Category: reading

a couple of perks

I watched The Perks of Being a Wallflower last weekend and it was great and it made me both happy and sad.  I related to Charlie, the main character and an outcast of sorts.  I could not relate to the Charlie who finally found a place he belonged.  But good for him.

I just wondered if there was a story out there about a boy who never found his place.  Where was the tale of the guy who sat at the lunch room table by himself?  Where’s the book about the boy who reached the end and found nothing was resolved?  Stories like that don’t exist because people don’t want a depressing ending.  They need to have hope for the boy because they are the boy and if the boy doesn’t make a connection, they fear they won’t either and no one wants to consider that could be a reality for them.

So we set him up with some good friends and a crush and he gets kissed and holds hands under the stars and it’s book perfect.  And we feel both happy and sad because we don’t have that but the boy is us and so if he finds it, so will we.

But some people know better.

In the movie (and book), Charlie writes letters to someone, chronicling a year in his life, but we are never told who he writes.  And it made me want to write letters to anonymous people, too.  What if I selected an address out of the phone book and wrote to this stranger, told him or her what was going on in my life?  What if I sent several strangers these kinds of letters?  What if I followed up every month or two?  “Hi, it’s me again.  This is what has happened since the last time I wrote you.”  But I’d keep myself anonymous as well.  A letter written from the heart and sent to one stranger from another.

Of course, it could be borderline creepy.

I think there’s something kind of romantic and beautiful about reaching out to a complete stranger, making an intimate connection, sharing personal struggles and triumphs through a filter of anonymity.  I like the juxtaposition and the…well, borderline creepiness of it, to be honest.  I just know if someone sent me a random anonymous letter that let me glimpse into their life, I’d be fascinated.  Well, it was a good life with good writing, of course.  I don’t need anyone sending me their school schedule or grocery list.

Oh, and I listened to the author/director commentary after I watched the movie and it was almost better than the movie.  He delves deeper into the book and the movie and the characters and how he felt about making the movie and writing the book and all the feels he tried to capture and it was just nice and warm and beautiful and I recommend it.

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simple moves

I have to say, I’ve been working out consistently and killing it during many of the sessions.  Just like I did last year, I started out on January 1st and got up and put my trainers on and poured sweat and shredded muscle tissue.

It was actually a lot easier this time around, too, because I’m used to it now.

YES.  I’M USED TO IT.

Prior to last year, working out was equivalent to eating dog crap but now it’s no thang.  It’s weird but kind of awesome.

That’s not to say I haven’t had my bad days.  I’ll get up and go through the motions sometimes.  And I used to feel bad about it because I feel like if I’m going to work out, it needs to count.  I don’t want to waste my time flailing around and not burning enough calories to matter.  But I saw a quote on Facebook that said something like the only bad workout is one you didn’t do.  Made me feel better.  Made me realize it does matter.  It does count.

But, as I said, sometimes I really put 110% into the workout and by the end, I’m drenched in sweat and my body hurts and when I wake up in the morning in pain, I like it.  I know it’s actually not good for you to be sore like that but it makes me feel like I really did something so I welcome the pain.

I’ve made a lot of plans for myself, mostly just little things to keep me occupied, and I’ve mostly stuck to those plans as well.  I get up in the morning and make a mental list of all the things I want to do that day and truly strive to do them.  I never get everything on my list done but I actually don’t mind because I know I’m at least working toward a goal.

I used to be so aimless and it saddens me to think of all the time I wasted sitting around and thinking about stuff and not actually doing anything to make those thoughts actions and make those actions accomplishments.

But that’s changed.  I’ve been working on my book daily and reading daily and working out daily.  I’m exercising my brain and body.  I’ve been trying to go to bed early and most importantly, I’ve become a frugal mofo.

I’m ashamed to say I used to never check my bank account.  I bought things without checking the price and had no budget.  Believe me when I say I was not financially secure enough to do those things.  In fact, last month, I finally checked my online statement and saw how dangerously low it was.  I was shocked to see it a couple of thousand dollars less than what I ignorantly assumed was there.  Oops.

But no more.

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fifty shades of what women want

At the behest of my work girlfriend (who I will refer to as WG for short), I read Fifty Shades of Grey.  I didn’t really want to but she kept insisting and I thought it could be something new we could discuss.  We’ve never talked about books before so I was looking forward to an intellectual exchange regarding fictional characters and their motivations.

But as I read, I kept pointing out problems I had with the book.  Christian Grey was too perfect, too mysterious.  Anastasia Steele was too innocent, too inexperienced.  Early on in the book, she said she didn’t know why she was falling for him.

“That doesn’t make any sense,” I mentioned to WG.  “He’s super rich.  He’s super handsome.  He’s graceful and just distant enough to leave her wanting more.  That’s reason enough to fall in love with him.  Any girl would.  Heck,  I think I’d fall in love with him, too.”

WG laughed.  “Well, he does have some physical flaws, though.  He’s not perfect.”

“Oh, yeah?  What?  Is his penis so large he can’t find comfortable underwear?  What a tortured soul!’

She laughed again.  Ah, such a nice sound.

“So, what is so appealing about him?”

“I don’t know,” she said, her kohl-lined eyes wandering off to the ceiling, pondering.  “I guess I just like that he’s dark.”

“I’m dark,” I said.  Hello, I was dead for three years.

“No you’re not,” she said with a smirk.  “You’re just emo.  And you choose to be that way.”

Ah, not such a nice sound.  She really knows how to stab a guy right in the face.

“He had a really dark childhood,” she added.

“You don’t know about my upbringing.  It could have been dark, too.”  It wasn’t.

“Not like his,” she countered.

“You don’t know what I’ve been through!”  Nothing.

I just wasn’t that impressed with the book.  I’ll admit I jump on literally bandwagons.  I read the Twilight series and The Hunger Games series and I always tried to enjoy the books for what they were instead of what they were hyped to be.  And they were both all right.  But this one I just couldn’t seem to get into like the others.  I guess I can understand it’s popularity because it’s so provocative but honestly, it wasn’t as filthy as I imagined, which was admittedly another reason I wanted to read it.  I wanted to see how raunchy it really got.  Maybe I’m just a sick mofo but it seemed a little tame to me.  It’s possible things get more extreme in the other two books but I think the first one walked the fine line between kinky sex and all out smut, just enough to titillate and not alienate, which is why it worked so well.  So I give her props for that but the writing is pretty amateur.

Ana uses way too many phrases like Oh crap, double crap, and triple crap.  She’s also always flushed and blushing.  At least every other page she’s blushing and flushing and with all that blood going to her face, you’d wonder how she got any to her vagina.  People on the street probably thought she had a nasty case of Rosacea.  She also says delicious way too much and Christian is constantly scolding her for biting her lip and I wonder if she has a chapped mouth all the time.  Between her chewed up lips and the red face, she’s probably looks like she’s running around with a constant cold.   I mean, do people even really bite their lip that much?  I know people say Kristen Stewart does it a lot in the Twilight movies and as we all know, the books were inspired by the Twilight books.  I think they were also inspired by the films as well because  Christian runs his fingers through his hair, much like Robert Pattinson does.  The author seemed to have gathered the actors’ ticks and put them in her books.

I also have a problem with how Ana is so easily turned on by all the kink.  Everything Christian does is hot.  His feet are hot.  His stubble is hot.  The way he wears his pajama bottoms are hot.  At one point, she uses his toothbrush and thinks it’s hot!  To me, that’s pretty gross.  Yes, I know, I understand, they French kiss and have sex and swap bodily fluids on the regular but…a toothbrush is a cleaning device, something you use to remove food and grime from your teeth.  It’s not the same as swapping spit.  You’re swapping tarter.  How is that hot?  I was waiting for her to dig through his trash and take the cotton swabs he used to clean his ears and slide them up her snatch.

How convenient that she’s magically turned on by leather whips and balls inserted into her cooter.  I wonder if she really likes it or if it’s just because she doesn’t know any other way of having sex, since she was a virgin when she met him.  Can someone really be so sexy and sexual that everything they do is a turn on?  Am I just so in the dark about sexuality that I don’t know these things?  I mean, if he farted was she gonna stick her nose in his butthole and inhale?

I talked to WG about this and she shared with me that your first sexual experiences do influence your future inclinations.  At least, that was the way it was for her.  It makes sense.  I do suppose your first sexual partner can shape your sexuality but that seems most likely in regards to “vanilla” sex, as Christian likes to call anything that doesn’t involve a ball gag.  But what happens when you do introduce a ball gag?  When you get your novice partner involved with sexual acts that deviate from “vanilla”, does that also influence future deviations with other partners?  If Ana hadn’t ended up with Christian in the end, would she have desired such submission with other lovers?  

And can we talked about how she lost her virginity?  If I remember correctly, he just plunged into her like a he was throwing a javelin and I’m pretty sure that’s not how it’s supposed to work.

And she cimaxes like crazy!  From what I’ve heard and read and discussed with female acquaintances, including WG, it’s not as easy as it’s portrayed in the book.  Girls don’t just climax so easily.  Well, some do, some don’t.  But mostly, it takes some work.  Ladies, I’d love to get your opinion on this!  Also, the sex scenes did nothing for me.  Most of them felt like quickies than actual articulate sessions of full bodied sex, from foreplay to penetration to the eventual release and afterglow.  It was more like wham, bam (literally), and thank you ma’am.

I was also creeped out by how immature Ana sounded with her oh craps and such talk.  She’s 22 so I’m not criticizing the immaturity, just pointing it out.  She’s kind of childish and with that being said, Christian calls her baby a lot and spanks her like a baby and the whole thing felt really creepy.  I wasn’t turned on by reading these sex scenes but felt uncomfortable like it was slightly statutory, ya know what I’m saying?  Fifty shades of Peder-ass, much?

I just feel like people such as Christian (and Edward from Twilight) set up this impossible ideal for girls and women.  Guys just aren’t that perfect.  They don’t glow and make you orgasm with the slightest touch.  We all have imperfections other than a few (hardly noticeable) scars on our chests.

Christian is rich and semi-famous and a total stud muffin but he’s got a messed up past.  That makes him less than perfect, right?  WRONG.  It makes him more perfect for women because there’s an aspect to him that is fractured, something women can gravitate toward because women love to fix men.  His past and issues stemming from such a past is like a wet dream for females.  His imperfections make him more attainable.  His jagged emotional scars act like an invisible line that ground him to Earth, keep him from touching heaven where he belongs, thus allowing mere mortals to interact with him, touch him, love him, fix him.  Oh, women, you’re so silly.

I don’t mean to be critical of this book.  As an aspiring author, I know it’s not easy to write a book.  I say God bless for her being able to get her writing out there and for being able to touch (pun intended) so many lives.  But for me, personally, it just didn’t do much.  Of course, I don’t begrudge her any of her success or wealth.  She did what she wanted to do and made a ton of dough off of it so can you really hate on her?  Not everyone is going to be impressed with everyone’s writing style.  If it works for some people, then she’s done her job. 

I don’t know the details but did she ever really intend to publish these books?  I know she posted them online and they kind of took off from there but if she never expected all this publicity over her stories, then can you really blame her if they aren’t perfectly written?  If she just did them for fun and they exploded, then that’s great.  If only we could all be so fortunate.

I couldn’t help but to keep thinking about what WG said about me choosing to be emo.  Somehow, my darkness wasn’t as enticing as Christian’s and I wondered why.  Or did it have more to do with the package instead of the contents?  Isn’t that just the way it goes?

I spoke to another coworker who had also read the book (and loved it) and brought my quandary up with her.

“I don’t get it,” I said.  “I get why women are so into Christian.  He’s dark.  He’s damaged.  And he’s a challenge.  But, I’m challenging, too, without trying at it.  Girls always say they want the good guys but gravitate toward the bad.  I’m good and bad!  And even some bad guys aren’t good enough for them.  Where do I fit in the mix?”

She must have sensed the confusion/desperation in my eyes because she leaned in, the line of her cleavage stretching for miles, and looked at me with all sincerity and said, “Honey.  Here’s the secret.”

I leaned in, my eyes expanded.  Here it was, what I’ve been searching for years: the answer to what women really want.  And from a woman.  Straight from the source.

“Women don’t know what they want.”

Oh.

We both leaned back as I took in the information.  It was simple, really.

“Wow,” I said.  “That was probably one of the most honest, succinct answers I’ve been given.”

She smiled and nodded and walked away.

Maybe WG sees me as something of an anomaly.  We get along really well but maybe she only sees me as a friend or maybe she would like me more if I were more attractive (or of she didn’t already have a boyfriend).  Where did I belong in the realm of her desires?  Was I just a friend she reached out to for a good laugh?  Was I a penis placeholder, a guy she turned to when her boyfriend was away at work, then placed on the side when he came back around?  How did she really feel about me?  And why was I so interested in knowing?  What did it matter to me?  Nothing would come of it, no matter how hard I desired it or how hard I tried to make it happen.  It just wouldn’t.

I never even intended to get so deep into it.  I’ve exhausted my musings regarding love and relationships and I had gotten to a point where I didn’t understand human connection and I accepted it and tried to move along but her offhand comment about being emo really shook me.  Is that really how she sees me?  Do I seem pathetic to her?  I keep getting these mixed signals and as much as I’d like to figure out what it all means, what she means, what she means to me, it’s too much of a hassle and I don’t know if it’s worth pursuing, if she’s worth pursuing.  Stupid books.  Stupid girls.  Stupid hearts.

2009 Book/Movie List

Well, I’ve been working on this entry all year long.  At the end of 2008, I saw a blogger who had listed all the books they read that year.  I thought that would be a good idea and decided to do the same for 2009.  Unfortunately, I didn’t read very much at all.  I did watch a lot of movies, however.  So, I decided to list every movie I watched along with every book I read.  I have a lot of trouble remembering what I’ve read and what I’ve seen so I figured this would be a good way to keep track of everything that I watch or read.

2009 Book List
January
Twilight  (3.5/5)
I Was Told There’d Be Cake  (2.5/5) 
How to Make Love Like a Zombie (1.5/5)

February
😦

March
😦

April
😦

May
😦

June
Serial (1.5/5)

July
😦

August
😦

September
😦

October
😦

November
Twilight: New Moon (3.5/5)

December
😦

Books I Wanted to Read (But Was too Lazy to)
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
Lucky
Chuck Klosterman IV
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist
Exquisite Corpse
Invisible Monsters
Haunted
The Spinal Cord Perception (reread)
The Perks of Being a Wallflower  (reread)
Siddhartha
Animal Liberation
The Undertaking
Weekend
Wasted : A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia
Go Ask Alice

2009 Movie List
January
Pineapple Express (4/5)
Twilight (3/5)
My Bloody Valentine 3D-2009 (Theater) (4.5/5)
The Dark Knight (3/5)
Project: Ako (4/5)
Project: Ako (Blue Side/Grey Side) (4/5)
Superman: Doomsday (TV) (3/5)
Prayers for Bobby (TV) (4/5)
Redneck Zombies (2/5)
The Thing (4/5)

February
Resident Evil: Degeneration (3/5)
Return of the Living Dead (2/5)
A Nightmare on Elm Street (4/5)
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 (1.5/5)
Lakeview Terrace (3/5)
Quarantine (4/5)
Choke (3/5)
Cannibal (1.5/5)

March

Dead Like Me (Life After Death) (3.5/5)
Static (TV) (3/5)
The Midnight Meat Train (3.5/5)
Let the Right One In (3.5/5)
The Skeleton Key (3.5/5)
Silent Hill (4/5)
Tetsuo: Iron Man (0/5)

April
Wishmaster (4/5)
Wishmaster 2 (3/5)
Rest Stop (3.5/5)
Rest Stop 2 (2.5/5)
The Zombie Diaries (1/5)
Role Models (2.5/5)
Casshan: Robot Hunter (3/5)
Cold Prey (2/5)

May

Cheerleader Camp (3/5)
Donkey Punch (2.5/5)
I, Zombie (1/5)
Sex Drive (4.5/5)
My Bloody Valentine-2009 (DVD) (3/5)

June
Haunting Sarah (TV) (1.5/5)
Splinter (4/5)
The Uninvited (3/5)
Zombies Zombies Zombies (4/5)
I Walked with a Zombie (TV) (1.5/5)
Dirty Love (5/5)
The Willies (2/5)
Bad Boy Bubby (0/5)
Friday the 13th (2009) (2/5)
The Deviants (4/5)
Mirrors (1.5/5)
One Missed Call (1.5/5)

July
The Messengers (3.5/5)
I’ll Bury You Tomorrow (3/5)
Ozone (2/5)
Slashers (3.5/5)
Feast (3.5/5)
Feast 2: Sloppy Seconds (4.5/5)
Feast 3: The Happy Finish (4/5)
The Haunting in Connecticut (2.5/5)
True Blood: Season One (TV Series) (5/5)

August
Laid to Rest (2.5/5)
Gut Pile (1.5/5)
Stumped (Short Film) (2/5)
I’ve Killed Before (Short Film) (2.5/5)
Subspecies 4: Bloodstorm (2.5/5)
Visiting Hours (1.5/5)
Meat Market 2 (2/5)
The Majorettes (1.5/5)
Dexter: Season 3 (TV Series) (4.5/5)

September
Lisa Lampanelli: The Queen of Mean (3/5)
Crazy Eights (TV) (1.5/5)
Last House on the Left (1.5/5)
Last House on the Left (2009) (4/5)
The Ten (2.5/5)
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2/5)

October
Slaughter (TV) (1/5)
Wrong Turn 2: Dead End (TV) (3/5)
I Love You, Man (3/5)
Zombieland (4/5)
From Within (3/5)
Sex and the City: The Movie (3.5/5)
My Super Psycho Sweet Sixteen Party (TV) (3.5/5)
Orphan (4.5/5)
Edges of Darkness (0.5/5)
Stan Helsing (1/5)
Trick-r-Treat (3.5/5)

November
Elfen Lied (TV Series) (3/5)
Drag Me to Hell (3.5/5)
Deadgirl (4/5)
The Hills Run Red (3.5/5)
Last Holiday (TV) (3/5)
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (TV) (2/5)
Spring Breakdown (2/5)
Black Sheep (3/5)
End of the Line (3.5/5)
House of the Dead II: All Guts, No Glory (2/5)
Toxic Avenger II (2/5)
Twilight (DVD) (3/5)
Twilight Saga: New Moon (3/5)

December

Grace (2/5)
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (TV) (4/5)
100 Feet (TV) (1.5/5)
The Devil Wears Prada (TV) (4/5)
The Ring Virus (0/5)
The Hangover (2/5)

Best of the Year
My Bloody Valentine 3D-2009 (Theater) (4.5/5)
Sex Drive (4.5/5)
Dirty Love (5/5)
Feast 2: Sloppy Seconds (4.5/5)
True Blood: Season One (TV Series) (5/5)
Dexter: Season 3 (TV Series) (4.5/5)
Orphan (4.5/5)

Worst of the Year
Tetsuo: Iron Man (0/5)
The Zombie Diaries (1/5)
I, Zombie (1/5)
Bad Boy Bubby (0/5)
Slaughter (TV) (1/5)
Edges of Darkness (0.5/5)
Stan Helsing (1/5)
The Ring Virus (0/5)

Reading Rainbow was Canceled so There’s no Reason to Live

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  The Accelerated Reader program in school really screwed me over.  You guys had this, right?  You know what I’m talking about?

I’ve pretty much always based my behavior off of my acquaintances.  Thankfully, I had some pretty straight-laced friends in high school so instead of imitating underage drinking or toilet papering houses, I imitated going to church and reading books.  I was never a huge reader.  I did enjoy the occasional good book but I never voraciously ripped through the dusty stacks at the local public library.  Yet, I always admired the idea of books and reading.  It seems like reading is a good drug.  It provides that sense of escape but in a healthier manner.  In fact, books might even help you come to terms with what you’re escaping yourself from.  Of course, it doesn’t have to be like that.  Books can just be for entertainment as well.  That’s the beauty of books.  They can encompass a variety of functions, from fun to funneling frustrations into something slightly less scary.  As well as admiring the idea of reading, I’ve also always admired my friends who liked to read.  They always seemed so intelligent and I wanted to be intelligent so I started reading like they did.  Eventually, reading became a pleasure for me.  Being that chubby insecure child that I was, reading was a way for me to put my worries on hold, to run away from my regrets and fall into a world not my own, to experience another type of existence.  I found that aspect of reading to be quite fascinating and addicting.

Then, AR started and reading became a chore.  It’s true, you can enjoy something all day long but as soon as you are forced to do it, it’s simply not that fun anymore.  So, with AR, reading became mandatory and the books that I would usually take time to enjoy became deadline reads that forced me to push an interest in what I was reading, drilling it into my noggin with each new chapter instead of planting a seed of interest and letting it bloom with each new page.  Being forced to care about a character or situation just isn’t as satisfying as when you can just let it happen organically.  Not only were my friends avid readers but quite competitive as well.  They competed to see who could get the most points and were always checking out those huge books that were worth more.  I ended up having to read twice as many small books just to keep up.  Sure, I could have grabbed a large book here or there but most of them just sounded boring and while I was already becoming irritated by the fact that I had to read good books in a rush, I couldn’t imagine being forced to read boring material.  That’s even worse.  So, the once simple joy of reading starting to become an assembly line of books, quizzes, points earned, rinse, repeat.  And that’s on top of the book reading I had to do for my English classes and various chapters in textbooks for other classes.

I was so glad when I was finished with the Accelerated Reader program.  Unfortunately, when I entered high school I came face to face with more forced reading in the form of a Nazi English teacher.  She had a penchant for assigning two and sometimes three books at one time.  Large books.  I had her once in tenth grade and again in twelfth grade and she honestly burned me out on reading.  After I was done with her class, I don’t think I picked up a book for months.  It took a lot of time to get into reading on a voluntary basis again.   

Unfortunately, over the years, I’ve developed quite the case of A.D.D. and I can’t seem to concentrate on books the way I used to.  Also, reading makes me sleepy!  I can sit down in the middle of the day and feel wide awake and three chapters in I’m drooling on the cover.  It’s like, if I’m not spazzing out then I’m zoning out and so reading just isn’t as focused and pleasurable as it used to be for me.  It doesn’t help that the last few books I’ve read weren’t that great.  It just seems like I can’t find a good book.  I don’t really even know what I’d be into at this point.  I’ve never had a specific genre that I’ve enjoyed more than another.  I like it all, really.  It’s just that nothing has really gotten me worked up or too excited lately and it makes me sad.  It makes me even sadder that I’ve found this passion for writing and yet I am not much of a reader.  It doesn’t seem to make much sense.  To read is to learn how to write and reading would probably help me out so much but I can’t find the concentration. 

And poor Reading Rainbow was canceled recently.  I used to love that show.  It seems quite fitting regarding my situation.  It’s like the end of an era.  Without other like-minded, gap-toothed kids enthusiastically recommending their favorite books, how are our little ones supposed to know what to read?  I guess they’ll have to learn about it on the streets.  And where am I supposed to learn about books?  Where am I going to find that passion for reading again?  Where’s the concentration, the motivation, the caffeine?  I feel bad because I have so many stacks and stacks of books that I keep buying and never actually read.  I guess none of them are interesting enough for me to actually want to start reading again.  I need to be on fire for a book.  I just can’t think of any great titles.  Maybe I just need to sit outside with a giant cup of coffee and a zombie novel.  Perhaps that will cure me of my reading block.

Has anyone read anything amazing lately?  Any recommendations?