It’s been a while

Over the past few months, I haven’t been writing the way I want to. All I’ve been writing are research papers, exam papers, and articles here and there. I think I wrote a couple of short stories and a poem or something.

What I can remember are the moments I took to update my WhatsApp status. They aren’t particularly eloquent, but they capture the moments I typed them out in. They feel like writing. Not the painstaking writing that captivates readers. Only a brief hint of a life. They reveal a little something about me. That is why I am using them to craft a story. Mostly my story, but I think it’ll mirror what some people feel in the last few months of school, college, and other things we feel we need to get away from.

_____________________________________

nerd smiling emoticon

She smiled as she wrote. The words appeared on the screen nearly as quickly as she thought of them. The feeling she got after the last word was typed was one of accomplishment. She had finished. She had made it through her final research paper after three years of typing and retyping and editing and proof-reading. It was one of the last things to do on her way to freedom.

A lot of lasts

She knew it was true. Others seemed to be getting more nostalgic by the minute. She couldn’t wait to be done with it all. She was quite literally counting down the days. But there were moments when she thought, “I’m going to miss this.” or, “I wonder when I’ll see them again.”

Back to the same old

As excited as she was for the end, there were a few more hurdles to clear before she could go on to the next stage of her life. And it was the same old thing, another set of tests to measure something undefinable. She was back to waiting, waiting for it to be over.

Done

The classes were over. Just weeks remained of what had begun to feel more and more like a life sentence. Every other minute, she was tumbling from joyous heights to depressed awareness of what remained to be overcome.

The frequency with which she felt compelled to share her state grew.

Just a few hours more.

2 weeks and a bunch of hours

                                                 angry face

Words seemed to be failing her at times. The exams had never felt so awful. She knew it barely mattered. But she felt awful on the days when she had to drag herself to that place. Sometimes she felt unable to deal with it on top of the other worries weighing on her.

flat mouth face

It felt like the days she hated lasted too long. She stared at nothing and everything. She sent messages to her friends. She was able to relax when she focused on something totally unrelated. Those moments were precious.

Counting down the hours

She could see the end of a three year journey which had been interesting. She was more than ready to leave interesting behind.

Vacation!!!!!!!!!!

She was there. Where she wanted to be. Needed to be. The other worries had more room to float about her head. She was looking toward the future. And that was partially dependent on the exams. The results took their own sweet time.

Finally!!!!!!!!

 

 

 

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Sequelling All The Way Home

A girl sits at her computer, face serious as she opens a new tab and googles meg cabot. The link to the website loads, and suddenly it is there, the Save the Date for the wedding of Susannah Simon and Dr. Hector “Jesse” de Silva, as well as the announcement about the wedding of HRH Mia Thermopolis to Michael Moscovitz.

When I read a book and grow up with the protagonist, and live her life for a chapter or two hundred, I want a conclusion to that process. Yes, the book itself had some kind of ending, perfect or otherwise, and it will do for a while, but what about after the eighth time you read it? You NEED another story to answer the infinite questions you have about their lives.

That’s where my jumping-up and down reaction to the news of The Royal Wedding-The Princess Diaries XI came from. When I visited Meg Cabot’s website as I sometimes do to check up on any new releases from my favourite author, I was rewarded with the best news ever. Not only was The Royal Wedding coming out this June, the seventh book in the Mediator series-Remembrance is being published in February 2016!

I had no idea how I would wait for it to be released for three long months. I just knew that once it was out, I would have to read it absolutely as soon as possible. The revival year, that’s what I think of 2015 as, the year Meg Cabot did this, Harper Lee released Go Set a Watchman, Jurassic World came out, and a bunch of other long-awaited sequels made their appearance.

Trying to look at a Pinterest board about The Royal Wedding, the sign-up form kept popping up annoyingly, every time I refreshed the page, I had a moment’s peace before that awful red thing popped right back up. I gave in, and got myself an account, something I’ve avoided ever since that became a social media option.

In all my excitement, I went on a fan girl expedition through the Mia Thermopolis blog, the Pinterest board, and made myself overly excited and unable to wait to read the book. As fun as all these franchise-y things were, I really just wanted the book. Once I got it, I couldn’t stop reading.  It gave me a sense of homecoming, immersing myself in Mia’s particular brand of neurotic and lovable recording of her life.

Two girls immersed in a conversation, eagerly discussing the book one just finished borrowing and reading. Slightly embarrassing conversations, they didn’t really want people they didn’t like to overhear. These were spread over years as one book after the other was released. They never discussed To Kill a Mockingbird, it was the domain of another set of her friends, a few years later. They had equally detailed discussions and analyses, but sometimes they had to agree to disagree.

How could a bunch of diary entries get millions of fans from preteens to adults so incredibly excited? If you’ve read even one of the books in the series, you would know why. All the reviews mention the new fans, but everyone knows, it’s the original fans that matter, “Original fans of the series, now adults themselves, will be thrilled with this (The Royal Wedding),” said Booklist. I don’t think anything has ever been truer in a book review.  When Publishers Weekly said, “Readers who first discovered Cabot’s Princess books as teens will enjoy seeing Mia and Michael all grown up, ….. Since this is being billed as the final book in the series, one hopes that Cabot will reconsider and write more of Mia and Michael’s story . . .” all I could think was Yes, please please please. I want more!

That was the thought at the back of my mind as page after page passed by. I wanted to finish the book, but I really didn’t. I dreaded the end, though I knew it would be just what I wanted for Mia. I knew that Jean Louise wouldn’t get such a happy ending. I was reading Go Set a Watchman at the same time, I had to. There was no way I could have read Lee without something to balance my confusion and irritation. Go Set a Watchman is not a funny book, it made me stand on my head (not literally). Mia I knew perfectly and identified with more than I probably should, considering how downright crazy she sometimes is. Jean Louise on the other hand is like some other species, but I love her too.

Reading the little extra things included in the diary, like Mia’s shopping list, or text messages; those are usually the most fun parts of the book. It’s endlessly entertaining to see her try to control everything, fail, but then have everything turn out wonderfully. It also does that thing, the thing that everyone claims people want to know about celebrities, “They’re just like us!” If you’ve seen any entertainment which is about entertainment, be it a TV show or even if you just look at a magazine, half the articles are about emphasising how normal they are, while the other half is about showing how much cooler their lives are.

Go Set a Watchman is the much awaited continuation of the story of Jean Louise Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. It has that uniquely vague title to keep the reader guessing. I assumed it had something to do with Atticus, who is old and carries his famous pocket-watch and wears a wristwatch as well.  I was on the right track, what with my lack of knowledge of biblical text. It is something Jean Louise hears in her church when she returns home and has her world shattered.

The train going by, that chug-chug sound playing as she read; she was transported to her teens again. All the times she read TKMB, it was a struggle to find meaning, a battle with the author to win. She had to understand. In the present, it was so clearly Lee’s writing, but writing not with the voice of a child, but a woman! As the landscape becomes increasingly familiar to Jean Louise, I settled back into my chair and the 20th century world of “the South”.

When I saw the link to the first chapter of Go Set a Watchman, all those conflicted feelings from when I read TKMB came back, but the prospect of an adult Scout Jean Louise Finch was amazing. I read the chapter immediately, and died a little inside when the casual mention of Jem’s death pops out of nowhere. It seemed almost like a plot device to explain why Hank and Atticus are so close, it hurt. As I read the book, it felt less like a blow to my solar plexus, and more of a why’d-she-do-it kind of irritation.

The book is constantly returning to the past, bursting with the exploits of Scout and Co.  While she has grown-up, there is still that girl who challenges her world, but loves it (old Maycomb) running throughout the narrative. Her struggle for a large part of the book is deciding whether or not marrying Hank will allow her to be happy. It is at the same time a story of the changed and unchanged Maycomb, as Jean Louise reacts to the things that upset, confuse, anger or please her.

It seems like the usual returning to home, how everything has changed! narrative, until Jean Louise visits the courthouse and has her entire faith in her father (and Hank) totally destroyed. That’s where the book started to be unbelievably confusing for me. Each page left me with an unsettled feeling, like I was with Jean Louise, trying to comfort her after she feels this utter horror. Her entire world is formed around Atticus’ views and when their views diverged, it broke her.

I was puzzled, why was Atticus doing this? He wasn’t nearly as great as a lot of people who’ve read the book seem to think. We were sitting in Lit class, the five of us and our teacher. She asks us, you know that part where Atticus drives Calpurnia in the car? Yes, we do. Well, why does Cal have to sit in the back? We were stumped for a second, and then, we knew, Atticus, for all his equality-of-man-before-law speak, was just as inherently racist as the rest of his town. That was when Jem became a better symbol for justice than his father for me. Yes, he was a bit of a bully, and he had some of his own blind spots, but he was a child.

Jean Louise tells us of Jem’s life in snippets, right up until he dropped dead because of his weak heart at 28. He was popular, on the football team in high school, he was going to join his father’s business, and then, just like that, he was gone. I still cannot reconcile myself to this. I cannot forgive Lee for Calpurnia turning away from Scout. Jean Louise feeling rejection, that I felt with her; it made me just as upset.  It is not easy to forgive people who don’t exist in your world, even if the protagonist does. You don’t have to see their faces and feel their contrition.

How do you forgive a fictional character, how do you the forgive the author who created too much heartache? Can you just throw a glass tumbler full of scotch into the fireplace and be done with it? Not having tried this method, I have no personal feedback about its cathartic properties, but it doesn’t seem to have worked for the (many) television characters I’ve seen doing it, so I suppose it’s safe to say don’t try this at home, it’ll just exasperate whoever has to clean it up.

Forgiving the authors is harder than you might think. It is their book, but it is also mine! I choose to appreciate Roland Barthes at this moment, the author’s identity is really insignificant, and whatever the interpretation prescribed by them, it is not how I choose to read it. You have the ending you want, the explanations you want, the perfect scapegoat all lined up, and then they go and do that. How dare they?

In another literature class, a friend was talking about Lee’s new book. She introduced the topic for the benefit of everyone else, she paused. Then she said something that made things click in my mind, you could almost see the flash bulb going off above my head in the dark AV Room where we sat. Harper Lee wrote Go Set a Watchman before To Kill A Mockingbird, my eyes widened in the stereotypical surprise reaction, but I was feigning nothing. Genuinely shocked though I was, that revelation made it easier for me to forgive Lee for some of the pain and confusion she caused me.

The inconsistencies in the novels, and such huge ones, they disappeared. It didn’t matter anymore, the constant over-analyses I endured courtesy of the OCD part of my mind suddenly ceased. I had been wondering (almost daily I am ashamed to admit) about the infamous case that Atticus didn’t win in TKMB, how the heck was it that he won it in Go Set a Watchman?  This became far less relevant than it had been just a minute before. It was time to move on, to get on with my life. I had to do what Scout did, grow up.

I felt the joy in Mia’s life, but I also felt the loss of myself and re-centering that Jean Louise does. The book ended, and I felt more irritated and confused than anything else, the perfect tribute to how I felt years ago when I first read Lee’s TKMB.

An Ekphratic Event

The water I see is choppy, I have always loved that term, and it is perfect for the angry looking waves that are thrashing against the hulls of those ships. I think I am also on a big ship, high above the water on a deck, but so vulnerable to the ocean’s whims.

I can feel the waves as the vessel struggles to maintain its balance and the wind rips my hair out of the partially neat hairstyle I started out with in the morning. Now it is afternoon, but I feel like it has been ages, the endless ocean in front of me is only interrupted when we face trouble, as we are about to. The two ships on our course appear to be hostile, to each other and anyone else in the vicinity. This doesn’t bode well for me or my ship. In the distance I see more of the hulking sea ships, it is impossible to discern their flags through the damn smoke that is billowing, darkening the foggy sky. I am worried-friends or foes?

I am afraid, as I stand here, awaiting my fate near what is definitely going to be a huge, important battle, at least as far as I can tell. The weather conditions are making me more anxious, the skies look calm but the ocean is very rough. I overheard the captain as he shouted orders to the crew, he didn’t seem anxious, but he has to be calm. The first mate was clearly afraid; I heard he only got the post because his father owns the ship.

I think this is the calm before the storm—the skies are definitely going to wreak havoc tonight. The ship is plummeting more and more on the waves. The deck is becoming dangerously wet, I have a death-grip on the railing, but my arms are beginning to ache. My sea sickness forced me out here, but my fear makes me want to run inside and hang onto my bunk. The rocking of the ship is making my stomach turn, I haven’t been able to keep much down, I hope I survive this trip so I can tuck into one of my mother’s delicious roasts. It should only take another week before we dock at my home town, provided we live through the night.

I had never seen this painting before, but I do love Manet. The Battle of the U.S.S. Kearsarge and the C.S.S. Alabama might not seem poetic, but the painting comes alive the way a really good poem can bring you to a profound moment when you least expect it. The instant I saw it, I felt like I was there, on that ocean, which is what I tried to show.

The best feeling in the world

I love getting my hair cut. There is nothing like the feeling of a new hairstyle and the crisp ends of your hair brushing your neck. I love the idea that I get to change my hairstyle, even if I do go back to the old one in a couple of days.

As I was riding home today, I spontaneously decided I was going to go get the haircut I have been pining for these past few weeks. I dropped my bag off at home, grabbed my helmet, changed my footwear, took my wallet out of my bag, and I was ready in a snap of a finger. I hopped back on the bike and took off, naturally indicating and honking the horn as and when required to remain a cautious but excited motor-cyclist.

Though it took the lady a whole five minuted to cut my hair, I felt I got my money’s worth as I brushed it later.

For some reason, I associate a new haircut with a new start, don’t ask me to what! A haircut has just as much power as the first day of a vacation, you feel like you can do anything, even though you know, as a rational person– there are limits to ‘anything’.

The best part is that you can get a haircut whenever you want, an option sadly lacking from the whole vacation situation.

Dammit! I just got used to 2014

A year. It seems like such a long time. A second can seem like enough time, under the right circumstances, but a year? A year can seem monumental or unbelievably short,any measure of time can. The last day of the year is a good day to get introspective I guess, provided you aren’t a serial killer or something else equally disturbing.

I digress, December 31st, 2014, it is just another day, but when it sends, you have to start getting used to dating things XX-XX-15. Sometimes this seems like the hardest part of a new year, remembering to date the year correctly. Maybe it is only a big deal to me, I am sort of calendar obsessed.

It upsets me that I probably  won’t be alive for the next 12-12-12 or 04-04-04, unless science really kicks it up a notch in terms of lengthening life spans. My joy when the day, the month and the year are in some way in accordance is very disproportionate, but what the heck, we all have our own idiosyncrasies, and as they go, this isn’t such a rare one.

In any event, as people are going about, welcoming the new year, I am sitting here and thinking, “Dammit! I just got used to thinking it was 2014!”

Bye-bye yet again

As a person interested in Psychology, with way more hours than I can recall spent in a Psychology class of some kind or another over the past 3 to 4 years, I like to wonder about why I think strange things.

One of the strange things that has been popping up into my thoughts recently is how I have had 5 different teachers in a pretty short span for this subject. The first two years of my acquaintance with the subject (hereafter referred to as psych) were spent frantically completing projects, cramming for tests, practising my answers, all in preparation for that final tough exam that was scheduled for March 2013. Despite all this work, I had fun and psych never bored me, which naturally meant that I was hankering after a BA in psych in the summer of ’13. (Doesn’t have quite the same ring as the summer of ’69, does it?)

We began our first year of college with two psych professors, but somehow that has morphed into my fifth teacher in the subject introducing herself to us today, two semesters later.

Apparently, getting used to one teacher is a pointless exercise, and maybe this is psychologically beneficial to us, in that we are learning to go with the flow, and experiencing vastly different teaching methods. This may be well and good, but I have to say, I feel miffed and at the same time sad when great teachers move on to something else, leaving us to yet another first day where we meet a teacher who probably won’t be around longer than the last.