Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Oh, People

Well, thank God for blogs. I really needed an outlet last night. Sometimes it helps just to say something out loud or out...typing...or something. So, I emailed all my teachers today and stayed home sick. I slept all day, but it never felt refreshing. Does it ever, when you're sick? But in the afternoon, I called my mom, just to let her know. I felt kinda guilty about missing all my classes today, and I know it's weird, but I had to tell someone. And she surprised me. She said she wished she could be here to take care of me, and she sounded like she really meant it. It made me cry, but I tried to cover up with my painfully sore throat sounds. And then I texted my dorm friend, and she bought me some food and juice and ibuprofen and Nyquil. It was very touching. Aren't people funny? It's like they're allergic to doing what you expect them to. Anyway. loads of homework awaits! Thanks to anyone who's reading this. It makes me feel better to be able to even imagine that someone hears. =)

2:40 AM and All's Not Well

I don't know if it's happened again or if this is something new, something I'll pull through. I've been very unhappy in this, my second semester at college. I was terrified this would happen. Again. In my second year of online classes, my senior year, I lost all drive to keep going. I think part of the reason I did this was because online classes were no longer new and exciting by the second time around. So, even though I was terrified I'd lose motivation in my first semester, I knew it was even more likely in my second semester of college. In my senior year in high school, I WANTED to do well in school. I really did, but I just couldn't bring myself to try. It was so much easier to sleep, and that's what I ended up doing most of the time.

It hasn't been quite THAT bad this semester, but still, I've been unhappy, and it's quite a loss to go straight from being okay one semester to decidedly sad the next. I wrote a post on this earlier in the year, but never got around to editing and posting it. Maybe I will later. Anyway, I started off this year depressed in big part thanks to losing my friends. My cafeteria friend and particularly my friend J who ditched me for her other friends and hasn't called or texted me once this year. I still have my other friend in the dorms and my other friend in electrical engineering and a couple other people who's company I enjoy, but I can't really talk to any of them. I certainly can't go over to their rooms in the middle of the night to chat and relieve my anxieties, like I used to do with J. Everyone else keeps somewhat normal hours.

In a word, lonely is what I've felt this semester. Utterly lonely. And sad. It's not unfamiliar to feel this way. I used to at home all the time, but I find myself wishing I was at home at lot this semester, because at least there, there's someone around, someone making noise, someone I could say SOMETHING to any time I felt like, even if it wasn't a very nice something. This year, there's no one nearby that I could go up and say hi to. I often feel like, at any one moment, no one knows where I am or how I'm doing. I could be dead, all tied up in garbage bags in a dumpster, and no one would know.

Basically, I'm not feeling so well this semester. Academically, I've been doing fine, I suppose, but then this weekend happened, and I got sick. It was a three-day weekend I've been looking forward to since Day 1 of this semester. I got to go home, see a movie, eat out, and I was supposed to do homework too, but I didn't. It was very stupid of me. Because yesterday, I got sick. My mom brought me back to the dorms. I spent a miserable night doing a crappy job of writing my lab report while my nose was congested and my throat stung and I tried to grab a couple Z's as well.

Today, I was tired and sick, so I emailed my teacher to say I wouldn't be in class today. I didn't feel that bad about it because I only have one class on Tuesdays and nothing really happens in it. I tried to sleep all day, and got a few hours, and felt better than I had in the morning, but still not good. I got up to do a few things I had to do, then I came back to my room and tried to do physics. But I slept. And then physics just seemed really hard, and I knew I couldn't get all my homework done and I got very frustrated. I knew I could do it if I wasn't sick physically. I could even do it if I wasn't sick emotionally. But seeing as I am both, I won't get through it. Not tonight.

And then, finally, the tears could come. I need to do my physics homework because the quiz tomorrow will be based on the homework, and I still have no idea what I'm doing. I need to do my calculus homework because supposedly this homework set will take a long time and I'm only going to get more homework tomorrow and I have a quiz on this stuff on Friday, and I still have no idea what I'm doing. I needed to do my chemistry homework because the quiz tomorrow will be based on THAT homework, and I still have no idea what I'm doing. But I need to get some sleep too because I'm sick and I won't be able to do well tomorrow if I don't get any sleep and I'm sick. I need to get some sleep to even be able to do this homework, because I feel too awful to do it right now. And I don't see how I'm going to make it through college at all if I'm going to be feeling like this all the time. Like crap. This is senior year all over again. I'm already so behind, and I'm going to lose motivation to catch up, because it's going to seem too hard for me. I'm going to fail college. This is what I was thinking. Part of it.

I often cry when I'm sick. I can't stand being sick, especially when my nose gets all clogged up and my whole face aches because of it. It wasn't even that bad, though, this cold. I wasn't in THAT much pain. But it was everything that was adding up, piling on: my loneliness, my homework, my despair, and my physical discomfort. I wished the cold would go away. I wished I could get my homework done. I wished I didn't have to be scared of losing motivation. And I wished most of all for someone. You know, someone. I wished -- no, I WISH for someone who didn't care what time of night it was, who'd come to me from however far away they were RIGHT NOW WHEN I NEEDED THEM, who'd hold my hand and rub my back and talk to me and let me cry. I feel so pathetic for crying. I feel like everyone else is happy and smiling and getting on with their lives in spite of the pains we all have to endure, and I'm crying over a stupid cold. I wish for someone who'd show me they still love me in spite of how weak and pathetic I am with tears pouring down my face.

I paced around my room, blowing my nose constantly and loudly and hoping everyone who heard assumed it was only my cold and couldn't hear my sobs. I briefly kind of almost considered calling my mom and telling her how sick and unhappy I am and how I want to quit and come home. But I know what she'd say. She'd tell me to keep my chin up and press on for just another three weeks and then we could see each other again over spring break. She'd tell me, "What do you want from me?" She's not the kind to consider driving two hours in the middle of the night in the middle of the week to see someone. I can't really blame her, when she has so many problems of her own, real problems, and she has a job she needs to be at in the morning. But if I'd called her, I'd be exactly where I started, except I'd also be humiliated. You know, like most people, I've never had anyone who would be there for me exactly when I needed them and know exactly what to say. I've never had anyone who could actually help me with my problems.

But, God, I wish I did.

Anyway, I blew my nose raw and cried my eyes sore, and now I have a strong feeling my face is going to look like a marshmallow tomorrow. So I'm going to have a sick day. It should at least be interesting. It's the first one I've taken. I don't really consider today a sick day, because I only had one class. But I have four tomorrow, and I'll be missing a lot of important stuff in all of them, quizzes and such. And I still have my homework I was supposed to have done by today, so I'll have to work twice as hard. Hopefully, I'll get over my cold through the night and be able to do that. It would also be nice to sit in bed and watch movies, like some people do on sick days. But then, you see? Isn't this like my senior year? I'm skipping classes when it seems they'll be hard to go to, and I'm thinking instead of watching movies in bed. I hope to God it's not going to happen to me again. (I'm not using the Lord's name in vain anywhere in this post. I'm actually saying it to God. Just so you know.)

Good night.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Review of Skulduggery Pleasant Death Bringer

Sorry, should have done this sooner, but big spoilers in blue.

I finally got the book and a break from school in which to read it, Skulduggery Pleasant Death Bringer by Derek Landy. I'm depressed and disappointed in it. Basically, I didn't like any of the characters and I downright hated Valkyrie Cain.

In previous books, Valkyrie was tolerable but nothing special, character-wise. In this book, she's thoroughly dislikable. Mainly and most importantly, she cheats on her boyfriend. First of all, this comes out of nowhere, since, in the last book, she walked away from they guy she was cheating with in this book. He and she kissed in the last book, but I was willing to forgive her for that because it was mostly his fault and she stopped it and she walked away from him. Twice.

I'd call a one-time kiss-cheat a mistake, sure. However, in this book, she's a willing chronic cheater. In this book, Skulduggery calls her behavior a mistake. When you cheat repeatedly, it's not a "mistake." It's a habit. It's a way of life. It's your personality. It's who you are.

Maybe I'm the only person in the world who feels this way, but in the list of Worst Possible Things You Can Do To a Person, I place cheating in the Top Ten. I put it up there along with torture, because from what I've heard -- and I've always thought so anyway -- the worst part of torture is the emotional destruction that remains long, long after the physical. Well, being cheated on can destroy a person emotionally too.

Yet here Skulduggery was saying he wasn't mad at Val and her cheating was a "mistake." That makes it sound so much more innocent than it is. The whole book made it sound more innocent that it is. A common argument in situations like this is that the book is just being true to the characters. The character of Edward is just obsessive and controlling, and the character of Bella is just submissive and fawning. Here, Val is just unfaithful and Skul is just permissive. That may be true, but first of all, it wouldn't make me like the characters any better, and secondly, the book can still send the message that its characters are wrong. But it doesn't. Death Bringer doesn't. Not really. Not enough.

Val hardly gets any flack for cheating on her boyfriend. She may call herself a bad person when chatting light-heartedly to her baby sister, but it's not enough just to point it out. Words without followthrough are dead. If she really thought she was a bad person, she'd do something about it. She'd at least FEEL something about it. But Val wasn't exactly racked with guilt over cheating on her boyfriend. She was heartless. She hardly thought about it. She feels bad for Fletcher once or twice for the look he had on his face when she broke up with him, but she never felt real shame or guilt for cheating on him. She never felt that bad about herself.

In fact, by the end of the book, she's saying how she doesn't need a boyfriend to tell her how awesome she is, because she already KNOWS it. And if anything, that's the moral the book leaves you with. Not that you shouldn't cheat (although maybe that you shouldn't cheat with VAMPIRES), not that it's despicable and wrong (Skulduggery just points out Fletcher was just always destined to be Val's ex). The book left you with the moral that you don't need someone else to tell you you're amazing.

I'm all for loving yourself regardless of little embarrasments or sinless flubs, but not regardless of ruining the lives of people around you. If you do THAT and still think you're awesome? You're disgusting. If you ask me, Val definitely doesn't need someone to tell her how awesome she is. She needs someone to tell her what a creep she is. Repeatedly. Until she GETS it. (If that's possible. Most creeps like her don't ever get that they're creeps.)

She even gets on Fletcher's case for joking about cheating on her. What a hypocrite. And as I said, Skulduggery does nothing about it but call the cheating a mistake and feed Val's ego over the course of the book. China excuses Val's cheating on the oh-so-solid grounds of natural teenage lust for excitement and sex. Ghastly meekly and and briefly mentions it. And no one else says anything about it to Val. Except Fletcher, at about the middle of the book, when they break up.

At this point, I'd gone through half the book with my hate for Val steadily growing along with my despair. The book was painting cheaters in a lenient light to say the least. It kept saying how Val was so freaking beautiful, powerful, skillful, and smart and no one could say anything to her about the wrongs she'd done. She was seeming more and more like a spoiled Mary Sue who could get away with anything she wanted with hardly a slap on the wrist. And then hope reared its deceptive head when Fletcher finally said all this out loud in-story. Finally, someone says it...

But then Fletcher was painted as an angry, jealous boyfriend, and THEN he said he wanted her to take him back, and THEN even he was making excuses for her, saying she wasn't trying to be mean or anything. Good golly, it was disappointing.

She didn't even apologize. Three pages from the end, she said something RESEMBLING an apology, but by then, it was way too little to late. I hadn't even felt sorry for her when Melancholia cut her up. In fact, through most of the book, I found myself rooting against her. I found it preferrable that she would die than that she would continue on to all these romantic teases obviously opening up to her, all these boys she'd probably treat just as badly, all this romantic happiness up for grabs to this cheater. Thing-resembling-an-apology or no, by the last page, I still hated her.

Aside from the cheating, I couldn't sympathize with Valkyrie anyway because Valkyrie never needed sympathizing. I'd hoped this book would show that losing Kenspeckle and other friends had really gotten to Val. But she thought of Kenspeckle only once and Tanith maybe twice in the whole book. Melancholia attacks Valkyrie to hurt her emotionally, but Valkyrie herself admits she feels no emotional pain whatsoever over the experience. Basically, nothing affects Valkyrie to an appreciable extent, and it's very boring.

As for Skulduggery, is it me or did it seem like he didn't do anything in this book? It probably is just me, but most of the time, he just sort of faded into the background. Sure, he helped save the world, but aside from his disappointingly mild reactions to everything Val did, he didn't do anything surprising as a character. It was supposed to be surprising that he was Lord Vile, but I just felt like I already knew that. Well, not THAT specifically, but that he had been a horrible, senseless killer in the war. It was hinted at. I just thought he was on the good guy's side while he was a murderer.

Anyway, in this book, there was not even one instance of surprising kindness on Skul's part, and that surprising kindness was what made me like him the first book, what I liked most about the fifth book. In this book, he didn't even make me laugh. He was so gray. (GRAY, you understand. Those who skim may have read it as something else. Just saying.) I didn't care much what he did, even in the parts that hinted at a Skul/Val pairing, and there were quite a few, with Skul seeing the reflection naked, buying Val a skimpy dress, and just being what everyone said Val needed -- someone who matched her.

First, I didn't even want Val to get Skulduggery after how despicable she was in this book, and second, I didn't really care about Skul's happiness in this book. I didn't care about him or if he ever fell in love again or whatever.

Also, maybe, it's just that I've changed, but Skul and Val actually seemed mean this time around. They picked on each other, and more importantly, they picked on people around them who were perhaps weaker, less confident. Fletcher's the perfect example. They laughed at his expense the entire book, even after the cheating and the break up, right down to the last showdown between Darquesse and Lord Vile.

Furthermore, Skul and Val may get beat up physically but ALWAYS seem to be on top psychologically. They are always smiling, confident, strong, and laughing their heads off, and they're enemies are always angry, scared, hurt, and pathetic. This arrangement is not only boring, but Skul and Val are unrelatable and look like arrogant bullies because of it.

It was extremely refreshing for them to finally experience some psychological turbulence when Tenebrae spilled Skulduggery's secret about being Vile. Something finally got to Val. It didn't last long though. A couple chapters and Val had forgiven Skul, as she should have, but any normal person would still have felt twisted up about it. Val just got over it.

The rest of the characters are hardly worth noting. The only ones who made me laugh were Finbar, Clarabelle, and Scapegrace (whose abuse of Thrasher still got very tiresome). And I hated China just as much as ever. Six books have done nothing to endear her to me.

Plot-wise, it was very intricate and plotsy. Characters coming from every angle with every sort of agenda. Battles were fought, secrets revealed, and it all should have been very exciting, but I was very distracted by the Valkyrie problem. I was flatout TIRED of reading about her, and I didn't care about Skulduggery anymore. Without characters I cared about, the intense plot was wasted on me. I just couldn't enjoy it. Besides, it seemed like a lot of scenes didn't contribute anything to the plot, most of the scenes at the ball for instance. They just stood around talking about the war that happened hundreds of years ago to characters we've never met.

And another thing. Again, maybe it was just me, but this book seemed awfully preachy and the messages awfully depressing. It seemed like characters stopped several times to just stand there and repeat things they'd already said. One message was something about who people really are or aren't, or maybe it was about mood swings. I didn't really get it. One message was how Val and Skul didn't need anyone else to tell them how great they were. Another message was what seems to be a common modern message about teenage dating, which is that "It's bad to be obesessive, so it's good to be dismissive."

This message came through in the way Caelan got much more abuse for being obsessive than Val got for being unfaithful; it came through in the way China condoned Val's behavior because "no one your age" is looking for love; it came through in the way Skulduggery told Val she should be dating boys as a HOBBY; and it came through in many other ways.

Look, I agree it's stupid for teenagers to obsess over love, to fall in love overnight (or over one kiss or date or sight or whatever), and to decide immediately that they've found their one true, destined love, without taking the years it takes to really get to know someone. At the same time, I think it's horribly cruel to date someone just for fun when you don't really care about them or plan to take the years it takes to get to know them or at least consider the POSSIBILITY that they might be your true love.

If you know beyond a doubt that they're NOT the one for you? You. Shouldn't. Be. Dating. Them. You shouldn't be stringing them along. It's just mean and wrong. I'm sure sometimes it happens. You start dating someone, find yourself not in love, and keep dating them without realizing what you're doing. But once you do realize, you should stop immediately.

But Death Bringer almost seemed to encourage dating someone when you're fully conscious of the fact that the relationship won't go anywhere. It seems to encourage dating someone just for the experience. It doesn't seem to take into account that that sort of behavior broke Fletcher's heart. It seems to say that that was destined to happen, so it was alright. I think there's a happy middle ground where you don't rush into a relationship or jump to the conclusion that you're in love, but you also respect each other and consider each other precious while you work at SEEING if you're really in love. You don't date someone knowing from the start that you're not in love.

Also, just about Caelan, he was nothing like he was in either of the previous books. Even after the kiss, in Mortal Coil, he wasn't speaking all in cliches, and before the kiss, he was perfectly sane as long as he was human. This time, he was completely mad. The book was so insistent on making a point about the Edward-Bella sort of relationship that it did a 180 on Caelan's character and even mentioned Edward and Bella by name. Very subtle. . . That was sarcasm.

I don't want to sound mean. I really don't, since the author seems like such a nice guy and I've been a fan of all the previous books, but I have to be honest about this one. I didn't like it. And it doesn't make books to come appear very appetizing. And to be perfectly honest, the books have become the sort of books I read only because they're readable, not because they're great. I won't be buying the next books over Amazon. I'll just wait until they're cheap and easy to access. Truthfully, I want to see if they get better, but I can wait to find out if they do, I can wait to read more about Skulduggery, and I can wait a long, long time to read more about Valkyrie.


Friday, February 3, 2012

Gravestone: Not a Post as Morbid as It Sounds

I had a funny thought today that wasn't really related to my day or this post, minimal relatedness really. I thought, "I don't want my gravestone to say that I didn't cry enough." By "didn't cry enough," I don't mean, "didn't suffer enough." Everyone suffers more than enough, but not everyone lets herself cry for it. I don't. I never cry in front of other people if I can help it, because I know how gross I look when I cry. I don't even cry when I'm alone, because it makes my eyes puffy for hours and I don't want people to see that. I do cry, a tear or two, but I fight it very hard and give myself a headache trying to hold back tears, until basically I forget about my sadness.

It never leaves you, though, whatever event made you sad. You'll always be sad when you look back on it. And if you expend all your energy fighting the sorrow at the moment it hits you, you won't be able to let the sorrow out. Who wants to die knowing they went through life all twisted up inside with no release for their sorrow? Well, even knowing this, I probably won't start crying any more, but it's interesting to know.

A couple weeks ago, I was feeling sad and realized I hadn't cried yet, for any of it: my life changing, moving out of my old house, all the hard parts of coming to college. I hadn't cried one tear, and a couple of weeks ago, I felt like all those tears had welled up inside me in addition to the new ones coming in. So I actually planned to have a good cry that weekend, a good cry I never did get to, but anyway, what was I talking about? Oh, my day today.

Today, I had a chemistry lab I'd been stressing about for a week or two, since I realized they would expect us students to know much more advanced material than we do. I spend the last week reading ahead as much as I could and still not understanding what we would be doing in lab.

I was doubly scared about this 1 credit 3-hour lab class because I CHOSE it. It's not required for my major, electrical engineering. It's required for a minor in chemistry, which I decided to pursue because I like chemistry and because I believe it will help me in studying nanotechnology, which I plan to do in graduate school.

Now, no matter the area of life I'm dealing in at the moment, I'm scared that I'll make a decision that will prove stupid and show everyone that I can't make smart decisions. Therefore, whenever I make a decision of my own, I feel extra pressure to make it work because I need to prove it was a good decision. I hate to suffer for my decisions because, after all, if I suffer for them, they must have been bad decisions. I was thinking, though, that I really should be proud to suffer for my decisions, because at least it means that I made decisions. It is far better to suffer for your choices than to sit and rot and let the world decide everything for you.

Still, regarding this chem lab class, I was (still am, really) additionally scared that, if I did badly in it, it would prove my nano-technology dream is deluded and presumptuous and laughable, that I have no talent whatsoever for chemistry. If I did badly, I thought that would indicate that I'm not meant to do it.

Today in lab, I did badly. Very, very badly. It is just one session, but still, crash and burn. It wasn't entirely unexpected, but it was still humiliating. I looked like an idiot, I doubt I can get an A in the class now. I came back to my room from the lab and cried a little. I told myself the usual: life is a bumpy road, and if everything went smooth, well, I suppose we'd all be okay, but it wouldn't be much of a STORY. This is my story. It wouldn't be very exciting if I didn't have to face hardships. I believe all of that, and I didn't feel like one bad lab was the end of the world, but I was upset.

And then the thought entered my head that...maybe this bad lab doesn't mean I'm not supposed to minor in chemistry or study nanotechnology. Maybe it means I'm supposed to want that future badly enough push through this. And I do. I'm not going to quit.

I'm not sure if I've said this before, but I'm a real quitter. Or I was. I used to quit at everything I thought was too hard for me: senior year, my first job, etc. It was only recently that I recognized my ability to not quit, to keep showing up even when it's hard. I don't want to lose that ability now. I'll keep trying at this lab class and, if I fail, I fail. (Even so, I'm looking into CLEP tests so that I can earn enough credits to keep my scholarship and financial aid if I do fail a class.)

Alright, well, happy weekend...I guess...I'm having trouble coming up with a closing statement. Oh! I know. Here. This song. It rocks.