Happy 29th Year of Existence to ME!

Today, I am a year older, a year wiser, a year prettier, a year sexier, a year hotter, a year nicer, and so on and so forth. And as I enjoy my last year as a teenager, (YES, I’M 19) I want to look back on how my life had been on a roller coaster ride. Despite the challenges I faced in 2013, I am still so blessed to have all that I really need–FAMILY AND FRIENDS.

So here it is. I’m turning 20 next year (LOL). I really feel as youthful as 19! I could never wish for more earthly and material things as I am already blessed with all the necessities in life. I could neither wish for a beautiful face and a perfect figure for I am a PERFECTLY GORGEOUS WOMAN. JOKE! Seriously, I just wish that all through the coming years, may all the people who love me and whom I love will still be with me. (Stick around, guys!) May they continuously be blessed, too, and live peaceful and prosperous lives. And for all those who walked away and turned their backs on me,Ā  for those who just passed by and didn’t stay, and for those who will still come into my life, I am and will always be thankful. My life would never be this meaningful and colorful without you.

Cheers to more fruitful and glorious years!

John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars

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One of my college colleagues actually recommended this book to me. She asked me if I’m fond of YA genres. And so I told her, I read all genres. There’s no particular genre for me, I think. And so I searched an ebook copy of this and saved it on my phone.

Once I started reading The Fault In Our Stars and commenced posting progress on my facebook account, I got several feedback. Right there and then, I found out that this novel won as the best YA book in 2012. Knowing this, I became much more eager to finish and find out what this book is really all about.

I was caught by the use of words by the author. John Green is so effective narrating as Hazel Grace, the protagonist in the novel. It just amazed me how HE (Green) was able to convincingly portray a woman character, capturing the feminine and delicate facade of a woman’s personality. Also, the novel is short enough not to bore readers. Every page progresses. Every chapter is relevant. And I appreciate that.

This book is about Cancer Patients who have accepted to themselves that YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE. During the first chapters, I was already able to depict what will happen. I assumed and thought that Hazel Grace, as she pertains to herself a grenade, will die eventually, leaving Augustus behind, all broken. But it was the other way around. Augustus left her after battling with the traitor disease. Of course, I cried. And as I read the parts about Gus’ death, I can’t help but remember my father who died almost 8 years ago. The pain was excruciating. I know. And so I felt for Augustus’ bereaved family and loved ones. But the novel isn’t all about just dying and fighting a battle. It’s a love story as cheesy as we all can imagine. It’s heartbreaking, too. This is one of the few novels that made me shed tears.

What I love the most about The Fault In Our Stars are the quotable quotes, lines, and metaphors embedded in it. I will never forget how I imagined Augustus telling Hazel Grace this: “I am in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I’m in love with you and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only Earth we’ll never have, and I am in love with you.”

Some of the most memorable lines about life are:
“Grief does not change you. It reveals you.”

“Pain is like fabric: the stronger it is, the more it’s worth.”

“Without pain, we couldn’t know joy.”

“No matter how hard you kick, no matter how high you get, you can’t go all the way around.”

…And a whole lot more!

In totality, I find reading The Fault In Our Stars very informative. It gave me so much insights and realizations about LIFE and LOVE.

On Hodkin’s The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

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This book took me the longest time to read, so far. I think I’ve spent more than a month to finish this. Reason: Aside from my busy schedule and other extra “curricular” activities, the story haunted me at first. I thought it was creepy. I thought it would disturb my imagination so bad that I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night. It is because I usually have my reading habbit at night, before bedtime. During the first few chapters of the book, I must admit that I was disturbed.Ā  I even stopped reading it because I was moved. Moved in a way that I almost had haunting images in my head. I could even imagine those sigthings mentioned in the book, and even worse.

I just went back to reading when someone told me to try reading it during daytime to avoid my “fear” of having creepy imagination. And so I did. Shallow as I may seem, yes. As the story progresses, the “fear” in me grew less and less disturbing. Until the moment I thought and finally realized that it was not that creepy at all. There was indeed romance. Yes, romantic feel wrapped in thrilling unraveling of events. Suspense.

Sometimes, I can relate to the main character. Sometimes I find myself caught in almost the same situation. Not in a way that I also experience hallucinations. I’m not a psycho, of course. I’m not even on medications. I just thought that there really are times when you think of something, and you picture it on your mind to happen, then it does happen! Like magic! But I don’t think it is magic. Coincidence maybe. And no one can explain how coincidence happens.

Just to give my general reaction to this book, I could say that yes, I enjoyed the journey. What I love the most in The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is the use of language by the author. I love how she played with words as she described everything in her book. Sophistication at its edge. Her language here is dynamic. It doesn’t take a genius to feel every word. But, it challenges her readers enough to figure out what some phrases mean.

And as I read the final chapter (of volume one), my curiosity grew bigger and bigger as I approached theĀ  last words. Intriguing, yes it is. And I need to read the sequel. I think, it is a must!

Ā 

WHEN FRIENDSHIPS FALL APART

ImageIt felt like a big lump in my throat. I can’t swallow even a thin breath of air. Palpitating, I’m gasping for air. It all came to me like a rushing wave, drowning me. When I got that phone call from one of my best friends, the ground almost swallowed me whole.

I lived my life like a roller coaster ride. I had my ups, as much as I had my downs. And for the past 13 years, I had my best friends to get by. We were bffs for more than a decade. Our friendship started during our senior year in high school. Our friendship was not perfect. We had argued several times. We had petty quarrels, too. It was a normal bff relationship.Ā  After high school, we were never together that often. We went to different universities. Years passed and we gradually drifted apart—geographically, and maybe, mentally and emotionally. I must admit that our friendship was not the same as before. We have changed, too… Change in our priorities, our outlook in life, and somehow, in our personalities. Despite the changes, we managed to nurture the friendship we have. We meet each other once in a while, despite our busy and conflicting schedules. We made sure that we communicate often and seek for each other’s advice every time any problem arises. Things have changed, but we managed to stay the same—-as bffs. Essentially, we were 4 in the circle. I am Turtle, they are named as Cat, Mushroom, and Casper. We call each other those pet names. We just thought it was fun. And yes, it was. There was just one soul that entered our circle lately, she is Duck, and I’m glad she is not directly affected with what is happening to the four of us right now. She does not deserve a BIG misunderstanding like this.

One of my bffs, Cat, lives outside the country and was a little hesitant to keep the communications with us. I always respect her privacy. Always. And as she told us, she was experiencing life challenges. I thought that she just wants to handle everything on her own. As my opposite, she was always hesitant to tell us every little detail of her life. Despite her being like that, we remained bffs for a long time, the four of us. We have acceptedĀ  that each and everyone of us is different. And we respected each other. She maybe not with us always, but we never treated her that she does not matter. As a matter of fact, we were always worried whenever she deactivates her facebook and shuts her doors from us. She was like a seasonal fruit. One season she’s here, and the next, gone. It’s her! We accepted that fact. I always say that she might just be needing some time for herself. Or that she might not be that comfortable to tell us everything. And during those times she was “not with us”, I, together with my 2 other bffs, Casper and Mushrom, were always wondering what is she up to. Whether she is just ok, or she is hurting, we were worried. We had conversations about her when she was not with us. We had exchanged opinions about her, her decisions, her actions. I admit, there were times that I doubted her. I was skeptical about her ACTIONS. I am the type of person who always thinks beyond what is just obvious. My questioning mind is always in action. I doubted her actions. I thought thatĀ  what she portrays was just surreal. I thought that she MIGHT not be as true to us as we are that genuine to her. I was always questioning myself. I remember, I even told Casper and Mushroom that ‘I THOUGHT SHE’S A FAKE.’ I have used the word fake to pertain to her actions, not to her as a person. I never doubted her as her. I never doubted our friendship with her, either. I just doubted her actions this time. I just thought that it is not so real to act that way, that after you’re gone for a few months, here you are, back and acted as if nothing had happened. She acted that way every time she exits, and every time she comes back. Always. As if nothing has happened. As if nothing is wrong. As if everything is perfectly fine. THAT is what I thought a FAKE. ‘How could you be that surreal, acting as if everything is in its proper place when the last time you left, you told us that you are suffering from one of life’s major challenges. And mind you, your issues were not shallow. It was BIG DEAL. It was a major life decision that you had to make.’ Honestly, I was cynical about her lately. I thought that she may not trust us that much that she can’t bring that issue as true to its sense to us. She just can’t. I remained silent. I did not insist on asking her when she came back.

Until the day came when our friendship fell apart. Before everything had happened, there were signs and symptoms that I knew were already happening. As I saw it, we had fallen into the trap—the pitfalls of falling out of the friendship. I felt it, yes. But I never saw it coming as tremendously impactful as this. I was struggling to keep the friendship with one of my bffs, Mushroom. Confusing as it may seem, I handled that issue with a broad mind and as maturely as I can. There was no BIG reason for that falling out. It just happened. There was no huge fight nor disagreement with her. Clearly, there was no too obvious reason for what happened. It was more of a personal decision to take a “Sabbatical leave” from our friendship. I didn’t know. I just thought that it was the best thing to do. All I just wanted to happen was to stay away from negativity in my life. I don’t want to bear a burden that will definitely drain my energy. It was more of a personality clash, I told her. I HAVE MY REASONS. So I blocked her from facebook, but unblocked her after a few days. I stopped texting her. I just stopped communicating directly with her. I never told the rest of the girls about this. Until days passed and they started to question me. I told them the same reasons. I said, our friendship might need a break. And if our pieces still fit, after some time, then we can go back to the way we were. I believed they understood.

Connivance? I don’t think it’s the right word. It just so happened that after I stopped communicating with Mushroom, I took the comfort of confiding to my other bff, Casper. She became my text-, phone-, viber-, pal before everything fell apart. We shared stories of our daily activities. We also do that way back when the five of us were still OK. And since I started to fade away from Mushroom, I find Casper the best buddy to keep. We exchanged views and consulted each other for life decisions and goal-settings.

During those times I was doubting Cat, and I was not that open to Mushroom anymore, Casper and I were always having conversations about the four of us. We started analyzing the actions of each and everyone of us. We had talked about Cat’s condition. We both were so inquisitive that we questioned her portrayal of a seemingly perfect life, after all that she went through. We alsoĀ  asked each other if it could be possible that she shuts her doors to us, yet, she has “other” connections with her “other friends”. That thought bruised us. It bled. If that was so, we thought that she was just ‘faking’ in front of us. If she trusts us enough as she calls us her bffs, she would confide with us with what she was going through. But SHE DIDN’T. Days passed and I felt that something unpleasant is about to happen. Casper and I had hints and clues that our conclusions were right. But we never interrogated Cat. We don’t want to force her to do something she is not wholeheartedly ready to do. There were times we asked her of issues, indirectly, giving her the chance to tell us THE TRUTH. Despite several attempts, we failed. She remained to keep everything to herself, and maybe to her “other friends”. We respected her. We also stopped inquiring her about her life, lately. Casper and I decided to just let it pass. Because I believe that there are some things that you just keep to yourself. Cat is like that. She may be secretive, but we accepted and respected that.

My phone rang, and I answered the call from an unknown number. A shaky voice registered from the other line. It was CASPER. She was talking in a pace that was faster than usual. She was actually gasping for air as she narrated the story of what had happened just a few minutes before calling me up. I felt how hurt and affected she was. And I found myself catching up with her breath, too. I was also gasping for air and almost fainted with what she told me. BETRAYAL. Our FRIENDSHIP is on the brink of falling apart, into tiny pieces that it is almost impossible to repair. I tried to calm down and think first. I am aware that the worst decisions are made during those times when you are wallowed in anger and couldn’t think straight. We ended our conversation and I stared blankly through nothingness, thinking profoundly. I picked up my phone again and dialed Mushroom’s number. I needed to ask her a lot of things. I needed to talk to her. That urgent need almost made me forget that I was not talking to her for quite some time now. But I still did call her up. She was not picking up. Despite several attempts, I got no answer. She NEVER picked up her phone to talk to me. So I decided to send her text messages conveying a great inquiry over a very unpleasant issue that suddenly came up that day. I sent her several messages, but still, I got no reply. I called up Casper and asked her what was going on. She told me that it really is happening. She and Mushroom and Cat were already exchanging dirty, disgusting, and scarring words. If words could kill, the three of them might have died that moment. That was so intense that I wanted to cry. But I told myself to act as maturely as I can. I told Casper that Mushroom was not answering my calls and messages. Casper and I were so helpless. We were accused of a crime that we “actually” did not commit. And what’s worst, we were not even given the chance to explain our side of the story. WE WERE JUDGED.

A few hours passed and I messaged Cat through viber. My first attempt of talking to her was about an inquiry of what really had happened. She immediately answered back. I was not surprised by her VERY ANGRY response. She was so mad at me, at Casper. She told me words that I have never heard nor received from any of my friends, ever. I have never had an argument that big with any of my friends. Her reaction towards me confirmed that she is not to listen to anything I and Casper would want to say. We had no chance. She was so consumed with hatred towards us. SheĀ  despised us so much that she told us that she regrets we were her bffs. She even told us that she does not want to see nor talk to us ever again.

We were betrayed. Mushroom betrayed us. That’s how we perceived it. She told Cat about our past conversations about her. And I think, she even delivered the story in a manner that Casper and I would be convicted, but, she would be cleared and freed. Her twisted truth, maybe. I am not sure. And she succeeded. She ruined THE friendship. As much as I don’t want to think that she ruined a relationship we had nurtured for 13 years, I can’t help but think and ask her ‘WHY DID YOU DO THAT?”. Casper and I thought that Mushroom told Cat we were talking behind her back calling her a FAKE, cleaning her slate of a crime she is involved, too. But she won over us. Cat believed her so much that she even defended her to us. She told us that Casper and I were the ones who are FAKE. She even told us that we were not true friends, that we were just envious of her, and so on. So many accusations. But no chance of explaining our side. Cat’s mom also entered the scene. That was natural, I thought. Cat has no one to defend her but her Mom. Her Mom messaged me and Casper and then blocked us from facebook, our only means of communication. She said words that are so unfair to us. She misjudged us with what has happened. That was just so unfair. As much as we wanted to reply, we couldn’t. Because we were blocked from her facebook account. And again, I just told Casper that it was natural to defend a daughter that is “suffering” at the moment. After the exchanges of disgust, disappointment, hurt, blame, it all turned out that the war was between Casper-Turtle and Mushroom-Cat. Words were spoken. Anger and excruciating pain was there. This is it. A friendship that has fallen apart.

There really comes a point in our life that we tend to downsize our circle. Because as we grow older, we know who our true friends are; we know who are there for success and failure, and those who will just be there in times of victory. And as we age, we tend to have different priorities, and sometimes, way too different from our friends’. Also, as times pass by, we outgrow some of the people in our lives. There are many factors and reasons for that. And with our friendship, the level of maturity, type of personality, and level of understanding played an essential role. In this trying time of our friendship, there was never an instance that I hated the friendship we had. Regret, a lot. And knowing me, I always look at every negative and destructive situation as an eye-opener. I know this has to happen. I am certain that this happened for a reason, or maybe, reasons. Indeed, no friendship is to last a lifetime. I have now accepted the reality that Cat and Mushroom were just part of my life. And their chapters have just ended. If there will come a time when all the anger have subsided, and intense emotions have died down, I can still face Cat and Mushroom, or maybe flashed a smile to them as I reminisce the years we shared as friends, as sisters. I am not the type to carry the grudge for years. For I know, life is so short to live unhappily. I can always forgive, and most of the time, I even forget.

To Cat, may you find the comfort and true joy of having a real bff in the person of Mushroom, or to whoever you choose to enter your life. I know we may never had that much of time to spend together before, but you made me feel that you truly valued me as a friend. Thanks for that, from the bottom of my heart. I know you are a strong woman who can handle everything that life throws at you. If during this tragic experience, I’ve made you shed tears or torn your heart, IĀ  didn’t mean to. It was a clear misunderstanding, a situation that needed a better judgment, instead. And truly, as it happens to everybody, you have made decisions when anger has consumed you. I just hoped, even until today, that if you have just thought a little clearer, breathed a little more deeper, and exhaled more the negativities that entered your system that made you blurt out your despise to us that day, everything could have been a little better, a little clearer, and a little more worthwhile. But everything has happened already. It’s over.

To Mushroom, thank you! Thanks for letting me experience a bestfriendship-sisterhood relationship for almost half of my life. It is the two of us who spent the most time together. We WERE partners in “crime”, as we label it. And this fact hurt me the most. Because all these years, I thought WE were unbreakable. But I was wrong. It was so devastating to have felt this way, betrayed. I may be wrong, I may be right. But whatever it is, I just don’t want to care anymore. I know each of us has reasons and right to defend ourselves. I just hoped that your purpose had served you well. You are one of the persons I will never forget. You gave me so much memories to remember.

And to Casper, you are all that I have, all that is left with me in our circle. Your personality is so admirable that despite our differences and priorities, you stayed with me. And we grew together. With everything that happened, I thank God for giving me the REAL BFF in the person of YOU. We both know that a genuine friendship is not only built on good times, rather, it is tested through tough and trying times. And surely, we have emerged victorious together. We never gave up. We understood. We took everything in control. We thought before we react, and we stood by for each other. I can’t thank you enough. I just know that I am more than lucky to have kept, keep, and will forever keep you. I know we will spend the rest of our lives as true friends, as we have triumphantly surpassed another acid test in our friendship. Thank you and I love you!

In our ludicrous efforts to ‘change’ and be perfect, we try to fashion a perfect world for ourselves. We start to imagine that we are actually in control of our world, which is further from reality than an all-parrot moon landing. The universe, our universe, is out of our control. We live on a speck drifting around in an infinite vacuum with countless trillions of other specks. Our world is in a perpetual state of perfect chaos and entropy, with everything falling apart and dying and being born haphazardly. Meanwhile, we try to make life as neat and clean and orderly as a computer research facility, when in fact it is more like a junkyard. It always has been, and it always will be, no matter how much fussing and sweating and striving we do to make it different.

Experiencing The Catastrophic History of You and Me

“In the midst of happiness or despair
in sorrow or in joy
in pleasure or in pain:
Do what is right and you will be at peace.
In life, there is no greater gift than peace,
except love.
May you always have love.”

Here goes the last few words of Jess Rothenberg in her debut novel. But I even like the lines in the first parts more. I think it is so heartbreaking and really intriguing:
“I was fifteen years old when I died of a broken heart. No urban myths or legends here. I’m talking one hundred percent Death by Heartbreak. . . .Nope, I did it the old-fashioned way. My heart literally BROKE IN HALF.”
And boom! I was caught! I was hooked.
Goosebumps. Confusion. Skepticism. I started to question myself: How does an afterlife look or feel like? Yes. Afterlife. What about dying of a broken heart? Literally. Death. These questions crept up under my skin. I have never imagined myself dying and “soul-wandering” in a space between the earth, the sky, the universe, or anything in between. Until I read THE CATASTROPHIC HISTORY OF YOU AND ME.
I was so obsessed to finish and find out the actual catastrophy that the title is saying in the novel. I was suprised by lots of twists and turns. The revelations and conflicts. As surreal and as imaginary as the setting of the story are as realistic and as “actually-happening-to-anyone” are the revelations in the novel. There are a lot of things that I actually like in this book: the names of the characters are all cute (and hamloaf is my favorite), the symbolisms used in the novel are quite intriguing, the cliches in every chapter and the titles derived from songs, the manner the author narrated the story that made me travel into the undefinable setting, and a whole lot more of “movie-like” experiences I had upon reading this.
Being an ordinarily lazy reader, as much as possible, I don’t want to think much about what I am reading. You know, that feeling of not being stressed nor having wrinkles on forehead caused by overthinking. I don’t use my imagination that often. That is why I consider myself a less artistic, if not NOT ARTISTIC at all, person. But this time it’s different. I was challenged. My imagination was challenged. As I read every word and turn every page, my mind wanders. Now I know why people, well actually some, love to read than to watch movies. Because when you read, you put your whole being in the story. You feel every word, every sensation. You digest everything that your mind and your imagination is feeding you. You get lost. Lost in space. Lost in your own self. In reading this book, my imagination was freed from a long time of sleeping inside the jail of my mind. And I want to thank the person who lent me this book. It’s just an awesome feeling and an overwhelming experience!

And for the record, I finished this novel in just 7 days! I am so astounded with myself. Really. Because I have never ever dared myself to finish reading a novel unmindfully in just days. Before, I will just read a few pages and will put down the book forever. Unfinished.

Well, I don’t want to make a literal review of this book. My reaction and realizations are enough evidences on how I actually enjoyed and loved The Catastrophic History of You and Me…

Designated. Ugly. Fat. Friend.

THE DUFF (Designated. Ugly. Fat. Friend)

To be honest, I am not a real wide-reader nor a book worm nor the one obsessed with books. I do read materials ranging from online articles, blogs, prints like magazines and novels, to several e-books,only when I find them pleasing and noteworthy. And whenever I find the enthusiasm to read something, it will usually take me weeks or months to finish a typical novel. Reading The DUFF by Kody Keplinger actually took me just several days. I was amazed at myself. Was I hooked reading the book that it only took me days to finally turn to the last page? I admit, yes, I think so…

The Duff, as I perceived it at first, is for the younger generation readers. Younger. I mean, the teeny high schoolers and college romantics. And oh, I’m on my late 20’s, about to approach the 30s next year. Definitely, this novel didn’t appeal to me that much at first. I thought that this was too cheesy, too hanky-panky, too shallow, too overly puppy-love romance. But I was wrong. As I progressed through the chapters, I found myself profoundly involved in the story. Involved in the sense that I actually digest every “side lessons” underlying the words of the author. The Duff is not just an ordinary teen love story with a usually “opposites attract” theme. It also tackles issues on friendship and family.

This novel throwed me back to yester years, probably more than a decade ago. Yes. I think one of its effects is a “throwback” thrill that gave me chills and a little reminiscing on the subject called love. I found myself tickled in some chapters. It’s just great that the author gave this novel a taste of sugar and little spice. And it’s really nice to feel so young and carefree!

Well, all I just wanted to say here is that this novel by Keplinger put back some chills in my spine, making hissed giggles while reading some portions of the novel. in a circle of friends, there will always be that one person whom people will look the last and inferiorly. But I will forever remember that: “We are all duffs. Every girl feels unattractive sometimes. Anyone who didn’t feel like the duff must not have friends.” And now as I close this book, another page needs to be turned… And the excitement and enthusiasm reading The Duff is still with me…