Goal Reviewing

Today my Goodreads account informed me that we are officially a quarter of the way through the year! Yay! Congratulations on making it this far.

I thought that as it’s a quarter of the way through the year, it would be a good idea to revisit my goals that I posted about at the beginning of the year.

They were all fairly simple, and achievable, but things that were important to me and I wanted to really focus on. Three of them were quantitate and three of them were less-so, so they were a bit of a judgement call.

I would like to read 50 books

A Quarter of the Way Through the Year

I’ve gotten to twenty, so I’m ahead of schedule! Here’s my Goodreads if you want to see them.

I would like to get a job

A couple of days after I posted my New Year’s resolutions I went job searching and about three weeks afterwards I got two jobs, which was nice. I did a shift at McDonalds, quit there and stayed at Baker’s Delight. They’re also known as Cob’s Bakery and they’re a franchise but also like a little local bakery and a great place to work for. I’m really happy there.

I would like to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in Gold Class

Well, this hasn’t come out yet. So no, but not for trying?

I hope that my family and friends and I are happy

This is still something I’m working on every day, but I think we’re doing pretty well on this one.

I hope that my school places more importance on mental health in the classroom

Ummmmm…

I hope that I have the strength to overcome whatever issues I may face in 2016

Lucky for me, I haven’t really faced any “issues”, per say.

So I think I’m doing pretty well on my goals this year so far, and I’ll check back in with you halfway through the year.

Curly Hair Rocks

I was watching The Princess Diaries yesterday and I was absolutely infuriated.

Don’t get me wrong – I adore the movie. I adore the book. I love the plot and I demolished those books when I was younger.

Nope, it wasn’t that. I was infuriated because there was yet another girl, with frizzy curly hair who got “made-over” into someone with pin straight, shiny locks of perfect hair.

I call bullshit!

I am sick to absolute death of being the “pre-makeover” girl in every film. And I’m going to tell you, quite frankly, why.

I hate my hair.

It’s a sentence that most teenager girls say on a regular basis. Usually accompanied with “I have nothing to wear” and copious amounts of groaning and door slamming.

However, I have a very large problem with my hair, and I have some people to blame.

God, my stupid stupid hair. I was born with barely any hair, and stayed that way until I was three. If my mum hadn’t put bright pink dresses on me, I would have easily been mistaken for a boy. Then I hit three and look, a miracle! I had hair! Whoop-de-doo!

Except it was curly. Like, really curly. And short.

You know what you can do with short, curly hair? Not much.

You know what new parents with straight hair do when they’re daughter comes out looking like someone shoved my fingers into an electric socket? They leave it to become a matted mess and just shove a headband in to keep it off my face.

Then we moved to China. Anyone with curly hair knows it needs upkeep and humidity is your worst nightmare. So in a country where no one knew how to cut my hair and it was humid 90% of the time, my hair was more of a mess than usual.

Between the ages of 3 and 12, my hair was a disaster. Because I didn’t know what to do with it and neither did my parents, so most of the time no one did anything with it. But that was okay, because no one else cared.

Then I went to high school. And my hair grew long and thick and somehow, more curly. And I learnt how to tame my mane with conditioner and mousse and gel. But I still hated it. Because all these girls around me had straight, sleek hair and I still had a crazy mess of curls. They could do anything they wanted with their hair and I could have mine loose, which I hated, or in a ponytail. I found out that my hair came from a distant family member who is a fairly famous actress – Minnie Driver – and I was thrilled, until I realized she had her hair chemically straightened.

But most of all, I hated my hair because it made me look fatter.

All these girls had sleek styles, long and straight and inconspicuous, that matched their sleek, straight bodies. And then there was me, round and bouncy with chubby cheeks and hair that about doubled the size of my head.

And I absolutely loathed all the models with “curly” hair that in reality, was barely wavy. Between that and the all the movies that showed the girl with shiny, straight hair after her makeover, I learnt that curly hair should be erased from existence. That it wasn’t pretty, and in fact, it should be ironed straight out.

I have news for you, movie makers.

Curly hair can’t be straightened like that.

It just doesn’t work. Believe me, I’ve tried.

So can you see how frustrating it is to never ever see a single celebrity who people see as beautiful with the same hair as you? Especially when you know damn well they’ve straightened it out.

Not to mention how angering it is to see girls losing their natural curls in a movie before they’re considered “pretty”?

It’s incredibly frustrating, because these people don’t realize how much damage they’re doing. They don’t realize that I’ve spent years listening to people telling me how lucky I was to have such beautiful and yet most days, I still hate it. They don’t realize that there’s a whole generation of curly haired girls who don’t have friends like mine, telling them it’s all crap. They don’t realize that by making sure no girl finishes a movie at a high school prom with curly hair, they’re making sure there’s not a single girl with curly hair who doesn’t at least once feel self-conscious about it. Even Hermione, who I idolized for the simple fact that she wore her hair loose and curly all the time, straightened it for the Yule Ball.

So was it really a surprise when this year I started getting questions about how I was going to straighten my hair for formal? Nope.

I just wish that for once, people would acknowledge that actually, curly hair freaking rocks (even if I often say otherwise), and let others know that too. Because I don’t want another single girl growing up with “chemical straightening” on her birthday wishlist.

Blog Changes

Hi all!

So today I went through and changed a bunch of things on my blog. The main thing though, is the name and the set out of it all. The content has not, and will not, change.

I outgrew/grew tired of the sparkszine theme. Linking everything to a spark seemed like a tedious metaphor, and with the increase in what used to be “Katy Sparks” posts, this blog is seeming less like an online magazine and more like a personal blog. Which is, of course, fine. It just means it’s time for a little change.

So as you will notice, I have a new theme. I also have new categories, and a new name – Katy’s Cosy Corner. This is becoming my corner of the internet, my little private space and I wanted my name to reflect that.

So the “sparks” part of all the names in my blog posts have gone, but some of the actual posts still reference the old theme. I will not be changing that.

I don’t believe in ignoring the past. I don’t believe in pretending that parts of my life never happened. So while I don’t love the whole Sparks thing any more, I won’t be getting rid of it. One day, I’d like to look back at it and go “this happened. I thought it was cool at the time. It’s not so much now.”

My social media is also all changing too. Katy’s Cosy Corner is now officially what I’ll be going by, and Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr are all @ katyscosycorner.

So keep an eye out for all my changes as they role out over the next few days. I hope you all stick around in my little corner even as it’s under construction, and that you like it as much as I do.

Katy 

Jurassic World

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a travelling spark, because I haven’t been doing any travelling really. School and dance and work have taken up most of my time, which I don’t mind at all, but it does mean this particular section of my blog has been slightly abandoned.

However, fear not! I am back, and this time, I’m travelling in time!

Welcome to Jurassic World, where dinosaurs are no longer extinct.

Jurassic World (2)

So obviously I didn’t actually travel back in time, but I did travel to the Melbourne Museum, which is currently home to Jurassic World, The Exhibition.

Jurassic World came out last year, and was a resounding success. In fact, success like that hadn’t been seen since the original Jurassic Park came out, and it seemed only fitting that the records Jurassic Park set were beaten by its own franchise.

Then the Jurassic World Exhibition concept was presented, and it was decided that Melbourne was the perfect place the create the life-sized robotic dinosaurs.

Jurassic World 1.png
Up close and personal with a full sized dinosaur

The exhibition is touring for 5 years, and usually Melbourne would be the last stop on the tour, thanks to the fact that we reside at least four hours from anywhere else. However, as everything was engineered here, we are the first stop on the tour, a fact that I am incredibly glad about.

It was a fantastically entertaining experience and I loved every second of it! Not only was it very educational, with plenty of facts and figures about the dinosaurs that were so close you could practically touch them, it was also structured as though you were a guest of Jurassic World, and you were taking part in the events of the film.

You entered through a room that was staged to seem as though you were on the ferry to Isla Nublar, then proceeded to make your way through the parks major attractions. When you entered the Stegosaurus enclosure, a panic alert sounded and you were informed that there was an asset out of containment; the asset just happens to be the Indominus Rex, the park’s newest major attraction.

It was the perfect balance of quality entertainment and the educational experience that museums are so well known for, which made for a highly enjoyable morning. As a huge fan of the films, I couldn’t find any faults with the exhibition and would recommend it to anyone in Melbourne at the moment. It’s here till October the 9th, and tickets are available at the door or on the Melbourne Museum website.

(This post was written before changes to my blog, when all posts where categorized by “sparks”. Any and all references to Katy/Everyday/Travelling/Life Sparks or Sparkszine are as a result of this)

 

 

The Katy Diaries – Entry #1

I write a diary fairly regularly. It’s usually full of mundane stuff about my day-to-day life, used to make sure I keep writing and don’t go for months at a time without writing anything that’s not for school (which I’m guilty of). Then the other day I was watching a bunch of YouTube videos featuring Jeremy Jordan and I stumbled across this gem of a quote:

When you feel lost or stuck, don’t be afraid to look back on dreams from your childhood.

 

I loved it and I had to write about it, and the writing ended up being a lot more personal then it usually is, and I felt I had to share it.

I’ve been thinking more and more about how I just want to write. I want the words to pour out of me, more and more of them. And how I’m such a realist but somehow I have this dream I’m hanging onto, hard. It makes me wonder why I’m so hungry for it, and I think it’s because I’m such a realist, which, let’s face it, is a pretty sad way to live. And writing lets me dream, which is what I want to hold onto. When I write, I can inspire people, be a leader. I can sing and dance and act and be best friends with the people I admire, if I want. I can be beautiful and aware of it. I can be everything I dreamed I’d be when I was little and more, when I write. I know it sounds ridiculous, for something I do already to be the dream I’m grasping at, but it is. Because it’s not the writing that I’m grasping at. It’s what the writing allows me to be that I’m grasping at. Or, holding onto rather than grasping at, because I’ll be damned if I ever let that feeling go.

I mean, there are lots of quotes that explain exactly how I feel about writing, a notable one being from the musical Newsies:

Give life’s little guys some ink and when it dries just watch what happens.

But this quote is important. It took more digging than the Newsies quote. It took looking back at my childhood dreams to realize why writing was so damn important to me. Obviously there are a thousand other reasons I love to write; it gives me a voice bigger than my own and a place to let my thoughts run wild. But most importantly, writing is crucial for me, because it’s what allows me to dream. Writing is where I live the childhood dreams I dreamed.

And as Jeremy Jordan said – it’s never a bad idea to listen to your childhood self.

(This post was written before changes to my blog, when all posts where categorized by “sparks”. Any and all references to Katy/Everyday/Travelling/Life Sparks or Sparkszine are as a result of this)

The Last Five Years

I went on a movie watching binge the other day and after watching The Last Five Years I absolutely knew I had to write about it.

In this adaptation of the hit musical, The Last Five Years is a musical deconstruction of a love affair and a marriage taking place over a five year period. Jamie (Jordan), a young, talented up-and-coming Jewish novelist falls in love with Cathy (Kendrick), a Shiksa Goddess and struggling actress. Their story is told almost entirely through song. All of Cathy’s songs begin at the end of their marriage and move backwards in time to the beginning of their love affair, while Jamie’s songs start at the beginning of their affair and move forward to the end of their marriage. They meet in the center when Jamie proposes. (Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes)

Upon finishing this movie, I wanted to scream about it from the rooftops. I kind of did, messaging my best friend about it with increasing frequency and many many capital letters and exclamation marks. It was amazing – the music, the acting, the characters, the lyrics. Everything. The lyrics were comedic and raw and real and painfully astounding. Some of my favourites included;

“Perfectly balanced, then I start making conscious, deliberate mistakes”

“Why am I trying so hard, these are the people who cast Russel Crowe in a musical”

“I wrote a story and we changed the ending”

There is no doubt the whole show is genius. They songs are perfectly balanced and the concept is original and very well translated into a movie (albeit sometimes clunky in transitions).

However, as I was explaining it to my friends that evening over a pizza dinner I realized that the ending is slightly problematic.

You know from the beginning of the movie that their marriage ends in divorce, as you listen to Cathy (played by Kendrick) sing “I’m Still Hurting”.

However, the end of the movie places nearly all of the blame on Cathy for the breakdown of the marriage, despite the multiple affairs Jamie (played by Jordan) has.

The song, titled “Goodbye Until Tomorrow/I Couldn’t Save You” features Cathy at the beginning of their relationship, singing about how she doesn’t want to say goodbye, and Jamie at the end of their relationship, leaving their shared apartment with all of his belongings.

He sings about how he couldn’t save her from herself and her self-doubt. And I will admit – she had a lot of self-doubt. And it did damage their relationship. She was jealous of the success Jamie garnered with his writing while she struggled to make it on Broadway. She wanted him to fail so she would feel like less of a failure, which he (rightly) refused to do, singing “I will not fail so you can be comfortable, I will not lose because you can’t win”.

But at no point in the final song does he sing about the affairs he has and the strain this has on their relationship. They are both equally to blame and I find it very frustrating and damaging that the final song in the movie places all the blame on her.

Overall, I would still give it 3.5/5. I loved the music (enough to buy the album for my phone, which I never do), I loved the acting, I loved the characters. I loved that they weren’t perfect and I loved how realistic their flaws were. I just hated how the ending panned out, and I wish they’d explored the strain his affairs had on their relationship more.

(This post was written before changes to my blog, when all posts where categorized by “sparks”. Any and all references to Katy/Everyday/Travelling/Life Sparks or Sparkszine are as a result of this)

Writers Block

It’s a writers worst nightmare – an empty screen.

It sits there and it stares at you, with it’s consistent taunt of a blinking cursor. You start sentence after sentence and delete every attempt you make at an idea.

Writers block is the bane of my existence. With trying to think up new topics to write on every week, writers block has become a constant and vaguely annoying companion.

But I have good news! I know how to beat it!

  1. Try taking a breakThis may seem really obvious, but often writers block stems from just being tired. Take a five minute break; have a drink and watch some TV and who knows, you might be struck with your next great idea!
  2. Try starting from the middle of your story
    The idea of starting a story can sometimes be daunting, not to mention there is often a lot of building at the beginning of a story. Sometimes writers block can stem from a lack of motivation and the easiest way to tackle this is to start in the middle of your plot (providing you’ve already planned it out). It will flow out of you a lot quicker, as you’ll already be in the middle of the action.
  3. Brainstorm

    If you’re struggling to find any ideas to type, try a different way of coming up with them. A classic mind map may help, because ideas tend to sprout from others.
  4. 5 minute writing warm-ups 

    Try googling and doing some five minute writing warm-ups. Because you’re given a prompt, the ideas will come more easily and you’ll be in a better headspace to start. You wouldn’t start a sport without warming up and writing should be the same. Who knows, one of the prompts might turn into your next great story!

  5. Just plow through itJust write. Ignore how bad it is, ignore the fact that you’re not really sure what you’re writing. Just write and write and write. Let the words stack up. They’re like a bulk-buy item and the more you write the cheaper they get, the easier it is to cut them out. Just write and don’t delete anything until you have a proper start, a proper chunk, a proper story. Just write.

In the end, there’s not much else I can tell you. There’s no magic cure for writers block and only you can fix it. Unfortunately, I can’t come and help you. All I can do is tell you to get out of your head and just write as if your life depends on it.

So stop procrastinating and just go!

(This post was written before changes to my blog, when all posts where categorized by “sparks”. Any and all references to Katy/Everyday/Travelling/Life Sparks or Sparkszine are as a result of this)

The Outsiders

I’ve decided that this post needs to be in Katy Sparks, rather than Everyday Sparks, where I usually place my reviews. This is for a couple of reasons;

  1. This is not really a properly structured review. It’s more my rambling about my thoughts and feelings regarding this book
  2. It’s so important to me that it’s become a part of me. You know when you read a book, and it makes you feel so understood that you simultaneously want everyone to read it and hide it so that only you ever read it? It’s one of those kinds of books, and so I think it’s more suited to the Katy Sparks section.

For those of you who don’t know, The Outsiders is a classic novel, written in 1967, by a sixteen year old S.E. Hinton. It’s the story of Ponyboy, a greaser, and his friends and their long time feud with the Socs, the “rich kids, the West Side Socs.”

According to Ponyboy, there are two kinds of people in the world: greasers and Socs. A Soc (short for “social”) has money, can get away with just about anything, and has an attitude longer than a limousine. A greaser, on the other hand, always lives on the outside and needs to watch his back. Ponyboy is a greaser, and he’s always been proud of it, even willing to rumble against a gang of Socs for the sake of his fellow greasers–until one terrible night when his friend Johnny kills a Soc. The murder gets under Ponyboy’s skin, causing his bifurcated world to crumble and teaching him that pain feels the same whether a Soc or a greaser.
(Synopsis from Goodreads)

I first heard about this book through reading another book. Most of you have probably heard of Rainbow Rowell’s YA novel, Fangirl, during which there is a rather romantic scene where Cath reads The Outsiders to Levi. It caught my attention, being one of my favourite scenes in the book, and because Cath mentions the famous quote “Stay gold Ponyboy.”

As someone who had never heard of The Outsiders, had never seen the film or known anyone who had read, it struck me as a really odd famous quote, and made me more desperate to read it.

So on my TBR list it went, but I had more pressing books to attend to (namely getting my hands on all the other Rainbow Rowell books I could find), so I didn’t really think about it for a while.

Then, in the space of a day, I found out that S.E. Hinton was only 16 when she had written majority of the book, that Rob Lowe was in the movie adaptation and had a conversation with someone I’d basically call my second mum, where she told me it was her favourite book when she was my age.

It seemed like all the signs were pointing towards me reading this book and then about a week later, on Christmas morning, what should be under my tree but a copy of The Outsiders?

I started it and was disappointed to find I struggled to begin the book. It seemed stunted and I’m not usually a huge fan of books written in first person with the narrators accent (which this is). It took me a month of reading a page or two here or there to get to the part of the book where suddenly I didn’t want to put it down.

Johnny and Ponyboy run into a burning church.

I wasn’t all that bothered about Johnny killing the Soc. It was on the blurb of the book – I expected it to happen. So when it did, I wasn’t swept up by the action. If anything, I was just annoyed. It happens so early on that I was sure the rest of the book would be the ramblings of Ponyboy in Windrixville, reading Gone With the Wind and waiting for Darry to come find him. I assumed it would be a book about facing consequences.

But after Ponyboy and Johnny run into that church, everything comes together. There are emotional family reunions (which are my favourite kinds of reunions) at the hospital and there’s an all out war between the Socs and the greasers and Johnny says “stay gold Ponyboy” and I cried. I ached, everything in me gripping onto that book as hard as I could. Because all of a sudden I realized I was attached to these characters and their lives and their stories in a way I hadn’t felt in a while.

And it was because they were so realistic. So raw and perfectly put and wonderfully worded by Ponyboy, who was, at the time, the same age as me, and everything made sense.

I love this book. Because it made me feel things. Because it still makes me feel things, still leaves me gripping the edge of my seat after reading it eight, nine, ten times. Because it has lessons that are still relevant nearly fifty years later. Because it was written by a girl with a big dream and it was read by another one just like her and inspired her to try harder. Because I can’t look at a sunset without thinking of the beautiful way they were used in the book – “I guess we weren’t so different. We saw the same sunset.”. Because it’s made me want to understand people more. Because it’s a story I can’t let go.

So I think this is the perfect book for me to write about in Katy Sparks. It’s so much a piece of me that I think it’s one of the best ways to describe me. Which means it’s the best way to show you guys a little bit more of me.

Katy

(This post was written before changes to my blog, when all posts where categorized by “sparks”. Any and all references to Katy/Everyday/Travelling/Life Sparks or Sparkszine are as a result of this)

Living Between Pages

To everyone that lives between the pages of books,

I love you.

You are the most amazing people I know.

Because only people who have lived between the pages of books can really understand others who have done the same thing.

We are our own unique club, bound by our love of lives other than our own. We share stories not of ourselves but of others, with more exciting lives, more pressing matters to attend to.

We like to get lost in worlds other than our own, live in other people’s heads, because they are so much more exciting than ours.

But most of all, our friends and our family are captured there, between the covers of our favourite books. When we are lonely, we turn to them, and that’s what I think makes us such amazing people.

Because even when alone, we can be surrounded by a thousand people.

So to every person that has lived between the pages of books;

I love you. You are amazing. We are amazing. Continue to live bound by words. Continue to write and read and tell stories, so we can have another generation of people living in a world of fantasy.

Because reality leaves a lot to the imagination (John Lennon).

Katy xx

(This post was written before changes to my blog, when all posts where categorized by “sparks”. Any and all references to Katy/Everyday/Travelling/Life Sparks or Sparkszine are as a result of this)

Tests are the Worst

A while back I wrote a post about studying, and how best to do that. Recently at school we had a presentation on how best to study and beat procrastination, and I thought that maybe I’d upload a new version of my Study to Success guide.

Then I had the week from hell.

A science test, a psychology SAC (which is my VCE subject, meaning it goes towards the score that will determine which university I get into in three years time), an English essay that ran over two periods and a humanities presentation due.

I mean, in relation to other people’s workloads and workloads I’ve had previously, it wasn’t even that much. The SAC, the English and the humanities all ran smoothly. I submitted early for the presentation, and I breezed through the essay and the test, coming out feeling fairly confident that I’ll receive a good mark. Everything was going well.

Until Friday, last period, when I had my science test.

In my first year of high school, we were taught techniques on how to calm ourselves if we start to panic during a test. I am now almost a quarter way through my fourth year of high school and during the test was only the second time I’ve had to use them. I sat there, breathing deep breathes and squeezing my rubber like a stress ball, trying to ward off tears, all the while thinking if I wasn’t panicking I wouldn’t be having to do these exercises and I would have more time to do the questions and so I wouldn’t be panicking!

See the problem?

When the test was over, in the way all nosy teenagers do, we started asking around. How do you think you went? Oh I don’t think I went well at all, I struggled. And I noticed that we all only started to feel better when we realized everyone else walked out feeling like they’d totally bombed that test too.

I started to realize something about my self; all my ideas of success are based entirely off of the ideas someone else has given me.

I mean, I’ve known this for a while. I’m not entirely unaware, but it was the first time I’d really seen it in action. Because I knew that even though 70% is a terrible mark for me, as long as everyone else got around that mark too, I wouldn’t mind.

And I realized that my friend who regularly gets marks in the high 90% range is the only one of us who doesn’t ask how others went.

So then I started rethinking my Study to Success guide. Because I followed all the steps in it. I worked hard, I listened to music without lyrics, I colour coded my notes. I did everything. But I still bombed that test, hard.

And I have come to the conclusion that there is no one way to study to success. Everyone studies differently. But there is a way to make sure you’re successful, and that’s to stop basing your success on others.

Focus on the three things you did well at rather then the one thing you didn’t. Stop asking how others did and start asking how you can do better.

That’s my new guide to success.

Katy

(This post was written before changes to my blog, when all posts where categorized by “sparks”. Any and all references to Katy/Everyday/Travelling/Life Sparks or Sparkszine are as a result of this)