June 18, 2015

That in-between phase. and the perspective therefore afforded. Or, wherein I speak upon teens on the internet.

I spend a lot of time on the internet.

 This has been true since my family first got connected to the web (and less so when I used to book an hour at the library for the privilege of making sure my Neopets were fed, and my email was checked). I was probably thirteen. There was, of course, MSN messenger for chatting with my friends - which didn't go out of vogue until I was about 21. There was the aforementioned Neopets, there was PBSkids.org. There was a whole slew of things to keep me entertained.

As I got older, my usage evolved. Pixel dolling became a major hobby, as did Harry Potter-themed roleplaying, and writing fairly graphic HP lesbian fanfiction. And yes, I say that without a trace of shame. I blogged, too. Well, journalled. Several iterations of my Livejournal still exist, filled with cringe-worthy accounts of my day-to-day, aged 16 to 20.

Social media in its current form wasn't really a 'thing' until I was an adult. I got Facebook at 17. Instagram and Snapchat at 24. At 26, I discovered Twitter and Tumblr. And this, essentially, is where I get confused.

I'm a tried-and-true adult(sometimes); job-working, bill-paying, cat-owning, teenager-hating, responsibility-having, grown up. It's weird. I'm not the 'married with a slew of sprogs' type of adult, nor do I wish to be. But I'm 8 years out from high school. I'm no kid.

I'm 'up' on the Tumblr lingo. I know all the memes. I've developed some of the written mannerisms and found them peppering my own online interactions. But there are some things I still don't understand. Maybe I'm out of touch. Or, maybe, life exerience has given me distance and perspective.

One of the single-oddest things I've encountered, both in the Twitterverse and Tumblr, is what constitutes 'relationship goals'. Dozens of pictures of model-perfect girls and boys smiling in sunsets and holding hands and obsessing over each other. I'd imagine that there was a time I'd wanted that, or something similar. But life didn't pan out like that. And, unless you're conventionally beautiful (and maybe a little wealthy in some cases - look at the locations in these pictures), these aren't realistic 'goals'. On top of the virtually unattainable aesthetic, what gets me is it all seems so .... surface. So shallow. So simple.

I found myself in my first and only relationship entirely by accident at age 20. And from day one, it was a struggle. There's uncertainty, insecurity, and, in my case, a perpetual feeling of inadequacy that lingered until I was 26. But there was also love. There was friendship. There was 'getting' each other.

But my god. There were fights and struggles and issues, some of which were never overcome. And honestly - THAT is all common to relationships, especially long-lasting, adult ones. Perfection was never obtained, and that's fine. My most-perfect-moment happened a scant year in - 2010, together at a Taylor Swift concert, as she played 'Today Was A Fairytale'. I can say, without hesitation, that was the single-most 'in-love' moment I've ever felt in my life. And that's fine. Maybe nothing will top that, maybe it'll be trumped a dozen times over. I don't know, and that's part of life.

Life goals shouldn't be summarized as 'be gorgeous with perfect long hair in size-0 cutoff jean shorts with an underwear-model-pretty boy (or girl) grabbing your waist for pictures'. But that seems to be the main focus of all 'Relatable' or 'Just Girl Things' accounts I follow.

Maybe this means I'm simply Too Damn Old for these accounts - but when they post about the struggle of girls who are always hungry (OH HAI), or loving cats more than people, or wishing there was an extra day of the week just for napping. Maybe some wishes are universal, regardless of age, perspective be damned. Maybe catsnapssnacks is what makes us all human. But, being a little older and a little wiser: your high school boyfriend or girlfriend may, very rarely, be your be-all, end-all. But realistically: that's probably not the case. And that's FINE.

I can't follow 'mommy' blogs or married life. I am not, and may not ever be (my choice) there. But I also can't quite keep up with what teens are dreaming. And hey, that's fine too. In-between isn't the worst place to be.

March 19, 2013

I Spent Some Time With My First True Love This Week - books reviews and recommendations!

Trying to fill up the half-hour period of required typing in class is getting more difficult the emptier my head feels. I feel drained most of the time. March Break was only half-terrible, I enjoyed myself for some of it, and actually started READING again, which is something I often drift away from. Or, as has been the case, I stay with it but only re-read old favorites, and sometimes, old favorites translates to over one hundred Baby-Sitters Club paperbacks I purchase from thrift stores.

But yes, having found some mayjah love in the Kindle app on my new phone, I got down to business. All three books I read had to do with one of my favorite literary subjects: twins.

I don't have a twin, there are no twins in my family, but I knew a lot of twins growing up. I wasn't particularly close with any of them, but I still find the whole phenomena fascinating. About a month ago, I downloaded a book called Beautiful Lies, which was YA lit - something that can go either way in terms of quality, and luckily, this one was good. It had a strong supernatural element, and weighing in at 400 pages, still had me gripped right up til the end. I took a short break from reading, til I got my hands on three books over the March Break. One was okay, one was decent, and one was one of the greatest books I've ever read in my life.

Book 1: Runaway Twin, by Peg Kerhret

First of all, that link goes to the Kindle version I purchased for my Samsung Galaxy S3, not the hardcopy book.

It was a children's book, so it was very short, and a very, very easy read. It had the pacing of your typical short novel aimed at 10-12-year-olds (so basically, this was not Harry Potter-caliber by any means), but the story was good enough. It centered on a 13-year-old girl who has spent the past ten years in foster homes, wondering what became of the twin sister she was separated from when they were three. Basically, she runs away from her current foster home, and treks across the country trying to find her sister. Along the way she meets different people and different things happen, and she finds out that maybe finding and meeting her sister isn't going to be the magical experience she'd hoped for. If you like to read, but aren't particularly proficient at it, this one's for you lol and I don't mean that insultingly. A lot of really popular books that people like appear exceedingly poorly-written to me (Twilight, 50 Shades of Grey, for instance), but that doesn't take away from  their appeal to the masses. I cried more than once, so it had a real effect on me, and that's important to me in a novel.

Book 2: The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield (also a Kindle link)

This was actually the last book that I read, but I feel like saving the Best for Last is in everyone's best interest, as the manner in which I'm going to rave about the third book will be excessive.

This book is Diane Setterfield's first effort as an author, and it clocks in at a hearty 418 pages** - TANGENT TIME.

- ***AND NOW A REALLY LENGTHY ASIDE THAT HOLDS LITTLE BEARING ON THE BOOK ITSELF - ("418 pages...." - which, having been weaned on Harry Potter, and more recently the A Song of Ice and Fire  -  - also known as "Game of Thrones, to you TV-watchers - series, where the books ranged from 750-1500 pages, is a length that I require to feel like I got something out of it. Notable exception: The Hunger Games trilogy, which, although a mite bit shorter than 400pgs, still completely enthralled me - and falls under the genre of "gothic", which is not about sad teenagers with black hair and too much eyeliner and sad, believe it or not. I came across this genre (and a subgenre, Southern gothic) during my extensive book searches on Wikipedia, trying to find something to read - this was after I read The Help, which I'd seen on the big screen first and read later - I've now read it three times, as books about life in Mississippi are some of my favorites, for some unknown reason to me. This is a huge divergence from the actual point, please forgive. -

The whole "twin thing" was covered in a rather odd manner in this book, and honestly, although it's a large part of the plot, it isn't the largest. What struck me and pulled me into the story instantly was the manner it is written - the author is obviously a huge fan of literature and writing and made her characters respond similarly. Descriptions of books and writing really appealed to me, as my life's goal is to be a published author.

I don't think I can quite explain the plot itself, so I'm relying on the "Booklist" description from Amazon.ca:

Margaret Lea, a bookish loner, is summoned to the home of Vida Winter, England's most popular novelist, and commanded to write her biography. Miss Winter has been falsifying her life story and her identity for more than 60 years. Facing imminent death and feeling an unexplainable connection to Margaret, Miss Winter begins to spin a haunting, suspenseful tale of an old English estate, a devastating fire, twin girls, a governess, and a ghost. As Margaret carefully records Vida's tale, she ponders her own family secrets. Her research takes her to the English moors to view a mansion's ruins and discover an unexpected ending to Vida's story. Readers will be mesmerized by this -story-within-a-story tinged with the eeriness of Rebecca and the willfulness of Jane Eyre.The author skillfully keeps the plot moving by unfurling a new twist in each chapter and leaves no strand untucked at the surprising and satisfying conclusion. A wholly original work told in the vein of all the best gothic classics. Lovers of books about book lovers will be enthralled. 

I'm usually not one to take the words of others, but I truly have a difficult time describing this one. In the end, I enjoyed it - not SO much for the story, but for the setting, and how it made me feel when I was reading it. It was good; not NEAR as good as the next book I`m going to tell you about, but, if you're into the genre, I'd give it a shot.

Book 3: The Girls by Lori Lansens

Lori Lansens is a Canadian author who has written three books to date. The Girls was her second, her first, Rush Home Road, which was insanely popular. I downloaded this book (for free) for my phone, and when it was done, I'd loved it so much I went out and bought a hard-copy to give to my mother - who, reading the back, realized that Lori Lansens was responsible for writing the one books to ever make her cry - Rush Home Road. I get my voracious appetite for the written word from my mother, so she's read countless novels in her 40-some years, so this being the only one that made her cry is quite a distinction. This isn't relevant to The Girls per se, but it does tell you the caliber of writing we're dealing with here. Lansens' characters are so, so real.

This was one of the greatest books I've ever read. The Girls is told as a bit of an autobiography about a set of fictional twins - Rose and Ruby - who are the oldest surviving craniophagus twins, which means they're conjoined at the head. Coming up on their 30th birthday in Southern Ontario, it's told from two viewpoints: Rose's, whose idea it was to write their story down and who writes in a very poetic and learned manner, and Ruby, more reluctant to write but ultimately more frank. The two points of view are SO distinct, and the Girls themselves are so real-seeming, that when the book was over, I felt empty. Completely empty. I wanted my Girls. I wanted to keep reading their thoughts and stories. I wanted to know what was going to happen to them.

The stories they recount are really, really interesting - their life as conjoined twins, their search for their birth mother, Rose's greatest loss, their adoptive parents, their day-to-day struggles, their health issues, their goals - Rose covers most of this, whereas Ruby, not being a writer, gives us the facts - a lot of facts that Rose would rather gloss over.

As I write this, I'm getting emotional all over again, just thinking about the Darlen sisters, their family and friends, and their lives.

What it boils down to is that I could not possibly recommend this book any more. Pick it up, and you won't be disappointed.

An excerpt from the novel (the first paragraph, in fact):

Ruby & Me
I have never looked into my sister's eyes. I have never bathed alone. I have never stood in the grass at night and raised my arms to a beguiling moon. I've never used an airplane bathroom. Or worn a hat. Or been kissed like that. I've never driven a car. Or slept through the night. Never a private talk. Or solo walk. I've never climbed a tree. Or faded into a crowd. So many things I've never done, but oh, how I've been loved. And, if such things were to be, I'd live a thousand lives as me, to be loved so exponentially. 

March 18, 2013

Big Brother Canada, as of the 9th episode

Well, Big Brother Canada has been pretty insane so far, with or without intervention of production. Honestly, the twist for Thursday's eviction was unnecessary - and ended REALLY badly for one of my favorites. I'm now weighing whether or not I feel super-jubilant over the look on Tom's face when Suzette was saved (seriously, it was probably the greatest feeling of elation I've ever had watching a TV show. I almost cried happy tears. And I feel that Canada did not vote to save Suzette because they all love Suzette, but because they all, like me, hate Tom), or crazy-sad about what happened to Aneal.

Oh, Aneal. When Tom was talking to Emmett in the pantry about a replacement nom and threw out Topaz's name so that AJ would get the boot (AJ would not be happy if AJ did not have the chance to keep talking about AJ in the third person on national television, because AJ probably doesn't realize that Canada thinks AJ is a gigantic joke...), I was like "Okay! Great! Let's do this!"

And then he fucking puts up Aneal. I still wasn't too instantly worried about the decision, til the votes started stacking up against him right away. 

Okay, so, here's a point of contention, a bit of a bone I'd like to pick with Big Brother: WHY were the houseguests not reprimanded for sharing who they voted for as they passed each other on the way to the Diary Room? Did anyone else catch that? WTF. Seriously, a lot of people (I think it was Emmett telling Talla he voted for Aneal that caught my eye) are "floaters" and are dead-terrified to even consider going against the majority in the house. They will vote however the so-called 'power-players' tell them to. Has anyone seen this passing of information on the US Big Brother? I realize that generally, you'd know who you were voting for prior to eviction night, and this was a twist/split-second decision, but seriously. Seeeeeeriously. It didn't seem right to me. I am le pissed about it.

Anyway. So Aneal got the boot, I got a sad, and the HGs played for HOH. They wore bee costumes. It was stupid. And I was pulling for Gary to win.

Gary's been growing on me in a big way these past few episodes. Besides the fact he's actually a really good physical competitor (and in all honesty, I've never had a "favorite" in the US treatment of the show that was a physical threat, I was always more into personalities or smart players, but where it was unexpected of big, glittering, flamingly flaming Gary, I find it impressive and endearing), he's absolutely hilarious and turning out to be really, really smart. So, as they got into the HOH competition, and Gary was seeming to pull out ahead, I was stoked.

But Emmett won. Now, Emmett is adorable, don't get me wrong, and is aligned with Peter and Alec, both of whom I like (other than Peter being involved with Liza... but Liza is another rant for another day. Let`s just say "dislike" and move right along), but he's also aligned with Tom, and, welp, you all know how I feel about him.

But the plot thickens. Apparently, eagle-eyed viewers noticed that during the comp, Emmett was breaking one of the rules - the most important rule: no carrying any of the balls in your hands, only in the pouches at the sides of your legs. So the lived feeds went out for hours and hours, while Big Brother, having been assaulted on social media with the claims, investigated.

And so it was - Emmett, Talla, Alec and Jillian had all 'cheated', and were made have-nots for the week. But, more importantly, they had to replay the HOH comp - and those 4 couldn't compete. Emmett's reign as HOH was a VERY short one. 

And who emerged victorious in the second competition? GARY. I was SO excited.

Anyway, he put up Liza and Tom, stating that Liza was his actual target. I know who won the Veto and whether or not they used it and whether or not the nominations stayed the same, so I'll throw that under a jump for those of you who would rather wait until Wednesday's show.

March 11, 2013

Scattered Thoughts and a Pity-Party

When I'm at work on the weekends, a myriad of random thoughts cross my mind, many of wish I'd like to chronicle or share. Again, my finger itches as it mouses over the 'update status' button on Facebook. Nope. Won't do it. So, this. This might happen every weekend, bear with me.

First, a rant -edit: the rant devolved into a maaaajor whine-fest in which I treated this blog like my therapist, so I threw it under a jump.

Edit x2: I can't break up a jump, so the rant is at the bottom now.
Edit x3: This was written on Saturday, and didn't get posted til Monday. This edit is only to add: My body does not know how to sleep in. I had my alarm set for 11AM, and I was wide awake at 7:30.

Anyway, some scattered thoughts, as noted:

1. Video store tourists:

I love my regular customers. I even love the cantankerous or cranky ones, because I at least know what I'm getting with them. As someone with moderately-severe anxiety, new people scare me. Especially new customers. You never know if they're going to complain about the prices, if they had an account here years ago with hundreds of dollars of late fees lurking in their past, which I will find and they will scream at me for, when they're going to try to rent 7 movies by bringing me 7 cases instead of 7 cards, etc. It just makes me nervous and doesn't help when it comes to my stress (the stress is noted in the whine-fest under the jump). Anyway, it's March Break, so people who have no idea what to do for a week where they can't ship their kids off to school are out in full-force. Also, kids make me really, really twitchy. I like kids, but groups of 3 or more running around and screaming in a video store (and multiplied by X, depending on how many families are in here at once) push me to my limits of sanity. I've made up three new accounts already today, to bring in less than 5 dollars for each, for people who will never be seen against once March break is over.

However, I'd like to note that one guy comes in here with his 4 kids, the youngest seems to be about 7 and the oldest around 13, the guy himself is a straight-up Cape Breton kind of guy, swears not out of anger but out of habit, rough around the edges, whatever - but his kids are awesomely behaved. No "OH DAD I WANT THIS WHEEE!" But, "Hey dad, I'm getting this one, k?" and they say please and thank you. And it is AWESOME. You go, dude, for how you're raising those kids.

2. I hate show-mances.
I don't like chick flicks. I don't like kissing scenes in movies and TV shows. I fast forward through them. The only relationships I care about are those that transpire in *certain* books, like The Hunger Games series or Harry Potter. If something's sole purpose is a relationship (any romance novel, Twilight), I hate it. So, this leads me to say: Big Brother Canada, could you PLEASE fuck right off with the showmances and all the time spent featuring them. I don't need to watch people cuddle and make out all the time. Don't make me quit watching because your editing sucks.

3. Just some more thoughts on Big Brother
Speaking of #BBCAN, does Jillian remind anyone else of a brunette Blake Lively?

In a moment where my brain decided to leap out of my body, I Googled "Is Aneal gay?" without including his last name, or "from Big brother", or any other specific modifiers for the search.

"Aneal" is one letter away from "anal". Put "anal" and "gay" in the same sentence, and, welp, any idiot knows what's going to come up in their search. Had this happened at home, I would've chuckled and moved on. However, I was at work, and people were around, and the computer screen is visible - so I went into "afdfgfhdfhfgdhgdf PANIC"-mode, hitting X's and praying nothing would freeze. Nothing did. Good.

I think I'm pulling for Aneal.  From what I've read online, people seem to think he's too monotone, but when he pulled that (ultimately pointless, but still) stunt where he spread Gary's glitter around to make the house hate him, I was stoked. He DOES kind of seem to know what he's doing, and I appreciate that in a player. All the people that are all "BAWWWW LET'S CUDDLE AND MAKE OUT LOLOLOL" make me wanna stab things - except Alec, becaecuse he teamed up with Peter and I'm also Team Peter all the way. Woop.

DID ANYONE NOTICE THAT MARCIA THE MOOSE SOUNDED LIKE WILL FERRELL AS MUGATU IN ZOOLANDER? Like, not all of Zoolander, but when he was dressed up as the creepiest little kid in the world in the brainwashing video? Also kinds of sound like Bruce on Family Guy. Anyway. I got a kick out of that.

AJ is a non-entity. "Topaz" (bitch, your name is already Emerald. Why was the name-change necessary? Meh, you're a pretty girl so I'll let it slide. Hi, my name is Society, and I allow good-looking people to get away with stupid shit) is pretty much not there as well. I know it's early and there are still too many people in the house for everyone to get screen-time, but dafuq, Big Brother. I bet you're kicking yourselves for casting these boring people.

I hate Tom and feel he's the kind of guy that will one day get charged with domestic abuse, or murder someone in a barfight. Just a bro-douche. I hate that type. And he's my age, and my lack of male friends (I used to have many, but not in recent years) makes me fear guys my age. But yeah, he's a jerk.

Glittering, over-the-top flamboyance or not, Gary is pretty fucking awesome.

And that's all.

March 5, 2013

My Foray Into the 21st Century - A/k/a I bought a phone.

For the past few years, I've been using a very standard, fairly shitty, base-model Blackberry Curve. I want to preface this by saying that I love Blackberry. I even loved my sad phone. My phone was not sad because it was a Blackberry, but because my trackpad stopped working after about 2 weeks. A sensible person would replace said trackpad, or send it for repairs. But the time and money involved in either endeavor was enough to make the lazy, broke person I am just deal with it. I got through the past two and a half years with keyboard shortcuts and basically just dealing with it.

Well, last night, I finally had had enough. Also, I really wanted to play that stupid game that everyone in school was playing, 4 Pics 1 Word. So, I got a new phone. Specifically, a Sumsung Galaxy S3. I'd never used a touch-screen phone before, and my fingers feel fat and clumsy when I'm typing. It takes me about 5 times as long as it would have on my Blackberry to send one text. Everyone I've spoken to says that this will pass, and I'll be proficient soon enough. I hope that soon is soon indeed!

The first thing I did was download 4 Pics 1 Word. I'm not disappointed, I'm delighting in its entertainment value despite its simplicity. Then, I downloaded Facebook, because, well, what else does someone my age do with their time? I'm most excited about the Kindle app. I actually have a Sony Reader, but it's about 3 years old now, and the un-backlit screen (that has had a crack in it since liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiike a month after I got it - I'm not lucky with technology) just isn't cutting it for me anymore.

Now, if I could just learn to put ringtones on the damn thing, I'll be all set.