A Role as Social Commentary: How Cara Delevingne’s role in Paper Towns sheds a light on her own societal role.

I watch her write.  Except for being a little grimy, she looks like she has always looked.  I don’t know why, but I always thought she would look different.  Older.  That I would barely recognize her when I finally saw her again.  But there she is, and I am watching her through the Plexiglass, and she looks like Margo Roth Spiegelman, this girl I have known since I was two– this girl who was an idea that I loved. And it is only now, when she closes her notebook and places it inside a backpack next to her and then stands up and walks toward us, that I realize that the idea is not only wrong but dangerous.  What a treacherous thing it is to believe a person is more than a person.

– John Green, Paper Towns

Cara Delevingne, star on the rise, wants the world to know that she is more than just a pretty face.  Perhaps that is why she dropped her modeling career for acting.  This being said, Delevigne has never been ashamed of her goofy or tomboyish personality, and she has always been candid with interviewers.  Perhaps her glowing personality paired with her good looks make her someone that could be seen as enigmatic, or “different from other girls.”  Because she’s not afraid to be improper, unlady-like, or unglamorous.  Also, her dark eyebrows and high cheek-bones give the sense that she is truly as sexy and mysterious as Margo Roth Spiegelman, the restless teenage runaway.

John Green said in an Instagram post how delighted he was to have Delevigne casted as Margo.  In a caption of the goofy photo of the two, he wrote, “Rocking out with [Cara Delevigne], a wonderful actress who is so smart, so genuinely interesting, and so Margo.”  Delevingne, on the other hand, does not think of herself at all like her character.  She told DMA in an interview:

Bullshit!  People have definitely put that on me and being like, you’re the supermodel, and I’m not that person at all.  I’m a tomboy goofball.

In the film Paper Towns, a film portrayal of John Green’s young-adult novel, the protagonist Quentin (Nat Wolff), falls in love with Margo, his across the street neighbor with whom he has had a fleeting childhood friendship.  The two characters keep their distance from one another until one night, when Margo climbs through Quentin’s window, and enlists him to help her take revenge on her cheating boyfriend and disloyal friends with some late night hijinks.

Margo herself, however, has a mysterious, free-spirit vibe about her.  She does not find that her dreams match up with conventional dreams of suburbia (go to college, get a job, get married, have kids).  Her carefree and fearless attitude along with her encapsulating beauty lure males, such as Quentin, to be her devoted suitors.

What the novel and the movie stress about Quentin’s relationship with Margo is that the Margo with which he is in love is a constructed and fantastic version of her.  He equates her to a prophet, a goddess, when really, she is just a teenage girl.  This is often the pattern of indie movies featuring manic pixie dream girls, such as (500) Days of Summer and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  Though these films feature this female archetype, they also fight against it.  To love someone as a constructed image is not only unstable, but it is also selfish.

As Delevingne’s thoughts on being likened to Margo show, our image of Delevingne as this carefree, mysterious, and fearless spirit is also wrong.  Much like her character, the world has this idea of Cara Delevingne, the posh supermodel.  Just like Margo isn’t Quentin’s Margo, maybe Cara isn’t the world’s Cara.  Furthermore, it is fitting that this is her first major acting role since reportedly dropping modeling.  Delevingne is working to shatter our image of her as we know her, or at least, as we think we know her.

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Distracting yourself from Depression

The Lonely Summer

Source: pinterest.com

I was diagnosed with depression when I was 19 years old, after my first semester of college, which was, needless to say, a rough one. After that, my parents got me to see a psychiatrist, who prescribed me anti-depressants. Things got much better once I started taking them.

From my experience, depression is sort of like a dark cloud, but instead of being in the sky like normal clouds, it kind of surrounds you like a fog, coloring everything you see. Nothing looks as fun anymore, no one seems to like you anymore, and when you look in the mirror, you see someone you don’t like. Every time you try to do something, you keep thinking that nothing you do will ever be good enough, and you give up for the 100th time. The anti-depressants cleared that fog quite a bit, and thus, I was able to…

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A lonely summer isn’t the worst thing: a little perspective

The Lonely Summer

These past few days I:

  • stopped coffee cold turkey because I don’t want caffeine’s precious effects to be lost on me
  • started taking Tylenol every night because of the caffeine headaches I got
  • went on a successful run
  • was greeted by the fantastic news of the marriage equality
  • was trapped in my house because Obama was speaking at the TD Arena just around the corner
  • reluctantly took a pair of scissors to an old t-shirt and was pleasantly surprised by the result
  • went to the farmer’s market, bought blueberries, and ate the best fried chicken biscuit I have ever eaten (Bojangles got nothin on this one!)
  • got caught in the rain
  • started drinking coffee again

Some of the things on this list are quite tragic in small and large ways.  As you can probably tell, my caffeine withdrawals are on the small end of the spectrum.  However, living in Charleston…

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Follow the Lonely Summer!

Hey lovely people!  I just started a new blog about my summer and what I’m doing to make it count!

I still may post a little bit on here.  Hopefully will be getting some more writing done.

Anyway, here’s my new blog!

Hope you’re having a wonderful summer!

– Alex

Elaine

Elaine felt stronger with her hair pulled up in a bun, though she couldn’t say exactly why.  Maybe to was because the dark hair that obscured her face could, somewhat easily, be pulled from her line of sight.  She did not care whether the pile it made on top of her head was messy or neat.  Messy buns were in style anyway.

As she look in the mirror, she stuck her neck out.  Her jawline protruded, angular yet soft.  Her skin was relatively smooth, save for the occasional clutter of pimples that appeared before and during her period.  Elaine’s period was two weeks ago, and her chin, if you looked closely, was slightly scarred.  Her fingers could hardly resist picking at them, though she knew better.

Her bun made up for this.  She was also less than two feet away from her reflection, so her flaws would not be as noticeable to others as they were to her.  Sometimes, people mistook these scars for freckles, for they blended quite well among them.  The pink tone of her skin further clouded these scars.  Besides, there are worse things than acne scars.

Elaine had the sort of confidence, it seemed, that contradicted her modesty.  Though she was independent, one would hardly say that she was brazen.  Sure, she wasn’t afraid to ask for what she wanted, and she wasn’t afraid to wear the red lipstick that often covered her lips or a skirt that was slightly shorter than what her work dress code mandated.  Anyway, she was pretty sure that the dark colored Chuck Taylors that some of the younger men wore to work didn’t count as “dress shoes.”  The dress code was more of a preliminary way to make the firm more appealing and professional to their more conservative clients.  Once these clients were convinced of the firm’s legitimacy, even if only on paper, it seemed that such trivial violations flew under their radar.  Furthermore, many of the employees that broke the dress code remained smiling behind their desks, slightly short skirts and Chuck Taylor’s out of sight, as Mr. Matthews, the young owner of the firm, led clients to his corner office.

Elaine dressed for no one but herself.  So long as she liked her reflection, she would walk briskly out of her door shortly after grabbing a granola bar for breakfast.  However, this did not mean that her legs, framed by a pencil skirt and pointed black flats, didn’t capture the attention of some men.  Elaine knew this, but didn’t let is faze her.  Let them look.  She responded only by extending her legs more so as to make them more flattering– and to help her move forward just a little faster.

Random things that cause me a lot of stress

1. Replying to a text/Facebook/Instagram comment from an acquaintance

Should I use a smiley? No, that’s childish. Or a exclamation point?  No, I’ll look crazy or something.  All right, no punctuation.  Wait, that seems really sarcastic and bitchy…

2. Shopping in a grocery or department store with a cart

Shit, that aisle has lots of people in it.

Ugh, no that person is right in front of what I want.  Wait, maybe I’m in front of what that person wants.  Oh no, I can’t move.

Maybe I should leave my cart over there.  Okay, that works yes… Wait!  Sir!  I was using that cart!  Noooo!

3. When I have more than one pawn out in a game of Sorry

Those of you who’ve played this game know that there’s little strategy involved.  So, which man do you move?  At the moment, sure, it doesn’t matter.  But, then, when your brother draws a three and you’re right there three spaces ahead of him when you could have moved it last.  I hate decisions that don’t give me much decision either way.  It’s a gambling game, Sorry.

4. Choosing an outfit when I have one or more planned events in a week

When one night, I’m doing dinner with this friend, a get together at another friends house, and an outing to the mall with another friend, what the hell do I wear?  Is this too casual?  And, if I wear this really good outfit today, then I can’t wear it later this week.  Of course, these are all different friends, so no one will know, right?  But if they see posts on Facebook or something and see me in the same outfit, I’ll look like a peasant.

5. Choosing an outfit when the weather is mild.

If I wear a sweater, I’ll be too warm.  If I don’t, then I’ll be cold.  Long sleeves and shorts or short sleeves and pants?  Is it okay to wear a turtleneck and flip flops at the same time?

6. Choosing an outfit over a break

What if I wear this today, and I just sit around the house, when I could have worn it out another day?

7. Deciding whether or not to buy something, no matter how small.

I don’t know.  Yes, it’s only a seven dollar scarf, but that seven dollars could really help with a large chunk of student loans in my future.

As I write this list of things, I realize something.  Most of these have to do with how people perceive me or something that I don’t have complete control over.  Actually, both of those things are things that I cannot control.  What does that demonstrate that when I am texting a person, I care more about how I am perceived by that person instead of making sure I make that person feel good about themselves, and help them with whatever they need?

This is something my parents have hammered again and again into my head.  Think about others.  Also, if you’re observant enough, you’ll realize that all of those stupid things you notice about yourself are things that fly completely unnoticed under another’s radar.  The truth is that they may be busy thinking about how they are perceived just as much as you are, and they are more busy noticing stupid and unnoticeable things about themselves than they are about you.  Plus, if you’re always looking out for others, then people are bound to think good things about you!  And if they don’t, well, that’s their problem.

You can’t control the weather.  Try as you might, things do not always go according to plan.  And sometimes, you lose at Sorry.

29/11/2014: Missing the Isles.

I’m starting to realize how much I’m going to miss England.  I feel like this: I want to go home, but I don’t want to go home.  Because coming home means seeing my family, my friends, and my dogs again; it means eating American food again; it means driving my car again; it means familiarity; it means being in the country that, in my time away from it, I’ve become so much fonder of.  However, it also means no more of seeing the friends I’ve made here who have become so familiar to me; no more seeing their faces, meeting up for lunch or dinner, or weekend trips; it means no more easy, cheap, and convenient travel (at least relatively); it means no more digestive biscuits or Cadbury chocolate.  I love America more than I ever have, but I also love the country that has been my home for the past three months.  

All I guess I can say is bye, Europe.  It’s been great.  Hello, America, I’ve missed you.  And Europe, plan to see me again in the future.  Soon.

These are the benefits of travel.  Not only experiencing something different, making new friends, and seeing parts of the world that you’ve seen revered in textbooks, but also growing closer to your own national identity and appreciating your homeland.

I realize that this can vary depending upon the person and the place.  For example, my friend, Julia, who studied in Italy, probably feels the opposite.  She feels that Italian customs, attitudes, and world-views make more sense.  Perhaps she feels more alienated from America than she has ever been.  In a way, I am jealous of her.  I wish I found that more strongly in England.

However, I’ve found that that is part of traveling.  Paradoxical as it seems, the more you travel, the closer to home you get.  What I mean by this is that going new places may bring you to appreciate things about where you have lived before, or currently live, or it can make you realize that those places never were quite what you needed.

It’s not that I dislike England!  I love it and miss it dearly.  The black tea, chocolate digestives, accents, strangers calling you love, pubs!  Pubs are probably what I miss the most, because going to a bar in Charleston, especially alone, does not sound so laid back or nearly as appealing.  It sounds as if men will crowd around me, wondering what they could do to get me to go home with me.  Pubs are sort of like the coffee-houses of England, except, not as hip or seemingly-forward thinking.  Instead, they settle their roots in tradition.  Mostly old men gather there, but at least they are not as obnoxious as people my age drinking (at least the ones I encountered were not).

Heck, I even miss the ugly parts of England.  I miss the bleak fields, filled with cute little spray-painted sheep.  I miss the stone walls of Ireland, the hills of Northern England and Scotland.  I also really miss the amount of public transport that they had.  In England, you don’t really need a car if you don’t have one.  Sure, it makes things more convenient, but if you need to get somewhere, you can usually find a train, bus, or tube system that takes you there.  In America, even in my city, you need a car to get around, or else your life will be much more complicated than it needs to be.

At the same time, I am excited for next semester and settling back into a somewhat normal schedule.  If you’ve read my blog on British education, then you’ll know what I am talking about.  Also, I can do what I need without the constant pressure of palpable finiteness.  What I mean is, knowing that I was in England for such a short time made me stress about if I could do everything I wanted to do.  In ways, I didn’t, but I also did.  I did it in a way that I didn’t feel rushed, but there are still places in the country that I want to visit.  But, all the more reason to go back!

Here are a few pictures.

Apparently, it gets cold in Ireland, but not cold enough for this grass to turn brown!  That's why Ireland is such a good place to farm livestock!

Apparently, it gets cold in Ireland, but not cold enough for this grass to turn brown! That’s why Ireland is such a good place to farm livestock!

Trinity College

Trinity College

James Joyce: One of the things that brought me to Ireland!  After reading Ulysses, I really wanted to see Dublin for myself.

James Joyce: One of the things that brought me to Ireland! After reading Ulysses, I really wanted to see Dublin for myself.

The Spire was built to commemorate the millennium, but it wasn't actually completed until 2003.  So, they just call it the Spire.

The Spire was built to commemorate the millennium, but it wasn’t actually completed until 2003. So, they just call it the Spire.

Ha'penny Bridge: The reason for this bridge's name is that it used to cost half a penny to cross it.  Of course, that stopped and you can cross the River Liffey for free.

Ha’penny Bridge: The reason for this bridge’s name is that it used to cost half a penny to cross it. Of course, that stopped and you can cross the River Liffey for free.

Wallaton Park. England can be beautiful, too.

Wallaton Park. England can be beautiful, too.

Manchester Christmas Markets: No one quite has Christmas spirit like the Brits!

Manchester Christmas Markets: No one quite has Christmas spirit like the Brits!

Mulled Wine: Warm wine, basically.  It sounds disgusting, I know, but think warm apple cider, but grape flavored instead.  It's especially good with a bit of rum, an orange slice, or a cinnamon stick!

Mulled Wine: Warm wine, basically. It sounds disgusting, I know, but think warm apple cider, but grape flavored instead. It’s especially good with a bit of rum, an orange slice, or a cinnamon stick!

Manchester Cathedral: Gothic architecture > any other architecture.

Manchester Cathedral: Gothic architecture > any other architecture.

Manchester Cathedral Continued.

Manchester Cathedral Continued.

Big Ben: My breath was taken away by the site of it.  I had no idea how intricate or ornate the architecture of this thing was!  I fell in love immediately.

Big Ben: My breath was taken away by the site of it. I had no idea how intricate or ornate the architecture of this thing was! I fell in love immediately.

The Tower Bridge: Same with this guy.

The Tower Bridge: Same with this guy.

Outside the Tower of London: They had fake poppies everywhere to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the start of World War I.

Outside the Tower of London: They had fake poppies everywhere to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the start of World War I.

Even if you aren't going to one of London's infamous clubs, go see the landmarks at night!  You will not regret it!

Even if you aren’t going to one of London’s infamous clubs, go see the landmarks at night! You will not regret it!

The London Eye

The London Eye

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

Trafalgar Square: We were lucky and got there early in the morning.  It was absolutely empty and we got to see the sun rise.  We also returned in the afternoon to see it packed with people; specifically street performers, pedestrians, and protestors against collecting ivory from elephants!

Trafalgar Square: We were lucky and got there early in the morning. It was absolutely empty and we got to see the sun rise. We also returned in the afternoon to see it packed with people; specifically street performers, pedestrians, and protestors against collecting ivory from elephants!

Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square

A common site in St. Pancras: Piano players throughout the train station just added such a cheerful atmosphere.  It breaks up the tension of making a train and just transports you into a world of magic.

A common site in St. Pancras: Piano players throughout the train station just added such a cheerful atmosphere. It breaks up the tension of making a train and just transports you into a world of magic.

Update

Hello, all!  My 2014 journey from New England to Old England has officially ended about a week ago.  Since then, I have met up with various friends, recovered from my jet-lag, and attempted to finish my final essays that are due mid-January.  I also have some rent, job-related, and intern-related things to tend to.

My blogs are scattered all throughout the Internet, and, as much as I would love to keep them all in one place, I wanted to publish my blogs in a place where they may get more traffic.  Also, I like keeping this blog somewhat anonymous, sharing it with only interested strangers or people I am comfortable sharing it with.  I am hoping that I will be able to publish a few of my journal entries from the past 6 months (is that all it’s been?).  I guess I can time-stamp them so that you will not get confused.  As you can tell, my brain is as scattered as my blogs and I am not very good at organizing things!  For that, I apologize.

Anyway, sorry for this boring post.  Good day!

Abroad from England: Underground Vaults, Haggis, and Hills in Scotland

A few weeks ago, I left England for the first time since I landed in London and went to Edinburgh, Scotland with a few of my fellow international exchange classmates. On the way there, though I also slept for a majority of the time, I was able to look out the window and see this: sheep-sprinkled fields, which abruptly ended with craggy cliffs that descended into the ocean. Upon some of these cliffs sat ruined castles. It was something out of a dream. Compared to England’s flat and rather barren landscape, Scotland has more of a rugged beauty to it. England, though quaint, can get boring to look at through a car or train window. Scotland, however, was full of surprises, such as the view I just described, and, best of all, hills. Though I only got to see Edinburgh, I would definitely return to see more of this– especially the Highlands!
Though we had a slight hiccup with our early morning train being cancelled, we made it to Edinburgh only an hour later than we had planned. As we waited for another one of my friends, who was strangely assigned to a different connection than the rest of us, all I remember was looking at the magnificent Scotsman and being extremely cold.

During the day, we explored the narrow and winding streets of Edinburgh. The touristic hub of Edinburgh is the Royal Mile, which slopes of the side of a hill. At the top of this hill sits Edinburgh Castle, which almost looks as if it were carved out of the mountain itself. Along this street is Giles Cathedral, which is a splendid example of Gothic architecture, many, many places selling kilts, woolen scarves, and whiskey, and other tourist attractions. Perhaps one of my favorite things though is the view of the city by the castle. From here, not only can you see half of Edinburgh, but you can also see the ocean in the distance.

In the Underground Vaults of Edinburgh

In the Underground Vaults of Edinburgh

After dinner, my friends and I went on a ghost tour. I booked this tour days earlier and was surprised by my friends’ eagerness to join me. There are multiple ghost tours along the Royal Mile, but the one my friends and I took was through the City of the Dead. This tour took us to a graveyard, where one of the most violent poltergeists is said to preside (live isn’t quite the right word), and through Edinburgh’s underground tunnels. The guide told us much about Scottish history, particularly concerning the underground vaults. The vaults were originally meant to serve as housing, but the conditions were quite inhospitable. For example, the stone used to build these vaults were made of limestone. The problem with limestone is that, with moisture, it dissolves. Because other living quarters were situated above some of the vaults, the ceilings literally dripped with sewage, as our tour guide explained. As if this wasn’t enough to dissuade someone form living here, there was no sunlight, no running water, and it became a hub for crime. It has even been said that serial killers hunted their victims in these vaults and sold their corpses to be examined in medical schools.

So why would anyone ever want to live in such a place? Well, at a certain point in Scottish history, it was actually illegal to be homeless. “If you didn’t have a roof over your head, you were sent to Australia. And when it came to sewage leaking, crime ridden, dark vaults and going to Australia, people chose the vaults,” the tour guide explained.  This emitted many laughs from the tourists.
The next day, we toured Edinburgh Castle, which contains the Scottish crown jewels and many other exhibits concerning the history of the Kingdom of Scotland. Though the views from the castle were spectacular, I found the castle itself slightly underwhelming. Compared to Windsor, which is still a functioning residence of the Royal Family, it felt much more like a museum.  It was a bit expensive, and unless you really want to see, I wouldn’t recommend it.
That night, my friends and I went to a pub. This pub was the most pubby pub I’ve been to since I’ve been in the United

Deep fried haggis with a side of whiskey sauce

Deep fried haggis with a side of whiskey sauce

Kingdom. We were the only non-senior citizens within the establishment, and books such as worn paperbacks by Stephen King and Yorkshire Terriers for Dummies lined the walls. We ordered our food, and we decided to share, as an appetizer, the infamous Scottish delicacy haggis. Haggis is comprised of sheep’s pluck, which is minced sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs, onions, oatmeal, suet, and other spices. As if this isn’t yummy enough already, it is traditionally cooked by being encased within the animal’s stomach and simmered for approximately three hours. However, most modern haggis is not actually cooked in this way. The version that we had may not have been traditional, as it was also deep fried, but I actually found it quite tasty!

After the hike up Arthur's Seat!  Almost made it to the top, but it was extremely windy!

After the hike up Arthur’s Seat! Almost made it to the top, but it was extremely windy!

On our last day in Edinburgh, my friends and I also completed something that is basically a right of passage to tourists

in Edinbugh– we climbed Arthur’s Seat. Though the hike is short, it is strenuous. The view, however, was such a reward. The struggle to get up was soon forgotten when looking over Edinburgh’s cityscape. Though my friends and I made it quite close to the top, we had to go back down on account of the wind. Also, I very nearly lost my hat.
Despite Scotland being in the same country as England, its culture is quite different. Scotland has preserved much of its independent royal culture, and, despite being a part of the United Kingdom it also still has its own government. Its landscape, its people, its rich history, and its food won me over. Though London was absolutely lovely, Edinburgh, so far, was the only city I’ve visited and thought to myself, “I could picture myself living here.” Maybe I’ll come back later for more, Scotland.

To Do List

– Get passport photos
– Appointments with:
– Dr. Templeton
– Planned Parenthood
– Haircut
– Look over suggested packing list
– Get:
– New tennis shoes?
– Toothbrush and toothpaste
– Mascara, eyeliner, powder
– Pack, of course
– Look over graduation requirements
– Email professor about bachelor’s essay
– Receive reply?
– Get flu shot

I’ve been home for nearly a month, and my brain feels as if it has turned to mush. My friends are all off at school, or working, or something far more exciting than what I am doing right now. I know that to some people that catching up on Netflix, reading, taking an online class, and sitting around the house sound like heaven, but trust me, too much of it can feel like hell. I am one of those people that constantly needs to be stimulated or busy– almost like a bicycle. Stop pedaling, and you’re sure to lose your balance.
However, I have gotten some writing done – I’ve written quite a few songs (just the lyrics, music yet to come), I’ve written an essay, and I have started a short story. Also, I’m taking a class, so you know, I’m being productive.
So, in some ways, this to-do list is my savior from mind numbing depression. Not only does it remind me that I have an adventure to look forward to and prepare for, but it also gets me to do things! Yay! It also does this magical thing where I don’t really feel like I’m in this weird no-school-no-work limbo type of deal.
Though I am a horrendously scatterbrained person, I like making to do lists. They aren’t always necessarily in order or all that structured, but it’s something to go off of. They are especially helpful when you’re like me, and frequently walk into a room only to find that any memory of what you went in there for has completely vanished.
Not only do to-do lists have everything you need to do in one place, but it also gives you the satisfaction of checking things off. There’s nothing more satisfying than crossing something off. Something about it gives your accomplishments a certain palpability.
Most importantly, however, my to-do list creates an excitement and an anticipation for what is next: my voyage to the United Kingdom! I am excited beyond belief, and by beyond belief I mean that I still don’t really feel like I’m going yet. The list is helping it to sink in, but it still feels like some sort of fantasy in the far future, not a flight that I will be boarding in less than two weeks.
I am anxious. I am nervous. I am exhilarated. I am alive. I guess I could make a list of my current emotions as well. I cycle through them constantly. One of the primary ones, however, is that I’ve been feeling down due to my inactivity. However, I keep my chin up, my eyes on the not-so-distant future, bide my time, and remind myself that such a feeling is something that is only passing.