Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year, New Beginning

It's New Year's Eve and the air is abuzz with resolutions, toasts to the 2013 that was, and cheers to the 2014 that will be.  Everyone vows to change for the better somehow, being fitter, friendlier, and more frugal.  People swear they'll live in the moment and love those around them.  And while all of these vows are good and fine, people forget that the only thing which will be happening at midnight is a change on the calendar.  You aren't suddenly going to get the motivation to go to the gym every day or the money to travel around the world.  Life is not suddenly going to get better or easier tonight at midnight.
Resolutions themselves are not bad things.  They remind us to focus on the things that are important, and that is one of the best gifts you can give to yourself.  The problem arises when we forget that goals and resolutions require a little work every day, not just a promise on the first day of a new year.  So, if it makes you happy, make resolutions.  Make them attainable and measurable THEN WORK TOWARD THEM.  All year, not just for a week or so.

This time of year, we also hear a lot of things along the lines of "2013 was great, but 2014 will be the best year yet!".  Maybe.  But here's the thing: if you're living your life to the fullest, every year will be the best year yet.  Each year will bring new highs, making you happier than you ever thought to be possible.  You will travel to new places, meet new people, make new friends.  You will try new things, find new obsessions.  You'll probably find a new favorite song, favorite movie, favorite book in the upcoming year.  The new year will bring new victories and joys and excitements.  You'll finish the year and think "wow, that was fun."
On the flip side, every year brings new lows.  You'll probably cry in the next year.  You'll be mad and confused and upset and lost to new degrees.  But these experiences are so important to the year.  These are the things that will make you stronger and will hopefully make you a better person.  When you look back on the year, you'll remember the pain, but hopefully the joy will match it, if not eclipse it.

So, Happy New Year, everybody.  I hope it's a great one.

Monday, December 30, 2013


Okay, to be clear, I don't intend to be so bad about neglecting my blog.  It just kind of happens.  But I have some great article ideas and I'm not sure where to start, so expect like four new articles in the space of four days.  Yes, I am crazy.  Let it go.  We'll all be happier.

Anyway.  I am, among many other things, a runner.  I started running sporadically at fourteen when I decided that I wanted to run a marathon before turning sixteen.  That didn't happen, but I did fall in love.

Nowadays, I run around three days a week, and I've logged miles with dogs, kids, my dad, my boyfriend, my suitemates, friends, and solo.  Every mile may not be fast or fun, but the feeling I get from running cannot be matched.

I used to always run with either music or a buddy, and sometimes both, but in the last year or so I've ditched the music for a few reasons.  There is, of course, the safety aspect: I often run at night or early in the morning, and as a girl it's safer to be able to hear everything around me.  However, there is also an emotional, almost spiritual reason.  Running in silence allows me to hear everything from my footfalls, to my breathing, to the world around me, and in many ways it allows me to hear my thoughts with more clarity.  Running has become therapeutic for me.  I'd expected that running in silence would provide me with more time to dwell on worries, overthinking my life unnecessarily, but instead it calms me like nothing else.  My problems melt away, seeming much less important then before.  I am able to evaluate them with a renewed strength of mind, and I finish my run feeling refreshed.

On a more abstract note, I used to look at running as if I was fleeing my problems and my life.  To me, running felt like flying, and as an overemotional teenager I fell in love with the idea of flying away from everything.  As I ran, I told myself that if I put in enough miles at a fast enough pace, my troubles would not be able to catch me.  I now have a more positive outlook, viewing my miles as progress towards a goal.  Sometimes that goal is simply to be healthier, fitter, and feeling sore the next morning.  Other times the goal is a certain number of miles or a certain speed, or a race I'm training for.  However, while all of these are excellent goals (I can't even describe how great it is to run farther than ever before), many of my favorite runs have been the days where I have no goal other than to feel better at the end of my run than I did at the start, or to catch up with the friends who have joined me for the day's run.

For me, running is something special.  It's mine.  I don't do it out of obligation to anyone or anything.  I do it for me.  And that's the most  beautiful reason I can imagine.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Okay, I Lied

This isn't a pithy article like I promised.  It's another couple reviews.  Sorry.  The article will be here soon, I swear!  But I thought these deserved reviews, and in all seriousness, if you look at the title of the blog, that is what it was initially intended for.

Review #1: Carrie (2013 remake)
 (not mine)
I read Carrie when I was in 8th grade.  It was the first Stephen King book I read.  I was hooked.  Carrie's story is one that many can relate to, though perhaps not on an extreme scale.  However, everyone has felt bullied or hurt, and most have probably wished they could exact some form of revenge.
So, the movie.  I liked it a lot.  The cast was excellent.  Chloe Moretz was awesome as Carrie, although I do love Sissy Spacek in the original.  I thought that Julianne Moore was outstanding as Carrie's mother, somewhat better than Piper Laurie.
The plots of the two movies were essentially the same, with many scenes very closely mimicking scenes from the 1976 film.  The only difference is the advanced special effects in the remake.
Overall, I was pleased.
Bottom Line: 4/5 stars.
Review #2: If He Had Been With Me by Laura Nowlin
(not mine)
Wow.  This book left me gasping.  I read it in one day.  I picked it up at the book store a few weeks ago because it looked interesting, but I didn't expect it to hit me as hard as it did.
This book tells a beautiful love story between two best friends, showing the way they grow up together, grow apart, and fall in love.  The plot is flawless.  The ending somehow shocked me, even though it is pretty much explained on the back cover.
This book pulled my heart in so many directions.  The characters are wonderful.  They have flaws and strengths like real people, and I truly cared about all of them.  The narration is also great; it pulled me in immediately.
This one almost made me cry, guys.  It was outstanding.
Bottom Line: 4.99/5 stars.  (there are some grammatical errors that bothered me)

Monday, November 4, 2013

I Freaking Love Tim Burton

Yes, I know I promised a longer article with more content, but a friend showed me Corpse Bride last night and I kind of loved it, so I'm reviewing it today.  The long article is still coming, I promise!
(not mine)
So anyway, I have always adored Tim Burton.  Nightmare Before Christmas is one of my all time favorites, as is Edward Scissorhands.  Something about Burton's dark, artsy style is absolutely beautiful to me, and Corpse Bride featured all of the things I love.  To start with, the music was written by Danny Elfman, which is always fabulous, and there are also some excellent piano pieces in this movie. I have vowed to learn them as soon as I have access to a piano.
Also, there is the cast, featuring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, two of my favorite actors.  Even in voice acting, they are excellent.
The animation is beautiful, with the darkness of the land of the living contrasting with the colors of death.  I liked the symbolism as well as the distinctive "Burton" elements seen throughout.
The story is also lovely; a sad dark love story that somehow left me smiling in the end.
Bottom Line: Watch it. 5/5 stars.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Some Album Reviews and an Apology

So, um, it's been awhile.  Like a little over a month.  Oops.  With midterms and whatnot it's been hard to find time to write.  But anyway, I'm sorry.  Forgive me?
Today I'm just posting a couple quick album reviews, but I'll be posting a longer, pithier article ASAP, hopefully in the next few days.  Anyway, don't forget me yet.

Album 1: "Monsters in the Closet" by Mayday Parade
(not mine, obviously)
Mayday Parade is one of my favorite bands and I wasn't disappointed with this album.  Sure, there are a couple lackluster songs with simplistic lyrics and excessively poppy elements (I'm looking at you, "Ghosts"), but the overall awesomeness of the other songs more than compensate.  My favorite is "Angels" with its amazingly lovely story.  I'm not too sappy, but this song speaks to my soft side.  Some other favorites are "Sorry Not Sorry" and "Even Robots Need Blankets".  Mayday Parade is pop punk to the core and I greatly enjoy it.
Bottom Line: 4/5 stars.
Album 2: "Don't Panic: It's Longer Now!" by All Time Low
(also not mine)
All Time Low is another favorite of mine, and I have always adored "Don't Panic".  The bonus tracks on this version are pretty good, although I'm not left speechless by any of them.  If you're interested, check out "Me Without You (All I Ever Wanted)".  In actuality, my favorite parts of this album are the acoustic versions of previously existing songs.  "Backseat Serenade" and "Somewhere in Neverland" have always been among my favorites, and the acoustic versions are superb.
Bottom Line: 4/5 stars (if you're into bonus albums).
Album 3: "Ocean Avenue (Acoustic)" by Yellowcard
(not mine)
So, this album is just an acoustic remake of their album, "Ocean Avenue".  However, if you're a fan of acoustic albums, as I am, I highly recommend this one.  The violin plays a large role, and it's great.  "Back Home", "Twenty Three" and "One Year Six Months" are my favorite. Check them out!
Bottom Line: 4.2/5 stars (if you like that sort of thing).

Sunday, September 22, 2013

For College Freshmen

Freshman year of college is fun.  You're on your own for the first time, feeling things out, staying out as late as you want, eating what you want when you want, and doing whatever you want.  There's so much to do.  All.  The.  Time.

Freshman year of college is exciting.  You make new friends and start making new memories.  You learn a lot about life and people and yourself.  Your life is finally beginning.

Freshman year of college is confusing.  You're in a new place, and you're alone.  You have all these decisions to make.  Major?  Clubs to join?  Am I actually going to go to lecture today?  Go Greek or not?  Party or not?  Drink or not?  What happened last night?  What am I doing here?  Do I belong here?  What am I doing with my life?  Is this worth it?  Who am I?  Who will I be?  Who am I becoming?  Is that a good thing?  Who do I want to be?

Freshman year of college is hard.  Exams are rough.  Classes are rough.  Homework is rough.  Studying is rough.  Sleep becomes an option.  College is academically challenging, and it's challenging in a way high school never was.  You have to accept that you aren't going to effortlessly succeed.

Freshman year of college is an ego check.  You aren't the best at everything.  You probably aren't the best at anything.  You may never be the best again.  There are people here that are smarter, work harder, look better, run faster, sing better, are more involved...the list never ends.  You'll ask yourself if you're good enough the way you are.  The answer is yes.  I hope.

Freshman year of college is an awkward transition.  Maybe the most awkward transition of your life.

Freshman year of college is emotional.  So.  Many.  Feelings.  All.  The.  Time.  Happy.  Sad.  Scared.  Angry.  Hysterically laughing.  Crying.  Screaming.  Excited.  Elated.  Conflicted.  Confused.  Lost.  Silly.  Upset.  Smile.  Frown.

Freshman year of college is a lot of things.  But I've realized that it's not that bad.  It's pretty great actually.  It's hard.  It's a challenge.  But as a college freshman, I am not alone.  We all have trouble sleeping, we all are taking classes that are kicking our asses.  We all feel lost and scared and lonely sometimes.  We're all just trying to do our best with what we have.  We'll make it.  And then we'll laugh and say, "hey, that wasn't so bad."

Have fun, guys.  Four years will be over before we know it.

Monday, August 26, 2013

An Ode to the Introverts

As people who know me will tell you, I am not, by any means, quiet.  Honestly, when I know you, or have at least decided that you are not a threat, I am animated, talkative, and fun.  However, I have this strange shy streak that appears at certain times.  I never could put a word to what I was: not shy, because that implies a fear of people.  Not quiet, because my friends can never seem to get me to shut up.  At last I found it: I am a textbook introvert.

This means that, while I don't fear people, I simply feel no need to talk to the ones I don't know.  I'll sit quietly in a crowd of unfamiliar people and be fine.  If you want to meet me, approach me first and say hello.  I'll gladly talk to you, but I will NOT be the first to engage in conversation.  This introversion explains my crowd anxiety, my need for alone time, and my sometimes rough outer shell.  I'm not mean.  I'm not shy.  I'm not quiet.  I'm just an introvert.

I think the best way to explain it is this: it's like I was born with a fear of the word "no".  My mom used to always tell me, "just ask.  The worst they can say is no."  The idea of being told no terrifies me.  To me, "no" is like failure.  It's why I don't talk to new people (what if I annoy them?), it's why I don't like trying new things (what if I'm bad at them?), and it's why I hate to lose or be rejected.  Rejection is the ultimate "no".  It's like saying, "no.  You aren't good enough and we don't want you."

This fear of "no" permeates everything I do, ultimately leading to introversion.  So seek me out.  Show me that you like me.  At that point, I'm happy to put myself out there.  I just need to feel safe first.

So, to all you introverts out there, I get you.  I know how you feel.  Occasionally, try to get out of your comfort zone.  Try something new, or go to a party where you know only one person and actually talk to someone new.  Try to smile more.  People will think you're friendly even if you are scared to death of them.  Just relax.  It'll all be okay.

And to the extroverts: be kind to us.  We're doing our best.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Some Unsolicited Advice for the School Year

So. It's back to school for just about everyone and here are some thoughts regarding each stage:

Middle School
Ugh. Words can't express how glad I am that this stage of my life is over. Some advice for the road?
  1. It's an awkward time for EVERYONE. It's not just you.
  2. People are mean.  It's because they're uncomfortable.  Try not to get too upset because of the things they say.
  3. Figure out who you can count on and hold them close.
  4. Figure out who the mean ones are and avoid them.
  5. Be you and try to stay true. (cliché, I know. :p)
High School
I had a decent time in high school, but I had to make an effort to do so.  Here's how:
  1. Don't freak out. This isn't real life.  High school is just a stepping stone.
  2. Get involved.  It looks good on college apps, but it also helps you make friends and stay busy.
  3. Get good grades.  Yeah, that's obvious, but a lot of underclassmen tend to forget this one.
  4. Friends. Always friends.  Keep the old ones, but make new ones too.
  5. Let things go.  Mean people/drama queens/etc. aren't worth your time.
  6. If you aren't dating someone, it's okay.
  7. Yes, you can go to prom without a date.  Go with friends.
  8. And yes, you should go to prom and homecoming at least once each.  If you hate it, never go again.
  9. Prom>homecoming
  10. The "nerds", "drama geeks" and "band geeks" are some of the most genuine people on campus.
And finally, I've only been in college for about a week now, but here's some thoughts:
  1. Try not to eat alone.  Introduce yourself to someone else who looks lonely.  Or drag your suite mate along.
  2. Go to class.
  3. Know where your classes are in advance.
  4. Most professors are actually pretty cool.
  5. Sorority rush is scary, but overall, worth it.  You'll meet lots of new people, even if you don't decide to go Greek.
  6. Eat at some funky restaurant just off campus that you've never heard of.
  7. The chocolate milk in the cafeteria is delicious and addictive.
  8. Having a roommate can be pretty cool.
  9. ALWAYS bring an umbrella.
  10. Don't give up.  Classes are harder than high school, but so what? You can do this.
  11. Have fun. Just do it.
  12. That being said, don't do anything stupid.
  13. If you are in an upper level Chemistry class, you really should know that if your answer differentiates from the professor's by .001, it is NOT a big deal.  Do NOT raise your hand and fret about it in front of 296 other people.  You'll look dumb.
  14. TAs are usually stuck up. Let it go.
  15. Tech support for online classes sucks.
Happy back to school, everyone!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Ah, Sweet, Beautiful Controversy

This blog post is very, very controversial.  You have been warned.
(not mine, obviously)
Okay.  So, lately there's this giant controversy because Rolling Stone magazine chose to write an article about the Boston bomber and place his picture on the cover.  Everyone is up in arms, saying that it's so awful and glorifying terrorism.  I do not agree even a little bit.
First of all, it is Rolling Stone's right as a magazine to publish anything they want.  Additionally, the story about the bomber is the largest story in the issue, and therefore it makes sense for a photo pertaining to the article to be on the cover.  Further, not to be cynical, but Rolling Stone is a company and they are selling a product.  Although many have refused to sell the magazine, the company has likely sold thousands of extra copies and gained tons of publicity due to the surrounding controversy.
Now, on the less cynical side, the picture shows a different side of the bomber, showing that he was a regular person once; not a born monster.  It argues that no one is a born monster, and it is the choices we make that determine the person we become, not necessarily the upbringing we had.
The article examines how Jahar fell from grace, going from a popular student to a terrorist.  It makes the bomber seem human, which, while seemingly degrading to victims of the bombing, sheds some light on the fact that terrorism does not have a specific "face".  While it may sound paranoid to say so, anyone could become a terrorist.  If they make poor choices, they could fall into such a trap.
While the picture may seem to be "glorifying" Jahar, it is not.  It is simply illustrating the point of the article: evil is made, not born.
On a more emotional level, I cannot argue that Rolling Stone should have put Jahar's picture on their cover.  It is clearly hurtful and offensive to many, but they had a right to do so, and there is nothing truly wrong with their choice.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Society Pisses Me Off Sometimes

Quick disclaimer: this is a rant.  Please don't be offended.  If you disagree with me, I'd love to hear why, just please be respectful.

Okay.  So I have a friend who is 19 years old.  She is currently pregnant with her boyfriend's child.  They have only been together about a year and a half and have decided to keep the baby and raise it.  As far as I know, they have no plans to get married.  She recently went public with the news on Facebook.  There were upwards of thirty comments saying something along the lines of "so happy for you! You'll be a great mom."  I, on the other hand, read the post and thought "you're ruining your life."  Thus, this rant was born.

Teen pregnancy has become more and more socially acceptable in the last decade, but especially in the last few years.  I don't understand this at all.  At 19, it is almost impossible to support a child, especially when you are unmarried, uneducated, and essentially still dependent on your parents.  Therefore, if you decide to keep the baby and raise it, you are most likely unable to give that child all of the opportunities they deserve.  In addition, you are ruining your own life and will never be able to get a leg up in the future.  You and your child will probably be poor forever, which typically creates a destructive environment for the child, sparking a vicious cycle.

It is now 2013.  In America, I believe that it is more socially acceptable to be a teen mom than it is to be gay.  That offends me.  Why is it that being gay is considered a "lifestyle choice", but being a teen mom is a normal part of life?

As a society, we appear to be moving away from traditional marriage.  Unmarried couples living together has become common, even after being together for decades.  After being together for so long, why wouldn't you get married?  Society no longer values marriage.  It is now seen as an option, rather than a requirement for life together.
This leads to the acceptance of teen moms and the downfall of adoption.  People seem to believe that there are only two options for pregnancy out of wedlock: abortion or keeping the child as your own.  There's a third, seemingly forgotten, option: adoption.  If a child is given up for adoption, they will most likely have a much better life than any teen parents could possibly provide.  However, adoption is an extremely selfless choice, and I believe our society has become too selfish to consider it.  That's dissappointing.

Instead of adoption, however, people seem to believe that it's okay to force the brunt of the child raising labor on their parents.  Grandparents, unable to say no, end up paying for their children's mistakes.  This is unfair to all involved.  Consequences should not be able to be dodged.  If you make a poor choice, be prepared to deal with the fallout.

Anyway, that's my 2 (or 22) cents.  Whether you agree or disagree, I hope you enjoyed reading.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Realistic Love Story: "Lisey's Story"

(disclaimer: not my picture. Credit to goodreads.com)

Lisey's Story is, without a doubt, my favorite of Stephen King's books, as well as one of my all time favorites.  When I read it for the first time in 8th grade, I missed the deeper meanings, but I still liked it.  When I read it again fairly recently, I understood it on a deeper level and fell in love.  It is an amazing example of Stephen King at his best.  Instead of terrifying me, he broke my heart with this novel.
Lisey's Story is a beautiful, imperfect, honest, real love story, and that is why I love it so much.  It centers around Lisey, the wife of famous horror writer Scott Landon.  Told in flashbacks after Scott's death, the novel tells the story of a wonderfully flawed couple.  Together since their early twenties, Lisey and Scott have grown together, becoming closer with each year of marraige, becoming so close that they have their own language.  After Scott's death, Lisey discovers the secret world of monsters and demons which haunted Scott and inspired his stories.

Sigh.  Lisey's Story appeals to my romantic side (as small and underdeveloped as it may be...) because it is not the traditional romance.  It is, in no way, lovey-dovey.  It does not try to pretend to be perfect and happy and wonderful all the time.  Lisey's Story offers a realistic view of marriage and the work it requires to have a good one.  In addition, I fell in love with the closeness Scott and Lisey have.  Their love for one another, flawed though it may be, clearly runs very deep, permeating the layers of pain and baggage both carry.  Lisey and Scott are a very real couple, and that is why I love them so much.  I could easily believe in them, and dream of one day having a marriage like theirs.

Anyway, overall, 5/5 stars.  Read it.  It's amazing.  King's writing is flawless, as is the story.


Hey there!  You have just entered a very bizarre world of my own creation.  This is my first foray into blogging, and I am starting it as a way to force myself to write.  It also provides me with an outlet for my many opinions (some of which you may not agree with...).  So anyway, feel free to agree, disagree, or critique anything I say.  I only request that you respect my opinions and I shall respect yours.

The blog will be home to my reviews of anything and everything (but mostly books, music, and movies), as well as a few rants about whatever happens to be irking me lately.  Enjoy.

I'm Victoria, welcome to my world.