Friday, May 27, 2016


I'm stuck in monotony. So much so that I have newfound appreciation for that one line of the Nine Inch Nails song Non-Entity: "maze of monochrome." It's a special kind of hell to be hurt by the mediocrity of everyday life, but I think that's the way it is for a lot of people. Maybe that's something to be thankful for--I don't know. The dreaded "could be worse" also keeps circling through my head.

But for whatever reason, after a particularly bad day--no. Not even. Bad moment. Bad two minutes, five minutes tops.

After a particularly bad day, I went all braindead for most of the afternoon. I blacked out at some point during mindless 'net browsing and when I came to, I was watching some recent commencement speech delivered by a clever, popular author I still can't figure out if I like or not.

And it got me thinking about something.

I know a lot of people dislike or at least are apathetic about The Dark Knight Rises. It's pretty divisive amongst fans. Which is redundant to say when it comes to superhero movies as of late. Everything's divisive. Even the stuff everyone likes, it manages to become divisive eventually. I've started to realize in recent decades that comic book movies have become, like, the defining component of my generation's pop culture. We will remember Marvel vs. DC, the controversy of Man of Steel, the remakes and neverending sequels of Fantastic Four and Spiderman and X-Men made by studios trying desperately to retain the rights to the material.

. . . oh my god, this is why all my books break the 100k word mark.

Okay, okay. Tangent. Back on track: so a shitton of people don't really like The Dark Knight Rises. And I know you can't judge the merit of a piece of art based on its message. If you wrote a story where characters stopped every ten seconds to say, "hey, racism sucks," then, well, you technically have a good message, sure, but what are you doing with it? Why should we care? What are you saying that others haven't said already?

I tend to appreciate stories for the messages they're trying to impart, while also remembering to be critical of their writing separate of whether or not I agree with "The Point" that's being made. But for whatever reason, I find it difficult to separate The Message of The Dark Knight Rises from the plot, character, structure, cinematography, music, etc. All that sticks out is that theme and all that remains with me is the scene that defines the movie and it becomes the reason I have never disliked it.

It comes down to the bit where the blind man in the prison says words that ensures Bruce Wayne succeeds in attaining freedom.

Prisoner: You do not fear death. You think this makes you strong. It makes you weak.
Bruce: Why?
Prisoner: How can you move faster than possible, fight longer than possible without the most powerful impulse of the spirit: the fear of death?
Bruce: I do fear death. I fear dying in here, while my city burns, and there's no one there to save it.
Prisoner: Then make the climb.
Bruce: How?
Prisoner: As the child did. Without the rope. Then fear will find you again.

So there it was. A conclusion I'd probably come to from other movies and books. From things other people had said and other stories I'd heard. I knew it--fear is necessary, to endure, to grow, to move. But it'd never hit me quite as much as it did when I saw The Dark Knight Rises. And I can't say why, it just did.

I bring it up because, in the years following watching that film, I have abhorded hearing that same lesson in other stories. The day I realized I was doing automatic eye-rolls to it was the day I encountered, "fear doesn't shut you down; it wakes you up," in Divergent.  Automatic eyeroll. One day I remembered that line from Green Lantern, "you have the ability to overcome great fear," and it sounded vapid. I want to gag every time someone tries to redefine fearlessness and bravery and all the comparing/contrasting. Every time someone (in an essay, book, movie, game, whatever) talks about overcoming fear, or embracing fear, it annoys me. The one exception is that moment in The Dark Knight Rises and this line from A Game of Thrones:

Bran: Can a man still be brave if he's afraid?
Ned Stark: That is the only time a man can be brave.

That's the exact same thing as "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it." But hearing the latter quoted on Twitter, and seeing the former on Goodreads causes entirely different reactions. I don't give a shit about the latter. It doesn't inspire anything. The former rings true and stays with me and makes me think. Context or no context, one feels truer than the other, even though they're literally the same thing.

I don't know why. Word composition?

I realized that among the many things I hate, commencement speeches rank pretty high up there. Top twenty, I say. It's in the top twenty things I hate. I had music blasting in my ear throughout my entire university graduation. Same with my brother's high school graduation. In the past, when I'd felt sad and needed Instant Inspiration, Just Add Water, I looked up famous commencement speeches by famous articulate people and I listened to them all. And I always came to one conclusion. They all sound like bullshit. Even those made by people I admire. Even those with clever phrasing. They are all equally bullshit.

And I mean that. The ones that point out the cliches of inspirational speeches or that acknowledge how inherently hollow and forgettable all commencement speeches of the past are--those are just as bad as the ones filled with Believe in Yourself and Embrace Failure and Fear and whateverthefuckelse. They are all bullshit. Those commencement speeches will never be anything except bullshit, no matter how witty or ironic or brutally honest the speaker is.

We use the same words to reach the same conclusions. And we need to do it because humanity as a whole (me included) has short term memory loss.

Monday, May 9, 2016


I wasn't going to type this up on the blog. But the second I tried to scribble it down on my leather journal, my illegible writing transcended into hieroglyphics and I decided it was probably safer to use a keyboard than my 0.5 tip pen. (That detail is important in case you ever want to get me a cheap birthday present. Pens must be just as or finer than 0.5 mm).

The reason the writing turned sloppy isn't for emotional distress--though I may just discuss that. It was for a purely shallow reason. I finished painting my own nails and I can't figure out how long I'm supposed to wait for the paint to dry before I can go back to being fully functional. Now I'm typing with my hands at an uncomfortably rigid horizontal angle while I stare at both the words on the screen and the letters blocked by my painted nails. The black polish bled into my skin, right around the edges, and I cut my nails to an almost bleeding point yesterday so I can't say it's all that aesthetically pleasing. Mom's getting me actual nail polish remover so I can soak a Q-tip in it and dab at the edges.

I tried to paint them yesterday but it was a mess because I hadn't quite registered the fact that excess polish on the brush = weird lumps on the nails and messy droplets everywhere. I stained not just my hands, but the bathroom sink, and ultimately I was so annoyed, I decided to take off that first layer and pretend I never bought three dollar nail polish.

But without nail polish remover or regular old rubbing alcohol, I had to use the next best thing: a five dollar perfume I bought from CVS almost a year ago. I sprayed Lilies and Freesia onto a paper towel and scrubbed at my nails till they were bare again. Today, for whatever reason, I decided to paint them again while watching V for Vendetta on Netflix. It just finished. So I decided to watch Elizabethtown because all I've ever known it as for years is That-Manic-Pixie-Dream-Girl-Movie.

When I started writing on the journal, I wrote, "I think I'm having some kind of idiotic, delayed rebellious stage." (I did in fact make it to the end of that sentence before I realized I couldn't continue holding the pen at such a weird angle).

I meant that in only a superficial way. I guess I've done a few reckless things involving people I've already talked about, but it's mostly about my appearance and my mood. It's all sour and easily annoyed, and even though I'm twenty years old, one of these days you'll catch me smiling with my lips painted black and my teeth lined by braces. I'll be in a semi-translucent summer dress with floral patterns, the black slip beneath too short, constantly riding up. Black boots paired with it.

I was wearing a variation of that outfit (no make-up, I'm afraid) on Friday. As we were driving to work, mom finally had to say, "you look nice." [Lengthy pause]. "But you look fourteen."

"How is this a dress a fourteen-year-old would wear?"

"Not the dress. You. You look fourteen."

I also bought make up for the first time a few weeks ago. Twenty dollars and I went with the BB cream and powder that's one shade lighter than my skintone because I'm a massive idiot. Lesson learned: I am not a medium. I am . . .whatever is one shade darker than medium. Medium dark? They had a ton of weird names at the CVS--which, as established, is where I get all beauty products it seems.

Anyways I was feeling weird on Friday, but I figured since my hair looked descent and my dress was pretty, I shouldn't head home right after work. I took the metro to Sunset, ate at Sushi Maki, then went to go buy a 20 dollar leather bound journal I didn't need from Barnes and Noble. It's still in the plastic wrapping because I have about three other notebooks in use right now--mini leatherette journal with a compass rose at the cover, floral journal for Millennium Girl, and boring composition notebook for Death Awakens.

I was thinking about the latter as I was walking around Barnes and Noble. I found a weird poetry collection which I think is about a girl who was raped continuously when she was younger and then I found a really tiny, pocket sized Romeo and Juliet book on one of those Barnes and Noble exclusives stands. I almost bought them both before remembering I have a copy of the latter at home--one I stole from a high school English professor. It's got an ugly cover with a rose photoshopped over a starry sky--which I know are thematically appropriate given the text, but it feels so lazy. And there's a gotta be a way not to be lazy about Romeo and Juliet. The Brows Held High's episode on Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet explains all the water imagery in the adaptation happens because a) it's a visual representation of Juliet's promise that her love is like the sea and b) it's an erotic element.

But a rose and starry sky?

That's so . . . lazyyy. Lazy lazy lazy. I know we all are forced to read Romeo and Juliet in ninth grade, but did the publishers get one of those high schoolers to design that book cover too?

But whatever. Point is, I don't need to buy it. I have it. I stole it for a reason.

I do remember studying Romeo and Juliet in high school, but it didn't make an impact on me. It doesn't make an impact on anyone. I'll stand by that statement until proven otherwise--we all read Romeo and Juliet when we were in high school and not a single one of us gave a fuck. (We also all watched the Luhrmann adaptation). By the time senior year rolled around, we all knew Romeo and Juliet as that story about those two idiots who think they fell in love before even exchanging any words and killed themselves on a misunderstanding. They're idiots, it's not a love story, blah blah blah.

Romeo and Juliet became one of those things we all grew desensitized to and, because of that, we mock whoever calls it the most romantic story ever written.

This backlash against the play happens because no one ever sees teenagers as teenagers. They're either children or they're adults, and when they act like idiots, it's either not the least bit their fault because, duh, kids, or it's totally their fault because they should have known better.

Same way people read Lolita and come out thinking the titular girl is as much to blame as the pedophile who molested her and destroyed her childhood. You'd be surprised to hear how many people see that book as either a true tragic romance or a story about a gullible if disturbed man who is seduced and manipulated by a fille fatale.

I figured Lola--from my Death Awakens novel--read Lolita when she was thirteen. Read it at around the same age Carpathia and I read it. But unlike the years of preparation and discussion that Carp and I had before going into that novel, Lola just heard she had a literary counterpart in a book that's been relentlessly banned and challenged for years. So Lola read it and came out of it thinking yes indeed, young fille fatale, with all her autonomy, seduced this man and suffered beautifully.

And when she's made to read Romeo and Juliet for class, she hates those two idiots. Hates them for having the audacity to react passionately to situations they were not mature enough to handle, with no one there to protect them.

(As I've mentioned before, that's the beautiful thing about Lola. Her self-perception is completely shot to shit).

So before I write Death Awakens (like, for realzies. Not whatever the hell I've been doing for the last few months), I'm going to need to reread Lolita and actually read/finish/process Romeo and Juliet properly. I figured if I'm going to discuss and explore the accountability of youth then I might as well have literary classics holding my hand through it.

But yeah--that's where I am now. Thinking about rereading Romeo and Juliet. My nails a mess because I never learned how to paint them, and my lips tinted black because I'm one of those wanna-be Goth kids who think that's edgy, and my braces peeking out every time I laugh hysterically at a bad movie or weird book. (I need to finish reading Kill the Boy Band. It's such a promising title, but I need actual psychotic, irresponsible teenage girls. Like, I need that book to be really dumb, no playing it safe).

I might add it's not a very good rebellious phase. It's a pretty pathetic one--the kind I was designed to undertake in eighth grade, but couldn't because I was too shy to be aggressively aloof and didn't have the money or resources to straighten my hair and put eight coats of eyeliner on my lids. I'm not prone to any substance abuse and I'm not climbing out my bedroom window at three in the morning to do who knows what. (How would I manage that, exactly? We live on the fifth floor). But this little phase I'm going through feels immature in a lot of ways. Wearing clothes that make me seem younger and fashionably challenged. Using make up in ways that looks ridiculous and shows my lack of skill. Wandering around bookstores to read poetry books by people who've suffered more than I have or buying leather journals I don't need when I could be saving up money.  I'm surly and don't talk much and I sit with my knees propped up to my chin on the bus, deafening my ears with angry industrial rock.  The other day, I gifted a friend condoms and brownies and it felt like such a . . . teenager-y thing to do. I don't know why because it's not like I had any use for condoms in high school nor is there an age requirement to love brownies, but pairing the two seemed so ridiculously adolescent.

Maybe I'm overthinking little details of my life and behavior. Maybe this is how I'm happiest. Some boys spend their twenties fighting to avoid jobs involving wearing a suit and tie. Can't say I'm doing anything all that different.

The weird thing is--I hated nail polish growing up. I thought the smell was repugnant and I've always thought painted fingers looked kinda ugly. When my mom made me get my nails done for the eighth grade graduation dance, I was so annoyed. I thought the whole thing was worse than going to the dentist.

But I like it now. More so than I did growing up and even more so that it's messy and clumped up on fingernails that don't reach past my fingertips. (Anything longer than that annoys me. Like it gets in the way of my typing). I'm not trying to stun my maturity or growth, but I don't feel all that compelled to correct someone who thinks I look fourteen. I grow fonder of arguably over-the-top movies like V for Vendetta and more forgiving of shallow tragi-rom-coms like Elizabethtown. I waste too many hours thinking of aesthetics on Pinterest and stop worrying all that much about my near future, career, personal relationships.

How long does this last?

And when do I stop rambling?

(Here. Right here).
"Science and science fiction have done a kind of dance over the last century... The scientists make a finding. It inspires science fiction writers to write about it, and a host of young people read the science fiction and are excited, and inspired to become scientists...which they do, which then feeds again into another generation of science fiction and science..."
- Carl Sagan, in his message to future explorers of Mars.