Unintelligible Mumbling

(Just a heads up that this is more of a place for me to organize my thoughts than a legitimate blog. I’ve got like 15 drafts of really interesting essays and analysis that I got halfway through then completely lost interest in.)

College is actually hurting my will to do things with my life. I hate being here. It’s a great college and everyone’s super nice and talented, but that makes me feel even worse. I’m so unstable that I can’t consistently do well in anything outside of my actual voice lessons and education classes. I’ll be super productive for like a week, then I’ll crash so hard that I can’t even go to class. I’ve been looking up various mental disorders, so when I go home for the summer I’m gonna see what I can do about talking to someone about Bipolar II. It’s described what I’m basically going through better than anything else I’ve read about. I’ll also see what I can do about getting some heavy duty sleep aids, since I really don’t think going 4 days straight without sleep at least once a month is healthy.

In other news, I’m close to failing a majority of my classes (though to be fair as an education major a C- is failing in most cases…). I’m legitimately considering dropping out, though how I’d pay back the debt I don’t know. Plus it wouldn’t help my self esteem much and I’d get to live my whole life knowing I was too screwed up to even get certified for my dream job. But hey, I got further than either of my sisters. Technically dropping after freshman year would still make me the successful child.

Fuck it, I can’t even write a halfway decent blog post. Back to trying to limit my internet censorship speech to three minutes. I can feel my brain deteriorating.

Anxiety in College

When having an anxiety attack in college there will be some discrepancies between what you should do and what you will want to do. So if, say, you’re practicing piano and suddenly realize you’re shit because you haven’t touched it all week and your lesson is in ten minutes and the teacher is already mad at you, you’re going to have to decide which course of action you want to follow.

What you will want to do:

  • leave the situation immediately
  • run back to your dorm room while hyperventilating and mumbling to yourself
  • curl up in your bed with a carbonated beverage and cookies until the bad feels go away

What you should do:

  • Shut out any and all negative thoughts. We love to indulge in a little self hatred during these situations, but save it for when you’re watching Netflix. Right now you need to lie to yourself as much as necessary to get through the situation.
  • Do not leave. Running away will only make it that much worse when you have to face up to the situation. And you will. Force yourself to go on with whatever’s freaking you out, remembering that it’s never as bad as you think it will be.
  • Fake it till you make it. You may be melting away to nothing on the inside, but don’t let them know that. Obviously you should talk to someone about your struggles, but when you’re in a situation where you need to focus on a task your acting skills will be your best friend. Because if they believe you’re okay, you’ll start to believe it too. At least until you leave.

There are probably much better ways of dealing with stress than these, but this is what keeps me going. Just remember after you’ve majorly suppressed your emotions to give yourself time to cool off. If it’s possible take an hour or so to read a book or listen to music. Heck, even study. Just something so you can recover from the drainage you’ve just experienced. Because trust me, you don’t want to come out of a meeting with your department head about failing grades and immediately go to practice violin because you have a midterm in half an hour. Not fun. In that situation you down as many Tums as is safe and suffer the consequences in the form of a month long anxiety hangover.

 

Afterthought – Never say the music majors have it easy. Always respect your music education majors.

Ranting and Raving (So many trigger warnings)

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Alright, so people have been telling me since I got to college that journaling is super therapeutic. So I did it. Didn’t help at all.

Regardless, I felt like I needed to get these out in the open somehow. I don’t know, maybe that’s the release I need. So here you go: the ramblings of me. And if you didn’t believe the title, there are so many triggers in here. Anxiety, depression, self harm, abuse, eating disorders, you name it. You’ve been warned.

“I’m in one of those moods again. It sucks because this whole week was so nice. I was happy.
See, what I did was I made myself smile. I wasn’t good at it, but whenever I felt myself feeling particularly down I would force my lips into something resembling a grin. Sometimes I would actually have to use my fingers to move the corners of my mouth. But I’d hold it until it stayed on it’s own or I got distracted. And it worked. I started feeling better.

But the problem with “fake it till you make it: depression edition” is it takes a lot of effort. You indulge in sadness just once and it crashes down. You’re even worse off than before because not only are the sadness and anger back, you now have to deal with the fact that you’re a pathetic thing that has to pretend to be happy.

You can blame other things; the annoying girl in women’s choir, the teacher who wouldn’t stop saying the word “anxiety”, the fact that you’re so damn busy all the time. But you know they’re excuses. The girl isn’t that annoying if you’d stop looking for a reason to be annoyed. How could the professor have know that was a trigger word. And you aren’t busy. You put off practicing and spend all day in bed on the computer complaining about how little time you have. See? Pathetic.

But this time it isn’t just depression or anxiety. It’s a pressure. I can feel my emotions pressing against my body. And they hurt so much. My muscles ache, I have a sinus headache, my stomach feels too full even though I haven’t eaten recently. I feel like I need to tear a hole in myself to let it out. Yelling doesn’t work. Singing only helps while I’m doing it. Any breath I take is filled with the pressure replacing itself.

I’m not one for self abuse. I’m not that (brave? stupid?) and I get injured just bumping into chairs. But… I want to be hurt. I bite my finger. It helps. I scratch at one spot on my leg or stomach until the skin under my fingernails makes them too dull to scratch anymore. If I break skin I feel like I’m getting closer. Like I just need to make that hole a bit bigger, deeper. But I can’t get blood anywhere and I’m running out of band aids.

I… I hate saying this, but the first step to recovering is admitting you have a problem. So, I want someone to hurt me. I want someone to hurt me. Throw me against a wall. Hit me. Bruise me. Kick me in the chest so I get winded. So this pressure leaves. Hurt my arms so they aren’t so damn heavy. Break my legs which can hardly support me as is. I don’t care who, just someone. Anyone.

My eating habits are way off. Either I’m not eating at all or I can’t stop. I wouldn’t say I’m suicidal, I just don’t mind testing the waters. “If I starve from not eating today, I wouldn’t mind.” “If I catch pneumonia from not wearing my coat, I’d be okay with that.” “Maybe if I don’t pay attention something will hurt me. A car or a careless passerby. That’d be fine.”

I’m an attention whore too. I plead for people to look at me. I’ll exaggerate my movements and expressions just so someone will talk to me. Take pity on my stupidity. Look at me.

I speak and no one hears. I sing, but they’re distracted. I shout, but no one’s around. So I stay silent. Silence attracts the attention of specialists. They don’t realize that I just need attention. I just need someone to say “you look like you’re hurting.” Even the counselors don’t get it. I went to one. She did nothing but say “Aww, you poor thing!” then refused to listen to anything I said. As though I was the most tortured soul there is. I’m not. I’m not that self absorbed. I’m selfish and lazy and you’ve seen this before. There are thousands of me all around. We’re just too busy waiting for someone to notice our own struggles to see that there are others wanting the exact same thing.

“The sensation that your screaming but you never make a sound, or the feeling that you’re falling but you never hit the ground.” That’s what the pressure is. It’s something painfully unsatisfying. You get the build up, but it never delivers. You never get that release. You don’t like falling, but it’s worse when you never get the satisfaction of landing. The expectation just builds and builds until you can’t take it anymore. And even when you can’t take it nothing changes, you’re still just falling through the air. You can’t force yourself to land no matter how much you plead with gravity. You still can’t scream. Something is stifled and there’s no way to get it out. You can claw and tear at your throat until you bleed to death, but that scream will have never gotten out.

That’s what the pressure is. It’s unbearable.

Karla (film review)

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*Rape trigger warning*

*Few Spoilers*

Starting in May of 1987, Paul Bernardo (also known as “the Scarborough Rapist”) committed at least two murders and twelve known sexual assaults (probably more), many with the help of his wife, Karla Homolka (the title character). They are known as the “Ken and Barbie Killers”

I went into the film knowing none of this. All I knew was that it starred Misha Collins and was based on a true story. I’m a big fan of Misha’s work in general, so when I saw this on Netflix I thought to myself “hey, this will be interesting. I’ll learn, I’ll see some good acting, and I’ll be able to handle it.”

Man, do I have poor judgement.

Everything about this film is disturbing. Let’s start with the production, shall we? I know this is a long quote, but it is worth the read, trust me.

Misha Collins (who played Paul): “When we got to set, I was sure they were gonna fire me… They were gonna see that I’m not that guy at all! The first scene we shot was a scene where I’m beating Karla, my wife, mercilessly. And I um… I was just totally shocked by how… I felt totally invigorated and exhilarated when I was beating her. It shocked the sh*t outta me!… While we were shooting I was having [Paul's] dreams and I would wake up and it’d be like ‘get out of my head’. It was really scary, I’ve never had that happen before. I remember going for a run and I was running by this junior high school and I was leering through the chain link fence at the 13 year old girls.”

This is the guy who cracks up laughing on the set of Supernatural when someone smiles at him. He goes on to explain that the director (Joel Bender) was “a total creep” to the point where Misha got a restraining order against him after filming was over. He would “threaten to come into the production offices and shoot everyone”.

The most disturbing bit, in my opinion, of Misha’s testimony is when he says that after one scene where he had tied up, beaten, and humiliated a girl, the director came over and said “Great job Misha. That was really hot.”

I would love to include interviews with other members of the cast and crew, but no one else seems to have spoken about it. Strange, for a film which was supposed to debut at the 2005 Montreal Film Festival.

Oh, yeah. Did I mention that pretty much all of Canada initially banned this film?

There are a number of reasons for this. People felt it exploited the victims memories, that the factual liberties made the film inaccurate, that it was too soon, and (the main complaint) that the film was sympathetic toward Karla, who played an equal part in many of the murders, while being totally apathetic toward the victims.

At the very end of the film before the credits, text explains that Karla, while she put on a good act, was completely incapable of feeling empathy. I think this alone explains the rest of the film.

Karla is an open-ended movie. It’s shown in flashback as Karla relates the story to her lawyer and the film almost implies that the whole thing was a lie constructed to make her look innocent. This is entirely plausible and makes sense when you think about her reactions when she is being interrogated as opposed to in her story. In real life she is very deadpan and shows little emotion when speaking of her or Paul’s crimes. In her story she is obviously disturbed, but afraid of what Paul will do to her if she leaves, as he has footage of Karla killing her own sister. This contrast not only reveals the lies in her story, but what a great actress Laura Prepon is.

Laura Prepon

When you look at it as a lie, it makes sense that you don’t feel any strong emotion for the victims. If Karla couldn’t care about them she can’t convincingly portray that pity. It comes across only as disdain for Paul, more because of jealousy than his actual crimes.

Paul himself is a great character. He is frightening because you never know when he is going to turn violent. His voice and actions stay totally level, even while he is beating Karla or raping a school girl. Misha Collins usually plays the adorable innocent, so it’s interesting to see him as the adorable sociopath. When he is being nice there’s an underlying intimidation. When he is being violent there’s an underlying likability. That is what makes this film so disturbing: you feel more comfortable with Paul when he is violent than when he’s around his friends.

Misha Collins (Karla)

Don’t get me wrong, this film has its flaws. The sound mixing can be uneven, some of the camera work is distracting, and the acting is not the best (outside of Collins and Prepon, of course). The lawyer stands out as a particularly dull actor. I’m just trying to say that this film is interesting and that the subject matter distracts from the fact that it is basically just a Bonny and Clyde story. It isn’t even that graphic. The most you see are bare breasts occasionally, and the sexual scenes are not drawn out or the main focus.

Final thoughts: A disturbing flick with a disturbing upbringing. Probably not for everyone, but it’ll stick with you no matter what and make you think twice before walking alone.

So Close…

Hey… I I had an update prepared and even partially written for this week days in advance. Unfortunately, it was a review of Jim Beaver’s memoir “Life’s That Way”, which I accidentally left at home when moving into college. I’ll have it back before next week, but I just felt that I should let the internets know that I’m not actually forgetting to blog, life just keeps interfering.

Bursts of Rage

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I’m going to try to get at least one post in a week now. It’s as much a stress-coping mechanism as getting thoughts down. So forgive me for both irregularity and this small prelude.

 

Friends see me as a calm person. Even as an young child, my parents tell me, I rarely got upset over anything trivial. And I am usually more laid back and thoughtful than excited.

My family, however, has gotten to know that I am prone to bursts of intense anger. And those are just the ones that I act upon.

I get angry at people. Walking to slowly, being too loud, acting too sad. Hell, I get mad at strangers all the time just because they look happy. I suddenly hate my 9 year old brother because he sat next to me. I’ve murderously seethed at my boyfriend because he did something unexpectedly.

These rage-filled moments can last hours. Or half of a second. 

Everyone gets mad, but this is searing rage at someone for looking at my book. If I weren’t so shy and terrified of attention, I would probably be kept under close supervision at all times.

 

I mention this because not only are these feelings extremely out of character for me, but because I have been watching a lot of Supernatural.

 

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For those who don’t watch Supernatural, don’t worry. It won’t be a huge part of this. 

The reason I bring it up is one character (Sam) is extremely level-headed early in the show. He is basically our Luke Skywalker: relatable, calm, empathetic, virtuous. But at one point Sam says:

“Most of the time I can hide it, but I am angry. I’m mad at everything… And I make excuses… but it’s not their fault, it’s not them, it’s me. It’s inside me. I’m mad all the time, and I don’t know why.”

This quote struck me. A reason is never given for this anger and it is present throughout the series, always coming in bursts. Very similar to mine, but less trivial. Sam never wanted to kill anyone for liking a pretentious film.

I deal with this anger in various ways. Most of the time it will just fizzle out on its own. If not, thinking “why am I angry at this?” usually fixes it. I did get mad enough one time that I nearly struck someone, but I caught myself and fumed in a corner until it went away. 

I had a dream the other day. I was in high school again, but I wasn’t shy. I had boisterous conversations and witty banter with teachers. I dressed flashily in a style all my own. Then I lept at someone’s throat because they made a politically incorrect joke (which is commonplace). 

I feel like this is something I would do if I did have a less introverted, less anxiety ridden personality. 

I don’t know if there was ever a point to writing this down. I wanted to write something positive about my experiences dealing with anger, but I think I just act like I’m okay until I actually am. 

Until I can think of a creative out-tro, blog ya later!  

Update: New material coming soon

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To anyone who actually follows me, I apologize. I took a long, un-announced sabbatical due to a combination of personal issues and the fact that I am currently preparing to head off to college. 

So yeah.

I will, however, be returning soonly with new posts and (hopefully) helpful, insightful, and even entertaining material for said posts. I’m still trying to feel out which direction I want to go with this, so bear with me see if I can make something out of this!

Apologies (or excuses)

I would like to sincerely apologize for basically giving up on this for the past week or so. Graduation, birthdays, and college orientations all bombarded me last weekend. My anxiety was so bad at the orientation that I learned what an “anxiety rash” is as well as how it can take a week to wear off. So a post on anxiety is coming up, for anyone willing to read it.

The Santa dilema

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Is Santa hurting our youth?

Is Santa hurting our youth?

The other day a ten year old girl asked me why I didn’t bring a towel to the beach. I told her that I repel water because I am a duck.

Obviously she knew I was joking, but it got me started on an old topic: when is it okay to lie to our children?

The way I see it, there are three types of “harmless lies” which we tell kids without really thinking about: to entertain them, to entertain ourselves, and to avoid having to tell them something.

For now, we’ll focus on the lies we tell to entertain children. Can Santa affect youngsters in the long run? I focus on Santa because he is the one that people will force you to believe in. No one cares if you don’t believe in the Tooth Fairy or Easter Bunny, but debates will go down if a child denies Santa.

It’s hard for me to judge this because I had a rather confusing childhood in this regard. At school they beat Santa into you. Santa is real and anyone who says otherwise is cold and heartless. If your parents are the only ones who give you presents, you are a terrible person.

At home, I was told that Santa was supposed to represent the spirit of Christmas (my mom was reading me Narnia at the time, so I very well understood symbolism). While we still watched The Year Without a Santa Clause, I was taught to think of it more like Spongebob than reality. We kept the story of Saint Nicolas on VHS for Christmas time and all of my presents were labeled “from Mom and Dad” (leading me to believe I was a terrible person). I remember my parents getting in a huge argument with my grandma because she labeled presents “from Santa”.

Because of this conflict, however, I got to have my Santa crisis early on. At this point my parents had decided to give us Santa presents to avoid confusing my younger sister. I was able to determine logically that Santa, even with the help of magic, couldn’t exist because I had been very good all year and I did not get the trumpet I so desperately wanted. So either my teachers had lied to me, or Santa hated me. I had caught my teachers lying before (leprechauns), so I went with that.

So, did Santa scar me? Well, it definitely made me more weary of the educational system. Since then I have never been afraid to argue with a teacher, causing me to nearly fail English 12 (which reminds me, I have to write about The Catcher in the Rye soon). It also made me trust my parents all the more. I think part of the reason I have had such a great relationship with them is I’ve never had reason to doubt anything they have said.

That being said, when my older sister told her best friend that Santa didn’t exist, said friend began to cry, went home, and got into a fight with her mom. They still bring up the “you lied about Santa” whenever they fight.

So, in my experience, telling kids the truth about Saint Nick from the start may actually be beneficial to them. But feel free to comment your experiences with beloved childhood deceits!

Movie Review: Kung Fu Panda 2

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[Spoiler-free!]

If you had told me before today that the sequel to the Dreamworks film Kung Fu Panda would become one of the best animated films in a long time, I would have laughed in your face.

I grew up with Disney’s renaissance musicals; Hunchback of Notre Dame, Pocahontas, and Aladdin are all movies I remember loving. This being true I was always just a bit too old for the Dreamworks films. When Shrek came out I remember my 6 year old self being very annoyed with not only the characters (I got so angry every time Donkey tried to be funny) but with the overall anti-Disney-ness of it all. I could see the blatant insults directed at my childhood obsession, even at such a young age. Frankly, it pissed me off.

This early scarring has carried into nearly every Dreamworks film until recently, making it obvious why I was skeptical of Kung Fu Panda 2. Being a Dis-geek also taught me to be VERY weary of sequels. And CG.

However, this is very probably not only one of the best sequels ever made, but one of the best animated films ever.

The original Kung Fu Panda was impressive in that it gave a great representation of the spiritual side of Kung Fu while still being a good Dreamworks kids film. This sequel took it further.

Let’s start with all of the flaws I noticed throughout the film. At one point the crane hurts its wing badly enough that it can’t fly. A few minutes later it seems to be completely healed as Crane flies and fights without issue. That’s it.

On to the good points. The animation is beautiful. The main style is so detailed and flowing. Just look at the villain. His movement changes based on how he feels and what he does, going from gorgeous fight choreography to comic relief reactions on a dime. When he speaks the feathers on his neck gently move, like a person’s skin does.

Speaking of the villain, he is great. His design is beautiful, from the white and red color pallet to the way his robe sits on his tale. I love how he is a peacock. Not only does it give him a fantastic fighting style, but it makes sense when he can’t only rely on his kung fu and has to turn to weaponry. It’s also great how he isn’t quite sure what his own motivations are, giving him a wonderfully dynamic personality.

There is a short scene during the climax where he orders his main underling to fire upon our heroes, even though it would mean killing his own men. When this small character refuses to do so, he is killed instantly and never mentioned again. I loved this scene. It’s quick enough that a child wouldn’t even notice it (which is why I don’t think it’s a spoiler), but it just seemed so powerful to me to see this man (who until that point was mostly comic relief) stand up to his commander only to be brushed aside. He didn’t save the day or win the battle. Hell, he didn’t even buy the heroes any time. He just spoke his mind even though he knew he would be killed. There is just something so much more noble in that death than in going down fighting.

There are so many subtle things like that throughout the entire film. From symbols which you actually have to look for to small visual comedy. There is no Donkey character who spouts one-liners and catch phrases. Some of the jokes are so small that they are able to be included in the most serious scenes with out taking away any of the emotion or tension, but could give a good laugh to anyone who needed it. None of the morals or themes were hammered into you either. Most of them are only directly brought up in one or two scenes, leaving you to see the imagery and symbolism which communicated them further.

Did I mention the choreography? Everything about the movement is amazing. From classic kung fu sweeping cameras to the way the individual characters walk. The anthropomorphic cast gives the animators so many ways to experiment with movement, especially in kung fu scenes. An early fight shows the six warriors defending a village against badgers. The warriors work so well off each other, with Po shouting “Tigress! Crane! Mantis! Monkey!” just as a conductor cues instruments to come in. The fluid movement is so simple that it becomes hard to tell what is happening until the action halts on account of a blind mandolin player who made me think of Hero, my personal favorite kung fu movie. The rest of the battle is focused around this character, again giving anyone who needed it a quick laugh.

                           That is NOT a wolf. It is a badger.

While I won’t give away the ending, I will say that is sort of counteracts a lot of the story’s points, so I hope they clear that up in number 3. The minor characters are a tad weak as well, but I personally didn’t mind because there is A LOT going on with Po. Another thing that I noticed is because the themes aren’t beaten into you, they put a lot of extra things in. This can make the story feel unfocused, but also gives it a dash of realism. There’s the old way of doing things vs. the new, does your past make you who you are, how to handle pain, who is your real family, and others. All of these are issues that come up, and I’m glad that it does address them all.

Like this review? Check out http://quigleyfilmsunlimited.wordpress.com/ for tons of great movie reviews, news stories and more written by my wonderful boyfriend!

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