book reviews, media, psychology

5 books that changed me & 5 that will

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about influence. I participated in a psych study last week in which I was asked how much I thought simple decisions–what class to take, what movie to watch, etcetera–influenced my future. At first I was certain the answer was hardly at all, but when I really thought about it I realized how wrong I was. The English class I took last quarter, for instance, had a huge impact on me and how I see myself, and if I hadn’t watched Don Jon last week I would be far less enlightened about film’s capacity to reveal double standards. (Watch that movie if you haven’t yet, please.) Books, of course, are some of the most important societal influences we have, so I thought it would be interesting to make a list of books that significantly influenced my life and my decisions. Continue reading

college life, psychology, writing

on success & selfishness

The past few weeks have been incredible, in a less-than-adequate word–I’ll explain the details in this post–but all the great things that have come may way lately have also made me think a lot about the nature of success and intelligence in general. What I mean by this is something I became more aware of after reading (and listening to) a lot of David Foster Wallace: the inherent selfishness of, well, everybody. And yeah, really I’m just talking about myself here, but I’m talking about my selfishness, so there’s some irony for you. Continue reading

family, writing

house (& sister) sitting

At the moment I’m illegally (by my mother’s standards) house sitting for my dad while he spends a couple days in San Francisco with his girlfriend. (I’m eighteen, but she, as the concerned mom and ex-wife, doesn’t like leaving me alone with my fourteen-year-old sister in our oh-so-dangerous suburban neighborhood, so don’t tell her.) In the day he’s been gone, I’ve managed to scrub the sink squeaky clean and almost break the disposer. (Putting a chopped lemon down that thing to “clean” it is a very loud affair, let me tell you.) I’ve also had many strange internal dialogues with myself whilst showering, one of which questioned whether “two pigs in a blanket” is the same as “two peas in a pod,” and if so, whether that could be interpreted as a weird sexual situation.

Well, this has been a lovely introduction so far, hasn’t it? As for the sane side of myself, I’m behind on the poem collection I’m working on right now. I usually write more fiction than poetry, but I thought I’d do one a day for August, just to get back to reliably writing, and I have two or three to catch up on. The main themes of the collection are leaving home, anxiety, loss of innocence, adulthood, that kind of thing. Some of them are pretty dark, but it’s mainly about getting past that. It can be found here if you’re interested.


I also got my room and roommate assignments from UCSB today, where I’ll be a freshman this fall. I’m ridiculously excited! I got Santa Catalina, which wasn’t my first choice–it’s about a mile from campus–but it’s still really nice, and I’ll have a bike. Orientation last month was really just a tease; I can’t wait to get back and start all my classes.

I’m taking Intro to Literary Study, Intro to Cultural Anthropology, and Calculus for Social & Life Sciences (yeah, hardly a real math class, I know). As a freshman I’m not allowed more than 12-15 units, so I can’t take anything else this quarter. I really ought to read the books required for intro to lit, but I feel like I should pre-read the ones I’m least excited for first, and that would entail Dickens, which I’m not in the mood for right now. I guess that’s understandable, as I’m reading a hilarious book about the devil (I, Lucifer) and a bunch of Sylvia Plath short stories (Johnny Panic & the Bible of Dreams).

The books required are Hard Times (Dickens), Remainder (Tom McCarthy), House of Leaves (Mark Danielewski) A Small Place (Jamaica Kincaid), & Bartleby and Benito Cereno (Melville). I’ll definitely be reviewing them later on. Till then I’ll be figuring out what to pack and reviewing whatever I read this summer. On that note I will end this post, and go ask my sister to feed the dog.

…Being the adult of the house is really weird.