Archive for the ‘life’ Category

College

Dear Planet Earth,

Imagine a world (a world part of your amazing vast world, planet Earth!) where the gift of privacy has been smuggled away from your in one fell swoop, where conversations with friends consist of talk about how the friend of somebody’s friend got so wasted last night and was spewing all over the bathroom and partying for hours on end, where if you don’t get to sleep before 11pm on a weekend, you’ve got to wait until at least 4am in order to drift off peacefully to the land of sheep jumping fences, where your entire life is centered around balance of academic life, social life, and of course, sleep, and where every task needed to be accomplished is done by you, for you. Yes, this is life, hitting you on the side of the head, grabbing a megaphone and yelling into your ear: wake up! There can only be one title applied to such a place: college. And most importantly, world, I’ve entered through its gates this 18th of August 2011 in order to be lead to a hopefully successful career path in the field of civil and environmental engineering.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve adjusted pretty well over the past three months to this completely new lifestyle. I’ve gotten involved a pretty great deal with a wide variety of clubs and organizations. I’m on the Outreach Committee for Structural Engineers Association, in which I am helping to coordinate events. I’m part of Concrete Canoe, helping out with preparing mixes of concrete and aggregates in order to prepare a mixture that will have a density less than one and still have the structural integrity to be molded into a boat that will win in competition. I’m part of iInvent, which is an inventing club that works with ideas and tries to actually work its way towards patenting a product. I’m part of Horticulture Club,  where I am given the opportunity to hear talks from experts on gardening and visit orchards and botanical gardens. Lastly, I’m part of Club Insecta, which is an entomology club that goes on trips to look at nature and collect specimens.

I’ve been keeping pretty busy over this time. I’ve been trying to avoid doing any form of drugs or alcohol and keeping away from late night partying. My roommate and I have nothing at all in common, given my many attempts to try and express who I am, nor do we engage in small talk, which makes conversations within the dorm room rather awkward and short.I suppose I can’t have it how I want all the time, but I’m glad that we both respect each others’ space and treat each other fairly well. I’ve gotten to know a lot of my classmates from high school a lot better over the past couple of months, forming stronger bonds. I’m still been more of an independent person, only relying on the slim chance of “bumping into someone I know” to actually hang out and have fun together, it seems like texting or Facebook messaging doesn’t truly work in a setting like this. If I truly need someone to talk to, I would really just end up knocking on a person’s door. I’ve been doing quite of bit of reading in my own time. I finished the massively long 1000 page novel of The Instructions by Adam Levin and have started getting into Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch recently. My campus is located in a micro-urban town, which is basically a huge number of people centered in a small region in the middle of nowhere. Despite the small part of urban, there really isn’t that much to do here. I’ve mainly just been taking trips by bus to the mall area and have spent my time away from the densely packed campus by sticking to calm, peaceful, open atmosphere bookstores to settle down and read or browse. Speaking of buses, the transit system at my campus is absolutely incredible. I don’t ever have to wait more than three minutes at a bus stop during the week in order to get somewhere I want to go. I’ve integrated the transit lines into my memory and have adapted very well to my environment.

College is just another element of life for me. It’s yet another wild beast that I need to tame in order to get on and keep riding.

 I know this post was rather dry, world, I really just have to catch up and gain a sense of comfort with writing on WordPress again before I delve into some deeper subjects.

Michael

Top 10 Favorite Artists of 2010

Over the year of 2010, my interest in music has increased tenfold. I had first received an iPod at the beginning of the year, knowing close to nothing about where my music interest laid. Pop? Rock? Alternative? I had no idea how to even classify the music that I found appealing to my eardrums. It took gradual experimentation to figure out the music that was right for me. Here are my top 10 favorite artists:

10. 30 Seconds To Mars.
Favorite Song: Kings and Queens
Favorite Album: This Is War

Source of Discovery: Trailer for the movie, Legend of the Guardians.
One word: epic. Ever since hearing a censored fragment of the song Kings and Queens in a movie trailer, I knew that this band had something unique about their voice. This song, along the rest of their most recent album This Is War, reminded me of the action, suspense, and drama associated with movies. I love how all of the songs tie back to the main theme of the album. Although the screaming voice of the lead singer Jared Leto takes a while to get used to, the mood of the music and voice is so genuine that just about every song paints a picture in your mind as you listen.


9. Motion City Soundtrack
Favorite Song: Pulp Fiction
Favorite Album: My Dinosaur Life
Source of Discovery: Saw most recent album on the homepage of iTunes
Growing up, I had heard music from this band, but it wasn’t until my discovery of the iPod that I started to pay attention to the sound and message of their music. The sound of their most recent album, My Dinosaur Life, struck me as particularly captivating; not only that but the cover art is incredible! I had noticed that the vocalist of the group, Justin Pierre, had more of a matured voice and catchier melody in this most recent album, which lead me towards investigation. Although their songs are mainly explicit and the lyrics are somewhat odd, the emotions associated with each song packs a powerful punch to the listener. This upbeat music is great to listen to when caught in a bad mood.


8. Jonsi/ Sigur Ros
Favorite Song: Grow Till Tall
Favorite Album: Go
Source of Discovery: Trailer for the Disney movie, Earth
What drew me in to this music was the impressive instrumental noise and talented voice of the vocalist Jonsi Birgisson. After hearing nature-inspired sounds in the trailer for Earth, I was drawn into the beauty and peace of this incredible harmony of instruments and voice. Jonsi is Icelandic, and so part of the lyrics of his songs are in his native language. This particular music seems to stand out from every genre I’ve come to be familiar with, which is what drew me towards continuing to listen to it. Their music may take a while to grow accustomed to, but it definitely is worth checking out.


7. Matt & Kim
Favorite Song: Good Ol’ Fashion Nightmare
Favorite Album: Grand

Source of Discovery: Earlier episode of the television series, Community
The duo Matt and Kim attracted me because their music reminds me of diversion and independence. Their rather stunning choice of instrumental backup may make their music sound raw and unappealing, but it definitely adds to their message of a carefree and nonjudgmental commotion. After hearing Matt & Kim play their most popular song Daylight at Lollapalooza in August, my belief was confirmed that these two artists and performers are wild and loose in not just their music, but their behavior, which makes them seem authentic by holding true to the sound of their music. Their new album comes out on November 2nd, so I’m definitely excited to hear their new material.


6. Owl City/ Sky Sailing
Favorite Song: A Little Opera Goes A Long Way
Favorite Album: An Airplane Carried Me To Bed

Source of Discovery: Word of mouth from sister
Owl City was the first -and only- artist under the genre of electronic music that appealed to me. I’ve found that this music eases the labor of doing homework and helps me brainstorm because the overall sound of each song leads at a miraculous opening of the mind.  The calm, passive voice of singer Adam Young adds a key element to why I enjoy this music. My favorite is his non-electronic album, An Airplane Carried Me to Bed, which is the most relaxing blend of instrument and voice I have ever heard. The cover artwork is absolutely stunning, creative, and beautiful. The music video for the song Brielle takes listeners on a peaceful, magical ride through Adam Young’s imagination.


5. Jukebox the Ghost
Favorite Song: The Stars
Favorite Album: Everything Under the Sun

Source of Discovery: Live at Lollapalooza 2010
This relatively unknown band definitely deserves some recognition. Jukebox the Ghost may not have the most powerful of lyrics, but the sound of their music is cheerful, catchy and playful. Every song on their most recent album, Everything Under the Sun, has a unique sound that is a result of the band members’ experimentation with different melodies. One of my friends has noted that their use of the piano is absolutely groundbreaking and shows the far extent of their talent. My encounter with this band live during Lollapalooza sparked something within me. Even without the use of voice enhancers and autotune, this band still creates amazing music unlike a large majority of popular artists.


4. Bruno Mars
Favorite Song: Count On Me
Favorite Album: It’s Better If You Don’t Understand EP

Source of Discovery: Heard on the radio with B.o.B. in Nothing on You
Although he is best known for the popular song, Just The Way You Are, there is another side to the music of this maestro. What I admire about Bruno Mars is that he uses his natural voice and his Hawaiian background in his music. He definitely has a wide range of sounds, from a slower Caribbean reggae to a swinging, fast-paced pop. I love how he approaches and executes genuine mainstream music from a unique angle and adds his own lifestyle to several of his songs, such as with The Lazy Song. Bruno Mars’ voice has reached long distances in only several months with the slow and steady gain of his popularity.


3. The Rocket Summer
Favorite Song: Brat Pack
Favorite Album: Do You Feel

Source of Discovery: Saw most recent album on the homepage of iTunes
After discovering this prized treasure of sounds in the cluttered mess of music on iTunes, I felt like I had hit a jackpot. Bryce Avary, the singer for The Rocket Summer adds a sort of jazz to his music with the smooth fluctuation of his high-range of pitch and usage of his smooth voice. The melody of each of these perfectly rendered songs overflows with soul and flair and made me beg for more. It was interesting hearing how the sounds of his albums changed over the years as he matured. Bryce Avary definitely deserves the success for his creation of such great music.


2. Arcade Fire
Favorite Song: Wake Up
Favorite Album: Neon Bible

Source of Discovery: Trailer for the movie, Where the Wild Things Are
The band has pretty dense and meaningful lyrics for many of their songs and the voice of Win Butler, the lead singer, suits it perfectly. I love how their albums are set to a variety of different themes and their respective songs reflect it. My personal favorite is the dark, depressing backdrop of the album Neon Bible because the emotions profoundly radiate from the overall sound; the realism of their music sends jitters through my body when I listen to it. I can definitely empathize with their most recent album, The Suburbs, since because of my location I can relate to several of the circumstances mentioned in the lyrics of certain songs.


1. The Shins/ Broken Bells
Favorite Song: Australia
Favorite Album: Wincing the Night Away
Source of Discovery: It was featured on the iTunes page for Arcade Fire’s Funeral
If there is any one artist who has one of the most exclusive styles of music, it is without a doubt The Shins. Their music sounds like a mash-up of Caribbean sounds, pirate shanties, and catchy beats. Whenever I turn on my iPod to listen, I’m lost in a sea of imagery. My all-time favorite album is Wincing the Night Away because of not only the awe-inspiring artwork, but because each song makes me feels as though I have transcended the distractions of my surroundings. The lyrics are surreal, just like the music. James Mercer’s voice blends well with this unique genre of music. He more recently began a project known as Broken Bells, which adds more of an electronic aspect to the music. All in all, I’ve been more than satisfied with Mercer’s music, and I can’t wait for the release of the next Shins album, which drops in 2011.

1 Pill A Day Keeps The Nausea Away

September 3rd, 2010
Dear multi-tasking Planet Earth,

Just the other night I had to write my thoughts on the subject of what I believe is the difference between being alive and living. I had instantly drawn my attention to the familiar answer that being alive is simply living at your fullest capacity. After thinking about that for a split second, how can we completely absorb our surroundings and take in the best that the world has to offer? I face this painstaking decision every day. Just little things. Do I go to art club or math team after school on a Thursday? Do I stay after to tutor in math in the TLC or go to the University of Illinois college representative meeting? Do I work more on my colored pencil drawing of a red panda I started over a year ago or read the rest of Rumo and His Miraculous Adventures? By pushing too many activities and plans in front of me, just about nothing gets completed. Sadly, the stress of deciding turns me away from all of those things (and many more in the past) and it is very tempting sometimes to recede back into that immobile state of being at home. I usually look to my laptop as an escape from the plethora of decisions, yet they still haunt me. Do I watch that Youtube video that I was recommended or search for interesting, new music on iTunes? With billions of possible websites to visit, it is close to impossible to experience everything you plan to read or watch online. You become caught up in other peoples’ works and less with your own, which is kind of why internet writing is difficult for me. The truth of the matter is: you guide your life. On that sailboat to your ancient kingdom of gold, you are the captain. Side-tracking happens along the way, but you still eventually head toward that goal by persevering through the rough waves. If not, you are stuck nauseous in the turbulence of the sea. I guess I am trying to say that to fully absorb the wonders of the world, you need to take life one step at a time, which makes sense, right? If you watch television and eat ice cream at the same time, you don’t pay attention that much on whatever program is currently airing, nor do you enjoy the sweet, creamy flavors of the ice cream that you are eating. Life just passes by and your senses continue to ignore it.


Experiment

Catching Up

(July 10th 2010)

Dear burst of hot gas Planet Earth,

It has been about a month since I last blogged, ouch! Well, it is the dead of summer already and I can finally say that I am sick of the heat wave that has passed over your entire northern hemisphere. I had a very non-traditional Independence Day at my friend Nick’s house. I’m pretty thankful to have a buddy like him to goof around with. I’ve been having him drive me places repetitively throughout the summer since he owns a car, so in a way I feel a little guilty. We still have a fun time together. Anyway, on this Independence Day, we basically spent the entire afternoon and evening avoiding all fireworks, which was an almost impossible stunt since there were bursts of explosions outside for three days straight. We blocked it out by watching a couple of segments from BBC’s Planet Earth on the couch and later took a dip in his pool. Who knew seventy degrees for a pool temperature is actually really cold? Unfortunately we couldn’t bring on the heat from the heater since it had mysteriously malfunctioned. We sort of pretended that the hot tub was somewhat warmer than the actual pool even though they were the exact same temperature. Although we were all squirmy the entire time in the ice bath, it was still relaxing to float away on his inflatable rafts in the middle of the night. I’m not quite sure why, but staring up at the stars in the deep, celestial sky makes all of my muscles and bones release all their tension and just fall loosely on the brim of the water. It was a semi-sweet end to a lazy July day.

I feel like summer school adds a more reality-centered element to my drab summer. I’ve grown closer to a group of students who sit at my long art table with me. For four hours we would be talking to one another about the most random junk while completing assignments in art. I really felt the thick outer-casing of a bubble shielding us from the rest of the activities of the classroom. While everyone else worked diligently, we were making the most fun out of our time. I know it’s sad, but I thought it was really funny how we joked with the freshmen about how unexperienced they are dealing with high school and the real world. This one boy thought that you get your social security number when you get a credit card and we just started cracking up. I had a nice time sharing music interests with these two girls who sat across from me. I started bringing in music disks every day to play during class to play on the computer audio speakers. They would always point out parts of some song they liked and compliment me on my good taste in music. I could tell the class favorite (and my personal favorite) was playing Wincing the Night Away by The Shins. We played it around three times in a row during class period. Luckily I wasn’t the star artist during the class. I mainly covered up my skill by talking poorly about my work. There was this one student at my table who worked on making sure every part of his drawing had all of the intricate details. I mainly worked on catching up with everyone else. I fell behind like everyday which means I had to work on artwork 24/7 . Gladly, I survived those three weeks and I felt like I pulled a lot out of it. I recently started with a cooking class, but more of that later!

Michael

 

Top 10 Public Restroom Absurdities

Enjoying a warm dinner on a Sunday afternoon: mom decided it’s Italian night and you really couldn’t disagree with that. After forking down a mound of linguine with a rich alfredo sauce, the feeling comes: maybe not the greatest in all the world, but it hits you with a bang. Your rear end just explodes from within and you yearn for… relief. At this point you start questioning yourself, “why didn’t I use the restroom at home first?” At least all the handles are polished– and clean, the toilet seat in tip-top state you could almost kiss its porcelain coating and stroke its smooth exterior. But no, outside of the house it is a completely different world of restrooms: all different animals to capture and classify, to judge and review. While some are as sanitary as a hospital, the majority are torturous and filthy. Here are some of the devilish attributes that Connor and I love to hate, from mildest to most extreme:

1o. [Connor] Ominously dim lights. I don’t typically come across dim lights in bathrooms. In fact, I hardly ever do. However, I do occasionally get so bored in spanish class that I get the urge to get up, walk out the door, and go to the nearest bathroom to go pee, even if I don’t have to. The closest bathroom to my classroom is in a really old part of the building, so it’s a little dilapidated. My friends and I call the bathroom on that hall, the rape room. Of course, there’s been no instance of rape in there ever; it’s just a catchy name that describes the nature and atmosphere of said restroom. Let me describe this one of many amazing bathrooms of my school. First off, there’s no door. Second, there’s only ONE working light, which is placed by the door. There’s only two urinals, which are almost always being used, so I usually have to go even further back into the restroom to use the stall. It’s like layers of the ocean. The stall is in the equivalent of the bathypelagic zone in the ocean. Almost no light reaches that far. Anyway, it’s really creepy to me to have my most prized possession out of my pants in such a vulnerable place. Anyone could just like sneak in or look over the walls and it’s so dark I wouldn’t even realize it. Basically, that bathroom is the prime place for a rape to go down, hence its nickname.

(the actual “rape room” from my school)

9. [Michael] Stall graffiti. Growing up in an urban environment, I feel I am fully aware of the extent of graffiti on public structures such as trains or buildings. The thing is, it is rather uncomfortable to see that writing be brought into the one place I would like peace and quiet from the outside world: the toilet stall. Can’t I just get a little bit of me time and not have to stare at the portrayals of angst from the lower class? The walls of the stalls are a huge target to carved writing: mainly swears, gang symbols, or numbers to call to have sex. No thanks, I don’t want to think about getting in a prostitute’s pants while I relieve myself. I understand that this may be a way of artistic expression, but there are healthier manners to choose from. The point really is, who sits on a toilet with a knife and just carves words or images while they use the restroom? The only thing I would want to be concentrated on is getting it out of my system so that I wouldn’t have to be stuck in the confines of the stall.

8. [Connor] Those piece-of-crap automatic sinks that won’t work. This is one thing I, Connor, can’t stand! I go into the bathroom to take a tinkle and it’s all good and stuff…until I try to wash my hands and I see faucets without knobs. I automatically think oh crap, it’s one of those sinks! Damn! It’s even worse when I [try extremely hard to] get the last morsels of soap, lather my hands, put them under the nozzle and it doesn’t turn on. So I’m in a gross bathroom with my hands all soapy and still penis-y. It sucks not being able to completely wash my hands. It’s also stupid when I do get them to turn on, but the water only runs for a maximum of oh, I don’t know, around three microseconds.


7. [Connor] Missing soap. This kind of connects to number eight. I mean, I just hate when I take a piss and there’s no soap in the freaking dispenser to wash my hands with! If I can even get the automatic sink to even turn on, then I just rinse my hands. If I can’t get that to work…well, I just eat or whatever with delicious, peenie fingers. Later on, after I’ve eaten like a taco or something with my peenie fingers, I feel really gross. Soap is so important and cheap! I don’t know why so many establishments fail to fill the soap basins. Especially when they only have like one or two bathrooms. It pretty much infuriates me.


6. [Michael] When there’s a row of urinals that are practically on top of each other. What really makes men feel special is when they have the opportunity to use a device forbidden to women to relieve themselves: the urinal. The urinal is most famous for its easy in- easy out approach to letting men let out their lemonade. I truly don’t understand why restroom designers have to exploit this precious gift by putting the stalls directly next to each other so as to have men huddle up close in order to urinate. Finally, architects have listened to complaints and put in a boundary between the two devices. But still, the majority of stalls are truly open to the eye (of the man peeing right next to you). I know that at my school it is a curse to use a stall directly next to another student. The line just piles up with peers waiting for the perfectly positioned stall when there is obviously one available. I’ve been called gay several times by choosing the “incorrect” urinal and it truly bothers me. In order to avoid this problem in public I follow the invisible box method, which is exactly how it sounds. Just box yourself in by looking forward to the wall or at the contents of the urinal. Of course, the second one isn’t the greatest eye candy, but it functions in society. By doing this, you can avoid looking at the creepy mustache, pot belly, or hairy hot dog (eww) of the man next to you.

5. [Michael] When you walk into a stall and BAM! It looks like a tornado went through there. Imagine watching a ghastly, frightening horror movie at night: thunderstorms outside, pitch black living room with the only source of light coming from the massive screen of the tv. All of a sudden, the mutant zombie jolts up from the grave and gives an ear-piercing shriek of fury. It is at that moment where you just jump in twenty directions from shock. This same expression of terror, sadly, can be found in just about any public restroom. There are at times sights (and atrocious odors) you can’t believe emanating from a stall: an erupting toilet clogged and overflowing with paper, discolored from a generous portion of feces and urine. So gruesome and disturbing a sight: as if a crime played out… such a pity. You just walk out, feeling sorry for the poor janitor, living on minimum wage, whose job it is to deal with this trash, and move on to the next stall as if nothing happened.

4. [Connor] Pubes on toilets. For me, there’s almost nothing at all worse than going up to a urinal or stall, pulling my dinger out, looking down, and seeing a long, thin, curly, black pubic hair on the toilet seat/urinal. It makes my penis want to crawl up and hide like a turtle retreating into its shell. Unfortunately, when I see the pube, I can’t pack up and vacate because I’m already in the process of making delicious lemonade. Therefore, I’m forced to see that curly hair just sitting there for a whole minute and a half. Blech. I mean, come on guys! At least trim your pubes! Not only does it protect others from seeing them on urinals and toilet seats, but they just look better too. And if they do happen to shed, well, at least they’re not long (ewwwwie).

3. [Michael] No locks on doors. Protection is usually a common element of our restroom experience taken for granted. Those cheap locks on the door keeping the outside world from viewing the contents within act as saviors. Sadly, they aren’t always there for us when we truly need them. Some poor sucker has to come along with a bad attitude and kick the door in a bit—unfortunately changing the fortune of future users. Seriously, the maintenance staff doesn’t care if the lock is broken, which is why the problem stays. Forever. The last thing you would want to do while having to push on your bowels to get the inside contents out is to have to lean forward on the door to keep it shut. Isn’t the strain enough already? Paired with that is the fear that possibly someone would to walk in the stall and see you holding on tightly to your water hose (or even texting if you are at school). Ugh!

2. [Connor] The boisterous flush of airplane toilets. Imagine: you’re on your way to an awesome new place to meet with someone. You’re really nervous, but trying to relax the best you can. At one moment, you feel the need to use the lavatory. You unbuckle yourself and walk like a drunk person down the way-too-narrow aisle to pee. You get there and –thankfully– it’s unoccupied. After locking the door and seeing the lights brighten when it locks (this always makes me giggle) you unzip your pants and let the rivulet flow. After you’re done urinating into the tin can of a toilet, you head for that handle to flush. Of course, this isn’t your first time flying, so you know what is coming. You brace yourself…and press it. It makes this extremely obnoxious noise like WHOOOSH BAHBDKNGOIW RNGOWJWRH IONRGWHOOOOOOOSH! Being all perturbed as you likely are, you wash your and head back down the thin aisle to your cramped economic class seat. I think I can speak for about 95% of the population when I state that airplane toilets are one of the loudest, most annoying sounds that can ever be heard. Well, probably not as loud and unsettling as someone farting in your ear, but probably pretty close.

1. [Michael] Poop backsplash. Being a male, it really isn’t that often that I have to use a stall. Thank goodness to that! Public toilets would be such a nuisance to have to use on a regular basis. Imagine being outside on a rainy day, walking blissfully along the wet and muddy sidewalk, sniffing in the fresh, earthy scent of nature, when all of a sudden a car comes by and causes a puddle a couple of feet away to erupt in a frenzy and splash in just about every direction. You are soaked, cold, and most unsatisfying: filthy. That’s basically the feeling I get using a public toilet. Hoping to relieve myself, I sit down on the toilet paper coating I’ve decorated the seam of seat with and let it all out. The thing is, god made it so that while some business comes out smoothly and softly, other business is as hard as a rock and only causes trouble. Well, when releasing the rocks into the pit of yellow liquid below, there is a rather gruesome after-effect that makes me cringe and shake: the splash. The splash is NOT your friend! He just throws at your face every gift you’ve sent him and leaves you sick with a bitter feeling. I just hate when toilets splash back at you. The worst part is its long term effect: having to go about the rest of the day with all that junk in your trunk: a sampling of all the contents of that one toilet. Definitely the most disturbing part of the restroom experience.


Picture yourself standing in the middle of an elaborate labyrinth of a maze. If you get out, you get to have your life back. Now, picture yourself standing on the flat grasslands of Nebraska. If you find a skyscraper five miles away, you get no prize.Which is easier to find? The skyscraper in the middle of Nebraska, or your way out of a labyrinth? Now, let’s analogize. Finding the skyscraper assimilates to finding a gross, nasty bathroom. In contrast, finding your way out of a maze equates to finding a nice, kept-up bathroom complete with soap and door locks. Discovering a gross bathroom yields no reward. Coming across a clean bathroom? The given reward is, of course, being able to walk out with a smile of relief on your face rather than a grimace of distraught.

A Collaborate Post
By Michael and Connor

That Abandoned Idea

(June 11th, 2010)
Dear thank-god-its-summer-break Planet Earth,

Sometimes I think this idea is gonna be so great. And maybe it is. But then other times I remember other things I thought would be great… What if this all bombs out? Then in a few years I’ll look back and think, Boy, was I stupid.” ~ Trevor McKinney

As a child, you are given little to no freedom. Making a difference in the world is left for the big, strong adult figures in society… everyone else just fades to the background and lets the world change around them as they go on with their normal lives. To adjust the normal rhythm of events would be too enormous for a child, supposedly. Even after thinking you come close, there is always someone to drag you down and say that the brilliant idea won’t work and how you should just move on.

Thirteen-year-old Trevor managed to go against the flow of the world and bring about positive difference. Living with an alcoholic mother and a father who abandoned him, Trevor puts aside his problems to think about how he can actually spark change in the world around him. Through the concept of “paying it forward” he passes on good deeds to the needy people around him: he helps a homeless man make a living,  helps an elderly woman with her dream garden, and helps save the life of man getting mugged. His whole plan acts as a long chain: one is supposed to help three people, and each of those three are supposed to help another three and it keeps going on until all the world is performing kind acts. Faced with the imperfections in society, Trevor just about abandons his theory thinking that no one in their right mind would pass it on. It takes a reporter: Chris Chandler, to trace his way from the other side of the country to find Trevor and tell him that he has created an enormous movement, sparked the interest of the media, and lowered crime rates eighty percent. Out of nowhere, Trevor is whisked to stardom for his development of a simple idea.

I was introduced to Pay It Forward in Eighth Grade in one of my elective classes for a unit on inspirational people. I don’t even remember why I was forced to take such a pointless class, but that doesn’t matter: I pulled something great out of the experience. After watching the movie, I at once fell in love with the sweet, warm plot line and it dawned on me that this was something I would want to revisit in the future. This past week I decided to read the book version of the novel and get even deeper into the lives of the characters that I had known  solely on the surface after seeing the movie. It seems like everyone always says that the book version is better than the movie, and I can’t disagree with that. I just adored watching the hidden progress of the movement and exploring the lives of the characters through their own various perspectives and inputs. Each chapter focuses on a different character who was affected by Trevor’s idea, which helped me understand the movement as a whole. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in mystery novels, since there is quite a bit of profound investigation. Pay It Forward also has numerous heartwarming moments; these charitable characters painted intricately by the author will appeal to any reader. The ending was such an incredible twist of events; you’ll enjoy it.