Why Melissa Broder and Everyone on Twitter is “SO SAD TODAY.”

When it comes to internet references, Twitter, or current events in general I’m just about as good as Patrick Star living under his rock. I do thankfully know that Donald Trump is now president-a confusing reality making many Americans very sad, but enough people in the blogisphere are typing away on the subject of his orange hair, which leaves me room to discuss another reason why people on the internet are feeling hopeless.

Twitter account so sad today run by Melissa Broder is followed by 430k  humans who are either sad themselves or really like looking at another human’s sad Tweets to feel better about themselves. Either way, they are already sad. Why do they want to torture themselves with more painful thoughts?

I asked myself that same question when Barnes and Noble was having a buy 2 get one free sale and out of all the gleaming novels perfumed with new book smell, I decided to go for the collection of essays called “SO SAD TODAY” by Broder in all caps. I didn’t know it was by a well known Twitter figure until after I read it. Maybe I picked it because I felt like its type was yelling at me, as if it was saddened to the point of crying for help in a bookstore. Let’s go with that, because the thought of me rescuing a poor sad novel is far less sad than the thought of me trying to save my sad self through relatable literature.

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From Melissa Broder’s Account @sosadtoday.

From the moment I peeled back the cover, I knew I dove into something dark. “So Sad Today” is a colloquial novel designed with the modern internet addicted, sexting community in mind. It is perhaps one of the most uncomfortable books I have read, as there is literally a chapter transcribing a series of open relationship sexts, that concludes with a commitment to monogamy, and is followed by more exploration of anxiety. But don’t worry! Before you fear you won’t be sufficiently sad, the book throws in drug addiction, body image issues, far too real illness, and those existential questions that give us all migraines.

This book will give you anxiety. If you already have anxiety, it will give you more anxiety, but Broder’s dark humor happens to ease you mind just enough to get you through it. A part of me wanted terribly to stop reading it, because it felt like the embodiment of everything people assumed to be wrong with Millennials. Then I somehow got to page 125 and resolved to commit.

While “So Sad Today” might not be the happiest read, there is a merit to such a series of essays which stems from its modern shape. It is clearly influenced by today’s digital culture and Internet jargon and for this, it is important. Melissa Broder’s collection shows the shifting of what it means to write (and read) an enjoyable essay in 2017.

 

 

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Four Amazon Stars, Four Year Plans, and Publishing Fortitude: A Small Tale of Writing Success

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Photo by Carly Christine Photography.

As the florid Thoreau remarks, “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

Today, I would have never imagined that direction would navigate me through a forest of e-mails while I hunted for not one, but two online order receipts so I could collect a refund.

This is the unfortunately dull tale of my first, but hopefully not my last of mini publishing successes.

You see, I am about to embark on a trip around the world through literature thanks to my first college English class that requests I buy The Norton Anthology of World Literature Volumes A,B, and C. Amazon only sent me vol. A when I paid for the whole set… so I frantically tried to hunt down the collection in a city that seems all too absent of bookstores. (Thanks, Internet). The Barnes and Noble guy laughed at me and said “Wow, you’re planning to do a lot of reading.” Then it hit me. I was about to do a shit ton of reading and I couldn’t waste time by not having my books. School would be starting in four days and I needed to be completely prepared.

But that’t the funny thing about life, school, work- we can never be prepared for what’s ahead, no matter how many four year life plans we make for ourselves (yes, that is exactly what I was doing a minute ago).

My rage toward the expansionist nature of the cyber-bookstore-lacking-non-stop-connection world calmed when I got an e-mail from an editor of local newspapers, saying the article, submitted in a flurry of other stressed messaging, was a “great fit” for their papers. Now this might have been a small achievement in the unforgiving world of publishing,but for me it was a huge “success in common hours.” I was definitely not expecting that news. All those dull e-mails I had to send during the day to get my appropriate textbooks or keep up with work were faithfully nudging me along in the direction I wanted to go. Sticking to the tasks at hand got my book situation corrected and- surprisingly -got my article printed.

To anyone who has a publishing dream or a simple Amazon order they need to take care of, my advice for you is to be vigilant and self assured that your efforts will allow you to achieve your goals.  You will get angry at the perpetual waterfall of e-mails you will almost drown in while editing, approving, and submitting work. You may doubt yourself- a lot. After the college application process, I was deeply saddened by the fact I was not accepted into any UC’s, not because I was sad about not being able to attend (I’m headed off to the state school of my dreams in four days), but because I thought it was the writing of my personal statement that failed my chances. I tore myself apart internally as a writer. And this is where I was misguided.

Receiving that e-mail from the editor made me realize I wrote something that someone out there was pleased to hear and thought others needed to hear too. All I needed was to find that audience. It may have been a small article, but the same principle applies to whatever short story, novel, poem, essay you seek to craft. (If it is an article you seek to publish, contact the editor of your local paper by going to their website, breathe, and submit). So before you dismiss a future of publishing, ask yourself, “Am I headed confidently in the right direction?” If you are writing, yes. If you are reading, yes. If you are invested in your own success, yes. And if you have the confidence to show that to the world? Absolutely.

With this new writing motivation, I think it’t time to revise the four year plan.

Life of Pi Book/Movie Review

Earlier last summer, I was browsing my local Barnes and Nobles in search for my assigned summer reading material, The Secret Life of Bees. Although the thought of  reading on vacation may cause some to cringe, I was gleefully making my way to purchase the novel. Conveniently,  there was a special table section devoted to “school literature” where I found my item with ease. This left me loads of extra  time to skim over various covers like a kid in a candy store. A familiar title caught my eye, one that I had heard about from a few friends and family members, who had nothing but good to say about the book.

12-2012 112As you can conclude from the title, this book was Life of Pi.

Almost three months had passed since I  read anything un-school related and I just wasn’t in the mood to start something new anytime soon. That is, until a commercial for the movie popped on my television screen. Then I knew I had to read the book (catching dust on the shelf) before I went to see the film. Life of Pi was one of those stories that reminded me of why I loved to read.

The best part about it was, it kept me genuinely interested every page. Granted, I would like to say that most of the books I read are entertaining, however, there are undoubtedly those few chapters that can be a struggle to finish. It was in this way that Yann Martel surprised me. I was impressed with the way it was written. Throughout the novel, there is a duel perspective of an adult Pi Patel and a writer, to whom he is telling his story. The outside perspective is not overdone (like certain books)  and gives a nice insight to the more mundane that Pi does not mention, such as the scene and setting in his house, details that are not necessary but help the reader get a better feel for his character. This includes a number of objects associated with his three practiced religions: Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity which consume a large chunk of the first several chapters. Along with his many faiths, he discusses his experience as a young boy growing up in the Pondicherry Zoo owned by his father. The comparisons between human and animal life were very interesting and made the introduction all the better. Once Pi concludes the beginning of his tale, what lies ahead is an unbelievable and incredible story of loss and survival.

*spoiler alert, take caution…

Sailing on the Japanese ship Tsimtsum to a new life in Canada, the Patel family patiently awaits their arrival. Sadly, tragedy strikes and they never reach their destination. Only a young Pi is alive to witness the sinking of the great boat. He helplessly tries to stay afloat, while his mother, father, and brother go down with it. Alone in a life boat, he drifts out at sea, later finding himself in the company of a zebra, hyena, orang-utan, and yes, even helping a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker aboard. Which of course causes immediate regret. Despite the amimals’ fatal encounters with one another, being with Richard Parker later demonstrates itself as a blessing in disguise.

The pair endures hardship, to say the least, daily, whether it is a struggle to obtain food, water, or survive a harsh storm. Though a boy’s resourceful ways, strong will to live, and a tiger can prove to be his greatest allies.

By the end, I officially pledged my love to this book, so what do I do? Go see the movie of course! However, I maybe shouldn’t have been as excited. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this was going to be a difficult novel to convert to a movie. What made the book was the special attention paid to thought, detail, and experience.  It is not always easy to dive so deep into a characters mind in a film. There is no possibility of squeezing in every detail of a book into a production and not making a few cuts and plot additions here and there (Not even in the three hour Lord of the Rings films). This was the heart of my disappoiment, which was expected.

I had heard that the draw to the theaters was the 3D experiance. There was review_life-of-pi-e1353441124712hearsay of graphics that were incredible and “a must see.”  Well, not quite… The 3D I have to admit was some of the better in some time and the overall look of the film was pleasing, but this was no Avatar, not by a long shot. There were a couple of cool “ooo…ah…” moments in the ocean, which were the extent of the animation.  These were the times that the small children in the theater were captured with wonder. At other times I found (although be it a PG movie) that some of the animals’ “injuries” did not sit well with that particular crowd. I’m not sure if some parents knew that animals were killed in this film. In that case, it was probably for the best that certain scenes were taken out.

All and all, I am glad I saw the story come to life on the big screen. It was an enjoyable film for the most part and I would give it three stars. The book I have to go out on a limb and give it the whole five. I recommend both watching and especially reading Life of Pi.