it’s kind of a funny story

hi friends! it’s national teen suicide prevention week! a lil warning: there are a good bunch of triggering mentions of death n suicide ahead. so, if you’re not up for this, visit the lovely dora @ for the goldfinches or this post from matt @ the lil engine that couldn’t that always makes me cringe laugh in support.

In 2014, I did the best school project I ever have done – I got to create an anthology on whatever I wanted for English. I could talk about anything. I had to write a really big essay as the preface and talk about all of the pieces I’d be using, and I could write about anything. It’s still the most I’ve ever enjoyed an academic project.

The title of my anthology was “life, interrupted” and IT focused on mental illness in young people. It was a crazy experience because most all of the works I included came down to choices rather than first time reading. There’re only so many books, in my experience, that captured what I felt to a point where I could rest in the fact that I wasn’t alone if someone could write about it. I chose Susanna Kaysen’s Girl, Interrupted and Ned Vizzini’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story. Today, I’d like to talk about the latter, and it’s author.

IKOAFS is the kind of book that I had to stop reading after the first three chapters because it was too personal. It was too real, and too accurate, and Ned Vizzini was looking into my head and would tell people how messed up I was because they would know exactly what and how I was thinking. Because I was Craig, and I was Craig right down to the standing on the bridge and feeling free and wanting to jump a year later.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story is about Craig, a smart kid with some douchey friends (some (one) of which are okay) who finds himself depressed, and then suicidal. He checks himself into a psychiatric hospital because he wants to get better. He learns a lot & works through a lot. He realises he’s not into the girl he thought he was into. He meets people who help him to work it out. He starts taking his medication again. He chooses to live.

Ski. Sled. Play basketball. Jog. Run. Run. Run. Run home. Run home and enjoy. Enjoy. Take these verbs and enjoy them. They’re yours, Craig. You deserve them because you chose them. You could have left them all behind but you chose to stay here. So now live for real, Craig. Live. Live. Live. Live.
Live.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Ned Vizzini

This story is hard. It’s hard because it fits, because it’s mine, because it’s Ned Vizzini’s, and because Ned Vizzini didn’t live.

I’ve always hated the phrase, “commit suicide”. Since I was nine, I’ve hated it. If you commit something, it’s a sin. If you end your life, if you commit suicide, are you a sinner? Are you a sinner for feeling too much? Are you a sinner because it is unbearable to hold up a universe of suffering on a daily basis?  Are you a sinner for wanting it to stop? Am I a sinner because I wanted to?

(The answer is no. This is a topic for another day.)

Ned Vizzini died by suicide on December 19th, 2013. He lived, he inspired, he loved, he wrote, he tried,  he won, he became a beacon for depressed teenagers, he pulled me from the edge, and he died. It was said best here: “the great, unspeakable tragedy of The Bell Jar is now the tragedy of Funny Story.”

Everybody dies. The personalities of Ned Vizzini & Craig, the protagonist, line up really nicely. He captured Craig’s spirit because it was his own and showed Craig’s victory because it was his own. The whole book is based on wanting to kill yourself, and then not. Craig & Ned didn’t line up there.

It’s not as though it’s as simple as stating that Craig lived on and Ned didn’t. Ned could have ended things when he was 23, before he admitted himself to that psychiatric hospital. He didn’t. He could have not written IKOAFS. He did. He could have been so brilliant by doing so much less, but he did more and more and more than enough people will ever be able to thank him to. Ned was strong, and brave, and honest. He was talented. He was – he is – life changing and influential.

Life can be a lot sometimes.

This is Ned’s legacy: he tossed a bright, orange-and-white ring to us drowning kids and pleaded with us to stay afloat. And we read his words, and we understood, and we eventually made our way to shore.

If there’s something to take from this, from Funny Story, it’s what’s kept me around. It’s what keeps me around.  If you feel like you’re going to kill yourself, or if you feel like you want to, it’s a medical emergency. Call a hotline. Walk into a hospital. Call a friend who can look after you, if you have one. Don’t wait until you think you’re bad enough to be hospitalised. Suicidal ideation is a medical emergency.

Nothing would be better off if you weren’t around. I say that to myself every day. I have to do my best to believe it. I think you should, too.

South African National Teen Suicide Prevention Week runs from the 18th of Feb til the 24th. Take care of yourselves, and of your friends.

Live. Live. Live. Live.
Live.

love & light,
shalom xo

 

monthly me | september 2016

Hi one and all! It’s been a solid week or two since I even checked up on my WordPress stats, but my lil baby Gertrude (my computer) has all but given up on me completely, so I’m chalking it up to that.

I hope you’ve been well. September is gone, and much like the other months of 2016, it’s happened too fast. With that said, lettuce jump into the salad that was September.

(I just got back from a birthday picnic with some dear friends from high school and some new people and let me just say that everyone is better outside of high school. Seriously.)

from the camera roll

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happenings this month

  • finally. Made. FRIENDS. Took me long enough! I made friends with the most lovely people who greatly appreciate my breakfast making skills. It took me long enough, but at the end of the year is better than not at all – and I’m really glad that it’s them. If any of you are reading this – Ash, Sarah, Andrea, Gabriela, Monray, Jay, Quinn, David, Kgomotso – I’m bringing pancakes when campus opens. Be there.
  • My blog and I were recognised!!!!!!! In real life!!!!! BY TWO DIFFERENT HUMANS!!!! One of them was giving me a wax, which was a bit awkward, but the other was outside a test venue. I was happy.
  • #FeesMustFall2016 is still happening, but the Minister for Higher Education screwed up and said that fees are going up by a maximum of 8% this year and is shucking himself of all responsibility. Protests have been real, and stones have been thrown, but we’ll keep fighting.
  • Dubious skype session with a love of mine who’s in Cape Town. We see you, Ashley and Robbie.
  • We turned three! Yesterday/Today (I made this blog at midnight) was my three year blogging anniversary, and I’m so grateful for the people I’ve “met” and met, and the people who I still am yet to. Thanks for reading and living in my corner of the internet with me.

music on repeat

i’ve told you time and time again
i’m not as think as you drunk i am

we may as well call september “the month of Lana” because i have listened to almost nothing but “Born to Die: The Paradise Edition” for the last 30 days.

i’m just a little person / one person in a sea
of many little people / who are not aware of me

snippets of internal monologue

  • If I take this shot, someone might get shot. Will I get shot? Oh man. I’m taking the shot.
  • This boy who apologised for “leading me on”, does he know that I’d have to be interested for him to lead me on?
  • ULTIMATE GAY. THAT’S WHO ASH IS. ULTIMATE GAY.
  • Lord, if my boobs get any bigger I MAY DIE.
  • Why why WHY couldn’t I at least have been awake when they robbed me?

obsessions

  • Spontaneous breakfast making sessions for my pals
  • Snapchat! I’ve been using it so much.
  • Checking my Lisbon hostel reservation
  • MY PALS IN LONDON I LOVE YOU TASH AND MIRANDA (i’m a mirfanda)

In September I was robbed, drunk, tired, crying, dangerous, and very drained. I’ve started October on the best note, and I don’t know whether or not I’m going back to campus, or whether I’ll be finished with first year in November, or whether or not I’m about to screw myself over. I probably am. But I mean, screwing up is at least a fifth of the fun, right?

love and light,
shalom

ça c’etait quoi? | learning languages

I’m really quite unfortunate when it comes to numbers. High school maths was a mess of a mission, except for the very end when magic and blood made a miracle happen. I am, however, better with words & languages. So today, by request, I’m going to share any and all language learning things that I’ve got swimming around in my head (and that are on the internet).

As of right now, I can confidently say I’m fully bilingual. I can speak English and Afrikaans fluently, and that’s mostly because I speak English at home and spoke Afrikaans at school for ten years. I’m intermediate in French, and a basic beginner in Spanish and a very basic beginner in Italian. BUT! I am learning all three of these languages with the end goal of being an eventual polyglot. Here’s the how to from someone who needs a how-to.

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There are SO MANY language learning apps out there. I’ve tried many of them, and the trick to knowing whether it’ll help is this: if it promises a short cut, it won’t. Un/fortunately, language learning is a long and specific process, so those “SPEAK FRENCH IN FIVE DAYS!!1!!1” apps really won’t help. Here are two that will:

  • Duolingo

Duolingo is amazing. It’s a super user-friendly app that will guide you through your language learning process. It costs ZERO MONEY (relevant to the July series I’m working on) and is really effective.

How it works is that there are bite-sized lessons that you can do on your phone, laptop, iPad, Apple Watch, or any device, and you slowly but surely increase your fluency percentage. Duolingo works. They have research on it. My advice: use a pen and paper along with this. It’s easy to learn phrases like “elles sont riche et calme” and “nosotros bebemos el agua”  but the grammar lessons (which can be found with a simple click to the comment sections) really help to understand why certain verbs are the way they are, why you can’t add that -le to the end of that word, and how to pronounce some words like a local.

  • Memrise

Memrise is another really good app for language learning, with a big focus on getting you to store the words and rules you’ll learn in your long term memory. The idea is that your mind is a garden of knowledge, and you really, really need to water the seeds so that you can harvest that gorgeous five-language-fluency. There are also different ways of learning which keeps the process fun & interesting.

people and blogs

Again, bless the internet. There are some amazing sites & people who’ve proven to be incredibly helpful. Let’s start off with ever favourites, Damon and Jo:

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DAMON AND JO MAKE ME WANT TO SHUT UP AND GO. THEY BLOW MY MIND. The creators of shutupandgo.travel, Damon Dominique and Joanna Franco are pretty much GOALS. First off, they’re huge inspirations of mine with French, Spanish, Portugese, English, and Italian (I think?) under their belts. IMAGINE. What a dream. They’re travel vlogger-bloggers who decided to #shutupandgo: stop complaining about wanting to travel, making moves, and travelling anyway. They’re also so YOUNG (Damon & Jo are 24 and 23 respectively) and make videos about their travels, but ALSO (!!!) about how to learn a language, and help you sound more local when speaking a language. For example:

Another blog I love is brainscape.com which has tonnes and tonnes of links to resources you can use for almost ANY language (10/10 would recommend). FluentU is another well of knowledge if you look for the right things, even if you don’t want to pay for a subscription (because I sure as hell do not, cannot, and did not). Preppy Burro (previously ‘Always Spanish’) is a fantastic spanish learning adventure, and Talk in French helps you to do just that.

other tips

  • change the language on your phone! you know your phone. learn what ‘lock screen’ is in italian.
  • have an other-language day (this is how i learned to speak afrikaans). for a couple of hours on a chosen day of the week, translate every sentence you say into the language you’re trying to learn.
  • watch youtubers in that language! hello! it always slaps me in the face but like !!!!! there are other-than-english youtubers!‽
  • keep a journal and make sure to write in your new language at least twice a week. check for grammar errors!
  • get a book. for real. grammar is important. it’s a spend that i hated making (don’t worry, the books aren’t that expensive, i’m just that broke) but do not regret.
  • learn about the culture. it’s nice to do.

The internet is amazing. There’s so much STUFF. Go learn a language. Pet a dog and tell it that it is beautiful in Italian. Sing happy birthday to your mom in German. Learn. 

Love and light,
shalom xo


note: none of these apps / people / blogs are here as a paid for endorsement – i love learning & they can really help. // photos are edited by me originally from death to stock, or are assumed to be in the public domain.