Memoriam


Hello, Internet.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. A lot has happened. Namely, an election and an inauguration. And right around the time that those happened, I disappeared from this blog.

So why am I back?

It’s simple. I feel that I have held my tongue long enough. I have kept quiet about so many political issues. I have restrained myself to private group chats and one-on-one conversations. No one explicitly told me to sit back and shut up, but nevertheless, that is what I did. I have felt, in a word, silenced.

I am breaking that silence now. I’m not going to rant about policies or politics. Instead, I am going to tell you a story.

Around this time last year, I visited St. Louis with my family. We drove around the city, to every place my grandmother could remember having lived. We—my dad, my mom, my brother, my Grampa, and I—listened to my Grammy as she openly discussed her childhood with me.

We ended our day at the local cemetery, where much of our family is buried. We walked amongst the headstones, and my brother and I listened for what felt like hours to stories of family members we’d never met.

“She would have loved your writing.”

“You look just like him.”

“He was such a character.”

I’ve never met most of this side of my family, and I only dimly recognized most of the names etched into the stones. But there was a sense of connectivity binding us all together, a family both living and dead, strong enough that I felt an urge to pick up a stray rock and lay it atop the nearest grave marker. My brother did the same.

When we left the cemetery that day, I remember not knowing how to feel. I had gained so many stories, whole aspects to my family that had previously gone unexplained. And I felt some kind of loss, too, at the knowledge that I only had stories through which I could meet these people.

That cemetery was vandalized earlier this week. I was sitting at my kitchen table doing homework when I heard my father, usually so mild-mannered and polite, exclaim, “Shit.” with the kind of tone that can’t be mistaken for anything but disaster.

My head snapped up and I turned towards him, half afraid to ask what had happened, what was wrong. When he told me, something inside of me crumpled up into a little ball and hasn’t unfurled since.

My family’s headstones look to be okay, though we don’t know for sure yet. But the blow struck close enough to home to leave me reeling. I’m still reeling.

Names and stories and maybe a couple of photographs. That’s all the living have, to remember the dead.

By vandalizing the names, by destroying the places we go to tell the stories, a crime far greater than scrawling graffiti on a rock is committed. It’s the destruction of a memory, of history. It’s the attempted erasure of our ability to connect with our past.

I have kept quiet, publicly, at least, about a lot. But I cannot remain silent about this. Several of my Facebook friends—classmates, people I know personally—insist that anti-Semitism is gone and over with, that America-now is not a place of danger. I read comments and post to that effect every time I log onto social media in search of cute puppy pictures or stop-motion animation food-preparation videos. I scrolled through at least twenty of those sorts of posts the other night, as my dad sat in the other room on the phone with every family member we could think of to call.

The world is many things, but it is not yet a safe place. Anti-Semitism is not only very real and a very present threat, but it has dealt a blow to my family and to my community that cannot be un-felt, cannot be ignored. but I am not writing to rail against the world and its injustices.

Instead, I write to ask you—yes, you—to take a look around you, to see the incredible diverse world we live in.

This is not a time to turn our backs on one another. This is not a time to take out our anger. This is the time to stand together. Being divided helps no one.

Times are tough, but so are we. And the only way to make any change is to unite.

 

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Stress is the worst, but here’s how I learned to deal with it

 

Last year, as most of you probably know, I was a bit of a mess. School and extracurricular activities had completely taken over my life, and I felt like I was drowning in stuff that would never get done. It took me a fairly long while to really feel any better than ambivalent about going back to school—I was terrified that this year would turn out no better than last year, that there was no space left for improvement. Well, I was wrong. I’ve made it through a semester of junior year, which is supposed to be the most stressful time in high school. I won’t lie—it’s tough. But last year was worse.

Here’s the deal with the worst experiences ever, though. Most of us will do anything to prevent them from happening again.

As a result, I spent some quality time thinking about stress, and how I, personally, process and react to it.

So, without further ado, here are what I consider to be the 4 best methods I found for dealing with the massive stress overload that is junior year.

  1. Running
    It’s no secret on this blog that I run. A lot. There’s something about being active, and getting away—mentally and physically—from the work on my desk. Even if not everything gets done, I can say that I ran 5 miles that day. I can take an hour, hit the trails, and when I come back, everything seems a little more manageable. This one might not work so well for people who don’t like running, but… for me, running isn’t just a way of getting in exercise. It’s a form of meditation, a chance to get out of my head and stop overthinking everything. I can just be, me with the nature and the music that is inevitably playing a little too loudly through my headphones, and when I get home, I generally have achy legs, a raging dehydration headache, and a sense that I have done something that day—which is worth a lot, when it seems like it’s impossible to get anything done. Plus, exercise endorphins help to relax you and get a better night’s sleep, out of pure exhaustion if nothing else.
    running
  2. Baking
    On the surface, this looks like it’s just adding another thing to do, in an already over-packed schedule, and it’s timed and messy and easy to screw up… but I don’t see it that way. Yes, I get covered in flour and usually manage to get dough or batter up to my elbows, which proves to be quite difficult to clean off. Yes, it is timed, and it’s occasionally a bit nerve-wracking when you have to check the oven a million times in a five-minute span because at first everything looks undercooked, but if you leave it in too long it gets burnt. And yes, I do it anyway. Baking rarely takes any longer than an hour or two. Like running, it makes me feel like I’ve actually done something enjoyable that day. I get to follow instructions, with visible (and edible!) proof that I’ve done it right, which is one of my eternal frustrations with school—I never know how well I have or haven’t done, until I get something back with a number on it. Baking grants me that level of instant gratification, and because the instructions do often require some level of focus, it allows me to not think about everything else that I have to do. It lets me get outside of my own head a little bit. Plus, I get cookies or muffins or banana bread.
    (I should point out that finals week mostly means my house smells like cookies and bananas for the whole week straight, and we didn’t have space for all the baked goods. Unavoidable hazard, I suppose?)
    And I was able to bring in cookies during finals week, for my stressed-out friends and classmates, which was nice, and still have leftovers, which are currently in my freezer.
    bakingbasics.jpg
  1. Journaling
    Like running, I doubt that this one will surprise anyone who has read this blog for a while, or who knows me in person. I’ve been carrying around small journals since I was little, though I only got serious about writing every day when I was thirteen or so. That need to write—not just fiction, but also poetry, and my own thoughts, even early blog post drafts—has waxed and waned, but has always been present, and lately it’s taken the form of regular journaling, essentially a continuous freewrite on the subject of what happened that day. It’s unbelievably helpful for thinking through the events of the day, processing it and de-stressing from it at the same time. It’s a nice way to end the day, especially if I can think of any good things that happened during the day, which I might otherwise forget in favor of stressing out over pointless details. In addition to journaling, I’ve also been keeping an obsessively organized planner, instead of the computer calendar I used to use. I don’t know—something about the act of writing down plans, and checking items off with their little checkboxes, is really relaxing and it makes me feel much better organized and more accomplished.
    journaling.jpg
  2. Sleep
    I cannot emphasize this enough. Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. It’s okay if not everything gets done. Sleep is the foundation of good health, both mental and physical. There is no point in pulling an all-nighter to finish a project, if the work is going to be shoddy and not very well thought-out. It might seem like the work is up to par, but trust me. If it happens after 2 am on a regular basis, chances are, the work is not my best. This is probably the biggest difference between this year and last year—I’ve started prioritizing sleep over assignments, and… it’s actually kind of miraculous. The assignments don’t all get done, but my teachers understand. My grades have gone up (reducing a major point of stress right there). The world doesn’t stop spinning if I don’t finish a minor science lab. I haven’t (knock on wood) gotten sick this year.
    Obviously, I’m not advocating for everyone to suddenly slack off on all their work. But I am saying that every once in a while, it’s okay to not be perfect, if it means getting a decent night’s sleep out of it.

Through these four actions, I’ve gotten back to enjoying school. I no longer feel like I’m drowning in more work than I can handle. Junior year is tough, but so far it’s been doable. I certainly wouldn’t repeat what I went through last year, but I’m glad that I learned what I did from the experience.
sunset

6 Things that Happen When You Start a Blog

200(gif creds to KittyWow)

  1. You see potential posts everywhere. Anything and everything you do becomes something that you might want to post about. There are days when I see something interesting, like a particularly evocative photo, or an article about a music festival, and my first thought is “I want to blog about that.”
    Of course, ask me how often that actually happens.
    Writing on topic can be tricky, when your blog has a particular theme or audience. I know food bloggers who want to write about their music tastes, but they find that they have difficulty doing that on the designated “food” blog, or book bloggers who want to write about food but feel restricted to talking about books. Which leads me to my second point.
  2. Sometimes, you don’t post as much as you want to.
    Maybe it’s a result of something like point 1: You’ve got stuff to write about but it’s not relevant (for me this happens when I’ve been writing fiction-y things like books, which don’t make sense for this non fiction blog), or maybe you simply don’t have time to write.
    For me, it’s usually some combination of those two. But either way—sometimes, like now, I’ve gone a solid month or two between posts, and I feel really guilty about it, because I know I’m losing readers, and that people probably think I’ve fallen off the face of the internet. But also, I really do miss writing the way I do here—frank, open, and honest. Which brings up point 3…
  3. You will find yourself settling into your “blogging voice.”
    I’ve been blogging for almost two years, and I’ve come to the conclusion that my voice shifts every time I pick up a new genre. And honestly, despite the fact that I like the fiction form the best, I think I like my blogging voice the best. This is the place where I can be honest, real, and up-front about topics and themes that truly matter to me. This is the closest I get to my speaking voice, and the best part is, I don’t have to write in someone else’s head. I don’t have any autobiographical characters—this blog, and the version of me that I present on here, is about as close as it gets.
  4. You will discover that some of your friends, or even just acquaintances, read your blog. And that experience is really freaking weird.
    I tend to convince myself sometimes that I’m just writing to the ubiquitous “audience,” or to people who have never met me in real life, or who maybe know who I am in real life but do not connect it to the on-screen, in-words version of me.
    Buuuut… that’s just blatantly not true.
    Every once in a while, one of my friends will say something along the lines of OMG you have a blog!!! I just found it, and I followed it and now I’m gonna read it! And every time, I have no idea how to respond. On the one hand, I’m thankful for the readership. On the other… well, I blog about some stuff that I rarely talk about, because some topics are controversial or a little political, and I’m vocal when I write about it. But I don’t talk about it, because talking makes arguing much easier. Whereas when I’m writing, I can think about what I’m going to say, how to frame it inoffensively, and how someone else might respond to it. Knowing that people I know are reading those thought-out, well-considered pieces makes it a little more difficult to post them, because I worry about the in-person backlash that I might receive.
  5. But the amount of support and open friendliness is astonishing, and truly wonderful.
    I have said it before and I will say it again—the blogging community is incredible. I have friends—close friends—who I would barely know without blogging. There are people who I vaguely know, but without the fact that we both write on the internet, I would never have guessed that we had anything in common. These are the people with whom I will talk about potential posts, or other people’s posts, or really anything at all (blogging or non-) at any hour of the day or night. And we all know someone who knows someone else who is friends with one of us, and it’s all interconnected and leads to deep and definite warm fuzzies. When I post something deep and heartfelt, these are the people immediately there with support. When I post something funny, they’re the ones who message me 5 seconds after I post with a million “lol”s and emojis. Love you all ❤
  6. Blogging becomes a way of life.
    Even when I don’t post much, I always come back. I have started other online accounts, and then posted maybe once every six months, and neglected all of my friends on them. But WordPress is the one I always come back to. When I don’t post, I feel guilty. So I post. When I do post, it makes me remember why I love to write on here. And all five of the elements are what make this cycle go round.

How To Fall In Love 365 Times In A Year (sort of)

Okay, I’m exaggerating a little. I haven’t managed 365 yet. But that’s the goal.

It may be somewhat obvious by now, I’m not talking about people. I’m talking about books. My reading goal for 2015 is 365 books. And no, I’m probably not going to fall in love with all of them. I’m pretty far along with this goal so far, and I haven’t fallen in love with all of them.

You may already be thinking, Maxxe, why are you reading for quantity? Shouldn’t you be reading for quality?

If you’re wondering that, you might have a point.

But I’m not just mindlessly swallowing every book I come across. I promise. What I am doing is pushing myself to go outside my comfort zone, and to occasionally pick up something that I know absolutely nothing about. I’ve made a deal with myself to not read the reviews on Goodreads, and to not look any further than the cover synopsis and the blurbs before I check it out of the library. On that note, I should mention that libraries pretty much give me life. My school has a rather excellent one, and the librarians have excellent taste.

So yeah, I’ve come across a lot of books that I probably wouldn’t have normally read, if I had known more of what they were about when I picked them up.

This includes (get ready for the wall of book that will be below) M.R. Carey’s The Girl With All the Gifts, Melina Marchetta’s On the Jellicoe Road, Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun, the entire Lux series by Jennifer L. Armentrout, the Under the Never Sky trilogy by Veronica Rossi, and Pierce Brown’s Red Rising trilogy (I can’t wait for book three, Morning Star, which I desperately want).

       thegirlwithallthegiftsonthejellicoeroadillgiveyouthesun

lux-seriesundertheneverskyRed Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown

(Wall of book. There you go. creds to Goodreads)

In other words, I’ve encountered some titles which have rapidly become some of my favorite books of all time. I’m talking books that have made my cry, little tears and wrenching sobs. Books that I love so much that when I finished them, I refused to put them down, and just clutched them to my chest. And to think that I might never have picked them up at all.

I’ve pushed myself way, way outside my comfort zone, and it’s definitely paid off.

I’ve also fallen in love with some books that don’t fit that category, of course. Some of my favorite authors ever have come out with new books this year (I read them and adored them, as expected). I read some older books that I didn’t know existed, but were beyond fantastic.

I followed some recommendations—that’s how I found Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance (Thank you Mom!!!) and Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, as well as Wolf in White Van, by John Darnielle.

  wolfinwhitevanafinebalanceJonathan-Strange-Mr-Norrell-Susanna-Clarke

(More image creds to Goodreads. In case you can’t tell, I really, really like Goodreads)

It’s a lot of books. I’m not going to list them all (If you really want to know, you can go check out my Goodreads shelf called 2k15).

I’ve fallen in love a lot of times. Not just with the characters, although I do have to admit that there are some pretty kickass protagonists, and some deeply flawed people–villains and protagonists– who I can’t help but treasure. I’m in love with stories. Not just the heart-racing, blood-pumping action scenes, or the heart-stopping romance ones.

I’m also in it for the tragic moments, the ones that make me feel like there’s a hole in my chest where something alive ought to be. I’m in it for the moments when something inside of me wants to swell, up and out through my throat along with the tears working their way through my eyes. Sometimes it’s a sob, sometimes it’s laughter. I’ve encountered both.

I’ve also been disappointed. Kind of inevitable, really, with the large number of books that I’ve read.

Some of the disappointments have even come from some of my favorite authors (Looking at you, Jacqueline Carey. I’m not a Moirin fan). Others have come from authors that I’ve never even heard of, but the covers looked interesting, and I thought, why the hell not.

There have also been books that I didn’t love, didn’t hate, but definitely did enjoy.

And that’s the think about reading so much. I get to live 365 lives in a year. I get to see those ups and downs, those love stories and vengeance stories. I can go as far outside of my comfort zone as I’ve ever been, and then return to it a day later. Yes, there have been disappointments. But the shining stars among the rubble render the chunks of rock nearly invisible. Every story matters, but the truly transcendent ones stand out. And I’ve gotten to see, love, experience so many of them.

That’s why I have a quantity-based reading goal this year. I refuse to discriminate between genres. I refuse to say that I’ll only read something if I know a lot about it.

If I do those things, I’ll never get to do what I’ve done, or what I hope to continue doing.

I’m in love, maybe not 365 times over, but pretty close.

And it feels good.

grrc

(Image creds to guess who? Goodreads again)

Women’s History Month: My Literary Take

March is a pretty cool month. Not just in temperature, or in holidays like Saint Paddy’s. Or awesome numerical coincidences, like “March fourth/forth,” or Pi Day. Or my personal favorite, the Ides of March.

It’s also Women’s History Month.

Many of my friends have been posting about various real, historical women throughout the month. I had planned to do the same, when I realized that I wanted to write about the role models who have influenced me throughout history. Around the time that I realized that, I also realized…

Many of my role models, female or otherwise, just so happen to be fictional.

So I thought about posting about those every day. And I made a list of the characters who have been my influences and ideals throughout childhood, and up until today.

I ended up with too many to write about.

I don’t know if it’s a testament to the number of books that I’ve read, or if those books just happen to contain some downright awesome female characters. But I know there are many of them, some of whom I would like to take some time to think about this month.

I’m not capable of naming them all. But I am capable of categorizing them.

I came up with two fairly fluid, somewhat overpopulated categories.

The dreamers:

This is the group of role models who include but are not limited to creative, writers, intellectuals. I have followed the paths of so many on this direction that I can’t even count them, but they include Miss Rumpheus, Anne Shirley, Jo March, Sara Crewe, and Petra Andalee. I could also talk about Turtle Wexler, Gooney Bird Greene, or Filomela (also known as FXC). Auri is in this category, as is Clarisse McClellan, and Hollis Woods. I could continue listing characters, but I don’t think I need to. Each of these women has influenced something in me at some point in my life. Maybe they aren’t revolutionaries; they aren’t going to be leaders in a war. But they are strong, and independent, and they don’t just have brains, they have the ability to use them.

The other category is the fighters, the ones with the skills to command an army, and the power to manage more than they ever dreamed. The dreamers have the intellectualism to think of whatever it takes, but the fighters are willing to do whatever it takes. This does not make one group stronger or weaker than the other, it just is.

I did end up creating another category for the ones who are revolutionaries, who could ride into battle. Then, I subdivided that into two more categories.

Up-Front: These are the female heroines everyone can envision, the ones wearing armor and running into battle, swords afire. These are the Arya Drottningüs and the Nasuadas of the world, the Candy Quackenbushes, the Rose Hathaways. These are the Tsukikos, and the Celia Bowens, and the Hermione Grangers. Virginia Au Augustus is in this category as well, and Kirsten Raymonde is as well. That said, there is a smaller subcategory here within the subcategory. The ones who do not enter the battle with weapons and muscle, but who talk their way in and out of situations, and in some cases even throw a bit of magic into the bargain. They do not need to be Ce’Nedra or Princess Blue, who each led an army to victory and claimed a royal title that should have been hers to begin with. They do not need to be Maddie, or Julie, piloting planes and spying behind enemy lines. There are many, many different kinds of strength in the world, and I think that the most immediate examples of this are Phedré no Delaunay, and Melisande Shahrizai. Meggie and Resa Folchart, and Violante of Ombra also fall into this category, as do many others, like Blue Sargent. These are the women who might not walk into battle, but who will withstand the violence and horror of their time. The women who can manipulate the people at war until their side is victorious. Their strength resembles that of the dreamers, but this is it applied to war.

And then there is the other category of the “fighters.” The ones who do fight, not in war, but in their hearts. Despite some overlap with the “dreamers,” I felt the need to give them their own category. These are the women who fight for the right to be themselves, the right to live their lives as they wish. Their struggle is perhaps more relatable to a teenager in today’s world, and many of these figures do come from more contemporary stories. This is Sophia the Philosopher, this is Eleanor Douglas. Cath Avery and Liesel Meminger. Piper McCloud and Ruby Lu. Dinah, of Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent, and Bradbury’s Constance Rattigan. Gregory Maguires’s Ruth and Iris and Clara and Elphaba, and Roald Dahl’s Matilda Wormwood. These characters are sparks, candles, who blaze no matter how dark their surroundings. Their revolutions and challenges turn inwards, and they emerge victorious.

This is a gross oversimplification, and the names I have listed here barely begin to scratch the surface of tthe longer list that sits hidden in tomes on my own shelves.

My point is, there are many, many different sorts of strength. And every one of them is as valid as any other.

Are you a dreamer? A fighter? At the front of the line, or orchestrating from the back?

The number of strong women in literature and in the real world today is still growing. I believe that we, as people in that world, have a responsibility to draw inspiration, and to give inspiration. We have a responsibility to join those numbers, and to help others to join those numbers. It is not a question of strength. It is a question of will and of want. And we have a responsibility to answer that question, if nothing else.

 

oncloudzen.com                              Image credit: oncloudzen.com

7 Reasons Why I Love Air Travel

Air travel seems to be a bit of a controversial thing. Some people hate it. Some people love it. Some people just look at it as a way to get from point A to point B.

I belong to the second category. So, without further ado:

  1. The adventure.
    I don’t know if other people feel this, or if I even feel it when I’m not travelling alone or with a group of friends. But when I’m through security and off in the world of hard-to-navigate concourses and overpriced food, I feel like I’m not just going somewhere, I’m going somewhere. I’m striding out into the big, wide, world. Responsibility yep, that’s me.
  2. The miracle of flight.
    Airplanes are actually pretty incredible when you think about it. They’re big and fat and made of metal, but also they manage to fly.
    Birds actually need to have hollow bones to weigh less in order to make it off the ground. But airplane engines are really freaking heavy, and they manage to propel this thing literally tens of thousands of feet in elevation. I always sort of feel like I’m from the future when I settle in and watch the scenery diminish out the window.
  3. The culture combinations.
    I’m from Atlanta, home to one of the busiest international airports in the world. Walking from security to my gate, I can easily hear twelve or thirteen different languages, and I can see the different fashions and styles from different places. It’s beautifully diverse. Airports are a crossroads for so many people who will never meet. I know at least seven of my friends were in the same airport at the same time as me, but… well, two ships passing in the fluorescent-lightbulb noon light?
  4. The people-watching
    Similar to the above. I’m a writer, and I’m constantly looking for some new character detail to incorporate. I tend to pick up those details by people-watching in busy places, and… well, there is no better place to do that than a place in which people are coming from Hong Kong and going to Cancún, or coming from France and going to Taiwan or Dubai. People carry so many elements of who they are on the outside, without thinking about it, and that creates a lot of opportunities for a writer like me. I can ask questions in my head like, where did that scarf come from, or what would bring a person to Atlanta, or even what causes a person to drink sprite instead of cranberry juice? And then I get to make up those answers, and that’s where I get characters, or snapshots, and then I can go and write short stories, or poetry, or whatever it is that I end up writing,  from there.
  5. The destination
    Okay, this one is pretty obvious. I love landing wherever I’m going, and looking around at baggage claim to find whoever is meeting me. I love knowing that I’m about to go off and have fun, to climb a mountain, to go to a summer program, or to visit a college. The destination isn’t just a physical place, it’s also the people who are there, whether that’s family or friends, peers or co-workers… I get excited to see them, every time.
  6. The view.
    Especially if I have the window seat, I love watching the ground grow tiny, reduced to geometric patterns smaller than a postage stamp. As long as I’m below cloud cover, the world is reduced to what looks like the cover of a John McPhee book, or one of my dad’s more abstract photos. And then, above the clouds, the view resembles an ocean more than it does puffy water vapor. Even if I’m seated directly next to the wing, the view never fails to astound me. Then, the landing view is just as intriguing, as the ground seems to grow bigger, and I can always get a good sense of the scenery of a place by flying over it at a low altitude. My two favorite cities to land in so far are Chicago and Boston, because of the clean lines of the beaches leading up to the cities, with real-life, actual trees everywhere.
    It’s also particularly interesting to fly over large swaths of the east and midwest when the snow hasn’t melted for springtime yet. I could see large patches of the map, looking like someone spilled flour and powdered sugar all over a printout of a Google Maps satellite view. It’s gorgeous, and it’s also absolutely unearthly… which is probably why I like it.
  7. The quiet.
    I live a very noisy life. I go to a school full of social teenagers, I’m in a loud and generally chaotic youth group, and my house is about as far from quiet as it gets. I never really get to just plug in a pair of earbuds and stop doing things, so that I can simply take a deep breath, open a book, and read. Or even just watch the aforementioned beautiful view. Or close my eyes, and do absolutely blissful nothing. Especially when flying alone, that two-hour flight is a good relaxation place for me. I can sit and just be for a while, but it’s not such a long while that my legs cramp up and I feel gross after a day of being absolutely sedentary.

Air travel is everything that I love about travel, with the additional magic of being several thousand feet off the ground. It’s a routine, a ritual, but there’s something drastically different about it every time, whether that’s the airport food you eat, or the gum you chew as the flight takes off and lands. Yes, air travel can be annoying. Yes, there can be hang-ups and snags every which way. But even so. Something inside of me is more than willing to put up with all of the frustration for the sake of the pieces that make it wonderful.

5 Lessons to be learned from “bad” TV

I spend my days coming up with smartass comments and daydreaming.

When I do watch TV, it is something bright and intellectual that I will then talk about for days with my family, who are also all watching this show (looking at you, Broadchurch and Orphan Black).

But I’m also a teenager. And there is a whole world of television aimed directly at my demographic. When I am stressed out and exhausted, it’s a lot easier to watch a show with airbrushed attractive people working out drama that is completely unlike any drama I have, than it is to watch a show with intellectual people speaking quickly and talking about problems that the world is actually facing today.
I won’t defend it. I’m being sucked in for exactly the reasons the market wants me to be. I started watching shows “ironically,” and then realized a couple of seasons later… I was actually interested in how the plot would turn out. Oh, well.

1. Your true friends will be there for you no matter what, and that’s why you shouldn’t ever hurt them.
Friends are the people who stick with you for non-genetic reasons, and if you’re lucky enough to know them practically from birth, they’re the ones who will watch you grow up through the awkward phases and into adulthood. As a result, they’ll witness your temper in full glory, and still be there. But you’d better do the same for them, because that’s what friendship is: a bond that goes both ways.

friendship tvd(cred: the cw website)

2. It’s okay to complicate things.
Saying words like “I like you,” or “I’m sorry” can seem daunting. They almost always do. But in the end, everything sorts itself out. The people who run away come back if they’re worth it, or else we can chase them down, and talk it out. Communication matters, and blocking people isn’t worth it. It’s okay to mess life up a little bit, because better to lay things out in the open than it is to bottle up the unpleasantness.

 

 

3. Nothing is irreconcilable

pinterest Skins site

(cred: the Skins website)

Remember that horrible, nasty character from season one? Well, now that you’re on season five, that character is probably still a part of the main cast, and is also now a somewhat comedic (and occasionally dark and complicated) part of the main cast, aka the hero team. By the time the show’s finale rolls around, they’ll probably be one of the ones you cry for.
This holds true for real life. You might think you hate someone now, but if you go through enough with them, you might end up being friendly, and if you keep talking, you could end up being friends. It goes back to communication. If you establish common ground, then you can reconcile your differences. Maybe not forget about them, but reconcile them. I have a friend whom I spent years not being able to stand. We spent nearly ten months not speaking to each other at all. Now? We talk. We found common ground and we stand upon it proudly, choosing to look at the present and the future instead of scowling sullenly at our past.

4. Don’t give up on yourself.
Just about every TV show I have ever watched, teen-oriented or not, has a season arc in which a character gives up on themself. It never ends well. Likewise, in life, there are those times when it’s easier to stop and break down rather than pushing forwards. But as the saying goes, “the right thing and the easy thing are never the same.”

cherylchnggcred: quoteandlyric.tumblr.com

5. In the end, it’ll be okay.
After a season full of drama, it might not all go back to normal, but there will be enough of a hopeful note that they’ll come back to watch next season. Conflicts get resolved. During the season itself, everything seems like it is about to fall apart. But we don’t watch the shows for the awful things that happen. Those aren’t the reasons we care about the characters. We care about them because of the happy And by the time the end credits play on the last episode, we know that at least some of the situation is resolved. That’s how TV works, but it’s also the way that life can work too, if we stop worrying about the bad things that happen and start to look at the future as place of opportunity.

ggend(cred: the cw website)

These “lessons” show up in the “good” TV, too. They show up in life, in books, all over the place.

It doesn’t matter where we run into lessons like this. It matters that we pay attention to them when we notice them.