“So long live the car crash hearts, cry on the couch, all the poets come to life, fix me in forty-five.”-Fall Out Boy

I’d  hoped that maybe, after these few years,  I’d finally moved on. I’d hoped that I could look at old pictures and watch old interviews and listen to old records without the sudden, heady rush of nostalgia knocking me senseless.

Fall Out Boy is quite possibly my favorite band, followed by The Beatles. I don’t remember when it was, exactly, but my two closest friends and I discovered that we were in love with Fall Out Boy, and from then on, everything moment that we shared was fueled by the band. To this day, I can listen to any album and become immediately overwhelmed with memories. Every amazing moment in my middle childhood, it seems, has a Fall Out Boy song playing in the background. Road trips to and from the Pocanoes in the backseat of someone’s car, screaming Take This To Your Grave. Annual treks to Ocean City blasting From Under The Cork Tree. Scrambling onto picnic tables in the middle of the night at a campground, dancing to Infinity On High. 

I didn’t know what it was about them then, and even now, I still don’t know. I think that, perhaps, it was the sense of family. Growing up with Fall Out Boy meant listening to My Chemical Romance, memorizing the lyrics to Panic! At The Disco, watching videos of Cobra Starship, discovering The Cab and Gym Class Heroes, and slowly falling in love with Paramore and Hey Monday. Everything just felt okay then, and I guess that’s all that I could have asked for. For a short time, everyone was making music and were too busy goofing off to fight. Panic! was still together, Paramore was still whole, and, most importantly, Fall Out Boy was still stealing golf carts and making stupid videos. Everything was right in the world.

It happened in stages. What A Catch, Donnie came out as a single, effectively summing up Fall Out Boy’s career. Rumors flickered in the mosh pit and caught fire on Twitter. Believers Never Die was released. I think we all knew then. They tried to reassure us; reminded us that a greatest hits album didn’t mean it was the end. And we believed them. We still believe them.

It’s been hard without the promise of new music at least once a year. But I have my memories; like the time my friends and I watched Live In Phoenix in its entirety twice a day for five days straight  on vacation, or the day we saw them in Philadelphia. It’s hard to let go. Every now and then I get swept up in a little wave of nostalgia, and I wait it out. Growing up with Fall Out Boy was incredible. The days and people and events that made me who I am are wrapped up in those records. Every now and then, you can hear them whisper.

Believers never die.

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“But ‘Thou mayest’! Why, that makes a man great, that gives him stature with the gods, for in his weakness and his filth and his murder of his brother he has still the great choice. He can choose his course and fight it through and win.”-John Steinbeck

Timshel. Thou mayest. Such a simple word, really. The above quote comes from Steinbeck’s East of Eden, which just so happens to be my favorite novel of all time. And it’s incredibly difficult for me to play favorites.

Perhaps you’ve come upon it by way of Mumford and Sons. Either way, you’ve stumbled upon it now, and I congratulate you.

Lee, a supporting character from Steinbeck’s novel, argues that timshel is easily the most important word in the English language. As he says, it makes man great. It gives man choice. Free will, even. Because even in your darkest, most jaded moments, you can choose to get up, brush yourself off, and try again. Even when you make the gravest of mistakes, you can forgive yourself. You can, and that’s what’s so important about timshel. Thou mayest. So will you or won’t you?

“Do not pray for easy lives…pray to be stronger men.”-John F. Kennedy

The above quote about sums up my existence right now. After all, an overwhelming majority of writers have endured serious hardship, right?

It’s been getting better, though. Our power had been coming in and out for a couple of months, and about midweek last week, everything hit the fan. We went through some power surges (which turned my house into Poltergeist…) before the power went out. We spent two nights without heat, which had happened before, so we just bundled up. It always happens on the coldest days, I swear. Today an electrician came out and told us that the surges had burnt out our modem (I’m currently using my cell phone as a source of wifi), our oven, our cable boxes, and the heater. He patched up the heater at no cost, which was amazing, and as of this morning, we have heat again.

We need to have our circuit breaker replaced, which will run us about $2,100, which is a lot of money that we sort of have but really don’t. Somehow, my mom can pay for it, and my grandpa is lending her the money to put back into the account before it screws up finances.

The oven, etc are still out, so we can pretty much only cook on the stove. But we have power, and I’m insanely happy about that. Money’s still going to be tight, and we set up a paypal in the event that anyone is generous enough to drop us an extra dollar or two and help out. It’s so greatly appreciated. (The email to send the money to through paypal is iggyziggy2@gmail.com. I know, fabulous email, but it’s my mom’s.) I’m not one to beg, but it’s been difficult.

But housing situation aside, I finally have the chance to read now that I’m on winter break. I’m 3/4 of the way through David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, which I’ll follow up with Cursed With Power, 11/22/63, The Map of Time, and Moab Is My Washpot. 

If you’re considering reading Cloud Atlas, do it. It’s maddeningly brilliant, and it’s been driving me crazy since the end of the first chapter. The book breaks every single rule in the writing book, and I don’t even care. The first half of the book has chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5; chapter 6 is an interlude, and then the second half of the book has chapters 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. The book doubles back and goes in reverse order. Crazy, right? On top of that, many of the chapters stop either mid sentence or right in the middle of the climax, leaving the reader with a terrible cliff hanger. Everything is connected, and the book reinforces that in so many ways. I’ve already had so many conversations about it with friends and teachers. Cloud Atlas is literally life changing. Read it.

I’m trying out a new novel and a new how-to-write book simultaneously, and so far it’s actually been okay. The book, Chapter By Chapter, offers a countless exercises to practice your novel with. The book I’m working on, The Impossible, has taken on a mind of its own. It’s straying from my outline, and thus far, I’ve let it. I’ll pay for it later, of course, but for now, I’ll see where it goes.

Christmas is tomorrow, and I’m looking forward to spending quality time with my family. (Did I really just say that?) But Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

“You can’t let yourself go free when you’re speaking a foreign language. To be honest, to be real, to be able to express yourself really openly, have it in mind that you’re speaking a language that doesn’t mean anything to you because you haven’t had a life experience with it. So many of the words just have alphabetic meanings.” -Javier Bardem

I promise that the above quote has more to do with its meaning and less to do with my growing obsession with   recent fixation on new found appreciation of Javier Bardem. Sort of.

I just finished watching Biutiful, which stars Bardem, and can be found on Netflix instant. It’s an absolutely foreign language film, and it transcends all language barriers. (Thank God, though, for subtitles.) I don’t watch many foreign language films simply because they’re in a foreign language. I don’t mean this in an ethnocentric, my language is better than your language way. I mean it in a much is lost in translation way.

I’m not fluent in Spanish, nor do I pretend to be. That being said, my eyes were glued to the subtitles because I wanted to know exactly what was being said. With Biutiful, though, I could tell what was happening even if I hadn’t read the subtitles. The acting in this film is literally that strong. It didn’t matter whether or not I spoke Spanish. All that mattered was that I understood Uxbal and his motivations.

I’m rambling about the film because it meshes with the quote seamlessly. What I loved the most about Biutiful was how relaxed Javier was. He knew exactly what he was saying, and he knew exactly the weight of the words. He was free. He was real. He was flawless.

That being said, there is something lost in translation. Those moments I spent reading and then internalizing the subtitles took away from truly experiencing the movie. That isn’t any fault of the filmmaker; it’s caused by a language barrier. If I’d been fluent in Spanish, I would have been able to watch the film as I do any film in English. Somehow, I enjoyed having to read the subtitles. I liked having to work harder to understand the point. So much of the film is built on emotion, and emotion translates to all languages.

I guess what I’m saying is that language is a beautiful thing. It brings us together and it keeps us apart. But experiencing another language, even if you don’t fully understand it, is always worth it. Always.

“You can’t just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood. What mood is that? Last-minute panic.”- Bill Watterson

I’m a terrible blogger. Go on, say it. I know you’re thinking it. I certainly am. Life just has a way of imploding when you need everything to go right, doesn’t it?

First of all, I’m behind on my NaNo project. I don’t mean 2k or even 10k behind. I mean I’m 40k behind. I have a grand total of about 7,500 words written, and I’m absolutely frustrated with myself. It’s not that I don’t love the project; I do. I started with a novel that I fell in love with when outlining, but when I started writing, I hit a wall immediately. I switched projects, and I had no problem getting the words out. But recently, it’s been one thing after the other. (My road test-passed the second time, thank God, my mother’s surgery, an AP paper, a short film, and an Honors history book/paper/project.) I know I should always find time to write, but there just hasn’t been time. I’ve tried.

I know it’s possible for people to join NaNo around this time and manage to pull out 50,000 by the end of the month, so hopefully I’ll pull through. I have no school for the next couple of days, so I’ll stay up all night and see what I can get done.

Secondly, tomorrow is the anniversary of JFK’s assassination. I believe this is the first year that I’ve become aware of it, and I’ll be sure to take a moment of silence. He’s come to mean so much to me over the last couple of months, and I’m so lucky that I’ve really started studying him in earnest. He is truly a remarkable man.

Thirdly; Skyfall. I won’t say too much about it if you haven’t seen it, but please do yourself a favor and get to the movies this break. I saw it with my friends on Sunday, and we’re talking about it. I went in with mixed expectations because I didn’t fancy Craig as Bond, but he completely shattered my expectations. He was phenomenal, as was the rest of the cast. I have a thing for villains, and Raoul Silva (or Tiago Rodriguez, take your pick) did not disappoint. I understand that he’s the villain and he should lose and we should hate him, but he was so real. He had a backstory, and he had a reason for wanting to stick it to MI6. Javier Bardem played him so well that I’m actually afraid of him now.

Image

Please enjoy the above gif of Bardem.

All in all, I hope that everyone has a fantastic Thanksgiving, and if you don’t celebrate it, have a nice weekend all the same. As for me, I’ll be cradling my coffee and writing until six am.

“When something can be read without great effort, great effort has gone into its writing.”-Enrique Poncek

Aside

I received this quote as a writing prompt in AP English today, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. I love everything about it, because to me, it encapsulates everything about being a writer. This is what we need to strive for. You don’t want to write heavy, difficult prose that rings distantly of Wuthering Heights and Frankenstein. 

No, rather, you want to make your writing seem effortless, as if you wrote it on a Sunday afternoon, or over a long, lazy weekend. Even if it took you years- even if you cried and screamed and pulled your hair out- the audience shouldn’t see. They should read it and be inspired and think that they, too, can do it. Because they can. Whether they know it or not, they are just as capable as the rest of us.

I can’t remember the last time I found writing to be effortless. The inspiration comes easily when I don’t want it, but the moment I have nothing to write-it’s gone. Inspiration is a clever thing; it creeps into our thoughts and taints the things we see and strives to spark a flame. Many times, we don’t write it down, and it drifts away. It’s a terrible thing, wasted inspiration.

I have moments, I suppose, when I do, say, or write something, and it really makes me feel like a writer. I feel like a liar, like a cheater, when I call myself a writer and haven’t written in weeks. But I do have my moments. Moments when I wake up with an idea running through my head that won’t quit until I write it down, moments when I’m suddenly inspired and drop everything that I’m doing, moments when I finished a chapter or revise a short story, moments when I drink my coffee and stay up all night because I can’t rest until I’ve seen a story through. Those are the moments that I live for. It’s moments like those that make everything worth it. All of the lost sleep, the ignored homework assignments, the cramps in my hands from writing. Everything.

So, I suppose I’m saying to pour everything that you can into your writing. Blood, sweat, and tears, as the saying goes. You want your writing to be something accessible, something that people can read without reaching for the dictionary or chucking it across the room in frustration. You want your audience to be able to open your book and step inside and feel like they belong. You want your book to be personable and inviting, not cold and distant. What good are beautiful sentences if they cannot be comprehended?

Or so I think. But what do I know? I’m just a high school student.