Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

I read Incredibly Loud and Extremely Close a few years ago and it moved me tremendously. So, when I saw the movie on sale for 5 bucks (!!!), I picked it up, certain of its awesomeness. In particular, I thought of its mystery aspects and its exploration of human connections and love.

The story offers a much needed message: you should love people for who they are, and tell them you love them (often) because you never know when you could lose loved ones. Be it catastrophic events like 9/11 or just a dwindling health, nothing is certain.  Oskar loses his father for the terrorist attacks in New York City. William Black’s father gets ill and dies.

Another interesting theme in the story is connection. People connected with Oskar even if they never knew him or his mother. He discovers that even though he didn’t want any friends, he got them anyway. This blindness, tunnel vision, of just a goal and nothing more is very typical. We zero in on a tangible logical thing while forgetting that there’s more to life than just checks, high fives, and happy dances. There’s love to ground you and remind you that your loss fits in a larger context.

The thing is, Oskar isn’t the only one who lost someone. Abby did. William did. His grandfather did. Everyone has an inner battle and turmoil. They fight it the way they feel fits. Is it perfect? Do they pick the best way to do so? You may not think so. All you can do is try to understand where they’re coming from.

Finally, you sometimes find things when you stop looking in the “logical” places. Oskar found out what they key meant after he let go and let the universe unfold. When he went up to the swings and found out that his father’s quest was much simpler than he expected. Scary, but when your loss is great, you sometimes become braver and stronger than you expect. It still hurts, though.

Your Turn:

Have you seen the movie Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close? Or maybe you’ve read the book? What did you glean from the story? How was it communicated throughout the tale? Share your reflections in the comments!

 

For More:

A Boy’s Epic Quest

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close 

When I approached Since You've Been Gone, I slacked and hesitated. Then, one night, I
Part of having an online presence is this weird isolation from real life, whatever that
Being stuck and sad makes reading, sleeping, eating, drinking, praying difficult. Everything is hard then.

Anl. Symmetry in the Harry Potter Series

 

One of my favorite aspects of the Harry Potter series is its symmetry. It is wonderful to see connections throughout the books and movies. In particular, I like the little bits and bobs linking the stories all together.

When it comes to Harry himself, his relationship with Hagrid, connects the story from book 1 to the last story. In particular, Hagrid was key in Harry’s development. He is the one who brings him to Hogwarts in the first book, and the last book, too. Hagrid takes him on a motorcycle ride as a baby and as a grown wizard man.

But the symmetry extends beyond Harry and Hagrid–it’s between other relationships as well.  The story begins with an orphaned Harry, and ends with an orphaned Teddy Lupin. Moreover,  mothers’ love is used as a device connecting Harry, Draco, Narcissa, and Lily.  Lily sacrifices her life for Harry, Narcissa does the same for Draco’s sake. Same goes with Molly and Ginny. She kills Bellatrix for her daughter’s safety.

Another lovely connection is between Harry and the Deathly Hallows. Voldemort is obsessed with power, so he takes the Elder Wand. Snape, connected to the ghosts of his love, is connected with the Resurrection Stone, and finally, Harry welcomes death like an old friend. He is okay with letting go and this is why he’s the true master of the Deathly Hallows. Also, in the series, Harry comes in contact with the other Hallows and lets them go. He is sincere when he first meets the Resurrection Stone; only wanting to find it to hide it from Voldemort. The same idea echoes in the way Harry discards the Elder Wand. Uninterested in power or living forever, he is our hero in the stories. 

I am in awe of the relationship between Ron and Hermione as well. In the first book, she teaches him how to swish and flick, the wizard way. In the last book, he teaches her how to swish and flick with a stone, the muggle way. Not bad, Ron and Hermione.

One more great connection: the Black family has Sirius who betrays the family to join the light side. Meanwhile, the Weasley family has Percy who wants to be part of the treacherous ministry. Again, Kreacher and Dobby also switch roles. Dobby, coming from a “dark” family, helps Harry to avoid his death. Kreacher, also working for a seemingly evil wizarding family, gives him information and helps him in the final books.

Again, Harry and Ginny’s relationship completes the circle. Harry, with his messy hair, is often told he looks just like his father. He plays Quidditch. He is not very good at school. Yet, Ginny, with her read hair, is similar to Lily. Both are presented as unique. For the Weasleys, Ginny is the only girl out of their children. For Lily, she is the only witch in the family.

Last but not least, there is the element of betrayal. The Order of the Phoenix is betrayed by Mundungus. By the same token, the Marauders are betrayed by Peter Pettigrew.

Symmetry ties the story together, and brings a sense of conclusion and finality to the stories. It makes events and characters more than their own selves, but as elements of a grander story. Harry Potter mirrors the same relationships and connections from the first book to the last.

Your Turn:

What is your favorite story from your childhood? Why do you like it? Share in the comments!

For More:

“Harry Potter is Symmetrical” 

–Symmetry in Harry Potter

 

 

I read Incredibly Loud and Extremely Close a few years ago and it moved me tremendously. So,
When I approached Since You've Been Gone, I slacked and hesitated. Then, one night, I
Part of having an online presence is this weird isolation from real life, whatever that

Anl. Women in Sherlock’s World

I love the way women are portrayed in BBC’s Sherlock. It is refreshing to see women presented as equals, worthy of the men in the story. In particular: Molly Hooper, Irene Adler, and Mary Watson are wonderful women who are strong and clever. They play major roles in the story. 

Mrs. Hudson

Before I begin, I obviously have to talk about Mrs. Hudson. Without her, Sherlock says, “England would fall.” While she is often dismissed, however, she still manages to be central to the story. For instance, she embodies the show’s audience through her assumptions about John and Sherlock’s relationship. Often, she is surprised by John’s attempts at finding a girlfriend.  She provides commentary on Sherlock’s mess. Yes, she is sometimes comic relief. But, she is also the voice of common sense.

Molly Hooper

Molly is interested in Sherlock romantically at first, and her attempts are thwarted. She comments on his actions, seeing right through his ways of hiding his impending death. She whispers, “You look sad when you think he can’t see you.”

Sure, Sherlock thinks she can replace John. But, she is surprises the audience often. In the Abominable Bride, she is part of the revolutionary body of women. Even in the series itself, Molly is powerful enough to introduce Jim Moriarty to Sherlock.

She is crucial. She helps Sherlock so much, just to help humanize him, so much that she helps make him “dead” and then “alive.” He trusts her with his secrets–from his awareness of the necessity of his death, to the way he is hidden from John and everyone who knew him.

Irene Adler

Adler is the dominatrix who brought England to its knees. She is “The Woman.” She is presented as everything Sherlock is unaware of: sexuality and manipulation of people’s insecurities. She flirts with Sherlock openly, discomforting him with her recorded moans on the phone as text alerts.

I think more importantly, like Hooper, Adler presents a powerful connection to Sherlock’s humanity. She makes him care about her through their dialogue and connection over intellect. Unlike Molly, Irene successfully makes Sherlock uncomfortable. She threatens Mycroft, who is presented as the “clever one” (in series 3 and in the Christmas special). The Ice Man and the Virgin are manipulated by her and she almost wins. Her emotions, like Molly’s, give her away, but she is still respected and protected by Sherlock as seen in series 2.

Mary Watson

What the creators of the show have done with Mary’s character is also very inspiring. It’s awesome to see her have her own back-story, where she is a “very bad girl.” She is a capable and strong woman, who confuses Sherlock throughout their encounters at first.

He doesn’t know what to make of her, just like Irene and Molly. All he knows is that something is unsettling about her. But, that’s more intuition than cleverness. She is strong enough to shoot him, to spy on him, to hack into Mycroft’s carefully gated cyber world.

“I’m taking Mary home,” John says in the Christmas special, and then, “Mary’s taking me home,” which is rewarded with a “Better” from Mary.  She stands out as a woman who is able to help John “come around” when he is mad at Sherlock for his faked death (and she succeeds).

Like the other women in the series, she is often the voice of reason while Sherlock and John bicker. Do they need her? Yes! A resounding yes over and over.  She is a clever woman, anchoring John, who, in turn, anchors Sherlock.

What’s not to like?

Your turn:

Have you seen Sherlock? Who are your favorite characters on the show? Why do you like them?

I watched The Force Awakens and I have been a fan ever since that late
Community is a show that is amusing, sure, but it is also about growth and development.
For whatever reason, I was always under the impression that the Pirates of the Caribbean

Your Older Sister: On Healthier Self Talk

One of the most prominent voices you’ll ever hear is your own. Self talk plays a huge role in the way you carry yourself. The more aware you are of your thought processes and self talk, the more effective you can be at all facets of your life.

Get to Know Self-Talk

Self talk is exactly what it sounds like. It is the process by which you communicate with yourself. It is how you handle yourself. When you quiet your mind, what do you find? Often, we are taught to be critical of ourselves. This critical lens turns quite negative, though.

For example, you may find yourself saying things like: “What’s wrong with me?” or comparing yourself to colleagues and friends. Some people even go as far as questioning their value and worth.

 

What’s the Big Deal?

 

Puns aside, what’s wrong with negative self talk? A lot. Negative self talk leads to severe self doubt. You start questioning if you are up to any challenges. Not only that, you also find yourself trapped in a negative loop. It builds up anxiety and panic levels, with depression skyrocketing.

The way you talk to yourself has a lot to do with your self worth. Are you worthwhile? Worth taking a chance on? What you say to yourself translates to how you expect others to treat you. It also connects with your expectations from yourself. What can you accomplish? What are you capable of?

1. Monitor the Negative Chatter 

What you hear and think affect how you feel, so it’s key to recognize your thought patterns. How do you perceive the world? What is your perspective on how you are treated by others and how you treat yourself? Are you surrounded by people who say negative things to you too often? Maybe separate yourself from the chatter every once in a while.

2.  Positive Influence

It’s pretty helpful to find people who influence you positively. Surround yourself with love, to yourself and to others. As always, I will have to recommend the very powerful idea of having love, affection, and compassion to yourself and to others. Look up songs you love, make playlists, find positive self-help people or artists who make you feel good. Maybe search for inspirational stories to watch when the negative chatter gets to you.

 

3. Affirmations

This one feels a little strange to share, but maybe you could consider affirmations. I enjoy Gabrielle Bernstein’s affirmations in her books. I used to create mood boards of positive things in my life (literal boards). Now, I go on Pinterest and look up affirmations or Tumblr. Blogs can be a great tool to help you find good things to say to yourself. A nice tip to keep in mind is to think of yourself as a child of the universe, and offer support and gentleness to yourself.

 

4. Cautious Wording

Rather than saying you “can’t” or “couldn’t,” try to rephrase your self-talk to something more empowering. You “don’t,” instead, sounds more of a choice rather than something relating to your abilities. Be gentle with the way you phrase things. Obviously, we all slip up and we pick ourselves back to where we were or even higher.

 

5.  Have Goals

Little goals or big goals, just try to give yourself a purpose to fit your life into. I like to make little goals so things can be more achievable. Otherwise, I get overwhelmed. But, I do have overarching goals, too. You could consider writing these goals down to hold yourself more accountable and to have a tangible thing to go back to.

 

Your Turn:

How do you manage your self talk? What are some of your favorite tips to improve your relationship with yourself? Share in the comments!

 

For More:

Make Your Self Talk Work For You

The Importance of Positive Self Talk 

What is Self Talk? 

 

I want to expand on the idea of self care. In addition, I'd like to
I wish therapy was discussed more in media, In doing so, it can be approached
In order to minimize the effects of collision the ground, it is helpful to try

Anl. Disability in Me Before You

When I first heard of Me Before You, I was drawn to the cast. Emilia Clarke is adorable as Louisa. Sam Claflin is witty as Will. I didn’t realize how much it would irk me as a disabled person. Before I begin, here’s a summary of the story. Louisa works as Will’s care-giver after an accident leaves him quadriplegic. They fall in love over the course of six months. She discovers that Will had planned an assisted suicide. He’d set up his will and planned his death.

Focus:


The first flaw in the narrative lies in the focus. I wish we’d gotten the story from Will’s point of view. It would have been incredible to see more of a disabled person’s perspective. Will speaking about his own struggles. Or, maybe he could have been showing his pain and frustrations. It is important to shed light on the life of quadriplegics and other disabled people.

 

Helplessness: 

 

 

Louisa is presented as this cheery happy person. The brunette girl tries to “save” Will’s life with her chattiness. This disabled man is presented as a damsel in distress. But, he is not this. Moreover, he has all the reasons to be angry.  The movie touches on this aspect of disability subtly. Being diagnosed with an incurable illness is hard. Will loses so much more than his health. He can’t work the same way. Nor can he maintain physical intimacy with people. He cannot go on adventures the way he was used to.

Misrepresentation: 

 

Mental illnesses are misrepresented in this story as final unmoving things that cannot be treated. Will’s inability to see joy in his life is never addressed or confronted. Instead, Louisa distracts him from facing the real causes of his pain. Counseling would have helped. Antidepressants could have helped.

The problem is that the film presents disability as unbearably frustrating and that death is the only option to have. It’s not. Louisa shouldn’t be represented as the only one who researches activities for quadriplegics. It would have been great to see Will take control of his life in ways before deciding on death. I am not saying that death isn’t a valid option. That’s fine and understandable. However, Will isn’t shown as someone who had tried to live and cope with his new life.

It’s just odd to see Will’s message to live boldly. Yet he does not follow suit. He could’ve been presented as able to live happily as a disabled man.

Overall, the story of Me Before You presents a flawed portrayal of disability. It has some beautiful moments. I laughed a lot watching this film. I enjoyed it, for the most part. The more I watch it, the more I fall in love with it. My heart goes out to Will and Lou. They truly are memorable characters. It is still a pleasure to have known these people. I am glad I got to see it.

Your Turn:

What is your favorite movie with good representations of diversity and disability? Why do you like this adaptation? Share in the comments!

For More:

“Me Before You” Review from Paraplegic Amy
“Me Before You” Review and Ableism Discussion

While it is endearing,  My Big Fat Greek Wedding relies on stereotypes to communicate the difference
When I approached Since You've Been Gone, I slacked and hesitated. Then, one night, I
In order to minimize the effects of collision the ground, it is helpful to try