Sometimes you win in life and it is a glorious feeling: First High School Edition

In high school, I had a crush on this guy one year my senior. We also went to the same university, although he was taking a different course, and still, I had a crush on him. He was in a relationship all throughout I was in college with this awesome girl (we met and talked once for an event and she was kind or maybe it was nearing the election so she was nice) so I was rooting for them too. My crush was nothing serious, it was pretty low-key actually. He was tall, dark, handsome, and lean. He was smart, socially aware, and an activist. We’ve never interacted, in high school nor in college.

After graduation, my crush on him finally ended. I don’t know why but maybe it was because I became friends with one of his best friends. My friend, of course, had stories with him in it and I guess I ended up kind of getting to know him. He wasn’t bad, I wasn’t turned off or anything, but maybe his allure to me was the mystery. That I didn’t actually know him.

Then I ended up drinking with him one time and there I truly realized that there was nothing anymore. My best friend and I didn’t even fangirl anymore, when that was one of our past times back then. When he joined my dragon boat team, I ended up training with him maybe thrice (he wasn’t active at all) and drinking with him a few times. A certain circle of mine, mostly dragon boat teammates, frequented this place so it was there that we kind of talked before, but nothing deep or serious. I wasn’t interested in him anymore so I didn’t expend energy on talking to him or sought him out. Ha, funny how that can actually happen, knowing myself and how hard for me to move on and shit. That night he was mocking how I was only four beers in and I told him it’s not fair to hold me against his eight bottles when he started hours ahead of me. It was then that he told me that the longest time he wooed a girl was one and a half months and that he found it too long and tedious and so he stopped. He’s not an asshole, in fact he’s nice, but like I said, he has so much appeal that I was not surprised that he didn’t really need to woo/court girls. He was the kind of guy girls throw themselves at. I would have done that if I still wanted him and if I was courageous enough for that but alas, I’m shy and scared and clueless (in practice but not in theory because romance novels taught me well?).

So last week, I ended up drinking at this place with friends (who were forty-plus years old and acted as my dads and/or life coaches) and he was there. I was with my old friends and we were playing music, mostly 80s with a bit of 70s and 90s, where I was the one who chose the music. But it wasn’t my phone nor my speakers. There was even a moment when this guy (a stranger) approached my friend to borrow a lighter and ended up talking to me and telling me that my playlist was great. Because I suck at receiving compliments, I just told him that it was not my playlist but I was just the one choosing the songs. But this is not the point of the story but I wanted to share the story of the compliment because it made my day.

Anyway, M (let’s just call him that from now on) was with his frat brothers (I think) in the vicinity AKA the next table since he’s in the same frat as one of my friends. He nods his approval at me when he likes the song I’m playing and bemoans when I change songs he likes (never my fault, I also love those songs but they’re not in theme with the previous happy, upbeat songs). Another friend dropped by and proceeded to give me a box of red velvet crinkles as a late birthday gift and then his eyes have gotten large because he wants some so I offered and he kept on eating and even asked if he can give some to his brothers. Sure, I said.

All throughout the night, he went to different tables to different people. He’s a regular there and he knows the regulars too. I go there enough for the ladies at the counter serving to know my name (which I learned that night as well and I was so shocked because I prided myself in not being there all the time for them to know me but now I can’t say that because I have been profiled) and for them to tease me to give them some red velvet crinkles. I placate myself by thinking that at least I now have a place where I can have a tab. Hahahuhu.

Back to the story. It was getting late and the place has closed but we were still drinking and one of my friends even bought more beers outside for us. We talked a bit like how he was seventeen beers in (fuck that guy, how can he even be awake) but we were mostly singing and requesting songs. I was getting sleepy and I just sat there with my head at the top of the backrest of the chair, looking at the sky. I don’t know why I didn’t just go home (I do know, it’s because I have serious FOMO and hate going first or not finishing a party) but that was me. He was by my left side and at this point it was so hot that I have long since removed my jacket and was just wearing a spaghetti strap top. I tried to cover up by draping my jacket on me but he has already seen me remove it beforehand and teased me about it (or maybe tease is not the correct term but I find it hard to accept compliments so I always categorize them as teasing).

He asked me where I’m going home and I told him I’m staying near SM North (the closest landmark to my apartment). I was so sleepy I wasn’t even looking at him while we’re talking, I was either staring into the nightsky or had my eyes closed. Then he told me: Just go home to our place. (Sa’min ka na lang umuwi.)

I WAS SO SHOCKED I had to look at him after he said it. I mean, sure, maybe he was just being nice and concerned that I can’t go home at my state and that I might fall asleep in the taxi ride home. My friend pointed out that he could have just gotten me home himself if he was concerned but I don’t think he can even manage that. Seventeen beers! And I don’t make it a habit to make people get me home. I am an independent woman, goddamit, I can go home. Anyway, at the time, I told him that isn’t his house not that near too and my apartment isn’t that far so it’s fine. But my mind was reeling. WHAT DOES IT MEAN? I mean, of course I wasn’t actually going to go home with him but WHAT IF I DID? WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED? He didn’t say anything more and we just continued singing then it was time to go home (my friend’s speaker died). My “dads” got me a cab and I got home.

The next day at work, I relayed the story to my BFF. She was so shocked as well and even slow-clapped for me. I mean, with no intention or effort on my part, that happened. Girls cried over him and not being able to go home with him and here I was, someone who said no. HAHAHA She even surmised that I wasn’t being asked to come home with him to his frat house but to his actual apartment/home/we’re not sure. The night before, I thought he was asking me to go to his frat house. I guess it’s an even bigger deal in the light of the day. I only told my BFF, and Charlie, and another guy friend about this. And while I kept on telling them that maybe it meant nothing, we thought it was weird that he’d offer his house when we’re not close. So the offer being an innocent one was less likely.

I guess I haven’t learned enough from romance novels. Is that how innocent-sounding come-ons are these days? Am I naive for giving him the benefit of the doubt? Or maybe it was my low self-esteem that couldn’t process how M could have maybe done that?!?!

Still, it felt like a victory, especially to high school Dianne. The me then never even thought he’ll learn my name or know me AND NOW LOOK AT THAT. And the Dianne of the present also wins because I never thought that I would ever be in a position to say no to him. HAHAHA Life lets you win and it feels glorious.


The Last Time I’ll Write About You by Dawn Lanuza

Of course I’m gonna read Dawn Lanuza’s first poetry book (and succeeding ones as well). Here are my quick thoughts on this short collection~

The Last Time I'll Write About You
Title: The Last Time I’ll Write About You
Author: Dawn Lanuza
Publisher: Indie Sisiw
Date of Publication: November 5, 2016
Source: purchased (Kindle)

Should I be
That my only idea
Of love

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My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Here’s a winking, peace-sign-toting Lucky Blue Smith gif to ease the pain.

Now that we got that over with (the casual dropping of Lucky Blue Smith gif but not the feelings because let’s be honest, feelings are hard to dispel), let’s talk about The Last Time I’ll Talk About You.

I immediately pre-ordered Dawn Lanuza’s first poetry book once I knew of it. We’re both into poetry and she recommends some and I read it. It’s been like that. Her snippets and teasers prior to release day were promising (more than promising) so I kept getting more excited for it. But in reality, when Adrien bb the Kindle finally had it and I was about to start it, I GOT SCARED. WHAT IF I DON’T LIKE IT? It would be ~super~ awkward to keep mum about the book because I didn’t love it and even if I didn’t review it because I didn’t want to rate it badly, I mean, Dawn would know that I didn’t like it, right? Because I was so excited for it and I just disappeared. So I am so so relieved because I definitely liked Dawn’s first poetry book and I hope it wouldn’t be the last of hers.

This is a short collection and you’ll finish it so quickly, well that is, if you can read them in one go. I know some people weren’t able to because sometimes feelings can knock you over. The collection’s divided into parts, parts of a relationship and the inevitable break-up. (Because they all end! HAHA) With that, the collection has a theme so that it evokes almost the same emotions. A lot of the poems are about romance, of what-could-have-beens and what-I-miss and what-I-wish. Which you know, had me feeling things, LOTS OF THINGS. Some were too true that they’re kind of painful (about love and romance not happening to you because you won’t let it) and some were fears that were hard for me to acknowledge and even more, vocalize (of decoys and related to that, this tweet by @sosadtoday). Most of the poems were short but I think the short ones actually pack the harder punches.

I think my only criticism of this collection is that I kind of felt it was repetitive? Although I could get past that since it‘s a themed collection. Imagery of beds were quite common or was it just me? And I guess because there’s a specific theme, like I mentioned, the emotions it evoked from me were pretty much the same, but then again, not a glaring issue here.

But oh boy, do I loved the few poems on depression. I lapped those up and they had me feeling more (probably because all my love woe-is-me feelings are from my lack of one brought upon by my fear of ~real things and connections and risks~) than the bygone-romance poems.

All in all, a great poetry debut from Dawn Lanuza! This will give you F E E L I N G S so be ready for those. 

Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland

Title: Our Chemical Hearts
Author: Krystal Sutherland
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons BFYR
Date of Publication: October 4, 2016
Source: purchased from National Book Store (paperback)

John Green meets Rainbow Rowell in this irresistible story of first love, broken hearts, and the golden seams that put them back together again.

Henry Page has never been in love. He fancies himself a hopeless romantic, but the slo-mo, heart palpitating, can’t-eat-can’t-sleep kind of love that he’s been hoping for just hasn’t been in the cards for him—at least not yet. Instead, he’s been happy to focus on his grades, on getting into a semi-decent college and finally becoming editor of his school newspaper. Then Grace Town walks into his first period class on the third Tuesday of senior year and he knows everything’s about to change.

Grace isn’t who Henry pictured as his dream girl—she walks with a cane, wears oversized boys’ clothes, and rarely seems to shower. But when Grace and Henry are both chosen to edit the school paper, he quickly finds himself falling for her. It’s obvious there’s something broken about Grace, but it seems to make her even more beautiful to Henry, and he wants nothing more than to help her put the pieces back together again. And yet, this isn’t your average story of boy meets girl. Krystal Sutherland’s brilliant debut is equal parts wit and heartbreak, a potent reminder of the bittersweet bliss that is first love.

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My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
I was quite interested in this book when I came across it online, probably because of the striking cover. (Which is apparently apt to the book so kudos!) But after reading the blurb, I knew I wasn’t going to read it. Maybe it’s with the comparison to John Green or the glaringly obvious presence of an MPDG (manic pixie dream girl) but I shelved it in my mental pile of most-likely-never. But then came all the raves and I ended up getting only more curious with each glowing review that I bought it on a whim. Still, it was surprising that I got to it immediately because I usually end up not finishing books I bought impulsively. My usual pattern was that I’ll sample it and determine that it’s not the perfect time to read it. But with Our Chemical Hearts, that did not happen. I sampled it and I ended up reading it continuously in the hopes to actually finish it in a timely manner.

This was primarily because of the voice of the narrator, our protagonist Henry Page. He’s cheeky and sarcastic and competent in banter. While being a writer (for his school’s newspaper), he is that, a writer, and isn’t great at speaking his thoughts, which Grace Town calls first drafts. Which I just related to so much because I am NOT a speaker. I, however, can fool you sometimes that I have a good head above my shoulders and that I can coherently form a thought or two. Heh. I also related A LOT to being a romantic but not seeking for my own romance. *helpless*

Right from the get-go, Our Chemical Hearts sounded like a John Green novel. In that I truly felt I was reading a novel by him because Henry Page is so familiar, with how he speaks, thinks, and even the girl he falls in love with. But what I did appreciate with Our Chemical Hearts is how Krystal Sutherland didn’t write a manic pixie dream girl in Grace Town. In fact, all throughout the novel, Grace calls out Henry on him being in love not with her but the idea of her in the near future, of a broken but already fixed Grace. What I find irritating about MPDGs are not the girls itself but how the males from which perspective we always read them about, make them so. Make them just a collection of quirks and ~cool~ things that they’re not a person. While Henry can be accused of being guilty of this too, I love how Sutherland infused Grace with character. And with that, I’m thankful for the author for writing it this way. Grace has her own issues, which affects Henry as well, but I appreciated how Grace had her own story arc as well, and not just an accessory to Henry Page’s first love as its object.

I do have to admit that I didn’t see the Rainbow Rowell comparison (I think it’s only because Grace Town is a bit like Eleanor in Eleanor & Park, which I don’t even really think so. Their only similarity is that they look kind of disheveled/dirty.) because it wasn’t actually swoony in my opinion. Henry and Grace were great at deep discussions and banter. I had a grin most of the time and chuckled quite a lot of times while reading this book because it is funny and I had a field day with all the pop culture references. I LOVED SPOTTING THEM. Oh, that’s a thing too. While reading this novel, I kept on noticing how modern it is. There’s constant mention of social media apps like Snapchat, Facebook, and Spotify. Which I’m not particularly fond of but nothing I’m not fine with

Then we also had passages like this which just BAM. HOW BEAUTIFUL. There were lots of quotable passages and I especially loved Henry’s older sister Sadie’s thoughts on love as a chemical reaction quite at the end. It’s not heavy science but I did appreciate how Krystal Sutherland said that love, even if it’s just a chemical reaction, does not make it something not great. Or something cheap. Love, even if it fails, is still love. That all love is equal in the brain. I gobbled that part up, I loved the last chapters to this novel.
I felt like I wanted to give this book 4 stars but in the end, I just didn’t care much for our main characters, sadly. I should have been relating so hardly to Henry but we just didn’t connect to the point that I’d love this novel. I am actually more interested and into the secondary characters such as Lola and Muz, Henry’s best friends, especially on Lola, who’s biracial and a lesbian. Lola and Henry and Muz’s friendship was so great to read, with how they support and help and call each other’s shit out. I realized that I could have gone without the romance aspect of the book and just live with the friendship of these three, honestly. Lola was just the best, really. Additionally, I was also more into Sadie (she’s a neuroscientist!) and her relationship with her son and how great of a sister she is, and the reality of parental separation. All things the novel had on the sidelines.
While Our Chemical Hearts was a quick and enjoyable read, I wasn’t able to connect deeply with the main characters, which hindered me from ever loving it fully. Still, I had fun with all its references, the banter, the friendship, and the deep discussions and realizations. Objectively, it is a great story of first love and of coming of age. It also touches upon grief and how we punish ourselves with pain for the guilt we feel. Maybe if I haven’t read a lot of books quite like it before it, I would have loved this one. But do try it! Do not let me prevent you from trying this one out because a lot of people loved it and I’m in the minority. It might be for you!