Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Book Review: Wild

Title: Wild:From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
Author: Cheryl Strayed
Format: Kindle

Summary from Goodreads: A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe—and built her back up again.

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother's death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than “an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise.” But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone.

Strayed faces down rattlesnakes and black bears, intense heat and record snowfalls, and both the beauty and loneliness of the trail. Told with great suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild vividly captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

My Thoughts: Firstly, this woman is an idiot. An utter moron who set out alone on a hike with a pathetically little amount of planning and foresight. I must, however, admire her tenacity for continuing and completing her trek despite her utter unpreparedness. I wish the book focused a little more on the actual trail itself  instead of the memoir material of her motivation to go on the hike. This is probably because, despite how bad I know this sounds, is that I found myself horribly unsympathetic to her entire plight. Even when she's describing her mother's death there was something in the writing or tone that read as insincere to me. She then cheats on a man she supposedly loves, hooks up with a heroin addict, and basically becomes a general fuck-up before taking off on this rather hairbrained hiking plan. She gets a lot of help along the way though, some of which probably saved her life but it's hard to tell how much of that was because people on the PCT look out for one another or because she was a young pretty blonde woman on her own. 
But anyway, apart from the above criticism I do understand the urge to do something like this. I would love to and having been trapped in this little dormroom for ages and seeing the forested hills beyond Oslo and knowing the mountains and fjords that lay beyond them makes me want to pack a bag and take off myself. But I would need to plan things out much more than her and I would feel the need to actually train for it (and not do heroin only a couple days before starting maybe). And one day I would love to follow the St. Olaf's pilgrimage trail from Oslo to Trondheim. It was when she talked about the journey, the hike, and the moments that make the entire struggle worthwhile that this book shone. It was the isolation, the physical remoteness, and fear that comes from being utterly alone in the wilderness that I knew and could relate to. 
I really don't know why she felt the need to include the bit about the horse- that was horrifying. 
Not a bad book by any means but I guess not what I was really expecting from a hiking memoir. 
Rating 3/5

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Back to Book Reviews: Gone Girl

Title: Gone Girl
Author: Gillian Flynn
Format: Kindle

Summary from Goodreads: Marriage can be a real killer.

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

My Thoughts: I literally just finished this book and I loved it. It was a rather quick read because I didn't want to put it down. Flynn is rather talented at leading the reader on and including a million little cliffhangers as the chapters flip between Nick's perspective and Amy's journal excerpts. I had occasional issues with the first-person narrative but they weren't problematic enough to really jar the reading. Oddly for a book I enjoyed so much I didn't think any of the characters were at all likeable. Once the book was winding down I expected the ending but I can tell that things 'post-ending' are not going to end well. 

Rating: 4.5/5

Friday, May 10, 2013

I'm Back! Life update and looking forward

I've been MIA in so many ways recently. It's because I haven't done anything. Really. I should have made a post about my awesome mini-UK adventure to Manchester- Glasgow- Edinburgh but since that was back in January it's too late to post about now. Here's a few pics though:
York minster
pretty ruin

like a church- but for BOOKS

St Mungo's Cathedral, Glasgow

Glasgow necropolis

bagpipers playing at the Monte Carlo thingy

Canada's portrayal on the ceramic fountain

University of Glasgow- I MUST go there

Edinburgh castle

over Edinburgh

St. Giles Cathedral

Calton Hill

on top of Calton Hill

Calton Hill view towards Edinburgh Castle

View towards Arthur's Seat

Climbing down from the very windy Arthur's Seat

St. Anthony's Chapel and Arthur's Seat

I should be sending my thesis in to the printers tomorrow but I'm not done. I basically ignored it and my supervisor until mid-April and then started panicking. I felt that I either had to complete it or entirely complete. I've been dreaming about what I could do once this is finished so much I'd rather do that then actually finish it. My sanity has suffered from being constantly surrounded by these slightly blue-tinged walls and my ass has suffered from the hour in this uncomfortable chair. I became entirely anti-social and even anxious to leave my room.  There were times when I'd leave this room only once a week for a short grocery trip and then retreat back to my hole. I always justified it by saying that if I was at home I could easily start doing work but then I never would. The gorgeous sunny weather we had in April seemed like it was taunting me- I should have just gone out but nope. So on top of that and the laziness was the daydreaming.
I made a post relating to this in the past but I just realized I actually have a mental 'thing'. I really don't know what to call it a condition perhaps called Maladaptive Daydreaming and while I only discovered the name of it last month I've been doing it all my life. Dr. Eli Somer wrote that: Maladaptive daydreaming (MD) is extensive fantasy activity that replaces human interaction and/or interferes with academic, interpersonal, or vocational functioning. ... Identified MD functions included Disengagement from Stress and Pain by Mood Enhancement and Wish Fulfillment Fantasies; and Companionship, Intimacy, and Soothing. Recurrent MD themes were Violence; Idealized Self; Power and Control; Captivity; Rescue and Escape; and Sexual Arousal. Motifs that were classified as describing MD dynamics were Onset and Kinesthetic elements. Although MD seemed to have been preceded by a normal childhood propensity for creative imagination, aversive circumstances were seen to have contributed to the development of MD.
Common Symptoms:

Daydreaming excessively in a way that is often compared to an addiction.  yep
This excessive daydreaming often begins in childhood. yep
Books, movies, music, video games, and other media may be a daydreaming trigger. oh yep
The daydreaming itself is often detailed and elaborate, sometimes compared to a movie or novel. most definitely
Repetitive movements while daydreaming are common (but not always present in sufferers) -  pacing, rocking, spinning, shaking something in their hand, etc. nope
They may sometimes talk, laugh, cry, gesture, or make facial expressions as they daydream.  People suffering from this know the difference between daydreaming and reality, and do not confuse the two; this makes them distinctly different from psychotics or schizophrenics.   yep
Some people will lie in bed for hours daydreaming, and may either have difficulty going to sleep because of this, or have difficulty getting out of bed once awake.  They may also neglect basic functions such as regular meals, etc. because of excessive daydreaming. yep

I've read some stuff on it but should read more but it's just so freaky because the more I read the more of a "What? no, that's me, why are they describing me so much?' It's scary how exactly they describe so much of my life. The few exceptions are that some say it's in response to abuse and I've never been abused (though I guess it's possible that my brother's death started it as I can't remember exactly when I started) and the other is that it is often accompanied by a repetitive motion and I don't do that. So mix my laziness and tendency to procrastinate with a mental condition that means I enjoy spending hours upon hours making shit up in my head is a recipe for not accomplishing much at all. 
I have decided that I'm taking an extra semester to finish my thesis but due to financial concerns and a need for some sort of change I'll be doing it from home. I'm leaving the beautiful Oslo for crappy Mississauga, Canada. While there will be definite negative adjustments like the city's terrible public transportation system, finding a job, and sharing a house with my parents again I'm focusing so much more on the things I've been missing and am greatly looking forward to. I really am excited. The thesis is now due in November and I don't plan on staying at home much longer than that. Maybe a year or however long it takes to get my driver's and motorcycle licenses. And then it'll be off to the real adventures. 
 I'm leaving May 24th and until then I'll be reading and enjoying the forests and amazing scenery while it's on my doorstep. 
partially frozen pond in Nordmarka