Monday, January 9, 2017

The Little Things

        In one of my previous blogs, I mentioned changing my reading goal to ten books. I am currently on my tenth book, so I can't say that I completed my goal, but I'm working on it! I hope to finish my current current book, After You by Jojo Mayes, soon.
        When I finished Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger a few weeks ago, I was stuck on what to read next. I had a list of books I wanted to read, but they were all lacking in the romance department. I wanted something with tons of love and heart-throbbing moments, so I did a little bit of digging. I asked a few of my friends if they could recommend a romance novel I might like, and one of them mentioned Me Before You by Jojo Mayes. Me Before You is about a girl, Louisa Clark, who is hired to take care of a man, Will Traynor, who was involved in an unfortunate accident and is now bounded to a wheelchair. Although Will is rude and cold, Louisa soon finds herself wanting to make him happy and sets off to show him that life is worth living. Throughout their adventures, the two slowly fall in love. I finished this book a few days after New Years, and I am currently reading its sequel.. I've thoroughly enjoyed it, and I can definitely see myself reading it again in the future.


        While talking about their lives and futures, Louisa asks Will if it's difficult for him to adapt to life in his chair because of all the things he's done, and Will replies, "I will never, ever regret the things I've done. Because most days, all you have are places in your memory that you can go to" (Mayes 471).

        This line stuck out to me because I have tons of regrets that haunt me. There are many things I've done in the past that I wish I hadn't. It doesn't matter how much time passes because I find them hard to forget, and it's hard for me to forgive myself.
        Over a decade ago, I cut up a bracelet my aunt gave to me because I was frustrated at my mother for some little thing I don't remember anymore. I wanted to make her mad, and being the child I was, I thought the best way to get back at her was to ruin one of my bracelets. It was a cheap bracelet that was sent with many others like it, but I still feel remorse because I know that my aunt put a lot of thought into picking it out for me.
        After reading the quote and looking back on my regrets, I suppose that the main reason I can't let go of them is because I can only look at the negative aspects. I never take the time to go back and look at the good that came from them. For example, after cutting up the bracelet, I felt an extreme amount of guilt and wanted to make it up to my mom and my aunt. In response to my desire to fix my mistakes, I started making jewelry. Day after day, I would sit at my little desk and make bracelets, necklaces, and rings for my family. I ended up liking jewelry creation, and it became a hobby. Eventually, my family members started joining me and it became something we did to pass time and bond with each other.
        In a sense, my mistake wasn't really a mistake. It was an experience that caused me to feel terrible for a long time, but it's also a decision that holds value. By reflecting on this event, I've learned to forgive myself. I also relearned what people have always told me about mistakes: "good things can come from a bad decision." Although it's taken me a decade, I am ready to finally let go of my regrets.
       

Friday, December 16, 2016

Youth

        Although my reading is going as planned, my list isn't doing as hot. I often procrastinate on filling out the list of books I've read as I start and finish them, thinking "I can just write it in later." However, it is currently up to date, and I'm going to definitely be better about it. I'm currently reading my AP book, The Catcher in the Rye, and I'm a little over halfway finished with it. This novel is about a sixteen year old boy named Holden Caulfied. Holden is cynical and often calls things that he finds fake or unpleasant in the world "phony". He goes to a prep school in Pennsylvania but leaves and travels to New York, where he tries to enjoy himself. 



        In The Catcher in the Rye, while Holden is talking to Spencer, he says, "'Boy!'... I also say 'Boy!' quite a lot. Partly because I have a lousy vocabulary and partly because I act quite young for my age sometimes. I was sixteen then, and I'm seventeen now, and sometimes I act like I'm about thirteen. It's really ironical, because I'm six foot two and a half and I have gray hair. I really do. The one side of my head – the right side – is full of millions of gray hairs. I've had them ever since I was a kid. And yet I still act sometimes like I was only about twelve. Everybody says that..." (5).

        While repeating what adults have always said to him, Holden mentions that one half of his hair is gray. It's as though part of him is still a kid, and part of him is an adult. This is one of the many excerpts from the novel that show that Holden, to some degree, is struggling with the idea of growing up. I think a lot of teens could relate to Holden. While many of us want to grow up and toss away the restrictions of a child, we also want to stop time and stay young, wishing we were still kids that didn't know how hard the road ahead of us could be. My friends and I often reminisce about our childhoods, and without fail, at least one person will say something along the lines of, "I wish I could turn back time. I want to be a kid again. Life was so easy then because I didn't know anything. All I had to do was be good at coloring." However, there are also times when we talk about our futures and someone will mention wanting to skip the difficult process of becoming an adult. Just the thought of applying for colleges soon makes us nervous and stressed.

        Even though I find myself wishing I didn't have to grow up and be held accountable for more things, I know that I can't be a child forever. Time stops for no one, and it's impossible to have the best of both worlds. People grow up and are given more responsibilities, and that's just an inevitable part of life. Children must choose what risks they want to take, even if they may be dangerous. It is through this process that we learn and are able to grow up. Adult life may seem repulsive. You must work, pay bills, and you're liable for more things. However, it is often said by the adults around me that it's easier than it seems. As one ages, more and more things fall into place, and life becomes more relaxed. Adulthood just seems scary to us teenagers because we don't know much about it.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Importance of Hope

My reading is going as planned. I've finished reading City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, a book given to me by a friend two years ago. I've also started reading A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. Recently, I've increased my original goal of reading six books to reading eight books because I'm already on my sixth book. I'm going to try reading books I've been putting off or wanting to read for a long time because it's a bad habit of mine to make a list of books I want to read and forget about them. A Court of Thorns and Roses is a book recommended to me by two of my friends, and I've been wanting to read it since summer. I've finally gotten around to reading it, and it may be one of my favorites this year. It's about Feyre, a girl who kills a wolf while hunting to feed her family. A creature later arrives for payback, dragging Feyre into a mystical land. She resides with her captor and later finds that there is an evil that is growing, and she must stop it before calamity falls on both her world and her captor's world. 

In A Court of Thorns and Roses, Feyre gets caught in the midst of an argument with her family over marrying off one of her sisters as they cannot afford a dowry, and the man whom she her sister wants to be married off to is not trustworthy. After her sisters run off in a huff, Feyre's father says, "we need hope as much as we need bread and meat... We need hope, or else we cannot endure" (19).

Hope is sometimes associated with naivety and can be easily lost once something tragic occurs, but as humans, we need hope. Pain is an inevitable obstacle in life. We know that once we overcome our hardships, we become stronger and we learn, but pain will wound you, and sometimes it's hard to endure. When faced with such suffering, it is hope that pulls us up on our feet. Hope can make you determined to achieve your goals and wills you to keep pushing forward even in the most difficult moments of life. 

Why do you do the things you do today? Is it because you think you'll fail or is it because you believe you will succeed? Hope can give you the mindset for success. If you go into everything with an assumption of failure, then you have already lost. However, if you expect success, then you will prosper. Sometimes, things may not go the way you want it to, but it's all a part of life. Stand back up, have hope, and proceed down your path to success. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

To Become Someone Good

There may be minor spoilers up ahead. Read at your own risk

I'm getting much better at keeping up with my reading goals! As I progress more into the school year, I get better at time management. As a result of this, I am able to find more time to read. I notice that I've been reading more realistic and nonfiction books as of late. I don't usually read them since I find them boring and the speech can sometimes be difficult, so I find myself reading at a slower pace. Despite this, I've continued reading them because I've discovered many interesting stories in this genre. Perhaps I wasn't reading the right book for me before? In addition, I've finished Bossypants by Tina Fey and No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai so far. I'm currently in the middle of reading Lord of the Flies by Willian Golding and The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. The Diary of a Young Girl is an autobiography that takes place in the year 1942 to 1945. Anne Frank, a Jewish girl, is in hiding with her family and many others in a portion of an office building called the "Secret Annexe". In this book, we are able to experience the world through Anne's eyes as we read about events that occur and her thoughts through this tragic time period. 

Near the beginning of the diary, Anne writes about her parents and how unhappy she is with the way she's being treated. Though she loves her father dearly, she only feels love towards her mother and her sister because they are family. As people, she doesn't feel any care towards them. She feels like she is raising herself rather than her parents raising her as they should. She believes "that God wants to try [her] ... [That she] must become good through [her] own efforts, without examples and without good advice" (49). 

I wonder if abandonment is how delinquents come to be delinquents? Do people who are outcasted for their violent, unjust, or unusual tendencies act that way out of choice or is it because they didn't have a good role model to teach them what's right and what's wrong? If parents are too prideful, too arrogant, or too uncaring, do their children come to be that way as well? Occasionally, I will notice a parent's bad habits form in their children. For example, no one is born a thief, but both of my cousins have admitted to stealing from my household, and I've caught them in the act more than once as well. Why is it that they both happen to have "sticky fingers"? My father speculates that it may stem from their father. Their dad, their role model, the person they look up to, is known within our entire extended family to take things and not return them. His children, my cousins, are always with him, so they'll see him in the act. If the person you're supposed to learn from does something wrong, then won't you become accustomed to the idea that it's okay for you to do it too? I feel like this is especially true for children whose minds are still developing. How is someone who is deprived from good lessons and examples supposed to learn how to become good? 

Despite her circumstances, Anne was still able to become an inspirational figure. Maybe later on into the book her parents came through and taught her to be a good person. Maybe she will meet someone who helps her in replacement of her parents. Or maybe she became a good person simply by thinking and writing down her thoughts, evaluating what has happened around her. 

P.S. My uncle is not a terrible man nor a terrible father, but one bad choice can cause a chain reaction of mistakes.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

How to be Beautiful 101

        Since we started IRT, my primary goal has been to read for thirty minutes a day outside of class and to read six books by the end of this semester. This hasn't been going well for me because just as I predicted,  I can't seem to find the time. After school, I find myself bombarded with extracurricular activities and homework. Most nights, by the time I've finished everything, it's late into the night and exhaustion overpowers any of my desires to read. I will still continue to try and read as much as I can. I'm currently reading Bossypants by Tina Fey as well as No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai. I've just started No Longer Human and I'm nearly done with Bossypants. Bossypants is a nonfiction book about Tina Fey's life. Though comical, her writing is very empowering to women and teaches many important lessons.

        In one of the chapters, Tina Fey shares her beauty tips. At the end of her long monologue and storytelling about her beauty secrets, she concludes that "if [we] retain nothing else, [to] always remember [that] the most important Rule of Beauty [is] 'who cares'" (182)?

        My appearance has always been something I've struggled with. From my unfit body and lazy-looking attire to my prepubescent face and hairy knuckles, I've heard comments about them all. I didn't want to stick out as that unkempt girl; I wanted to  blend in with my peers. I wanted to disappear among the faces of the crowd. I've unnecessarily invested a lot of my time trying to "fix" all these so called flaws that I had no problem with until someone said something about them. However, now that I think about it, who was I trying to impress? Whose acceptance did I need but my own? Why should I need approval from others? Nobody cares about what I wore last week or even the night before. I was fine the way I was before, and I'm perfect the way I am now. The only person that I should need approval from is myself.

        There are many people who struggle with self confidence. Many people who think that their little quirks are flaws that must be "fixed" at once. However, perhaps all these people need are a few wise words in order for them to learn self love and gain a positive mindset.



(Please remember that if it's not broken, don't try to fix it).

Monday, September 5, 2016

My Life as a Reader and Reading Goals

        Welcome to my blog! My name is Debra Ngo and I'm an avid reader. When I was younger, I hated reading because I wasn't comfortable with the English language. I couldn't understand most of the words in the picture books that my teachers would read to my classmates and me. However, I took extra classes and tutoring in order to help me become more fluent in the English language. After getting to a certain point, I was able to start reading the books my teachers had in their classrooms and found that I love to read. I began immersing myself in books like Junie B. Jones. As time went on, I began expanding my horizons and started reading more advanced books. Reading will always be a big part of my life; it is one of my favorite pastimes.

        This semester, my goal is to read 6 books. I hope I can read more, but I don't have much time to read because school and extracurricular activities keep me busy. I will attempt to read for approximately 30 minutes a day outside of school. I will try reading classic, Japanese literature because I've been interested in them for a while and haven't read much yet. I've only read one book of this genre called The Setting Sun by Osamu Dazai, and I plan to dive into other books of this genre. I will also read two books from the AP reading list. For my nonfiction books, I'm currently reading Bossypants by Tina Fey, and I plan on reading A Child Called "It" by Dave Pelzer. There are many other books that I plan on reading this semester like Lord of the Flies by William Golding and Court Thorn Roses by Sarah J. Maas. There's so many more books I want to read! I just hope I have the time.