Playlist / Autumn, 2016

Playlist / Autumn, 2016

 

Autumn is a very special time of year. I’ve had many good things happen to me during the fall, but this season also holds some of the most painful memories as well. To me, autumn is the type of season that is all about slowing down, taking some time for yourself, and relaxing, which is exactly what my playlist emmulates. So go on a nice walk to look at the foliage and feel the cool wind on your face, or curl up in your bed with a pumpkin coffee and read your coziest book–just don’t forget your headphones.

 


For Autumn

Niall Horan; This Town
Lorde; 400 Lux
Arctic Monkeys; Do I Wanna Know
Lawrence Taylor; Waiting for Your Love
Blink 182; Home is Such a Lonely Place
Hozier; Someone New
Lorde; Glory and Gore
Lorde; Ribs
Arctic Monkeys; Knee Socks
Cage The Elephant; Cigarette Daydreams
Young the Giant; Something To Believe In
Young the Giant; Amerika
Neck Deep; December
Fleetwood Mac; Gypsy
City and Colour; The Northern Wind
Stephen; Crossfire
Hozier; Cherry Wine – Live
General Ghost; If Then
Billie Eilish; Ocean Eyes (Blackbear Remix)
Childish Gambino; what kind of love
alt-J; Warm Foothills
Shawn Mendes; Mercy
St. Lucia; All Eyes on You

Six Things I Learned Living By Myself

Six Things I Learned Living By Myself

As most people do at one point or another, I moved out of my mother’s house and into my own place. The transition from living in a house of six people to a small, third-floor apartment by myself was difficult. But after 10 months of being on my own, I think I’ve learned a few things that have helped me feel like I’m living as a real adult.

 

  1. Things don’t refill themselves.

My favorite thing about living at my mother’s house was if we ever ran out of anything, there’d always be a replacement in a cabinet somewhere. Things like laundry detergent, paper towels, and sponges just don’t automatically come with your apartment–you have to go buy them! There’s a reason stores like BJ’s and Target sell a lot of their merchandise in bulk. You might look funny carrying a 24-pack of toilet paper to your car, but you’ll thank yourself later.

  1. Things need to be cleaned properly.

There are some things in life that you can slack off with, but cleaning your apartment is not one of them. Some sweeping and wiping down your counters each week will do wonders, and making sure you stay on top of doing your laundry and dishes keeps fruit flies away. (No one wants to visit a stinky apartment with flies–it’s a fact.) *Important note: things are not fully clean unless you use a form of soap.*

  1. No one’s going to take care of you when you’re sick.

Being sick is never enjoyable, but it is so much worse when you’re alone. You have no one to make you soup, rub your back, or bring you medicine. You should definitely stock up on all the essentials before you get sick–Dayquil and Nyquil, aspirin, tissues, Pepto-Bismol, a thermometer, etc. because if you catch the flu, you’re not going to be able to shop for it then.

  1. It gets spooky.

Whether you just watched one of the “scarier” movies in your collection, or your 1970’s radiator is making demon noises, you’re going to get scared once in awhile. No one will be there to reassure you that the movie was fake, or that the noise outside was just your neighbors. While you contemplate sleeping with the lights on (and then immediately decide against it for the even bigger fear of a high electric bill) try to remember that it’s just in your head.

  1. Your pets are your best friends.

With no one else around, your pets are going to be the only ones waiting for you at the end of a long day. The conversations you have with them will help keep you sane. Tell them all about how hard work was today or how you have three papers due next week. You can fill them in on all the drama you can’t tell anyone else, because they won’t (well, technically can’t) tell anyone else.

  1. Cooking for one is the WORST.

Cookbooks are a great way to find new and interesting recipes to try. Unfortunately, most cookbooks make recipes for 2-4 portions, which means if you’re cooking for one you’ll always have leftovers. And if you’re always eating leftovers, the fresh veggies you bought will go bad before you have a chance to finish them all. Cooking for yourself is good some days, but keeping some easy meals around your place wouldn’t hurt either. (That DiGiorno microwave pizza will really come in clutch at 2AM.)

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Although it does take some time to get used to living on your own, I can say that it has taught me a lot about responsibility, independence, and which soap to use in the dishwasher. Hint: it’s not the same type of soap you use for regularly washing dishes. →

 

 

Favorite Contemporary Novels / Top 5

Favorite Contemporary Novels / Top 5

“People like to complain about the state of contemporary literature, but I can only assume they don’t read it very widely.” -Laura Miller 

In the past few months I’ve read many different kinds of books, including thrillers, historical fiction, and some YA fantasy. But the one genre that will always have a place in my heart is contemporary. (I’m always up for a good existential crisis.) The start of high school is when I really began reading young adult books, more than just the Harry Potter series, and came across this genre.

So, these are my top five contemporary novels.


5. Thirteen Reasons Why, Jay Asher

Synopsis: Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a thirteenreasonswhymysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.
On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list.
Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.

This book was the first YA contemporary book I ever read, and I loved it. I remember doing random chores around the house, like washing my mom’s shoes and sweeping the garage, just to get enough money to buy this book. I went to Borders (back when that was still around) and proceeded to binge-read for two days. Although that was back in 2010, I don’t think there will ever be a contemporary read that will knock this one off my list.

4. The Fault in Our Stars, John Green

imgresSynopsis: Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.
Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

This book was the second book I read by John Green after Looking for Alaska, which I personally didn’t like, but I heard so many great things about The Fault in our Stars that I figured I should give it a try anyways. This book brought me to tears in just about every way possible. It was funny, introspective, heartbreaking, beautifully written, and just an all-around amazing read.

3. The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon

Synopsis: Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of imgres-1the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.
Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, for fifteen-year-old Christopher everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning. He lives on patterns, rules, and a diagram kept in his pocket. Then one day, a neighbor’s dog, Wellington, is killed and his carefully constructive universe is threatened. Christopher sets out to solve the murder in the style of his favourite (logical) detective, Sherlock Holmes. What follows makes for a novel that is funny, poignant and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing are a mind that perceives the world entirely literally.

This novel was the first book I ever read with a narrator who is (seemingly) on the autism spectrum. I loved the sense of newness the perspective brought me–I was seeing and understanding a completely different point of view that I’d never even thought about before. The story is beautiful and I absolutely loved it, and that’s why it’s number three on my list.

2. The Silver Linings Playbook, Matthew Quick

imgres-2Synopsis: Meet Pat. Pat has a theory: his life is a movie produced by God. And his God-given mission is to become physically fit and emotionally literate, whereupon God will ensure a happy ending for him — the return of his estranged wife Nikki. (It might not come as a surprise to learn that Pat has spent time in a mental health facility.) The problem is, Pat’s now home, and everything feels off. No one will talk to him about Nikki; his beloved Philadelphia Eagles keep losing; he’s being pursued by the deeply odd Tiffany; his new therapist seems to recommend adultery as a form of therapy. Plus, he’s being hunted by Kenny G!
In this enchanting novel, Matthew Quick takes us inside Pat’s mind, showing us the world from his distorted yet endearing perspective. As the award-winning novelist Justin Cronin put it: “Tender, soulful, hilarious, and true, The Silver Linings Playbook is a wonderful debut.”

This one is the only “adult” contemporary novel on this list. I thought Nikki and Pat’s stories were beautiful, and even though depressing at times, very funny. The chemistry these two share on the page (and also in the movie, thank you Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper) is unbelievable.

1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky

Synopsis: Charlie is a freshman.
And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means imgres-3popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.
Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

So, number one. Perks. I read this novel as a sophomore in high school and basically fell in love with Charlie. This book resonates with me; I feel very closely to these characters. As a 15 year old, recently diagnosed with anxiety, reading this novel was something that meant a lot to me. I ended up watching the movie for the first time in my living room and crying from the minute the movie started all the way to the last credit rolling up my TV screen. This book will (probably) always and forever be my number one all-time favorite contemporary novel.

The Darkest Minds / Alexandra Bracken

The Darkest Minds / Alexandra Bracken

*SPOILERS*

Synopsis: “When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something frightening enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that had killed most of America’s children, but she and the others emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they could not control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. She is on the run, desperate to find the only safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who have escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents. When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at having a life worth living.”


Review: I was really excited about finally get around to reading this book. It had been just sitting on my bookshelf for at least six months, and with 4.5 stars on Goodreads I figured that this book would be a great way for me to get into the fantasy genre.

Unfortunately, this novel did not meet my expectations. I only read up to chapter 10 before I stopped, but I felt that I should still review it because I believe wanting to stop reading before the ending says something about the novel in itself.

Throughout the chapters I read, I felt that Ruby’s character came across as cowardly, immature, and unlikable. I understood that she was shy, but there were times where I felt like that shyness made her act selfishly and put others in trouble / danger. Some examples could be:

  1. When Sam sticks up for Ruby, but then Ruby backs out and just lets Sam get punished for speaking out.
  2. When Ruby leaves the group of people who “saved” her from Thurmond because she wanted to see the girl, Zu, who was eating at the gas station. Even though leaving them might have been the best thing for Ruby, she didn’t know that at the time, yet she still selfishly chased another girl around.
  3. When Ruby gets caught chasing Zu by Zu’s friend group and puts them all in danger because she was being followed.

All of these acts are very selfish and portrayed Ruby as a character that I felt was ultimately unlikable.

However, even with the things I didn’t like about this book, I did think the overall plot sounded very interesting. I can see how people would read this book and end up liking it, I just personally am not one of those people. I’ve never really found a fantasy novel that I liked, and I think reading this book just reinforced that.

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Light Bulb to Simulate Moonlight / Ekphrasis

Light Bulb to Simulate Moonlight / Ekphrasis

She exited the automatic doors, possibly for the last time. The letters on the front of the building were bright against the nighttime sky. “BARNES MEDICAL CENTER” lit up the sidewalk, illuminating her trip home.

This park had become to familiar. The rusted trash cans that lined the perimeter, the big oak tree that hung over the few benches that weren’t covered in graffiti, and the cramped playscape with run-down equipment–they were always there.

She made these trips to and from the hospital every single night for the past seven months. Her university was on the other side of the city so she visited him on her way home, but it still wasn’t enough. She didn’t know how much time he had left, but she knew it wasn’t long.

“He’s been having more trouble breathing,” the doctor said, and she nodded.
“He hasn’t been sleeping very well either.” She nodded again.
“The heart is starting to be affected…”
“…not responding to treatment…”
“…we’re just trying to make him comfortable.”

She had wanted to say something back to the doctor, but she just couldn’t. So she nodded. She knew this was going to happen eventually. Most parents don’t outlive their kids, but she wished he would.

She sat down on the tattered swing he used to push her on when she was still a kid. Every Sunday her parents used to walk her down to this playground, just a few blocks from their house. They would play on the slides, swings, monkey bars, even the half painted teeter-totter that made a loud creaking sound whenever it moved. But now, she was an adult. Her height made her feet drag in the sand beneath the swing, and she was about to lose the one parent she had left.

She looked at her watch; it was getting late. The light from the moon shone against the chains that held up the swing as she pulled herself up. With one last look at the playground, she turned around and walked home.

 

 


 

Artwork by Katie Paterson shown at the Guggenheim museum as part of their Storylines exhibit.