I really hope that every time Miyano Mamoru and Hirakawa Daisuke walk by each other they secretly whisper “kiss me” and “perfect body” to each other.
Oh my god
What was with this week’s next-episode preview
Are the people behind Free! on drugs or what
I want to say, as a sort of disclaimer, that I often watch series like Ao Haru Ride without getting affected. With usual shoujo I just think the art is pretty and some lines are pretty poignant but overall the repeated, ridiculous tropes keep me from taking any of it really seriously. And honestly I think Blue Spring Ride is chock full of the tropes I hate and that Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun lampoons. But something about this show makes me feel like I’m about to burst into tears at any moment (and I have), like I’m just on the verge of certainly getting hurt. There’s something about Futaba trying to disentangle her feelings about her first love, seeing what about him isn’t true anymore and what is. I guess you really don’t forget your first love. This show really takes me back.
Hi. So uh after around two years on tumblr, I’m moving blogs.
(Tl;dr: If I follow you and we’re mutuals right now, please follow me back! I’m going to be using the same icon. What do they call it on tumblr again? I still call that little photo by its LJ name.)
Having recently read a couple of articles about John Green and Anne Frank (including Tamora Pierce’s reblog and comment here. You should go read it!), I want to just write something about The Fault in Our Stars. It’s not a statement about the significance, or lack thereof, of using the Anne Frank house in the novel or the film; I just wanted to write about what I experienced while watching it.
I’ve never read the book. I just never felt like I had the time for it, not because I didn’t have a couple of hours to kill but because I thought that it would be an emotional investment I wasn’t ready for, as some people who have loved characters in the Song of Ice and Fire series can probably relate to. But one weekend I decided to take a break from studying for the boards and on a whim I watched the movie with my mom at a tiny cinema in the middle of nowhere in a little town in the Philippines.
I wasn’t even ten minutes into the movie when I started sobbing. I already knew what was going to happen, sort of, because Tumblr has a way of telling you everything about a book or a movie way before you’ve ever seen it. But I wasn’t prepared for the way it showed us what it’s like to live with chronic illness.
My mom has had rheumatic heart disease for as long as I can remember, because of an episode of sore throat that she had as a child. She’s had one stroke and God only knows how many heart attacks and two open heart surgeries. She’s NYHA functional class III-IV for heart failure, which means that she can’t even stand up or go to the bathroom without getting tired. That in her twenties she had to abandon all of her dreams and quit her job so she could stay home because her heart couldn’t handle it. And the thing is, at 53 years old she’s doing so much better than other heart failure patients, especially in our country where having the money to pay for your meds out of your own pocket spells the difference between life and death. In fact, of the six people in her cohort who got artificial Starr Edwards mitral valves, she’s the only one still alive (it’s been inside her for twenty six years which is a-fricking-mazing). It’s only because of my father’s support—financial and otherwise—that my mom has been able to live this long. Well, that and the fact that she not only buys her meds and takes them religiously, is an A+ patient who keeps careful track of her water intake and urine output and who can adjust her own warfarin, and has me to bully her into not tiring herself too much because obviously even walking ten steps in any direction is enough to tire her out.
I think my mom thought I might have been crying because, as someone who’s just graduated med school, I could see the difficulties for what they were. I knew what Hazel’s x-rays meant, I knew the statistics of each diagnosis. I’ve seen thousands of parents with the same scared-hopeful eyes as Hazel’s parents. I’ve seen Hazels themselves—maybe none of them as beautifully disarming as Shailene Woodley but real nonetheless—who can’t decide why they’re still alive, and who are more worried about the people they love than for themselves, and yet who are still capable of wanting things they think are selfish like, hey, maybe meeting their favorite writer even though it might cost thousands of dollars. I’ve met these pediatric patients and their families in every stage of illness, from diagnosis to death, and I did think of those patients while I was watching the movie and cried for them a little, but I mostly thought of my mom and of chronic illness. I thought of the thirty years that my mom has been living what Hazel Grace has been living—never pushing too far, having nearly all of your choices about your future taken away from you.
What got me the most were scenes like Hazel getting taken to the ER after having difficulty of breathing in the middle of the night. She was still in her shorts and night clothes and it’s just, it happens exactly like that when something happens in the middle of the night—everyone looks like shit, the patient looks like shit, everyone is tired and scared. The one difference is that the hospital personnel in this film were able to welcome Hazel and her father like they were actual people and not cattle (like how we treat our patients where I came from), but that’s a topic for another time. For the family of someone with a chronic illness there’s always someone who can rattle off the patient’s history as soon as they arrive at the ER. For my family that’s me and my brother. It’s just, I can’t even begin to describe how seeing that on film felt. I thought of the countless times we’ve had our lives interrupted by emergencies like my mom having a heart attack or having difficulty of breathing and needing to be confined at a hospital that is two hours away by car. I thought of eternity and of the Death Cab for Cutie song that says, “love is watching someone die.” I thought of how every time we walked into the ER door, I was wondering if it would be the last.
The scenes when Hazel gets tired just climbing up and down stairs, god, where do I even begin? Whenever we walk even short distances, like from the church door to the car, I carry everything my mom is holding because even just the slightest burden makes it even harder for her to breathe. And I could feel myself getting angry every time someone in the movie didn’t help Hazel along. Like, why would you make her go downstairs to the basement? Why would you make her climb the stairs in Anne Frank’s home? Why would you do that? Don’t you care? But in real life it’s like that too. Sometimes even we, the people who love the patients the most in the world, can be at fault, and we don’t always help and we don’t always do everything we can to make things better. The burden is still the worst on the patient herself. And sometimes she makes herself worse. Sometimes she pushes too hard, pushes at the limits of her disability like an animal in a cage. Sometimes instead of wisely sitting down they choose to run.
I guess what prompted me to write this is that, while everyone is still debating whether that scene should have happened where it happened, I could think of only one thing: throughout the long meandering scene where Hazel struggles through the stairs at the Anne Frank house—and it was really terribly long—I felt every single second like my heart was going to burst from my chest because why wasn’t anyone helping her? Why was she doing this to herself? She didn’t need to see everything in the house. That wasn’t even what she’d gone to the city for. My mother, after prompting from me, would have wisely sat this one out. In the first place I would never have made the mistake of bringing her somewhere without an elevator or an escalator. So why?
I’ve never spoken to my mom at length about things like this because I am scared of knowing her feelings. I’m scared that she wants to die because she thinks of herself as a burden to us, and I’m scared that she doesn’t value her life the way I do. But if I could guess at her feelings, I think she would say that sometimes you just want to pretend that you’re normal, that you’re more well, better than you really are. Sometimes you want to remember why you’re still alive.
In the second half of the film Hazel Grace talks about good days. More specifically, the Last Good Day. You never good know if this good day is the last one. My mom has bad days. On the day of my graduation from med school, which my mom has been looking forward to for five years, I had to give her a bath while she sat, cold and shaking, on a stool in the bath tub because she could hardly stand up without gasping for air, let alone take care of the business of bathing. I dried her, dressed her in her underwear and the nice clothes we had picked out for my graduation, and put her on her scooter so she could actually get around without walking. Sometimes, even the “best days” of my life, or whatever graduation was supposed to be, were Bad Days for my mom.
Still though, she has excellent days. I remember one recently when she felt well enough to even walk around the mall with me to look for a dress for the graduation ball. Because malls in the Philippines aren’t so evolved you need to pay to be able to borrow a scooter or a wheelchair for a disabled person, and when we had to give back the scooter she was using, she was still able to walk around with me a little. That day was pretty amazing. In fact, all the best days of my life were days that my mom and I spent with each other, when she was feeling well enough to enjoy our time together. I’m always kind of wondering, though, if each good day is the last one, and the film struck a chord in me when I realized that I’m not the only one wondering.
I guess there’s not really a point to this except to say that I wish I could thank John Green (I know he’s on tumblr but am kind of too awkward to say anything to him since I haven’t actually read the book yet) and the film crew personally for making that scene, that whole movie, happen. I’ve seen a lot of movies about illness, plus the TV is flooded with medical shows of every kind, with varying degrees of drama and comedy. Out of all of these I never expected a film about two lovestruck teenagers with cancer to ring so true, to come the closest to how it really is to take care of someone ill—to encapsulate all the joys and sadnesses and to make it clear that there is so much more difficulty in the day to day—I’m assuming that most of the people who might read this have never had to worry about stairs and never had to worry about if a building has elevators and never had to measure what they drink to keep it under 1000mL per day—and yet so much more laughter, so much more joy than what we usually see.
It’s just. Thank you.
I’m still fucking pissed. I just came from the elevator of my building and I got into an argument with one of the foreigners who either lives or stays here, I don’t know, because honestly when we bought my little shoebox unit no one ever told us that it would become what is known as a “condotel” and would play host to foreigners all the time. There’s nothing wrong with the fact that they’re foreigners, there’s just something wrong with the fact that I didn’t sign up to live in a place where people would be moving in and out all the time and the guards wouldn’t be able to tell who really lived in the building or not just by looking at our faces. (Also, because I am trying not to be a dick, I can’t even complain about the number of prostitutes—or sex workers, I’m not sure which one is more correct to say—who are in and out of the building exactly because the building functions as a condotel. I can’t even complain about the elevator traffic being jammed all the time because of people moving their luggage.) Another thing wrong with that is that the foreigners who come here, since they stay for such a short while and are strictly speaking hotel guests, will never be held liable for little things like today’s little tiff at the elevator when one of them blew up at me for asking them not to cancel my floor. This middle aged guy with fair skin but an accent I didn’t know was on the opposite side of the elevator and he kept cancelling the floor I pressed (27) and when he did it twice I told him, “Please don’t cancel my floor,” and when he tried to argue, saying he had “pressed all the buttons” (what the fuck does that even mean, man?) I said “I pressed the button for my own floor. Please don’t cancel my floor” and I was getting pretty pissed because why the fuck did he do it twice, and why the fuck did he keep doing it when I would likely miss my floor if he did it again. And he yelled at me and said “You want to beat me?! Be polite!” And just fuck you man. I was polite the first time. You should have listened. Fuck you, seriously, and fuck you because I don’t even know who you are since you don’t live her permanently and I can’t even complain about you and the fact that my home is a fucking hotel when I never signed up for any of that.
Do you hear that, Birch Tower Philippines? I hope one of you finds this one day.