A Trope That Never Bothered Me Before

So I finally sat down to read Save the Date by Morgan Matson. I’m going to preface this post by saying that Morgan Matson is one of my all time favorite authors and I will read absolutely anything that she comes out with. I also used to be quite obsessed with her Top 8 series the she wrote under the alias Katie Finn.

Warning you now that this post will contain minor spoilers for Morgan Matson’s books.

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I got this picture off of Morgan Matson’s website in case any of you were wondering 🙂

I’ve read every single one of her books multiple times (except Second Chance Summer, because 1. It makes me sob and 2. I don’t have a physical copy of it) and until reading Save the Date I never realized that there was a common theme in her books that now really bugs me.

In almost every single one of these books, the main character is a high school student (I think every single one is said to be 17) and the love interest is in college. As I was reading STD (yes, I am going to refer to it as that for the rest of this post, sorry!!) I kind of figured that Jesse was going to be a scumbag, it just made sense that Charlie had to have her little crush shattered by the person she thought was her “dream guy”. It made me so uncomfortable that Jesse is a sophomore in college and he’s trying to have a casual hook-up relationship not only with his best friend’s sister but also a high schooler.

Matson’s main characters are all romanced and a few are even implied to have lost their virginities to these college boys. To me this just screams inappropriate. I get that a lot of these are very innocent, I mean apart from scumbag Jesse, the farthest Charlie goes with a guy is a kiss on the cheek from Bill at the end of STD. There’s also a whole lot of underage drinking and other shenanigans… Like in The Unexpected Everything Andie was almost caught drinking at the age of 14, yep FOURTEEN! And okay, maybe I did spend my entire high school career reading books and staying up too late scrolling through Tumblr and taking too many AP classes but I still feel like 14 is really young to be out partying.

When I first read Matson’s books I was in high school and I never thought anything of an age difference or even a lifestyle difference but now that I’m older and have gone off to college and just been in the “real world” for a while I can’t even begin to imagine wanting to date a high schooler. Now I do think it’s different when someone continues to date a younger boyfriend/girlfriend when they leave for college but I also don’t feel comfortable with people who do things like date a freshman when they’re a senior. And yes, most of the characters are just finishing up their first years of school (or in Clark’s case, not in school at all) but that’s a whole year of being an adult and they’re deciding to be with high schoolers.

And you know what, maybe I’m crazy in developing this dislike for the pairings that are developed in these books but I just feel like no one who has moved past high school should be dating someone who is still 17. I’m in no way condemning Matson’s books, but I also don’t want impressionable young girls to read these books and fall for the Jesse’s because it’s “cool” or “exciting” to be in love with a college guy. Trust me, young girls reading this, college guys aren’t that great… Honestly, most guys aren’t that great. Read your books and wait to find someone who actually cares about you!

On a similar note, I also have never found myself interested in books where college students fall for their professors. I just think it’s a storyline that doesn’t make sense. There’s a power difference there that makes me uncomfortable and I don’t really think that there needs to be as many stories involving this storyline as there are.

As I’m working through Morgan Matson’s books again this spring, as I tend to do, I have to wonder how many other odd tropes I’ve just looked over in books before. Like I mentioned in my Rereading Old Favorites post I have to take a step back from a good chunk of my old favorites just because there are so many issues in them now that I completely brushed over in the past.

I really do like Matson’s books but I do hope that girls don’t romanticize dating an older boy because of the couples that she creates. When I was first reading her books it never occurred to me that this could even be an issue, I didn’t know any older boys and honestly I know that not a single one would’ve looked my way anyways. But I know that there are other girls out there that would and still will catch the attention of older men and I genuinely worry. I know that high school relationships can be awkward but that doesn’t mean that we have to glorify dating older people because they’re “mature” and “experienced”.

All in all, I don’t want to just brush this off but at the same time I have to wonder just how influential these relationships might be… I mean, maybe I’m reading too much into things and it means nothing. But I just got that nagging thought after reading STD and had to sit down to write about it.

Do any of you have thoughts on this? Or know of other YA books that have this trope? I couldn’t think of any off the top of my head but I’m sure there are others out there.

 

How Art Classes Ruined My Creativity

For a really long time in high school I thought that someday  I might like to be a photographer or graphic designer or possibly both. I took hundreds of pictures to get the best shot of whatever I was photographing and on numerous occasions my digital art teacher had to make me turn in projects before I thought they were done because I couldn’t stop critiquing myself.

Photography meant the world to me and one of my high school art teachers pushed me and built me up and because of her I grew fond of the art that I could create, excited about the opportunities I had ahead of me because of my creativity. She helped me to hone my skills, step out of my comfort zone, let myself know when I needed to be done with a project, and was always cheering me on when I entered contests.

I’ll be honest, I never really thought of myself as creative and to this day I still don’t. People tell me all the time that I’m creative and I just nod along and pretend to agree, but I truly think that my artistic ability comes down to sheer dumb luck (catch that Harry Potter reference anyone?).

Then, my senior year, I decided to take AP Studio Art… I was absolutely insane my senior year and took five (5) AP classes (I was not one to participate in the good old “senior slide”). This art class was the downfall to my positivity about my art.

For an entire year I took hundreds of pictures, wrote out hundreds of critiques, created and recreated portfolio after portfolio until I cultivated something that I was so incredibly proud of. My breadth had a wide range of photos showing off some of my absolute best work and my concentration showcased people in various stages of being “masked”. The idea was to display portraits where the face, the normal focal point of a portrait, was not the focal point. And then came the time to turn it all in to be graded by the official examiners…

I remember sitting there and showing my teacher the portfolio that I was about to turn in. She shook her head as she scrolled through everything and sighed before turning to me and saying, “You’ll be lucky if you even get a 2 on this.” My heart just shattered. I had spent a whole year working on this portfolio, taking pictures every week, editing almost every single day. I was also furious because not once this entire year had my teacher had anything good to say about any work I’d done. No matter what, there was always something wrong. She couldn’t even be constructive with her criticism… I took it all to heart when I know I shouldn’t have and I’m still dealing with the consequences of that one art class.

Then in college I took a photography class, it was an easy course but in taking this I realized just how burnt out I was on trying to be “artistic”. Pictures no longer come easy to me, I haven’t even touched my camera in over a year. I rarely even take pictures with my phone anymore. I lost my edge. I hate almost every picture I take and I can’t imagine ever loving art as much as I once did.

The last time I loved a project I did was when I had this batshit idea to put paint all over my face and take pictures of it:

But the structure and rules that art classes laid out for me killed my creativity. The constant unconstructive criticism made me feel like nothing I created would ever be good enough for the world to see. I think that art classes can teach you so much but if you have the wrong teacher then these classes will fail you. And I think that’s what happened to me. Someday I’d like to relearn creativity, I’d like to be able to create without fear of criticism. I’d like to throw caution to the wind and paint my face and take creepy portraits. I like doing my own thing and being forced into boxes destroyed my creativity.

And if any of you reading this have ever been in a similar situation, or are in a similar situation now, I’d love to chat. Especially if you’re a high schooler or college student who’s in the midst of art classes now. Share your work with me! I’d love to see it.

Oh… And by the way, I got a 5 on my portfolio which is the highest score you can be given on an AP exam. So suck it high school AP art teacher.

 

Trying To Be Niche

I have a lot of interests. I have a lot of hobbies. I like a LOT of stuff. My problem is that I don’t always like these things all the time, I don’t always do these things exclusively, and I am so far from consistent it’s not even funny.

Right now, I really want to read, and I want to write, and I want to go back to school. I can finally listen to music again and I’m getting excited about wearing makeup again too. I don’t have a car to take on hiking trips and I honestly don’t know where my motivation to take pictures went but for some reason I have no interest in saving memories anymore. I can sew and crochet and take a decent picture now and again… Oh and sometimes I like to binge bake things and watercolor painting is one of my favorite things to do (even though I haven’t done it in months now).

I’ve read three books in the last week and every blog post idea I’ve had has been about books. I’m excited about what I’m doing when I don’t think about it, but then when I do pause to think about it I wonder why I even want to. Would people even be interested in the posts I want to make? I want to talk about books, both old and new, how many people will even be interested in old book reviews?

And what about posts that aren’t about books? No matter what I do I will never be able to force myself to stay in a box of one type of post. And sometimes I wonder if that hurts me in the long run when I’m making posts. How many people come to my post to see adventures and end up disappointed about books? Or come to see books and then turn away when I make a post about makeup? I want to be a diverse blog but I feel like I should be niche… But that’s not me.

In the long run, I think I will be forever self conscious about what I write. Every post I can’t help but think that I was too rambly or I wasn’t informative enough. I feel like no one will read my stuff, yet I write like everyone could read this at any moment. I know that I’ll post whatever I feel like posting, because in the end, I like to post things I’m excited about. I just hope that I’ll be able to find people that want to read along with me no matter what I post about.

So I guess what I have to say to conclude is if you found me for book related posts, enjoy! I have plenty more of those to come… And I hope you like all the random posts I have interspersed. And for in the future if I get burnt out on book related posts or if I just stop reading for a while again (which I know will happen, especially if I end up being able to go back to school) I really hope that everyone can find something they enjoy in what I write then too!

Anyways, happy Monday everyone! I’ll talk to you all on Wednesday.

Toxic Relationships in YA

This topic goes deeper than the idea that a guy can fix all of a girl’s problems (although this is a topic that I could chat about on a different day). It is about the fact that there are multiple books out there that now illustrate controlling, toxic relationships as healthy and good.

When I was younger, I would idolize these types of relationships. I thought they were what everyone should want. But then I grew up and I learned about abuse and feminism and how what I idolized was destroying people on a daily basis.

Here’s a really poignant video from Whitney (aka whittynovels) about the topic. I highly recommend that you watch it before continuing on reading my post.

I’m not going to go in depth with what I think about the examples that she discussed because I really hope that you all watched the video because I feel like she did a really good job at expressing this topic.
I know someone who was in a severely toxic relationship and they didn’t even know that they were in a relationship that was abusive because it reflected so many other relationships they had seen and read about. It is not okay or romantic to be abused. Angst is not romance. Threats of nonconsensual behavior is not okay. The creepy sleep watching scene from Twilight? You guessed it: NOT OKAY.
The media normalizes what we see. It desensitizes us from violence and misbehavior because of how much we see certain things. We are sold problematic media until we think that this is normal.
Instead, we need to normalize healthy relationships and independence. We need to protect young men and women and illustrate behavior that is not controlling, not abusive. We need to discuss problems in these “romantic” books and support authors that write stories that are healthy. We need to stand up for feminist works and highlight healthy behaviors or highlight negative behaviors in a negative way. We need to stop highlighting negative behaviors as positive.
I am done idealizing relationships that are unhealthy. I want to idealize equality in relationships and I hope that y’all are with me. Have a great weekend everyone.

Review: Gemina

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Just finished reading this gorgeous book the other day. It’s the sequel to the book Illuminae by the same authors. It follows Hanna and Nik, two new characters, as they try to protect their home. Here’s a link to the Goodreads page for a better description.

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Now I really enjoyed this book. It was super fast paced and addictive and I liked it a lot better than the first book. However, I did have some issues with it. Overall I would give it a 4/5 and I recommend this trilogy to anyone who enjoys scifi and survival stories.

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Side note: This book, like Illuminae, has super cool formatting with IM conversations and whatnot but the best part of this book? IT HAS JOURNAL ILLUSTRATIONS. Like give me journal entries and I will be so happy, give me illustrated journal entries and I will be the happiest girl on the face of the earth. And these illustrations are gorgeous too! My favorite parts of the book.

Anyways…

On to the spoilers!!! (And complaints)

This book was literally the same formatting as the first book. Girl doesn’t like boy, boy flirts, girl starts to fall for boy, boy and girl must save everyone and themselves, boy “dies”, they fall in love, THE END. I couldn’t get over the fact that it was the same story line. It was so physically painful!

Also every character was a stereotype…

Russian mob crime family

Overprotective single father

Spoiled rich girl

New boy that everyone loves who turns out to be someone else

There was no substance to the characters, it’s all stuff I’ve seen before and I honestly was really disappointed in the whole super stereotypical thug Russian family. Then there was the whole out of the blue “oh yeah, there’s actually a parallel universe” thing was just weird. Intriguing but so, so weird. I’m really hoping for more of an explanation in the third book to all the science stuff because if not I will be highly disappointed. So much is being left unexplained and just absurd. There are so many holes that need to be filled and so much science behind things that needs to be explained in order for me to better understand stuff. Like I understand that it’s fiction but come on! Make things sound plausible and not crazy.

This book was a highly emotional read and I really loved it, but I hope to see some improvement in book three.

So with that wonderful end to my review, I hope you all have a wonderful afternoon.

An Open Letter to my Media Literacy Professor

Dear Rob,

First off, I’d like to sum up your class in nine words. Thank you for scaring the shit out of me.

I really do mean that. I appreciated how thought provoking and downright terrifying this class was for me. I think the one thing that stuck out to me over the entire course were the words “if you’re not paranoid, you’re not paying attention.” This really struck a chord with me and opened my eyes to the way I think.

Today, I couldn’t help but wonder about what anxiety really is and why people have it. It obviously has something to do with the way our brains are wired but I almost wonder if it has anything to do with heightened sensitivities to the world around us. The more I think about it, the more I feel like my anxiety has more to do with the “big questions” than with the stupid rules I make myself. I feel like people with anxiety have a heightened sense of the world and a gut feeling that things don’t necessarily have to be what we’re told they are.

Going into this class, I never expected it to be the way it was. It was weird, and unnerving, and a strange way to start my day every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I learned so much more than I would have expected to considering when I told my roommates what we would talk about they thought you were crazy. I appreciated the strangeness though, I saw a lot of myself in the way you lectured, my friends could probably attest to that. It’s fun to get to talk about stuff that you’re excited about.

This class actually got me pretty motivated to do my own research, to actually learn more independently. I love learning, and I can’t wait to continue on with that for the rest of my life.

So with a final thought:

I think that a heightened sense of media literacy comes with being paranoid, and always questioning things. I think that it comes with the crazy talk and the conspiracy theories. There’s so much of the world that is unknown to us, so much of the universe that hasn’t been seen yet. There’s no way of knowing anything that goes on outside of our own bodies. I hate realizing it, but I have to. Our world is a lot bigger than I want it to be and there’s a lot about it that we don’t know about. We’ve been born into the middle of it and there’s no way out. We can just live.

Anyways, Rob, thank you for being such an awesome professor. Have a great day.

Adventure Duluth: Jekyll and Hyde at The Underground

This is quite a long overdue post, but hey! At least I’m making it.

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So my boyfriend and I attended Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde about a month ago and I really enjoyed it! I love going to plays, honestly anything that has to do with theatre. I used to want to be an actress, way back in elementary school, and made it a point to always get cast in the lead roles (and also to memorize the entire plays just because I was that much of an overachiever). I was such a little drama queen. If I can find the old pictures I’ll make a future post about my dance and theatre days!

Anyways, back to the play. It was a small cast with a simple set but it packed a big punch. It was such a creepy play. I’ve read the book before and this play really brought it to life. They had put on a fog machine before the play started which I felt was unnecessary. By the time the play started, both my boyfriend and I had trouble breathing because the air was so thick and by the time intermission roled around, all the haziness was completely gone. I kind of wish that I would’ve not procrastinated so that I could’ve recommended the play while it was still showing, but oh well, lesson learned.

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So a helpful hint for those that have not gone to a play at the Duluth Underground before… This is a picture of the entrance! Follow the yellow line and the theater is at the bottom of the stairs and to the right of the train museum! I spent far too long looking for it and it was not an enjoyable time. This small theatre is definitely a place to check out if you’re into this kind of thing!

I’m attaching a link to the Duluth Playhouse website here, in case any of you would like to look into upcoming plays and events.

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I loved the simplicity of the set. The main focus was the door which I thought was really unique. I also thought it was really interesting how the actors that weren’t in the scene would sit, frozen in the background. It added to the eeriness factor of the entire play.

Since it was such close quarters it was interesting to be so close to the actors. Being able to see facial expressions so clearly and really see the action was great.

Overall this was a great experience and I can’t wait to go to another play soon.

Here’s a review from my boyfriend as well:

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was a riveting performance that surmised the struggle with our inner self and explored the battle between the conscious and unconscious mind. I enjoyed seeing the colorful acting styles and emotions that spread across the stage during this hour or so performance and highly recommend any lover of the arts to explore this epic story.

(Not gonna lie, I wish my review was this well written).

As I seem to always try to end off my posts with a question now, what is your favorite play that you have ever seen? I think the one that sticks out for me is one that I saw years ago, I want to say I was around eight or nine, and my mom took me and my sister to see a play version of some of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s stories. She was and still is one of my all time favorite authors and my sister and I used to pretend to be Mary and Laura so often that this experience was really special to me. It was also one of the first times that I ever got to see a real play and I enjoyed every moment of it.

Well, hope your Tuesday is a great one.

P.S. Also have I ever mentioned how much I just like to watch out for mistakes that people make? For example like when stage makeup isn’t properly blended? Haha, so much fun. Okay, now I’ll leave you. Enjoy your day.

Our Final Invention: AI

So do scientists really think that super intelligence is a good idea? Or are they just really really stupid?

Like honestly. In any way shape or form does it even seem okay to have technology be smarter than we are? People may think it’s okay, but I’m going to drag some movies into this.

Exhibit A:

Smart House, made by Disney. Here’s a promo for it:

And oh, what’s that? Some of the technologies are in our everyday lives now?!

Okay, cool. All seemingly harmless pieces of technology, right? Well how long until something is invented that will actually control an entire house, something that is intelligent on its own… And how long until that piece of technology turns bad?

Exhibit B:

So I don’t know if you’ve heard this or not, but scientists have supposedly isolated dinosaur DNA… WHAT

AND THIS

Like I can only see this taking one path

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There are literally four movies now that show how dumb of an idea this is.

I just honestly cannot comprehend how anyone could want to create something that could have the potential to kill us all?

I take that back. People are really that stupid; as can be seen with all of the nuclear technology the world has created.

Well…

Okay. So I’ll just move on past the stupidity of the invention of strong AI and just talk a little bit about some fun (?) things.

So first off, my professor was talking about how if we were to invent robots that were lifelike then we would create them as adults. Then he asked if we could imagine little seven pound robots and all I could think about was this:

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I then took way too long thinking about how what if this movie was like some weird post human world that could actually exist someday. And then I made myself stop thinking about that and just enjoy this children’s movie as is.

Because honestly? This movie is freaking hilarious. And the world concept is so cool. As can be seen in this scene.

Next, I wanted to share with you a thought provoking video from Crash Course involving AI and personhood.

I thought it was quite interesting to think about. And also a topic that I really don’t like thinking about either. It’s just so confusing and mindboggling.

Okay, so lastly, I want to recommend a book that I read earlier this year called Illuminae. This book is so uniquely written and also had a very central character that is AI. I would highly recommend it if you’re interested in science fiction and AI and really unique books!

After seeing all this information, what do you all think about the seemingly inevitable invention of this insane technology? Will it blend in? Or will it destroy us all?

Hope you all have a wonderful day.

Don’t let the inevitability of a robot takeover get you down.

You Will Have Understood

I copied these words off the blackboard in my media literacy class the other day and then ended up spending over an hour thinking about them.

It’s a profound thought to have, sitting here and realizing that someday you will understand all of the crazy things that occur in your lifetime. I know I occasionally have these thoughts multiple times a day (but it’s a rarity). Usually I end up months, or even years down the road looking back on one event and realizing how it caused a chain reaction of other events to lead to where I am today.

1 Samuel 12:16 says:

Now therefore stand still and see this great thing that the Lord will do before your eyes.

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There are so many things that I now realize had to happen in order for me to get where I am today. And I know that the things that are happening to me right now will someday make sense to me. But I want to have some sense of why my life is the way it is and why I have to experience the things that I have to experience. Sometimes it just doesn’t make sense to me, my life.

I look back on my past and I feel like I have so many regrets, and I can never convince myself that I have so much life left to live. I spend all my time caught up in the past never fully embracing the moment.

I started this post last week and I wrote that Bible verse down and I wish I could say that I do that, that I stop and see what God has done and what he will do but all I do is regret and dream and get stuck in the infinite possibilities of what could have been. I have yet to feel truly satisfied with where I am at, there’s always something that holds me back.

It’s hard admitting this to the internet, because I don’t even like admitting it to myself. I want to believe that I believe that God has a plan for me, but I don’t know if I do. I keep wishing my life away, thinking things will be better someday. I continually see what my past has done to get me where I am today, but I never think towards my future. It’s just a giant blank. I have these infinite “what ifs” about my past, but my future is empty.

I just listened to this song today. This honestly epitomizes what is going on in my brain right now.

I don’t know if life will ever make sense to me. But I truly wish I could be happy with who I am right now.

So, happy Sunday y’all.

I’ll talk to you on Tuesday.

A Rant Regarding Black Mirror

At the suggestion of my media literacy professor I decided to watch the show Black Mirror.

Out of the thirteen episodes that are up on Netflix, I’ve watched seven of them. Spoiler alert: I hate the show. This post will highlight why I do. As a disclaimer I will be talking about main points in the episodes so if you don’t want to be spoiled I would recommend you don’t read this post.

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So Black Mirror is a British anthology series that follows a different story line and cast each episode. Every episode has a dystopic theme that seems to take place in a distant future, though I think they’re supposed to reflect what our culture nowadays is heading towards.

I’m going to talk about the episodes that really turned me off of the show and why I don’t think I’ll continue watching it if they continue to create more episodes.

 So White Christmas, an image from the episode is in the upper left, is a three story special that connects in a very interesting way. Now cheating is a main theme in this episode, as well as the episode The Entire History of You (image in the bottom right). Now, I’m not questioning the ethics that go into the technology in these episodes, I don’t really care about that, these technologies are not a reality at the moment and it’s not something that I’m going to question.

In both of these episodes, the men find out that their partners cheated on them and essentially go “crazy”. They attack, harm, and even kill people because they are so overcome by the fact that they were cheated on. This seriously concerned me, that they would make these men take such extreme measures in finding out what their partners did. I can see why they do this in a dramatic sense, but it’s really sick. The violence, in my opinion is completely unnecessary. They also highlight really toxic relationships. The man in the Entire History episode comes across as really abusive and controlling. This is NOT OKAY.

Moving on to the episode Fifteen Million Merits. I really enjoyed this episode, until the end. I think that they really cheated on the ending. Essentially what happened was that this man went on to a talent show in order to try and free himself and others around him from a slave-like existence. He takes extreme measures to do this and what does he do? He chooses to let everyone else live in enslavement solely so that he can be free. He leaves his one friend in an extremely degrading sexual show so that he can have a view of the outside world. I honestly can’t understand how someone could ever choose that. I understand that he must have been desperate for freedom but he never acted that way, and he really acted like he wanted to make a difference in his world. It was a disappointing ending. On a different note, the whole porn station thing was absolutely disgusting as well and I have no idea why they found that to be a necessary part of the episode at all.

The final episode that I watched that I really despised was National Anthem. This episode was just sad and gross and I honestly don’t even want to get into it. Just know that this episode should not have been made.

I don’t understand the violence. The toxic relationships. The exploitation. It’s a dystopic show, but these themes could have been portrayed in a much better way. Things could have been handled so much better. I’m really disappointed in how Black Mirror honestly used women as props and things to dispose of in order to give the men their story. Happen to notice that women are barely featured in any of the episodes I mentioned? Except to be the targets of violence, or be sex objects, or who cheat. Good job Black Mirror.

Now I will admit that there were some episodes that I watched that I actually kind of enjoyed. I did find some issues with them, but I’m also very picky with shows so the fact that I even found these enjoyable in the slightest was surprising with how much I despised the rest of the episodes. These all came from the most recent season.

I’m not going to go into specifics and I won’t spoil these episodes because I actually recommend you watch these episodes if you want. They really have great moralistic messages to them and I appreciated that. Women were portrayed in a much better light (as you can see, women are the main characters in all three episodes). They are strong characters, with actual stories!!! Not just throw away characters! Yay!!

I really enjoyed that two of these episodes (Nosedive and Hated in the Nation) really pushed the view of being aware of the presence of social media in our lives. It was nice to see how we need to be careful of what we say, especially about other people, but also showing that we shouldn’t be afraid of how other people “rate” us. I think these were very relevant and important topics.

San Junipero was just a cute episode, that highlighted to importance of being able to be who you truly are.

Now I highly doubt that I will EVER continue to watch this show if it gets more episodes. It was disappointing in the way that is portrayed women among other things and I really can’t understand the appeal with how many underlying problems the show has.

Have any of you watched Black Mirror? And if you have, what did you think of it?

Hope everyone has a nice day.