“Some Girls Do” and some girls… don’t – IRJE#4:

The novel I am currently reading, is titled Some Girls Do, written by Jennifer Dugan. It is about two girls; one named Ruby who loves nothing more than tinkering with her car but is stuck perusing her former beauty queen mother’s dreams when competing in local beauty pageants for extra money. Morgan on the other hand, a track star for running and has just been kicked out of her catholic school for being gay, because apparently it is against their school code of conduct. The first chapter is about how their world collide. One passage found relatable and that stood out to me;

But there are some things you can’t say out loud: like how her dream isn’t my dream anymore, hasn’t been for a while, no matter how hard I tried to force it. Like how I wish that post-dated check word for bills and groceries and not tap lessons I hate and spray tans that won’t do anybody any good. like how I’ve been faking my smile for so long, I’m scared I don’t know what the real one feels like anymore. (P. 22)

I found this relatable because I know what it’s like to do things for other people when you’ve either lost passion, or never had any in the first place. Or for having the pressure to find the passion out of fear of giving up. And the last sentence about faking a smile, for me I lost so much of my passion for music that I don’t feel like I have passion anymore, or if I do, what it feels like. This quotation gives the feeling of nostalgia can be relatable for many people for any circumstance, which is why I found this passage so impactful.

The first time I saw the light – A poem:

I saw the light:

I woke up the same as any other day,

Got dressed,

Made breakfast,

Outside, it wasn’t even grey.

Off to school,

Early like usual,

But something felt off,

Yet not like a cough.

After a class,

Or two,

I drink a glass,

And still, I feel a little bit blue.

I call my mom,

I act all calm,

All I wanted to do was cry,

But I kept cool and went with a lie.

Soon enough school was over,

I went home,

Found a three-leaf clover,

And was all alone.

After dinner we watch some tv,

My mom said I look tired as far as she could see.

Off to bed I go,

It took a while to fall asleep though.

“Oh, S..a I hope you’re okay”

Over the sirens, that’s all I hear them say.

All I’m thinking about is my sister,

About how much I’ll miss her.

 

Turns out that was not the last time I would see the light.

IRJE – Good Habits, Good Students by E.T.MacKnight:

The book Good Habits, Good Students by E.T.MacKnight is “A Complete Guide for Students Who Want to Succeed”. The main ideas I pulled from reading it were, that in order to be a good student, we need good habits. Good habits may come from asking parents to remind us to read, study and do homework; making sure to get enough sleep, exercise, and water so that we’re ready to learn the next day; or setting achievable goals to help us stay focused. My favorite thing from this book was how it talked about making realistic goals, and to focus on one goal or area that needs the most improvement rather than feeling overwhelmed trying to fix multiple simultaneously;

Don’t try to solve all your problems at once. Pick just one area that needs improvement, and work on it until you’ve reached your goal. To turn your achievement into a new habit, repeat the behavior you are practicing until it becomes automatic.

Set a realistic goal. Decide in advance what you need to do to meet the goal, how you will measure success and what your deadline will be. If you fail to reach the initial goal, revise it and try again. (Ch 3, Pg 7)

I found this part particularly helpful because it is speaking truth, and although we may know that, occasionally we will need to be reminded that good habits don’t come easily. If we make unrealistic goals, we may become upset or feel like giving up. But if our goal is not being achieved, change the goal, go one step at a time, and try again. Once we meet the goal, it becomes an achievement and now we can turn it into a good habit that can improve our education and/or our day to day life.

This book has been very useful and I would highly recommend reading it if you are needing a reminder of how to become a better student or simply wanting an informative read.

Personal Writing #2 – a poem “Never Ending”:

The power our thoughts have on us, is scary,

Sometimes they makes me smile,

Mostly cry.

They determine what I wear,

Who I talk to,

What I do,

And what I consume for food.

One day I’ll wake up,

Happy as can be thinking to myself,

“No one can stop me”,

But then the next day,

I’m a mess,

Now all I want to do is sleep, cry, and watch my comfort series.

School doesn’t help on those messy days,

It makes me tired,

I want to go home,

And needing rewired.

My brain hurts,

It keeps stabbing me with a knife,

Telling me I’m worthless and I can’t “do life”.

The pain that thoughts cause,

Is more than gain,

And the biggest annoyance;

It’s never ending.

Finding Perfect – Keeping it together inch by inch:

The book Finding Perfect by Elly Swartz is about a 14-year-old teenager; Molly, and her journey navigating the troubles of OCD. She lives with her dad and brother, and her mum lives in another country. As she is feels responsible for her brother and having trouble hiding her increasing OCD from her friends and family, and the pressure of the “Poetry Slam” she’s competing in, she has a hard time to live the “normal” teenage life that she should be.

In chapter 16, there’s a poem she wrote saying;

I know I’m not the girl I used to be

I don’t know what’s happening to me

The sting of hurt it burns my eyes

I organize and tell more lies

Share my fear, it’s not forbidden

To tell the truth that’s deeply hidden

Someone find me, where did I go?

Can you see me? I need to know. (Pp.103)

I found this relatable and significant because it’s a feeling many teenagers experience. Although I don’t have OCD, I understand the feeling of being lost or having changed and not knowing why. Many teenagers experience this feeling because of the pressures we face from society to fit into a “cookie cutter” human. When it says, “Someone find me, where did I go?”, I relate to that part in particular, because I often feel as though I have no clue what I’m doing or who I am anymore. It also can be very difficult to feel like you are enough, and no matter how much extra work I do, or how hard I try I’m never enough, the part in the poem that says, “Can you see me? I need to know.” Is very impactful because it’s her asking if what she’s doing is enough, and also if they can tell that she has OCD. Overall this book is a very relatable book for me in the sense that it’s about a teenage girl struggling her way through high school while facing her own set of challenges, and not asking for help.

Personal Writing #1 – A poem:

Déjà vu:

Waking up the same way every day,

Alarm set for 6:30, can’t be late!

Slept about eight to ten hours yet still feeling tired.

Can’t say no though,

Have to push through it,

Be the model student because we have to prove we can do it.

Can’t ask for help,

Show no signs of weakness,

Can’t show them we’re just a big mess.

Life can be tough for anyone,

For us though,

It’s a mountain to climb.

No time for a social life,

No time to smile,

Get the work done or feel the burden,

Once that’s done,

We can finally close the curtain.

Sports keep us busy,

And so does music but at least we have Sunday for relaxation and playing with church kids.

Summer is great, we get to have fun, go to camp, and soak up some sun, and like this year,

Getting dunked!

But once summer’s over, its back to school,

The terror has begun.

As the cycle continues,

It feels like nothing new though.

All it feels like;

Déjà vu.

They Shall Not Grow Old, “All Quiet” and Soldier’s Home comparison:

Harold Krebs from Soldier’s some, Paul Baumer from All quiet on the western front, and the British soldiers from the film They shall not grow old had their differences, yet their experiences when they returned home were surprisingly similar.

All three pieces of literature may be different mediums and have other perspectives of the war, but all three pieces described what it was like for soldiers to go back home after serving at war. Both Krebs and the British soldiers in the movie found that no one wanted to talk about the war when they returned.

There was a part in the movie when a soldier described his experience of returning home and talking to the mother of one of his dead comrades to tell her about her son’s death. This scene is quite similar to a part of the novel All quiet on the western front where Baumer returns home on leave and visits Kemmerich’s mother. Although the two scenes are alike, they are both different because Kemmerich’s mother was more in shock and had a hard time believing that her son was dead, whereas the soldier in the movie found that his friend’s mother was angry.

In the movie it also talked about how when you’re at the front, you find yourself thinking about why you’re fighting and killing people, essentially why there’s a war. That was similar to a part in All Quiet when Paul was talking to his friends about that same topic. In both scenarios, they got to the same conclusion; you can’t justify why there’s a war. War is an opportunity for world “leaders” to fight for land and to gain power or simply to kill others to “solve” their problems as a way of fighting rather than talking.

With that said, we can find similarities and differences in all three pieces of literature, but they are all similar in terms of them being about WW1 and soldier’s experiences.

IRJE #1:

          In the novel Guard Your Heart by Sue Divin, Aidan is Catholic, Irish, and Republican. Iona, Protestant and British. At a party celebrating the end of exams,  Aidan leaves the party alone and becomes the victim of a brutal attack. Iona witnessed the attack and picked up Aidan’s phone after he dropped it then filmed what happened. Eventually she gets in touch with him to return the phone. Then when the two the differences between them seem irrelevant and after they start talking more, they start falling in love. A bit of a “Romeo and Juliet” scenario.

“The first blow caught me hard on the chin and I spun off balance, tripping over the empty beer cans as the green, navy, and white Northern Ireland tops blurred past me. A kick in the groin and a knee in my back followed as swiftly as the abuse.

“Fenian bastard!” said one man

 Is ‘Catholic’ tattooed on my head? How did they know?” (p. 11)

          I chose this part because it expresses how often people get discriminated against for something as simple as what they believe in, religion, their race, nationality, gender, sexuality, political opinions and more. After that happened, Aiden lived in constant fear of being attacked. No one should have to go through that. Unfortunately, in reality many people do, and if we spread awareness, and talk about why it’s wrong, maybe one day we’ll get to a place where no one has to live in fear of being treated differently because of who they are. Reading this book gave me a glimpse of what that’s like, and why no one should have to go through what Aiden did.

Harold Krebs vs Paul Baumer:

Susie Black

Harold Krebs vs Paul Baumer:

       The main characters from the book All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque and from the story Soldiers Home by Ernest Hemingway have many similarities but also many differences. The main similarity being that neither of them truly felt at home when returning. But the primary difference between them, was that Krebs wanted to talk about the war and his experiences on the front whereas Baumer didn’t.

       When Paul returned home for the first time, he found out his mom was sick. Not only was she sick but he kept getting questions asked from his dad, in particular about what it looked like living at the front. Paul didn’t want to talk about his experiences because it was traumatic and something he’d rather forget about but unfortunately that’s not possible with the constant questioning. Because of those two main factors, and the fact that he realized he’ll never be the same as before the war, he is left with a feeling that his “home”, is no longer his home. In real life, many soldiers had similar experiences, and had the same feeling of not being at home anymore, or that they are not the same person as before the war.

       Harold had a similar yet different experience. When he went home, he felt as though nothing had changed; except for him. He, unlike Paul, wanted to talk about what had happened on the front. But no one was asking because to them, since they didn’t experience what he had, didn’t care enough to ask. And because of that, he felt like it wasn’t his home anymore. This was the same feeling as Paul; the feeling of being lost.

       That is primarily what they had in common, the fact that neither of them felt at home after returning from the front. With all that they’ve seen they still coped differently; Paul by keeping to himself what had happened, and Harold by sharing what had happened so that people could help him and understand what he went through. But neither of them truly got what they’d wanted.

       Overall, both of these stories had a very real outlook on what life during and after war was like yet with a comforting fictional element. The aftereffects it had on soldiers; typically resulting in PTSD and feeling of being invisible or not valued.

These stories demonstrated the unfortunate truth of war.

All Quiet on the Western Front – personal reflection:

             All quiet on the western front is a very realistic, fiction (but based on true story) novel about a soldier’s experience fighting on the war front. It used complex language, yet it felt simple to read and understand. Although it is the German’s perspective, I’m sure most soldiers would have a similar experience regardless of what country they were fighting for. With the war going on in Ukraine at the moment, I’m glad I got to read this book to get a glimpse of what some men(and some women) are currently experiencing so that I can empathize and understand more about what is going on.

            On page 99, it talks about how they have to go back to the front earlier than expected, and they weren’t expecting to have to leave so soon. Then I compared it to how many of the soldiers in Ukraine, and even some from Russia, were not expecting to be fighting in a war this year. No one did until the rumors started that Russia would attack. There are many young soldiers in “All Quiet” who were just graduated, or in their 20’s, as well as many “older” men who had to leave their life, school, jobs, and families behind. This is a lot like what many dads, and some brothers and grandpa’s are doing in Ukraine; as many of their families leave and go to safety they have to stay and fight a very dangerous, tiring, and deadly, never-ending battle.

             Then in chapter nine it talks about how Paul directly killed someone for the first time. It continues to talk about how this makes Paul feel guilty and start to question why there’s even a war and why he’s killing a man, just like him. And later on in the chapter it mentions that Paul, and his other friends were saying how its only beneficial to the “higher ups” who want to fight for power and land. Otherwise, it’s just an excuse for bunch of people, killing people just like one another. After reading that I reflected on how that’s how many soldiers from Russia must be feeling too. They are forced to do something they don’t want to do; destroy other people’s lives when they are no different than themselves and it’s all because their “leader” wants more power. Which when you think about it, is really unfortunate, that someone they are supposed to see as a role model, is choosing war over kindness.

              In conclusion, this novel was truly an amazing read; it was challenging yet understandable; eye opening but not completely disturbing; and most of all informational. It made me very thankful for what I have and where I’m from, and I will not take that, for granted.

Susie

I have grown up in Victoria, but was born in Taiwan and lived there for two years before moving to Canada. I am also a South African citizen because my mom is from there. I have been playing piano for about ten years now and I enjoy playing and listening to music. One goal I have for myself in this year’s English class is that I’d like to improve my knowledge of terminology as that’s something I’ve struggled with in past years. But I am excited for poetry this year because I love poetry and writing poems.

– Susie Black