Saturday, July 27, 2013

Emma Morley may be my literary twin

"We should get some sleep."
"What for? Nothing tomorrow. No deadlines, no work..."
"Just the whole of our lives, stretching ahead of us," she said sleepily, taking in the wonderful warm, stale smell of him and at the same time feeling a ripple of anxiety pass across her shoulders: independent adult life. She didn't feel like an adult. She was in no way prepared. It was as if a fire alarm had gone off in the middle of the night and she was standing on the street with her clothes bundled up in her arms. If she wasn't learning, what was she doing? How would she fill the days? She had no idea.
- One Day, David Nicholls

Sometimes you read the right book at the right point of your life, and you feel less alone. I haven't finished it yet, but One Day struck me as that book for me right now. I see bits and pieces of myself in Emma Morley. It makes me anxious, and at one point I felt like crying because what if this is what my future looks like? 

My graduation is in 13 days, and while I plan on going on to get another degree and thus my independent adult life is still a bit further away than that, I'm scared. I'm 22 with no glittering award or publication to my name and an almost-great-but-not-quite-there results. My friends are scattered all around the globe and in 13 days, even more of them would be too far away. Some days I'm struck with this panic that one day I would just fade away, and no one would have more to say than 'she was a good girl'.

What are you going to do with your life?" In one way or another it seemed that people had been asking her this forever; teachers, her parents, friends at three in the morning, but the question had never seemed this pressing and still she was no nearer an answer.. 

My imaginings of the future haven't changed too drastically at the core. In primary school, I thought I'd live with Thania and she'd be making music while I write novels for a living. In high school, I still thought I'd be writing novels, but I'd be running a private practice as a psychologist too. Now, I still write and dream of doing it for a living, I still want to be a psychologist, but I'm missing the starry-eyed optimism I used to infuse this picture with.

Still, I do try remind myself that I'm only halfway through the third chapter of One Day, and I'm only 22. I'm rooting for Emma to find some confidence and achieve the life she wants and deserves, and I'm going to keep breathing through the panics and make myself do the same.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

What I took away from X-Men

Popular culture is often written off as fluffy or shallow, and a large amount of it is. Sometimes though, I stumble on something that seems to go a bit deeper than a love triangle or flashy car explosions.

Up until a few months ago, I had little to no interest in X-Men franchise. Any movie with a lot of fight scenes don't hold much appeal to me, so I hadn't paid attention. My only experience with the franchise was when I went with friends to see X-Men: First Class, which was good, but I was still meh about it.

Then after Les Mis, I started becoming a fan of Hugh Jackman. It's really not hard to develop a crush on him if you have a thing for good guys (like me), and once I have a celebrity crush I like to track down their work so I can fangirl properly. Thanks to the promotional hype, I've had a chance to watch 3 of the X-Men movies on tv: X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men, and X2. It's easier to commit to watching these things when you have ad breaks and are on your own couch than when you have to pay $15 for them, so I watched them all.

To be honest? I couldn't bear watching X-Men Origins: Wolverine at first. Too much violence for me. I stuck it out because there was nothing more interesting on TV. I ended up liking the character of Wolverine, but the movie didn't make much of an impression on me. The other two though...

I almost couldn't bear to watch X-Men at first too, but for an entirely different reason. Senator Kelly attempting to pass the 'Mutant Registration Act' and the prejudice against mutants made me shudder, and I found myself entranced by the theme of discrimination more than the cool mutations and fight scenes. Being picked on for the way you were born isn't just science fiction; you don't need to have blue skin or shoot laser out of your eyes to be set apart from the crowd. The opening scene of the movie was set in a Nazi concentration camp.

All my life, I always feel like an Other. Being a descendant of Chinese immigrants in Indonesia didn't resign me to a life of oppression or even to a real minority group the way it was for the mutants, and the large number of people I've met in Australia are tolerant, open-minded people. Nevertheless, I'd go to a smaller town - a place that hasn't seen a lot of non-white people (or pale-skinned folks in the case of Indonesian further regions) - and I'd catch some people looking at me a second longer. I'd never had a racist rant in my face, thank goodness, but that doesn't mean I'm not aware it's out there, and it's a sad feeling to think I've just been very lucky that I haven't been subjected to that sort of overt hate (though implied, casual racism is just as bad, but that can be a whole other post).

So the mutants' plight struck a chord with me, and I can see both Magneto and Xavier's reasoning behind their approach to human beings. I understand why Magneto thinks mutants should be at war with humans - haven't we proved time and time again that fear/ignorance of the different and unknown is stronger than sympathy? - but I also would like to believe that Xavier is right, that we should have hope in our ability to sympathize and tolerate.

It's fun when movies aren't black and white.

Also, I love this from X2:

Nightcrawler: You know, outside the circus, most people were afraid of me. But I didn't hate them. I pitied them. Do you know why? Because most people will never know anything beyond what they see with their own two eyes.
Storm: Well, I gave up on pity a long time ago.
Nightcrawler: Someone so beautiful should not be so angry.
Storm: Sometimes anger can help you survive.
Nightcrawler: So can faith.

I still don't care for the part where people get stabbed or blown up or whatever else they do to kill someone, but there is more to X-Men than the 'super'powers and good-looking action heroes. I like that. I'm still considering whether or not to see The Wolverine, but I think I will see Days of Future Past.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

What Cory Monteith's Death Means to Me

Earlier this week I found out, while listening to Glee's Marry You no less, that Cory Monteith was found dead in his hotel room. I was heartbroken. A part of me hoped that it was a cruel internet joke, but alas it wasn't. I watched Glee religiously during its first 3 seasons, often watched the same episodes for a couple of times and I have an iTunes playlist dedicated to the show's soundtrack. And when Lea and Cory made their relationship public, I was happy for them.

I know that knowing who Finn Hudson was is no way near to knowing who Cory Monteith was. But I can't help to feel that for all the times I watched him on Glee, a bit of Cory was seeping through the Finn facade. Like the time when he found the grilled cheesus. Or the time when he had "Vitamin D" from Will's wife. Or the time when he was angry at Kurt for having a crush on him. Or the time when he let Rachel go chase her dream in New York. And the time when he finally realised that he wanted to be a teacher.

Like Finn, Cory was just getting the hang of being Cory when tragedy struck. He was in a great relationship with Lea Michele, he was preparing for a career outside of Glee by getting jobs in movies and he seemed happy. His death means a lot to me because I get what Finn, or Cory, went through. I get his confusion, his uncertainty, and him having a hard time to understand what to do when his idealistic views of life and reality came to a halt and it wasn't what he expected. I get it. Just like any other confused, uncertain, and doe-eyed graduate out there gets it.

The mix of emotions didn't stop there. After reading about the countless outpouring of love that came through from the people that knew him, I was shattered. Cory was described as an incredibly kind person, generous, extremely passionate, a bright light... and the list goes on and on. His death has made me do something that even a best selling self-help book couldn't make me do. It made me rethink of some of the choices I made in life, and it made me want to live life to the fullest and not waste any time. To be kinder, more adventurous, and to be thankful of the gifts that life has thrown me.

So here's to you Cory. Here's to all of the fun memories you've given me through songs, funny behind the scenes videos, and more importantly thank you for making the world a bit brighter by being the person that you were. May you finally rest in peace, rest assured that you will be missed and that you are loved.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

It's hard to hate Elle Woods

Lucy Durack as Elle Woods

I got to see Legally Blonde: The Musical the other day. I've only ever seen two professional stage shows (this was the second), but I can say that it was a lot of fun, the songs were catchy, and I had a wonderful time.

I've always liked lawyer!Elle Woods, but I didn't like her pre-Harvard. Pre-Harvard Elle annoyed me. Annoying is an easy word to throw around when it comes to characters or even people, so I stopped and thought about why she irked me. I think it's because she went to Harvard to chase a guy, and she could get in despite only deciding to apply in - what? - the semester before she applied maybe? It's hard to not think of her as shallow at first. Plus she got practically anything she wanted, all except the guy. And he wasn't even the right guy. (Also I think I'm more Meredith Grey, and I don't handle peppiness well in large doses - but that is a personal preference and not something to hold against Elle's character). In short, I didn't like her because her life was easy.

But I also didn't like her because I have the same prejudice as everyone else in the movie: 'she's into fashion and pink so she must be dumb/shallow'.

Then that changed. She got to Harvard and suddenly she had to work. She's judged based on how she looks. She found that she's actually good at being a lawyer and she likes it on its own merit, not because it helps her win a man. That's when I start to like her. She's still pink and peppy by the end of the story, but she's got more going in her life than just a man, even if true love was part of it.

I realized that I would never be Elle Woods. I'll never be perpetually bouncy or care as much about hair and outfit all the time - I don't want to be, honestly. But I do want to borrow her rose-tinted glasses once in a while and believe that things are possible more often. Also, the next time I'm ready to write off another girl because of how she looks - on whichever part of the spectrum - I won't.