Senior Summer: Maybe I Can Actually Get Stuff Done This Summer? Maybe?

There’s no good time to make and keep a goal…except maybe during a three-month vacation? Short of launching a multi-billionaire entrepreneurship or being employed as a teacher (and even the former isn’t likely to take breaks, giving how tech is innovated these days), a three-month vacation isn’t likely to ever happen again.

So why not take advantage of it? Some scientists say it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. That pretty much means that you have three tries to get it right this summer.

Keep it simple. Don’t be super ambitious like run 5 miles everyday if you haven’t even broken in a pair of sneakers. Maybe just running three times a week. If you want to enhance your photog skills, learn how to use free apps and take an artsy photo everyday. Tackle a Buzzfeed challenge. Start off small.

And once you have a goal (or goals, maybe you are ambitious!), here are some tips to help you reach it.

As for me, I have been woefully remiss on my leisure activities this year. Surprisingly, being an English major doesn’t allow me a lot of time to read for fun or watch for fun, so I’ll be tackling (fingers crossed) a book and a show a week–either catching up on a current show or finishing the series of a cancelled show. (Below are this week’s:)

That said, I also, finally learned how to use the app I bought over a year ago. You can get Gif Brewery through the Apple Store. I finally had fun with some old videos:

A M Montgomery 2015 Gif

A M Montgomery 2015 Gif

Good luck on your goals, guys!

Season Caught-up/Series Complete: Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix

(Great series but so violently graphic at times, I had to cover both my eyes and ears)

Book Read: What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

(Dessen is very predictable when it comes to romance; that said, I wish it would have ended a bit more realistically)

Book Review: The Most Frustrating Cliffhanger I Have Ever Encountered

[The post was originally drafted on Thursday, March 6, 2014]

Have you ever just read a book and it just completely messed you up?

Well, seeing as it’s currently 1:49 in the morning and I have an 8:30am class later, I would say that I am currently in that state.

My eyes are burning, my breathing is thick like it doesn’t want to leave my throat and yet I am completely wide awake. Wired, as if I downed a week’s worth of caffeine, but too anxious to put any of this energy to good use like to do reading for classes or study for a midterm.

I can’t stop thinking. My brain won’t turn off.

The cause this week?

Two causes actually.

Eleanor and Park.

"Eleanor and Park" by Rainbow Rowell (Picture from Goodreads)

“Eleanor and Park” by Rainbow Rowell (Picture from Goodreads)

Yet another novel by Rainbow Rowell but this one is geared towards younger folk (think high school students) and it takes place in 1986. I’m not sure how much time I spent reading the book since I first picked it up from the local library but I can confirm that a part of me has been itching to read more and more since I began.

Eleanor and Park is about two outcasts, well, misfits, well, perhaps goodreads does a better job of summing it up:

“Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.”

And boy, does it pull you under! This book had me on a roller coaster of ups and downs the entire novel as it shifts between Park’s and Eleanor’s perspectives. I’d like to say that I favor one over the other (it depends on the point in the story), but honestly, I feel for both of them.

What’s interesting about this novel (something that Fangirl, another book by Rowell has in common) is that there are some loose ends that are never tied up. In Fangirl, these loose ends pertain to Cath’s mother and her relationship with Levi (and Nick for that matter). In Eleanor and Park, it is a whole slew of things.

Sometimes characters do or say awkward or clumsy things, which, as readers who are teenagers or have been teenagers, we can put aside because explaining these actions don’t really matter to the plot. On the other hand, there are many more parts of the story line that are left unresolved at the end of the novel, such as:

  • Did Park get his comics back?
  • Did Eleanor and Park do the deed?
  • What happened to the rest of Eleanor’s family?
  • How did Richie discover Eleanor’s secret?
  • Why did Richie write those things (and was there any prior incident for it)?
  • What happened to Cal?
  • What happened to DeNice and Beebi?

And the biggest, possibly definitely most heart-wrenching, infuriating yet somehow understandable loose end is the ending.

Yes, the ending. The last four words of the book are probably what are contributing the most to my insomnia right now.

This ending is also what makes me hesitate from giving this book as positive a review as Fangirl. It’s so ambiguous.

In any case, I still recommend the book. Nerds abound (music, comics, and Star Wars fanatics) will love its references. It may not be for everyone but it’s an exciting read. Rowell uses staccato syntax to punctuate each chapter like rapid gun-fire–noticeable and exhilarating. I think regardless of age or background, this novel will make you feel nostalgic (sometimes not necessarily in a good way) of high school and first romance or torn (or, if you’re like me, both!). This book has some pretty intense situations for the characters, addressing themes of sexuality, morality, gender-roles, self-esteem, and family values without being preachy about them. In fact, the majority of the novel is pretty sarcastic and funny or confusing (ah, just like the teenage years). I honestly couldn’t stop turning pages, even with the onslaught of assignments and sleep prodding me to stop.

I feel the urge to warn you of the excessive use of profanity and abusive language. It doesn’t detract the novel’s content but just in case, there you go.

Finally! A Book About College!

When people ask of my hobbies, in addition to sleeping and writing, I like to add: “Oh, yeah, I read bad YA novels, too.”

He or she chuckles, confused, and repeats: “Bad YA novels? What does that mean?”

“Young adult novels that are terrible, in prose or plot development or character development.”

Truth be told, I like to read all young adult novels; it’s just that the terrible ones tend to get a greater immediate reaction out of me, and there are so many of them!

A typical trait of many YA novels is the middle/high school setting. When I got to college, I wondered why there were so few college-setting books? Is it because what goes on there has been glamorized by television–with the booze, the sex, the drugs, the fun?

It started to make me believe that I was doing the college experience wrong. I am not engaged in any of the above debauchery. A typical Friday night includes gorging myself on Dining Hall pizza and ice cream before heading back to the dorm and arguing with my friends over which movie to watch before we agree to watch some harmless rom-com or retire to bed, reading a book.

“Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell reiterated all that I think of college and more. Not only is her main character a triple non-partier, drinker, and smoker, but she actually spends time doing her homework–an aspect of college previously unheard of in the pop culture media!

Image courtesy of "A Reading Nook: YA Book Blog" Don't Judge by Its Cover

Image courtesy of “A Reading Nook: YA Book Blog” Don’t Judge by Its Cover

Fangirl stems around a girl named Cath, who is heading to college in Nebraska, where she hopes to major in English and become a fiction writer. She doesn’t really want to make friends; she has her twin sister, Wren, there and her sorta-boyfriend, Abel, back home, and her fanfiction. Yes, her fanfiction.

Previously undiscovered in media in detail, Rowell presents the culture of fanfiction through Cath, a major writer on the fanfiction site. Cath basically writes the Harry Potter equivalent fanfiction of a Harry and Draco pairing, and she has quite a following. She’s on the clock; she wants to finish her story before the actual last book in the series comes out, but everything will be fine, right?

A few weeks before school starts, Wren tells Cath that they shouldn’t room together. Cath needs to break out and find her own friends, that’s what college is for, right?

So while Wren embraces the drinking and party culture with her new best friend/roommate, Courtney, Cath attempts to stay out her cranky, upperclassmen roommate, Reagan, and Reagan’s “maybe boyfriend”/excited puppy best friend, Levi’s way when going back and forth to her room between classes.

I refuse to spoil the book anymore because I think anyone who is in college, was in college, going to college, or even thought the word “college” in any way, should read this book. Honestly, whatever pre-conceived notions you think you have about the plot and characters are going to be upended and tossed aside.

Rowell is absolutely brilliant in presenting this other side of college, this absolutely realistic side (that is never shown) and in conveying the unfolding of events in Cath’s life in such a way as to not appear as “deux ex machina” when things go right or “saw that irony coming!” when things go wrong. Not only does she explore the relationship between classmates, siblings, significant others, and parents in a coming-of-age story, we, as the readers, also relate to the relationships contributed to inanimate objects, such as fictional characters, books, assignments, that still greatly affect our thoughts and our lives, a paradox in and of itself.

For me, it does beg the question of whether of not I would still love this book, if the main character were not so relatable to myself. Part of the reason, I disliked John Green’s “Looking for Alaska” was because the lifestyle of underage drinking and sex, and fantasies of a person who was almost completely indifferent to your existence seemed weird, odd, and out-of-place. How would “Fangirl” change for me, if I were to read it from Wren’s point of view? (Answer: I would probably be rooting for Cath whenever she showed up).

Fortunately for me, I do not have to make that choice, as Rowell has already written and published the book from Cath’s point of view. For now, I do not have wonder if I love the book; I can simply say thank you to Rowell for finally creating a “college” book from a different point of view. Thank you for making this book not only part of my top three of favorite books, but also for making it not part of my “Bad YA” hobby.