that everyone has experienced. Not only is this story directed at teens, adults will fall in love with it as well simply because we were all teenagers once. It’s worth the read. This is the type of book where readers will want curl up on my couch and devour it because everything in this story is real; teens and adults know what it’s liked to be love, to be bullied, to feel scared, and to feel that things seem hopeless.

However, this story also shows what it’s like to be crazy happy. This books has managed to transform me into the 16 year old girl I was knew and it was because of her that I feel that Eleanor and Park will have the happy ending that we all dream of.

Eleanor & Park is a novel that you’ll read and understand why people love it so much, even if it’s not your cup of tea.

What did you all think? If you’ve read this wonderful book, please share your thoughts in the comments. Anyway, if you haven’t read this book, you can find out more about Rainbow Rowell here:

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