listen to this, meg says listen to this

Listen to This: You Say

Every time Dori Freeman’s “You Say” comes on, I feel like my mind floats away to somewhere else. This song has a feeling to it that makes me want to sink into the covers on a rainy Sunday morning, or pour a hot cup of coffee and spend hours pounding away on the typewriter. There’s something bluesy and achy about it, where it makes you have that feeling in the pit of your stomach like something is missing from you – even if you didn’t feel that before the first chord. It’s Friday of a “short week” when Tuesday is a Monday, and this is one of those songs that quiets my mind a little in the chaos. If you haven’t heard it yet, enjoy below.

“Darling I can’t stop thinking of you
Like a dog in the hot night
I’m howling for you
And I know
It’ll leave me blue
But I’m still
In love with you”

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meg says read this

Meg Says Read This: Extraordinary Means

23149128Robyn Schneider has done it again. She finds this beautiful way of telling a story that involves grief, love, friendship and the roller coaster of life and adolescence all rolled into one. I was blown away a few years ago when I read The Beginning of Everything (so of course when I spotted it on a shelf in a visit to Powell’s last year I broke my own rule of  not buying anymore books to add it to my collection.) I was absolutely thrilled when I saw she’d come out with a new novel, Extraordinary Means – I may have even been the first person to check it out from the library.

So more about what Extraordinary Means is actually about. Seventeen year old Lane has been sent to special school, kind of like a boarding school, kind of like a summer camp – except here there is one link that bonds all the students together, and it’s not s’mores and kumbaya. All the kids at Latham have TB, albeit different strains so different levels of the way this diagnosis takes its toll on their bodies. On their good days the students might seem like normal teenagers, but whether it’s a fitful night of coughing that results in bloody pillowcases, or just the lack of energy and dark circles around their eyes – these kids are no longer able to lead something similar to their pre-TB lives. Away from their family and friends, sports and activities with no cure in sight their futures are uncertain.

Although what they considered “normal” lives are disrupted, and they can’t even continue a regular study path of school work – Lane and his new found friends have found a way to make the most of their time, and add some fun to their days. Who would have thought he’d find a familiar face at Latham? But why does this person seem to be so cold towards him? Even with a rocky start Lane will soon have new relationships develop, friendships evolve, and a spark of romance. The scary thing is no one ever knows how much time they have left – but Lane and his friends are cramming a lot of life in their days. Extraordinary Means is a heartwarming story that’s a reminder of the frailty of life, and the power of friendships in any circumstance in life. Schneider has shown us once again what a gift she has to leave such an impressionable story on the hearts of her readers.

(Image from Goodreads.)

 

Watch This

Watch This: The Theory of Everything

Hi, readers! I know I have been off the blogging wagon for a little while now; (I’ve been more vigilant in my paper journal writing,) but as of recently I have finally viewed several films that are definitely worth sharing about. Today I took myself on a “me date” to the $2 movies to see the matinee of The Theory of Everything As you’re probably aware, last week during the Oscars Ceremony, Eddie Redmayne won the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking. I admired Redmayne for his craft the moment I saw him on-screen in My Week with Marilyn, (which I blogged about here in 2012,) but after seeing his performance in this film – WOW. The award was definitely well deserved. Both Redmayne and Felicity Jones, who played his wife Jane, gave absolutely outstanding performances.

I’m an emotional film watcher. Actually, I’m just emotional in general. I experience everything to an in intense degree whether it’s film, music, or written material. The Theory of Everything tremendously tugged on my heart strings, though. It was moving, it was inspiring, and it was made in such an incredibly exceptional manner. The cinematography alone is beautiful. I had high expectations for the visuals after the first time I saw a trailer, and I was not let down in the slightest. The film is such a beautiful depiction of struggle and triumph, of unconditional love, of hope of inspiration of living life to the fullest.

The opening scene, and it’s display of the gorgeous Cambridge, England immediately won my heart. The film takes you on the journey of Stephen Hawking’s life as a PhD in physics candidate at Cambridge, where he meets the ever lovely, Jane. He’s quirky and brilliant, and she’s intelligent and beautiful. Not long after their relationship begins, Hawking is diagnosed with a motor-neuron disease. The film follows them on their journey together, the obstacles he faces physical, and what that puts them through emotionally. The story of them building a family, him continuing his passionate endeavors in cosmology, and how the couple grows over the years.

I have to agree with what Eddie Redmayne himself had to say regarding the role:

[he would tackle the part in such a way that] “everything would be connected to everything. Because it is obviously the most extraordinary challenge and responsibility, to be trusted to tell the story of someone’s family, which is also a sensitive and complicated one. And to investigate all these aspects of this iconic human being: the physical, the vocal, the scientific, and then cohere it all in the emotional, because at its heart this is a very unusual love story. Young love, passionate love, family love, love of a subject, but also the failures of love and the boundaries of love.” (How Eddie Redmayne Did It article.)

That is precisely the story – a grand, unusual love story. I was challenged by this film. Challenged about my opinions of enduring love and relationships, and life and hardships and how our trials shape us, and also how the human heart can adapt to life. I was challenged to think about the boundaries of all aspects of life, as well – tangible and philosophical, what our relationships can withstand, the ever expansive possibility in life. This is such a stunningly beautiful film, and it’s driven with soul, and vision, and purpose. This is a splendid telling of the Hawking family’s story. If you haven’t seen the film yet, I highly recommend it!

Read This, Reading

Read This: Stargirl

Img from Wikipedia page.

So, let me start off by saying that I’m painfully aware I read Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli about twelve years too late. Even when you’re late to the party, the punch is still sweet. (What does that even mean? I don’t know, but it made sense in my head at the time.) What I’m saying is this was published in 2000. I was only twelve, and I vaguely remember the cover splashed across pages of book orders (remember that awesomeness? Cool books for CHEAP!) and on shelves in the school library, or at book fairs. My friend Kirsten has always loved this book. There isn’t any real reason why I didn’t get around to reading it. I even think I checked it out from the public library one summer, (and I’m ashamed to say, I must have returned it back unread.) I’ve redeemed myself after a recent trip to the library, though. I saw it’s pretty teal spine on the shelf, and felt it calling my name, demanding to finally be read; so maybe it’s a twenty-four instead of twelve but the story was not lost on me.

Funny to me how I just mentioned that it’s not very often I read novels with male narrators (YA fiction, or not) but here I am again. Stargirl is told from the perspective of Leo Borlock, a junior at Mica High School. Leo is best friends with Kevin Quinlan and together they’ve created a tv show where they interview their fellow students called Hot Seat. This is interesting enough in itself, but not nearly as interesting as the new girl who shows up on the first day of school. Stargirl Carraway. She’s a sophomore who was home schooled all her life, until now. Eclectic is probably the best adjective to describe her. Outrageous outfits (costumes, prairie skirts,) a pet rat named Cinnamon perched on her shoulder. She strums her ukelele in the cafeteria. My kind of girl, all around awesome. She’s basically like a walking ray of sunshine, a permanent cheerleader encouraging everyone around her. Stargirl is basically the epitome of a good samaritan. Walking to the beat of her own drum, she doesn’t care what others think of her, or how she’s perceived. As you can imagine, while this may have been cute and endearing in the beginning, high-schoolers can be moody and mean so eventually the other Mica students don’t find Stargirl’s bizarre behavior so charming, anymore. Leo, caught under the spell of Stargirl’s wonderful ways finds himself in a constant internal tug-of-war. He continually meets the crossroads of decision – whose attention and approval does he value more: the girl who’s captured his heart or his peers – who unlike Stargirl are inconsistent in their loyalties?

This novel tugged on my heartstrings, and it nestled in a spot of affection where I think it will remain for years to come. The story is predictable in certain ways as humans sometimes are, although I’d venture to say Stargirl is anything but. In an attempt to not spoil the story, I’ll tell you that it’s a sweet one, sprinkled with love and tenderness the innocence of youth possesses. It’s about decisions, growing up, embracing differences, and learning to not take the special people and moments of our surroundings for granted.

If like me, Stargirl is a book that’s flown under your radar, yet to be detected – I urge you to check it out. I doubt you’ll be disappointed! (And on my last trip to the library this most recent Saturday I checked out Spinelli’s 2007 novel Love, Stargirl which I am sure I will fill y’all in on as soon as I’m finished.)

Listen

Listen to This: “Mean”

Because it’s Wednesday, and it’s been a rough week and because this song just keeps running through my head today, I give you TSwift’s “Mean” from her album Speak Now. I’m pretty sure it’s probably almost impossible to have missed this one. It’s slammed the radio airwaves, she’s won many awards, and sang it live on the several occasions. It’s a good one to think about when you’re trying to maintain composure, but you really just want to scream or cry. Sometimes, people are just really down right mean. Your boss. Customers. Strangers. Friends. We all have our bad days, but don’t take it out on those around you. I’m not really a touchy-feely person, but days like today just make me want to give people a hug.

“All you are is mean, and a liar, and pathetic, and alone in life, and mean and mean and mean…”