Monday, June 30, 2014

When I Fail To Be Pretentious

Totally unrelated collage I made. I've been really into Sylvia Plath lately. 

Some time ago I wrote that things were vey hectic in my life, little did I know that was just the begining. The last few days have been blur of graduation ceremonies, extracurricular activities, parties and late night essay writing sessions. There is no time in between to really register what actually happened. My body constantly seems to be ahead of my mind.

This intense level of constant activity has also made me realize I'm a true introvert. I do really enjoy all these social events, but after a whole day of being around other people, I am exhausted and feel like I need  time to enjoy some aloneness (which, I might add, is very different from loneliness). My social-exhaustion also changes several habits I have, including the books/Tv-shows/movies/music I 'consume'. I find myself throwing my 'sophisticated smart (/pretentious) people'- literature to side and picking up easy reading YA series. I suddenly go on a Disney Channel- movie binge and my favorite musice genre changes into 'love songs about high school boys'. 

These entertainment choices go against everything that I as an entertainment snob (I know, it's bad) believe in. I'm that person who proclaims there is no hope for society when I see trashy reality TV and go on a thirty minute long rant when I see some book about an unrealisticly sappy romance is on the top of the bestseller list. This is not just outward appearance. I do truly love my high-brow-intellectual-pretentious-person entertainment and get sad when I see it doesn't recieve the recognition (or at least, I think) it  deserves. I hate to see a theatre or museum close because lack of visitors or really cool artists not getting a big enough audience to support themselves. I am (or was) truly puzzled about why others can't appreciate poetry or 18th century lit or some indie film, like I do. 

Another totally unrelated picture of my messy art supplies.

My own change of behavior this week has really made me cirtically look at my attitude. As I observe that the busier and more exhausted I become, the simpler my entertainment gets, I wonder if all that artsy-intellectual is only appealing for those who have time to worry about it. There are many great literary novels that, however brilliant, are actually really depressing. They're inspiring and thought-provoking, but not something I like to read after a long day of studying/work/socializing with family you barely know. Sometimes I already have to many things to worry about to leave room for some fictional artist's existential crisis.

I know that there are many more much more complicated factors that influence what kind of entertainment/media a person consumes, but perhaps I should be more understanding when I see 'said book about sappy romance' sell better than 'intellectual artsy novel about wretchedness of society'. One of the most powerful things entertainment does is providing an escape. Especially when life gets hard, a world that is different from ours becomes appealing. That can be a world with magic and dragons or one where simply all man  our amazingly romantic lovers. Or one created by Disney for 12-year olds.  Quite often high-brow-intellectual-pretentious-person entertainment doesn't offer this escape, or does it in a more complicated way. A complicated way that you don't want to deal with after your own life has already worn you out. 

All my ramblings above do not mean that this whole phenomenon is not more complex. Many factors have a say in what kind of media and entertainment a person consumes. It also shouldn't be forgotten that high-brow-intellectual-pretentious-person entertainment can often make us feel understood, inspired or just simply happy. Good art doesn't always have to be sad. 
Also, I would like to point out that no kind of enertainment is better than the other. Despite my sometimes snobbish attitude (that I have to work on getting rid off!), entertainment is good as long as long as you find it enjoyable/inspiring/interesting/etc. Labeling something as 'great literature' and 'easy summer read' is a highly subjective matter and you shouldn't let those labels define your own experience with entertainment/art.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Talking about music: Vanessa Carlton - Rabbits on the run

Like most people I like music, books and movies. I also really (really really really) enjoy talking about them, but for some reason I don't do that on this blog. That reasons probably is that I feel totally unqualified to share my opinion on entertainment-y stuff with the world. I mean, I still enjoy Disney Channel movies, often pretend to understand the books I read better than I really do and don't even know the genre of half of the songs on my iPod. Still, in the spirit of Doing Things Simply Because I Enjoy Them I will write about some music I discovered recently. 

You know those annoying autoplay music players on blogs? That is how I discovered Vanessa Carlton. As I unsuspiciously scrolled through the blog that had this player, I was suddenly attacked by the intro of 'White Houses'. Altough I almost had a seizure (the loudness of my volume might have contributed to this), I wasn't even that mad. The piano sounded nice, the chorus was catchy and I felt like I could relate to the vulnerable girly voice. It was one of those songs I like to listen to when I need a break from all the punk and rock music.

Like I ussually do when I discover something I like the slightest bit, I Google'd Vanessa Carlton. After discovering she was the girl from the 'A Thousand Miles'-song (Have you seen 'White Chicks'?) that has been played so many times I just can't not be annoyed by it and watching several early-2000s videoclips, I stumbled upon her 2011 album 'Rabbits On the Run'. (You can listen to it here and if you like it you can be a good person and buy it.) Maybe it's because I don't know much about music, but I had never heard something like it before. 

'I don't want to be a bride', my favorite from the album

It is like a cute-sy singer/songwriter album, but strange. The first two songs 'Carrousel' and 'I don't want to be a bride' set a very magical fairy-taleish tone for the rest of the album. I immediately tought of Alice in Wonderland when I heard 'Carrousel'. Although both songs are upbeat and have a magical feeling to them, they also somehow sound haunting. In the rest of the songs on the album, for example 'Hear the Bells' and 'The Marching Line', this feeling that I can only describe as 'Bittersweet about the fact that everything is fleeting' is even more present. 

All the songs, some of which consist mostly of piano with very little vocals, on 'Rabbits on the run' are very different from 'A Thousand Miles' and other songs from Vanessa that have slightly awkward video clips.(I have to admit I'm not a really big fan of those, although in every song she shows she can really play and sing.) Still the songs from 'Rabbits' are just as nice to listen to. 

That's it. My first time of trying to write something semi-interesting/intelligent about music on here. I hope I didn't embarras myself too much and I have convinced at least one person to listen to a Vanessa Carlton song without the using autoplay. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Poorly Taken Pictures of Happy Days

I'm feeling really really really good *insert bouncing emoticon*. The past few days I can't stop myself from smiling. What I'm experiencing is not the kind of happiness that comes with all sorts of 'buts' and 'howevers', it's the good kind. The simple kind. The outside world hasn't changed much, but my inside universe feels shifted somehow. To record my probably annoying and certainly fleeting positivity, I decided to take capture some shots (with my just decent phone camera) of things that made me happy today.

My floral skirt tells me I am the cutest flower princess in disguise. My face is unfortunately to engrossed in the art of taking mirror pictures to show it.

A heart my friend drew on my hand and my bracelet that I wear almost every day. If you look closely, you can see my name ingraved in it.

'Johny Boy' by Twenty One Pilots. A song to conquer the world to.

I bought these on a whim a while ago, expecting to never wear them. They are my favorite sneakers now. 

School can actually be fun/interesting sometimes.

I love Sylvia Plath. 'How does one read books of poetry?' is the question I ask myself the most.

'Ariel' and 'On the Road'. Designing book covers must be a cool job.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Let's play dress up

"Why are you dressed like that?" and "Do you have somewhere special to go to?" Where just a few of several comments I received on my outfit today. When I decided to put on what I was wearing in the morning I had never expected, or hoped for, receiving any response to the way I was dressed. I had simply put on  these clothes, because I thought I would enjoy wearing them.

I would be lying if I said that I can't understand at all where my clothing critiquers were coming from. I had indeed decided to put on a black dress with a black blazer on top of it, an outfit that can be seen as quite formal for a regular schoolday. The fact that several people pointed this out wasn't what bothered me about the comments I received. It was the "why"-question that often followed that did.

In asking someone to explain why they made certain fashion choices, lies the belief (that some may be aware of having and others unconciously act upon) that the reason 'I wear it, because I like it' is not valid or lacking. Now this is not a belief that is uncommon and I experience having it as well when I stand in front of the mirror and find myself wondering "if this shirt isn't too crazy" or "if these heels won't look weird under these jeans".

Fashion is a very outward directed form of expression. The world gets a better view of my outfits than  I do myself, so it isn't strange to assume that dressing up is something one does for the world instead of themselve. Yet, when we hold on to that belief, we forget fashion (or just wearing clothes) is a form of expression and expression is inseparably linked to feelings within ourselves.

Sometimes putting on certain clothes is a way to show these feelings to the world. To let my nine-inch bright red heels shout "Look at world! Because today I'm a badass b*tch from hell!". However, it can also work the other way around. Dressing in a certain way, can make me feel certain things. When I wear my favourite dress and put my brand new wedges under it, I instantly feel like a million bucks. Or when I put on my paint-splattered sneakers and a band tee, I will secretely be convinced I'm a really cool and artistic person that is ready to make art all day. It's like playing dress up with emotions and identities.

The realization that fashion can do pretty awesome (and maybe even magical) things just for me has been vital for me to have fun in shopping for and wearing clothing. For way too long the belief that I was dressing for the world has left me frustrated each morning and every time I set foot in a clothing store. Trying to either please or make a statement with every item you put on can become a pretty tiring task, that for me eventually resulted in complete disregard for all things that had to do with 'personal style'. I only started to enjoy dressing myself again, once I realised it was a tool I could use for my personal expression and happiness.

So, to summarize all my ramblings (if you are too lazy to read everything, just check this out: ) WEAR THINGS BECAUSE THEY MAKE YOU FEEL AWESOME. (OR $EXXXY OR COOL OR LIKE A UNICORN)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Life's a Ferris Wheel

Life's been keeping me busy, so I haven't had the chance to post as much as I wanted to. With the summer coming up there is a ton of stuff to be finished before everyone decides to relinquish their responsibilities for several weeks. Not just in school, but outside of it as well. I'm drowning in assignments for final grades and in the meantime friends, clubs and family want to meet one last time before 'the big break'. 

As life speeds up, I can feel my thoughts slowing down. Something is constantly happening the present, so there simply is no time to lose myself in that world outside of clocked hours to come up with new philosophies. When I do manage to have a few minutes to myself all I want is to be passive. I don't think. I don't write. I don't draw. I'm just very tired.  

I like it this way. Not giving my thoughts to much room means they can't trick me and let me fall in crippling spirals of anxiety. Things happen and I react to them.  I simply keep going and don't question it. This has resulted in me feeling quite well (if I say so myself) lately.

Yet, I feel that this constantly moving person isn't really me. Sometimes I imagine my life as a train that is speeding through a station. I am sitting inside of it, but I'm standing out on the platform as well. From the grey concrete I can see myself sitting in the train seat, moving quickly towards a new destination. I see the small windows fly by. I can even feel the gusts of wind the speeding vehicle creates, but I'm still an onlooker left behind. I'm not really there. 

I like thinking. It's part of who I am and I consider my capacity to do so an extremely valuable asset. So when life prohibits me to do so it isn't strange that I feel lost. This does make me fearful of the future. The more I grow up, the busier with 'life' I become. Which is logical, since you don't fulfill responsibilities by having introspective thoughts and scribbling in your diary. When I take this conclusion further it would result in the very teen angsty-belief that when you grow up, you lose yourself. I don't want to believe that and I really don't want it to be true, but maybe that doesn't matter because life asks me to keep going. 

Fave song at the moment

Saturday, June 14, 2014

My love for Jane Austen

If it ever so happens that I get to confess my love for Jane Austen, people usually assume – if they don’t just  think I’m an even bigger nerd than I was before – I just really enjoy the Pride and Prejudice movie with Kiera Knightley. Now, I really do love that film. I probably watched it over twenty times and I will admit that with every time my crush on Mr. Darcy became bigger (gah!). Still, when I say I love Jane Austen I’m not just talking about that movie. I am actually talking about all her novels, but also about the really cool spin-offs that have sprung up in the last 200 years. In the last two years or so that I have been reading Austen’s novels, I’ve stumbled upon lots of these new adaptations. Because I think some of these gems are worth checking out, even if you’re not into Regency novels and stuck-up guys in tight pants, I decided to share my favorite ones with you today.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Conversations with old notebooks

Can I be completely honest? I've been putting writing this post off. Just like I've been procrastinating on every other creative project in my life. It's not a very good development and it's making me feel pretty un-awesome. There is one good thing that comes from my slacker attitude, though; I start doing other things to avoid writing/collaging/painting/taking pictures. For example, I spontaneously started cleaning my room yesterday. 

Looking through my overly-stuffed closet and re-organizing the pigsty that is my desk drawers meant that like a true bedroom archeologist  I dug op some objects from my past. Most of these things were either falling apart or served merely as an embarrasing reminder of my awkward past-selves, but I also found some true gems. And with gems I mean my old notebooks.

I have always loved to write and draw and tell stories in anyway possible. The notebooks from the bottom of my closet, that date all the way back to 2007, are the most honest testimony to this passion. In sloppy script and misspelled verbs I created tales about new worlds or my own. (I found an excellent account of my 6th grade compulsory swimming lessons. Hint: I did not enjoy them very much.) I almost never showed these notebooks to others, so the stories I told were meant for me and my enjoyment only. 

Enjoyment is exactly what these notebooks were all about. My clean-up plan was cut short, because I couldn't stop flipping through my old writings. The sentence structure was poor, the exclamation mark usage superfluous and the illustrations just plain awful, but they were so much fun too read. In every word the excitement of little me about writing my very own story is tangible. 

Although I was having a good time on my bedroom floor, a somewhat uncomfortable feeling crept up on me. "If I love it so much, why am I not writing right now?" my overly-active brain couldn't help but ask and that is when I realized something. The difference between me now and me with the old notebooks mostly (aside from a better knowledge of conjugations) has to do with self-conciousness. 

Lately, whenever I try to create something I can hear this little voice inside my head called perfectionism yelling: "It better be good! It better be beautiful! Do you even know what you are doing?!". Add being constantly exposed to extremely good art from others and you have me completely paralyzed with the fear of sucking. 

"But why?" would old notebook-me ask in reply. "When did creating start being about doing well or impressing others? It was all about fun, right?" And that is the moment when I realize that 9-year old me has more common sense than I do now.
She is absolutely right. Creating things is not my job, it's something those wrinkly grown-ups like to call 'a hobby'. It's supposed to be fun. For me. It does, in fact, not have to be good. (The Perfectionist shudders in horror.)

Do I want to write terrible Doctor Who fanfiction (because I think it’s fun)? “Do it!” 9 year old Sabine yells. Do I want to make a collage consisting solely of images of feet (because I think it’s fun)? “Do it!”
Do I want to make a photo series exploring the usefulness versus the aesthetics of the female body (because I think it’s fun)? “Do it!”

The stories in the notebooks I found yesterday are terrible, but they managed to make me smile even 7 years after writing them. I want all (or at least a lot of) my work to be like that, even if that means it’s not that good. Fun. Honest. Filled with the excitement to be creating. 

And now please listen to this song. Do it.

Friday, June 6, 2014

The worst kind of lost

I think I’ve outgrown my home
I’m kind of feeling lost wherever I go 
And I could be staring it right in the face and I wouldn’t know 
I think I’ve outgrown my home

These are lyrics from the song 'Out on my own' by Gabrielle Aplin, who has somehow managed to perfectly articulate all that I have been feeling lately. Only months ago the town I live in seemed exciting and full of life to me, but now all that I can see is overly visited hang out spots and repetition of scenery. Also school and all the drama and worries it brings no longer has the ability to fully occupy my mind. It feels like a place that already belongs to my past, but somehow is still part of my 'present' and will be for another full year. 

Since reality feels like it doesn't fit me anymore I've been looking for homes in other places. In books and art and music. I've been reading stories I used to love and watching movies from when I still fit their tween demographic, but even these tales that I could once find so much comfort in feel like they no longer belong to me. The girl I used to find between the lines of 'This Lullaby' by Sarah Dessen (a novel I used to love when I was younger) is lost. 

The book I'm talking about

I am not sure what brought about this sudden feeling of outgrowing my current life. For someone with a set plans and clear goals for the future the longing to move on would be logical, but with me that is not the case. I have no clue where I am headed and it doesn't make me feel like some whimsical free spirit floating through life. On the contrary, my thoughts of the future are mostly filled with fear. 

I recently read a diary post on Rookie by Britney in which she wrote that as teenagers we are doomed to be cynical untill we see more of life. I believe she is right and that is also what makes me so anxious about the future, because what if it only makes me more cynical? What if I never find a place that fits me? 

When I was younger the future seemed like a fantastical and terrifying unknown to me. I believed that when I would graduate I would ride off on a road with no destination, meeting cool people and experiencing amazing things along the way. I would truly live. Now that I am actively planning for college, summer draws closer and I will soon only have one year of high school left all the mystique is gone from my future. I know I will go to college. I know what colleges I will (probably) apply to and attend. I know what they look like. Hell, I even know what kind of room I will probably be living in once I graduate. This is no adventurous roadtrip through life. 

Yet, (like I mentioned earlier) I have no sense of the direction. I know, I'm paradoxical. All these images of days to come seem empty to me. The same kind of empty my life feels like right now. It's like I'm floating, following the direction of the stream, while I know I should be swimming. I should actively be filling that fantastical unknown with experiences and people and meaning.  I am lost, but not in the way that feels like liberation. My kind of lost feels like an old sweater that I have gotten too big for. It fits a little too snug around the chest, my belly peeks out awkwardly and taken it off is a hard task. 

The Gabrielle Aplin song I mentioned

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Things To Do For Lazy People (Like Me)

It always happens right before or after the start of summer. My motivation drops to a new low. All the fun or relaxing things I had planned for summer are suddenly replaced by lying in bed and browsing Tumblr all day. I know it's okay to sometimes not be doing/creating amazing things and just watch movies/shows and read books all day, but when I hit the point of complete motivationlessness I'm not even doing that. The stack of books I borrowed remains untouched and I don't even bother to look up that movie my friend told me about on Netflix. Being lazy like this is not a lot of fun, especially if it goes on for days. That's why I decided to make a list of fun things to do that require minimum effort. Hopefully I will manage get my ass off the couch this summer.

Monday, June 2, 2014

The most amazing sleepover ever: The essentials

They were the highlight of my 13-year old social life. Sometimes they required weeks of preparation, sometimes (if your friend’s parents were really cool) they were planned the afternoon before. I’m talking about sleepovers. Staying the night at a friend’s house - or having your friends stay over at yours -  promised a night during which you would gossip about every girl in the 8th grade, confess your secret crushes and laugh so hard you woke your  (friend’s) parents up. It was the most serious form of girl bonding. Because being older shouldn’t mean you can’t  have a super fun night with your friends and because I’m feeling slightly nostalgic for my ‘tween’ years, I made a list of essentials to throw the most amazing sleepover ever.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

A list for feeling unalone

I've been feeling very disconnected with the world lately. Maybe it's because not much is happening in my life, or maybe it's because I'v been getting to know this thing called 'loneliness' too well. I'm constantly looking for something to relate to, some part of myself, in the world outside but I keep coming up short. So instead of fixing my lost connection, I've developed several other ways to feel somewhat unalone. Since making lists is my expertise, I decided to make a lists of the (strange) things I do to feel somewhat connected.

1. Reading all the Rookie 'Dear Diary'- posts
Almost all the time I have this very teen-angsty feeling of 'I'm so alone in my troubles. No one understands what I'm going through!' But then I read Noami's, Ruby's and Britney's entries and look at Caitlin's art here and suddenly I realize there are people in this universe who feel exactly the same way as I do. When I look at the people around me I always assume they only have rational thoughts and feelings that arise as a logical result of a certain event or happening. Reading the entries of these girls has makes me feel like I can be more comfortable with the fact that I have feelings that are weird or complicated or don't make sense at all. Going through several months in one day also allows for witnessing very visible 'ups' in the girls' lives.

2. Turning my feelings into a Tumblr tag
Sometimes when I have nothing else to do I will type how I'm feeling at that moment into the Tumblr search bar, just to see how others express their happiness/sadness/anger. Strangely enough it gives me a lot of comfort to read that some random person just found a new apartment or had a fight with his/her best friend or had to stay in bed for two days because of a bad cold. Perhaps I enjoy knowing that those things happen completely unaffected by me. That while I'm happy there are many others who feel the same way, but also many who at that same moment are having the worst day ever and vice versa.

3. Listening to Taylor Swift

I've never really been a fan of Taylor and her music was simply part of those songs that I have on my iPod, but only ever listen to when I put it on shuffle. This was also exactly how everything changed and Taylor became my best friend. On a long car ride home from Antwerp with my parents I had put my Ipod on shuffle and suddenly Taylor Swift's song 'Fifteen' came on. Too sleepy from the soft rocking of our vehicle I didn't bother to skip it and kept listening. In a heartfelt manner Taylor told me about her boy troubles, meeting her best friend in math class and her dreams of becoming a singer. This song was like all the non-events of my high school life wrapped up in a bubbly feel-good melody. I've been playing her albums on repeat ever since, because no cool indie rockband can give me the same comfort as listening to my cooler best friend sing about our lives. 

4. Writing/Drawing/Collaging
Little watercolor 'doodle' from my sketch book
Sometimes all those diary entries I read, those Tumblr posts I see and Taylor Swift songs I listen to feel like one part of a dialogue. The other part is left for me to fill in and lately I've been doing a lot of that. My diary is getting fuller faster than ever and I have my art stuff (actually an old box with paints, pencils and magazines to cut up) out several times a week. The stuff I write or make isn't always very good, but that doesn't really matter. In creating things, even if they are just about my angsty feelings,  I feel like I am contributing to some greater discussion. I sometimes secretely hope that when I'm brave enough to show my (better) works to someone they will jump up and say: "That's it! That's exactly what I have been feeling lately! Lets's become best friends and talk about how scary growing up is and make art together and share our diary entries." (Okay, maybe that last bit is a bit too much to ask for ;) )