Gone Girl

This is my first book review here, so I just want to start by saying that this isn’t supposed to be formal, and as far as I can I won’t include any major spoilers.

I decided to read Gone Girl this month, a novel by Gillian Flynn. I’d never heard of her before this book, but having read it I will look into her other books. I knew the film was coming out so I wanted to read it before I saw it in cinema (I always find that when you invest your time in a book, it’s way better if you don’t know the outcome. If I know what’s going to happen, I can never bring myself to spend the time).

From the beginning, I questioned whether Nick was telling us the whole truth. The first chapter paints a fairly bland description of their lives- a glittering past replaced by a dull, less comfortable existence. The second chapter is from Amy’s perspective, and immediately made me wonder if these two people were really experiencing the same lives. The way the first half is written sums up how I feel about life in general sometimes- that I am experiencing a completely different world, a different version of events to everyone else around me. Nick and Amy’s experiences were so different, their takes on the reality they live in so contrasting that it was difficult to be able to tell what was really happening. A little bit like The Catcher In The Rye (everything could relate back to that book), where his viewpoint is so skewed that you can’t imagine that world could possibly exist- but it does for him. Just as it does for Nick and Amy.

So Nick as a character is very flawed. The nature of the novel is that big things are revealed to you very slowly throughout, so I can’t exactly say why without ruining it, but he makes very poor decisions throughout. A lot of his choices were a bit…unrealistic, a lot of the excuses he makes are very…pointless? I couldn’t really empathise with him a lot of the time, because it’s like he intentionally makes things difficult for himself by being a compulsive liar.

Amy on the other hand appears to be exactly what a loving wife should be- a little too perfect I thought. I don’t want to go into depth unless anyone reads this so I’m going to leave it at: Amy was an intensely annoying character who also made very poor decisions, and constantly thought she was more clever than she actually was.

The book as a whole:

I want to kind of concentrate on how the book made me feel, because I think that’s a very important part of reading- what the book leaves with the reader, what messages resonate with them, and how they will remember it.

I read this two weeks ago now (I know, this has been a draft for a long time, I just never got round to reading it) and I remember very well how I felt after I’d finished. The book left me with an uneasy feeling. My head felt a little messed with, confused, uncomfortable, claustrophobic and trapped. I felt frustrated with Nick for his complacency and the resolution to the situation and I felt confused with Amy for her explanation of the ending. The whole novel she seemed to feel that people should do her bidding because she deserved it- but it was never explained why she deserved it  (other than having mental problems). I did like the last sentence from Nick in her narrative, which was almost like the ultimate ‘fuck you’ to her, because neither of them would ever get what they wanted from this relationship.

I was also very disturbed by the idea that there maybe there isn’t a difference between pretending to do things and actually doing them. Maybe what we pretend is real even though in our heads it’s not real, we’re still doing them, so isn’t it reality? Doesn’t that just mean that even though they were pretending, it was real? Okay so that sounds really vague unless you’ve read it left me thinking some really deep questions about life.

Overall I’m glad I read this book this month, It was a good read, it kept me gripped the whole way. I don’t know if I’ll see the film- I’ve heard it’s very long, but it depends on whether I can keep to my budget.

 

12 Months 12 Books

I decided when I started at UEA that I would try to read a book per month this year. I know that’s not a lot, but I’ve fallen out of reading in the last couple of years, and wanted to ease back into it. So over the next twelve months I’m going to write about the books that I’ve read on this blog. I might do more than one book each month but I will have at least one every month!

Why All About That Bass Is NOT Positive For Women

I first heard Meghan Trainor’s song on the radio a few weeks ago and instantly decided I liked it. She has a gorgeous voice, the music is catchy and the harmonies hit that spot.

But then I listened to the lyrics, and watched the video.

The video starts off innocently enough, with nice colour schemes and the dancers wearing pretty pastels. All of them are noticeably larger than girls (and guys) who would usually be seen in mainstream media (although it must be said that none of them are what anybody would call ‘fat’).

I’m not going to say they’re ‘normal’ sized because there is no ‘normal size’. Everybody is different and equal right? Well not according to Meghan.

Within the first 25 seconds of the video comes the skinny shaming, and that’s when I realised that this song is not for all women, doesn’t send a positive message to all girls, and has no intention of doing so.

The first we see of the ‘stick figure’ is her wrapped in plastic, looking like an idiot standing next to a black girl dancing, unable to shake it like she’s ‘supposed to do'(the fact that most of her dancers are black is also problematic- the black girls with the token white dancer around the successful white singer who barely dances at all. Let’s look back at ‘hard out there’ by Lily Allen shall we?). Here they’re using images of plastic to represent women who are thinner than they are, women they’ve been told have more worth because thin is seen as the ideal in society (but not too thin Millie Mackintosh, you need to gain some weight girl!). Plastic represents something fake, something hard, cold, unfeeling and undesirable.

The next images we see of her are her standing next to Sione while he’s dancing with her hand up to him like he’s not worth her time. So not only is she thin, but she’s also a stuck up bitch (‘skinny bitches’)- a stereotype of pretty thin women that has prevailed through time.

In the making of video, Meghan says ‘why not do a song about loving yourself and loving your body because I don’t think girls love themselves as much as they really should’. And the reason? Because we’re always being told that we’re not right. This song, for example, is telling girls they’re not right if they don’t have ass. It reminds me of the ridiculous phrase ‘a real woman’ (meaning one with ‘meat on her bones’), which not so subtly implies that women who are size (US) 0 (in this case 2) are nothing- they’re not real. Her video shows that being a ‘stick figure silicone barbie doll’ is negative, and the line is sung while the dancers walk around doing the mannequin (a less smooth version of the robot would be a good way to describe it), which definitely does not scream ‘I WANT ALL WOMEN TO LOVE THEMSELVES AS MUCH AS THEY REALLY SHOULD’ now does it? They’re saying, thin girls are like plastic, fake unable to move in the right way and unnaccepting of larger people (the girl wrapped in plastic is obviously being mean to Sione who is just doing his thing).This song is definitely not accepting of all kinds of bodies, and definitely not encouraging girls to accept themselves whatever way they were born (the black girl boots the thin one out of the frame with her dancing).

‘My momma she told me don’t worry about your size, she said boys like a little more booty to hold at night’ So now we’re at the crux of the matter. Don’t worry about your size – be glad that boys will like you better because you’re that size. This is what’s supposed to be the consolation for not being the prescribed image of beauty- a boy will like you all the more for it. Women should aspire to please men. Men will prefer it if a woman looks a certain way. A woman’s worth comes from her ability to attract and please a man.

Then we come to that main guy that Meghan wants to impress in the video. He’s white (of course) and quelle suprise, he’s thin. I’m sorry but if she wanted to be all about all body types she would have included some bigger men. Yes Sione is a bigger man, but he’s there (like the rest of the girls) because he has some talent. He’s a brilliant dancer. This guy has nothing, no value, no purpose other than to be the ideal of what these girls want to snag in life with their junk. The stereotypical white male who has Meghan, the girl who is supposed to be the star of the video, dancing around him even though he has done nothing to deserve the attention.

Why does it matter what men think (it doesn’t)? Why can’t women be allowed love themselves FOR themselves? Why do women have to aspire to what a man might want in a woman? And why are women encouraged to drag each other down to feel better about themselves? This song would have been so much better if she’d said ‘just love yourself no matter what anybody says, if you’re happy with your body, stay happy with it, the only opinion that matters is yours’.

I understand the message she thinks she’s getting across, but in order to boost the confidence of bigger girls, she is dragging down thinner ones, and that’s not what women should be doing. We should be encouraging each other to be strong and not depend on men for our self worth. This video and song is cleverly disguised as something that promotes body positivity for women when really all it does is perpetuate stereotypes, remind women that their value lies with the ability to please a man with her body, and pit thinner and bigger girls against each other.

 

I’m going to take a quick moment here to say I can hear people now saying how rarely bigger girls get any kind of love from popular songs or videos, why make it into something negative? But what I care about is the perception of women in our society, and how we can make it the norm that a woman’s worth comes what she can do, from her brain, not what she looks like. I want to live in a world where women aren’t force fed the idea that they need to gain approval from men by looking and behaving a certain way. This video (and song) does not send that positive message that women are worth something in themselves. It holds us back.

Gone

I’m twenty. And it’s three people my age I know who’ve taken their own lives. Three. Three people with their whole lives ahead of them, three people with families and friends who love them. Three people who didn’t want to live any more.

You never know what to do when someone dies. It’s like an emptiness, a loss, a listlessness, a sense that there is this whole, huge world and you are a tiny grain of meaningless sand. You remember those moments, the times you laughed together, the times they made you happy, the times you noticed something nice about them or they complimented you. Their smile. You remember being inches from them, so real and alive, so there, with you in that second. And now the world is tilted, not the way it should be.

I feel sad because I would have done anything in my power to make it better. Even if they weren’t suicidal I still would have done it. But then, wouldn’t we all? Maybe it still wouldn’t have been enough.

I know they’re ‘in a better place’ and they ‘don’t have to suffer any more’ but I still feel a crushing sadness at the loss of life and the amazing people they were, and the equally amazing things they could have done.

And always sad that I couldn’t help, that they didn’t feel that anybody could.

What’s a blog without reality?

So I know that last post was a bit heavy- but that’s the point. What’s the point in having a space like this if you can’t fill it with whatever you feel like? At that point I felt exactly what those words expressed- depressed and crappy and alone.

Of course I don’t always feel that way, and the tone of this blog has been a bit down lately, but you only write when you FEEL something.

A lot of the time I have a problem in that I have tight control of my emotions. I’m usually just flat like a long, never ending stretch of road. Not many ups or downs. I don’t find many things maddeningly funny, nothing makes me SUPER happy, but not much gets me down either. Except when I lose control of the reigns and it all comes spilling out (usually in sadness).

Of course I’m not depressed all the time- I have moments of despair- but we all do.

At that point the other day, I could feel the words stumbling from my mind, finally able to say the right words, to put it in a way that meant exactly what I was trying to express, trying to feel.

Right now it’s all a jumble in my head and I don’t know if this is coming out right- I’m not feeling it I just needed to explain (to who? nobody reads this shit) (I lie, they do) (I think)(Americans?)(Not Jarrett)(Let’s see how long it is till he mentions this to me- bet it’s a month!).

I was also drunk which may have something to do with that post- that night reminded me why I don’t drink wine.

Anyway, I’m fine now, much better. Nothing super amazing to report. I will do a WIP tomorrow. It’s long overdue.

 

The Positives

It is so easy to focus on the negative things in life, rather than being happy for all the great things you have in life.

As I’d expected, I’ve been feeling very up and down lately- moving to a new place away from everything I’ve always known has been a challenge.

Sometimes I feel so happy and excited to finally be here, the place I’ve focused on for over a year. I feel truly independent and free, with so many opportunities being handed to me.
Other times I feel alone, friendless and awkward like I’m living on a completely different planet to everyone else.

It’s very easy for me to be down on myself- picking on myself for my clothes, my hair, my skin, my weight, my awkwardness and my inability to drink without introducing myself to everybody I see.

But I’ve started to realise that letting myself get beaten up by my negativity just makes the negativity worse. I don’t want to go back to being my fourteen year old, self conscious, depressed self. I’ve grown up, I like myself more, I can control it better. So here are three positives in my life, which remind me that as bad as things are, there’s always some good in my life.

1. Jarrett loves me. He’s my best friend in the whole world, there for me everyday, any time, and he doesn’t let me down. I’ve had a few melt downs since being here and he’s always fully supported and comforted me, even when I’m really mad at him. I don’t know what I’d do without him (and of course I support him in the same way).

2. Norwich and UEA are beautiful. The view of the lake from my bedroom is beautiful. We’ve had two double rainbows already and they were stunning. The city has anything you need and it only takes half an hour to get there. I love my room and the way it’s decorated and organised. I love the campus, I love the library, I love my flat. I really like it here.

3. I get to study at one of the best universities, especially in the humanities department and I get to be here for four years. I could do a semester abroad which would be fun and I get to study English and choose what I study.

Three unchangeable factors about my life that will always make me happy.

Winter

Winter is coming, and it worries me. Winter is always that time of year that brings with it the cold, wet and dark. It doesn’t just fill the atmosphere around me, it finds its way into my soul, freezing it over.

I’m one of those people who are affected by the weather and seasons. Like Caulfield. I’m staring out at my window and all I can see is blackness, the window spotted with raindrops. If I let my vision drift out of focus, I can see myself reflected in an expanse of glass, alone.

Winter is cold, unforgiving and heartless. It chills me, makes me feel like all the happiness is sucked away by its howling winds. I’ve always hated winter. It brings the darkest skies and the darkest moods.

For the rest of the year, I can forget it exists. It’s that dank place in my brain I never like to visit. But it always catches up with me. I can feel it approaching, its fingers reaching, making every bad feeling multiply. Like icicles stretching out, it creates a thick layer of frost over my thoughts.

Most winters I shut my door, don’t look outside and curl up on my bed watching series after series after series on my laptop. I indulge in mindless tv so I can lose track of the thoughts that invade my mind like the rumbling grey clouds infecting the sky.

Winter is coming, and it worries me.