Perks

I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower over J-term (I think…) last year, and I put it down feeling rather confused. While I cannot remember much of the specifics that brought along these emotions, I can recall feeling stirred to seek more with an undermining sense of going into a box.

The characters were the type of people I wanted to be friends with and be–free. They were free in the sense that they were beyond the point of caring what the majority of people thought of them because they would be crippled with sorrow if they spent even a moment on those thoughts. You could see how what they went through bore down on them, but it took a large event to bring them to a breaking point. It made these “free” characters who basked in their imperfections honestly seem more real. You can only keep participating in shit for so long before there are repercussions in some shape or form.

This isn’t a commentary on my judging their actions, but think about it. There is a reason that people tell you not to do drugs or just throw your body around–you get hurt that way. Look at it this way: “to every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction.” This is not only true in science but is true in our daily lives. These actions can be good or bad things with good or bad reactions; however, we cannot predict them because human nature is unpredictable and our human nature often dictates the coarse our lives take (which I am not a big fan of, but that’s a talk for another day.)

The main character Charlie is one of those guys that every can identify themselves with in some shape or form. His character arc covers so many bases (sometimes quite literally) that deep down, everyone can seem a little bit of themselves in him. He goes into high school literally friendless because his best friend shot himself at the end of the previous year. He comes from a loving family, but there is hurt and pain rooted in memories he tried so very hard to block out. He witness over and over again forms of abuse and chooses to be the silent wallflower who observes and never comments. I think this leads him to his eventual breakdown because 1) he always put others’ wishes about his needs and 2) he never had an outlet for his pain. He met these great people who he called friends, but he rarely confided in them; he was always the listening ears or should to cry on. If anything, his path almost negates the title. Is there even one perk in being the wallflower? The only one that I can think of is that your true friends are also fairly good observers and can read you better than you think they can. Is it worth observing all that hell just to be observed in return?

This is clearly a coming-of-age story. I had so much hope for Charlie in the beginning of the story, but like basically every modern protagonist, he eventually tried drugs, drinking, and pushed physical boundaries. Why does every coming-of-age story have this?! I swear it’s required for publishing. “Wait! You need to include one for drug reference or one more scene with him feeling this chick up for I sign off on this.” Yes, I am aware that many people dabble in these things, and even more find prolonged comfort in them, but not everyone does. What about the people that look around at their friends who get into this stuff and say, “eh. Not for me.” It’s not like we’re robots who don’t go through shit too. It’s not like we’re perfect and want to look down at the world and judge it for all it’s worth. For some of us, coming of age is not a matter of finding freedom in the forbidden but finding freedom in ourselves.

I find stories of people that come from crap and get into trouble and live to tell the tale very inspirational and moving; however, I can only relate to a certain point. Does this sort of book exist, or am I just looking in the wrong places?

My other frustration is once you find a book that promotes a different lifestyle, they ruin it with cheesy crap that feels so fake you would rather infest your minds with stories of people’s first time doing drugs that some cheesy story describing a rather uneventful cathartic moment that led them to the light.

~~~

“We accept the love we think we deserve.”

My love life has been rather uneventful for the duration of my life. I don’t know if the loud feminist turned guys away, or if I just wasn’t desirable to anyone in high school. I don’t say this for pity, but it is something I have pondered many times. For as much as my loved ones say that I am this great person who has so much to offer the world and is destined to marry someone great, I feel like I don’t have much to show for it. Just a bucket of unfulfilled expectations.

I know that I have a way of screwing any potential thing up, though. I think too much which kind of screws stuff up. I freak out and basically sever any hopes of what could have been.  Is this because I don’t think I deserve anyone?

No, I don’t think so. I do deserve someone, and they are going to be amazing. If anything, I feel like I am more driven by fear of hurt, pain, and regret than my measure of self-worth. It’s that area in my life where I don’t take risks.

I am currently reading a book called When God Says Jump: Biblical Stories that Inspire You to Risk Big. It starts off with this poem-type thing calle “Risk” that reads like this:

To laugh is to risk appearing the fool
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental
To reach out to others is to risk involvement
To expose your feelings is to risk exposing your true self
To place your ideas, your dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss
To love is to risk not being loved in return
To live is to risk dying
To hope is to risk despair
To try is to risk failure
But risks must be taken, because the greatest hazard in life is to do nothing.
The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, and is nothing.
He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love, live.
Chained by his attitudes, he is a slave, he forfeited his freedom.
Only the person who risks can be free.
–Unknown Author

If that isn’t convicting, then I greatly envy you. I think the fourth line hits the nail on the head for me. I share my thoughts and feelings all the time but rarely the ones I need to share (unless I talk to you post-midnight. I pretty much can’t stop talking and half of my deepest secrets are out of my mouth before I even realize I’m talking out loud.) I’m scared that if someone saw into my mind for even a moment they would be repulsed by what goes through it. They would not be able to look at me the same way again.”To expose your feelings is to risk exposing your true self.” So I guess while I think I deserve someone, I’m scared that they will disagree; I’m scared that they think this broken human bring doesn’t deserve to share in an attempt at happiness with someone by their side.

Or maybe I’m just over-thinking things again. I tend to do that. I can just hear my mom saying, “Really Emily? Life doesn’t have to be that complicated. Why does everything have to be so deep with you?” I don’t know. Maybe I have to think so deeply and attempt at articulating everything because no one has done it for me. There’s no coming-of-age character like me to gather inspiration from.

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Painting My Day Away

This weekend has been rather lovely. I had off Saturday which rarely happens, so I was able to go to an old friend’s birthday celebration where I got to munch of countless gluten free goodies! Sunday I meant to get up and just spend time with just me and God, but I kind of slept till 12:45. Oops. That afternoon I painted (rather terribly) on the front porch with watercolors. That night I got together with another friend who I had not seen in a year. Today I had coffee with my former youth pastor who now leads a church I am considering committing to. This afternoon I caught up on SNL, waiting rather impatiently for Babel to be released, and decided to paint (with acrylics this time.) The first painting looks rather gross. I’m not a big fan of the color palette. The second painting I recorded the whole process of painting. The video can be seen below! I summary via slideshow can be found below that.

 

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I’m Done Waiting for You!

This is my very rough review of Babel that I am writing while I listen to it for the first time. (In case you didn’t get the title, it was a reference to “I Will Wait” because I have been waiting for this for a long time. So glad the wait is over!)

This albums flows so nicely. While each song is powerful on its own, lyrically and musically, they make the most sense in context of each other. A perfect example of that would be from the end of “Whispers in the Dark” to “I Will Wait.”

I’m kind of wishing that I hadn’t listened to “I Will Wait” 6 times today. Must. Resist. Urge. To. Skip. Alas, it is such a good song that I will not

Holland Road is a nice break after the four and a half minutes of jumping around known as “I Will Wait.” It picks up eventually with their classic banjo licks, but it slides you into it after almost a whole minute of their stripped down harmonies.

There are a few bands that I would love the chance to sing with–namely The Civil Wars and Mumford & Sons. Their harmonies are incredibly beautiful and want to add one more layer. Just one. That’s it. Teehee! Bon Iver would be cool to but Justin had to go and quit on us. I’m still bitter about that. Ooh! And Sufjan Stevens! Well, basically anyone with interesting chord structures, I want to sing with you.

“Ghosts We Know” will probably be one of those songs that I skip over on a daily basis until I bother to look up the words and then will completely fall in love. And cry on the inside.

I love how this group makes as big of an impact with toned down songs as they do with their powerhouse songs if you just take the time to pay attention. “I Will Wait” motivates, but “Ghosts We Know” inspires.

Whoa this is a long song. If you have music ADD like me, you will probably skip over “Ghosts We Know.” I wrote all this and Facebooked for a good couple of minutes and the song isn’t over yet. Geez oh man.

“Lover of the Light” confuses me musically. It doesn’t sound like a Mumford song for the first 50 seconds. Banjo! There’s no obvious banjo in the first minute…that’s weird. All the other instruments are most definitely there…either they had a terrible sound engineer or there was no banjo. Mumford without the banjo is like…is like…is like I was going to say Bon Iver without Justin because I’m still being a bitter kitten, but I think I will say it’s like just calling the band & Sons. That’s weird. You can’t do that.

But I guess they can anyway because they just did, and they are the actual band and I’m just a chick sitting in my basement eating apple crisp while I review their album. Whatevs.

Okay the climax of this song is pretty great. I’m not sure if it redeems the whole first minute of being banjo-less. That’ll take a second listen, which I am not doing right now.

Turn up the volume on your device before “Lovers’ Eyes.” It’s super quiet.

Wow snap! They are playing with strum patterns! This song makes me want to see them live (more so than I already did.) These harmonies are soooo prettttyyyyy. Yes, I am the queen of adjectives. Hear me rawr.

Meow.

If you couldn’t already tell, I am tired, but I really want to listen to this tonight. I’ve been waiting for this all day because their site says Sept 24th even though iTunes says Sept 25th. The good thing about me still being up is I can check the finalizing progress of a video I made earlier! (Spoiler alert: it’s awesome/ I had fun today/ painting anyone?)

If this song is on the not deluxe edition, I would feel like I just wasted a track. Time to look it up! (“Reminder” is playing, by the way.) Ew, it is. That’s unfortunate. Good thing it was short because it’s over already!

Oooooh I like how “Hopeless Wanderer” is very subtly building. Whoa! So much for subtle. It was all like, “Yay! We sing pretty harmonies!” and went straight into, “Imma strum like a teenage boy in a metal band!” Also, I don’t know how this banjo guy has fingers left because he is picking the daylights out of that thing. No wonder he needed that 50 second break at the beginning of “Lover of Light.”

“Broken Crown” reminds me of “Thistle and Weeds.” I wonder if there are this many lyrical parallels because these songs are most definitely siblings…not quite twins but definitely related. Maybe they are cousins that look like they should be siblings. And I bet they look more like siblings than their actual siblings are.

Just took that metaphor down a bunny trail it didn’t need to go.

I’m digging the intro to “Below My Feet.” (Side note: I didn’t start writing this until a few songs into the album hence them not at the beginning of the review.) These guys got so much better at harmonies–they show up a lot more consistently throughout the album. And these harmonies are making my heart sing and making me see so many colors right now. (See this for an brief explanation about what I experience when I hear music. It’s about the third paragraph down.) This song builds exactly how I like my Mumford songs–a quiet beginning that builds seamlessly and explodes.

I was thinking, “well this song [“Not With Haste”] is kind of boring.” Then another thought came over me, “wait, I know these words not quite from these guys but kind of. WAIT.” So they did “Learn Me Right” with Birdy for the Brave soundtrack. It’s the same words! Well, at least most of the same words. Mind. Blown. But not really. I just was totally not expecting that. I wonder how many people are actually going to notice that without reading it somewhere first.

Bonus track time! “For Those Below” is among many depressing titles. The thing is, they aren’t overtly depressing like “I Hate Everything” or “Death,” but they refer to very thoughtful and sadly connoted themes. Aw, it has a violin! Or is it a viola? It isn’t playing high, so I’m tempted to say viola.

“The Boxer” features Jerry Douglas and Paul Simon; therefore, it better be good. This has the most useless lyrics ever uttered by Mumford & Sons. “Lie-dee-die.” Over. And over. Really? Thanks for those inspiring words, guys.

I’m going to actually listen to the words and just sit here with my eyes closed for this last one titled “Where Are You Now?”

Perfect ending.

Overall, despite my constant complaining, I ADORE this album. Can’t wait to listen to it again tomorrow! Over. And over. And over again.