Sunday, January 20, 2013

it's almost midnight but I have to ramble

I don't think I've ever written about "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" on here but I just watched the movie and now I really want to.

It's one of my favorite books. Actually, it's one of many, many people's favorite books, but I am especially selfishly possessive of it. I try not to let that show because it's very annoying behavior, very hipster-esque even though I didn't discover it first or anything, not at all. It's just that the story and the characters and the words feel very personal to me. And though the fact that it's relatable is probably why so many people like it, I still find myself feeling like it was written just for me. Selfish, I know, but what can you do?

I first read the book last March, during spring break. I had been looking for it for a while in libraries and bookstores and I finally found it at a Barnes & Noble in Los Angeles. I read it less than a day, sitting cross-legged on the threadbare carpet of the hotel hallway, sitting on a plastic lounge chair under the fake shade of a palm tree while airplanes thundered overhead, circling around the nearby airport. Some books you always remember where you first read them and that memory of where you were, and how you were, to an extent, too, gets tangled up in the story forevermore. That's how it is for me a little. 

When I first read the book, I was fifteen and I was a wallflower. Charlie really resonated with me, maybe unlike any fictional character had before. Here was someone who thought about things as much as I did and who didn't always speak up, either. Here was someone who was just as sentimental and shy and scared as I was. Here was someone who knew how I felt. I was half in love with him but I knew it wouldn't work out because we were too similar, and also, he was fictional. 

And then at the end, when he said he might not write anymore because he would be too busy participating, I almost felt betrayed. Why do characters always have to come around and change by the end of the book, when in real life it's not like that at all? I'm still waiting for my ending, I guess. 

Anyway, that was almost ten months ago that I first read Perks. Since then I've gone back and reread my favorite passages periodically, the kind of thing you do when you need something to comfort yourself. Specific parts make my heart hurt in good ways. Like, "You can't just sit there and put everybody's lives ahead of yours and think that counts as love. You just can't." Ouch. That one hits home. I remember writing in my journal the day after homecoming, thinking about that quote, feeling so confused, feeling all at once too selfish and too selfless, the latter of which seems like a stuck-up thing to say but if you knew, you'd understand, how what you need is a happy medium but what I have is too far weighed down on both sides. I was thinking about that one and about what it means to truly be happy for someone and it reminds me of this now: "It's like when you are excited about a girl and you see a couple holding hands, and you feel so happy for them. And other times you see the same couple, and they make you so mad. And all you want is to always feel happy for them because you know that if you do, then it means that you're happy too." I still find new things every time I skim through.

The thing is, I'm sixteen and a half now and I'm still something of a wallflower. I see things, I keep quiet, and I understand. Maybe I'll always be like that. I don't know. But the other thing is? I'm also learning to participate more. I'm starting to try new things, to speak up more, to not be so afraid of dumb things. The way I process life brands me an introvert -- I think too much and analyze things beyond comprehension and use writing to help me figure things out. But I also feel happiest when I am doing stuff with people, y'know? When I'm living. When I have something to write about. Moments to enjoy, moments that will later be stories. 

I'm still just a confused wallflower with a lot of feelings I can't always sort out, but I'm getting there. And I'll always love this book and this story for helping me to get there. Thank you.


  1. I like that you love this book so much, but I just can't get myself to love it. I've read it twice, and I know the story, I've seen the film and I totally see the appeal of it. But it just doesn't click for me.
    You said you were selfishly possessive of perks -- well, I'm selfishly possessive of everything! It's horrible, I know, and I try every day to get over and share what I love with the people I love. But there's still a sharp pain whenever I find out that something I love is loved by someone else, someone who I don't like at all. And I feel like Perks has been abused by people finding these quotes from it, and writing them over disposable film photo scans. Basically, I have this irrational fear of people mistreating the art I love, and because I saw Perks treated that way before I read it, I can't get into it. Does that make sense?
    But it's so nice to read this, and the way that it clearly means something to you but rather than being desperate to 'be a Charlie', you aren't using it show how quirky and awkward you are. You actually feel that way.
    I don't know. Maybe I'm just a judgmental bitch, but it feels like several people I know use Perks to show how indie they are, and because of that connotation it's made it that much harder for me to love it. Like, a friend of mine now claims that Asleep is the song that best represents her life, after she read/watched Perks. And (this is just my interpretation but...) Asleep is about suicide.
    And I'm really just rambling now but basically:
    even though I couldn't click with Perks, I'm so glad you could, and I think reading this blog about it has cancelled out some of what made me not like it, and hopefully I'll enjoy it more the next time I reread it.

    1. I know what you mean about feeling like it's been 'abused', but that doesn't stop me from loving it because what everyone else thinks doesn't matter, not to me -- it's how the book makes me feel that's important. We can't worry about people mistreating the art we love because there's no mistreating, really -- it's all just our own interpretations, our own renderings of the story. And while we may not agree with some of them, we have to try not to put them down because even if we vehemently believe something is a wrong way of reacting to a story, to someone it is right. And in a way, that's the beauty of literature. Sometimes you just can't get into stories, and that's okay, and sometimes you feel like they were written just for you, and that's wonderful. It all depends on the person. Discussions about literature are great, because you can see other ways of thinking about the same thing. :)
      And Asleep is one of those songs you listen to when you're tired and kind of want to curl up in a ball and disappear for a while. It's beautiful, but God, I hope it doesn't represent my life.

  2. Oh goodness I love this! I've never read the book, but I will! I haven't simply because it's never available at our local library.
    But I agree with what you're saying. I grew up being the shy, quiet, and often the new girl. I always hated it, but I never did anything about it. When I moved here and started playing basketball I forced myself out of my "shell". For the first few months I was in love with the new me. I had friends. I was popular (not the most popular, but I was.) I listened to the cool music and learned to like it. I wore the same clothes that they did, talked about the same stuff they did and was one of them. However, after a few months of that, things started to change. I was involved in a lot of drama and rumors and a lot of messes. I started getting depressed. I was disrespectful. Became sort of a rebel. I wore way too much makeup. I was a mess. I enjoyed being with people and going to the parties, but I craved being alone. I was always exhausted. I remember dozing off on the bench at a game and my teammates getting worried about me. I got depressed, because I didn't want to want to be alone. In order to be popular you had to be an extrovert, and in order to be an extrovert you should always want to be with people. It wasn't until this summer that I realised that I dont have to be an extrovert to enjoy being with people. I think I always knew, deep down, that I was faking everything and inside i was still shy and quiet. Not awkward shy, just a quiet, observant shy. I've come to terms that I am a wallflower. I am in introvert. I am quiet. I am a deep thinker. I am an INTJ. And I'm okay with that. I like it. I don't feel guilty when I leave a party early, or don't feel like going to watch a basketball game, because I don't feel like being with people. That is okay. I still love being with people and having fun. But just in smaller doses. I feel so much happier like that. I do have those days I almost get panic attacks in Wal Mart because there are too many people. There are the days I escape to the bathroom to get my breath back at basketball games. There are the days I feel awkward and out of place with my friends because I cant talk to them about some things because I don't have anything to say thats "worthwhile" enough. I dont enjoy their pop music anymore. I used to be known for being able to name any song on the KISS radio station. i cant anymore. But im okay with that.

    Dude, Im sorry for this novel comment. I just started rambling. But thank you for sharing this. It made me think again. xx

  3. The reason this book is so beloved and wonderful is because it's about introverts, it's about wallflowers, there aren't a lot of books for people like us. Or at least not many that get it right.

  4. I'm gonna jump on the boat of fellow self-possessive wallflowers. I'm very possessive of things that connect with me, and me especially - almost so much that I don't like mentioning those things in front of people who might, god forbid, enjoy it as much as I do.

    I feel the exact same way when characters or people I idolize come to the end of their roads and check out for a while, claiming that their time is already filled with life-living and other sorts of things. It makes me feel abandoned and lonelier than before, like I have nowhere better to be than wallowing over someone else's story.

  5. Your writing is so fresh and crisp and real and I LOVE it.


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