The Basic Eight: Book Review

A few minutes ago I finished reading The Basic Eight. I talked about this book on my last post; it was written by Daniel Handler (AKA Lemony Snicket, creator of A Series of Unfortunate Events) and it’s the fictitious diary of a high school student, Flannery Culp, which she edits from jail, convicted by the murder of… well, she should tell you.

While the book’s format might look unfamiliar to ASOUE’s fans, it certainly does justice to its author’s reputation, being a more mature story with the same criticism about many issues in society, like unhelpful teachers, biased psychologists who’d do anything for money, satanic panic and the classic high school snob clubs everyone had (or was it just me?) and their struggles with problems of the sort of homophobia, sexual harassment, drug experimenting and murder plots. It gives a nice, maybe a bit exaggerated perspective on situations we all lived and some we just thought of but never actually executed. Oh, what a sweet irony that precisely that word slipped in my mind, I had to type it. Anyway, I would recommend this book to anyone with some spare time and a taste for drama stories or cynic comedy. It’s the kind of book your parents would tell you to leave away, and that’s precisely the reason why you should read it.

I’m gonna find and read another book by Handler’s quill, which I’m sure will be as incredible as the first fourteen I’ve read.


One of us! One of us! One of us!

So Whovie is part of the Hipster Crew now, and there’s a lot to talk about this week.

Thanks to the fun afternoon I talked about in my last post, I was able to avoid The Cold and now I’m trying to analysew here it comes from. Something curious to add is that I realizedit’s not triggered by sadness as much as it is for loneliness. So one of my newest goals is to find a way to overcome loneliness as a problem and accept it as what it is, a part of my life. I’m not sure how to do it, but I think that writing it down might be the first step, and why not taking it further and put it on the blog? In order to achieve bravery I need to overcome my fears, and although I never talk about it, being alone is one of the worst fears I have. So it has to be the first one I get rid of.

In other news, not so long ago (I forgot to post it) my favourite writer made an AskMeAnything on Reddit. His name is Daniel Handler, also known as Lemony Snicket, narrator of the Baudelaire adventures on A Series of Unfortunate Events. Sadly, I found out about this too late to ask him anything, and I had so much I wanted to know. But it was a good thing, because I found out he’s currently expanding the ASOUE universe, and I read about his first book. Its name is The Basic Eight, and it’s the fictitious diary of a teenage girl convicted for murder, in which she talks about her life previous to the crime. It’s a bit snob, but actually pretty interesting, and I’ve been reading it for several days. The funny part is, when I was looking for a download link I felt… well, guilt. Not because I care about piracy; that’s not my style. I felt bad about reading an amazing author and not giving the contribution to make him keep writing. After all, I’m a writer too, so this kind of things is very important for me; how would I feel if people didn’t pay for my book?

At the end I downloaded it illegally anyway, but now I give more importance to my List of Things I will Buy When I’m Rich.

This week Curlz was not in town because she had to go get her Celpe-Bras certification in Mexico City, so the week was kind of calm. She’s basically the nucleus of the Hipster Crew, so even if we all get along and have fun without her, it’s difficult to get the whole gang together without her. But there are three things that move us like a tsunami: teacher gossips, (apparently) girls making out, and pizza. The first one I cannot comment in case someone ever finds this blog, because it involves one of my dearest professors, and the second one I already covered on my last post, so let’s get to the point. Usually a new member of the crew gets his or her permanence after they feed us, a tradition as old as this post because I just made it out (I’m going to propose it, though). Pseudogay somehow always has money coming out of his pockets, and he always offers to buy us pizza, but last Tuesday we were at the cafeteria and Whovie remembered she has discount coupons, so she said she’d bring them today and we were completely happy with this. Anyway, Friday came and we reunited at the café, Curlz just coming back from her trip. We got the pizza and we spent three hours just talking and messing with each other. We were reading some creepypastas and when they finally delivered our food Rainicorn took out a little bag with chopped weed. I’ve never tried drugs, but I must confess I’m really curious about it, so I smelt it… weed smells like oregano. I don’t know what I expected, but it wasn’t that. I didn’t take it because I wasn’t so convinced; besides taking it on the Easter seemed kind of blasphemous. I’ll eventually do it but I don’t think it happens too soon. Anyway, he put weed on his pizza and we kept laughing for a while.

And after talking to Whovie and Curlz this days I realised I have another psychological condition I didn’t even notice until recently: I feel uncomfortable with physical contact. I honestly don’t know why; I read it was common on abuse victims, but I was never abused as far as I can remember. The closest thing I can think of was this one time when I was 9: I was late for church so I couldn’t sit with my parents. I went for another bench and I sat next to someone I didn’t know. At the middle of the sermon he started touching my leg and he kept doing it for several minutes; I didn’t know what to do, but I was new in town and since everything was so different to me I just assumed it was the norm around there. I didn’t even realise something was wrong until a few years ago when I had to go back to the town to deliver a wedding present for his cousin and I remembered what happened. But I don’t think this has to do with anything. I mean, how could I be an abuse victim if I didn’t know anything wrong happened? And why would it create any traumas? So no, that can’t be the reason why I dislike physical contact.

It’s not even that big of a problem; I don’t feel comfortable with handshakes or hugs, but I almost never have to give or receive any of those. The problem here is long term. When I finally get around the idea of dating again, what will I do? I can’t just withhold all forms of touching, that would be selfish and look stupid. For now I’m just getting used to Curlz’s contact when she’s subconsciously jealous (there must be a term for non-romantic jealousy, if you know it please let me know), so it’s nothing to be worried. But when I get around kissing a girl, or hugging, or… going a little further… well, I don’t know what I’ll do. In retrospective, I believe She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named saw this before I did and that’s why she did what she did. But I need to fix it soon, or else all my other efforts will be in vain.


So, what I learnt this week was:

1.- Bravery involves overcoming the things you don’t enjoy. Whether it’s something as simple as holding hands or as big as coping with destiny, it’s always needed, it can’t be avoided and it must be done with honour and self-respect.

2.- A friend, feelings apart, is always a good friend, and if you can get all of your friends together and being friends with each other then you’ll have an amazing time no matter what.

3.- Someday I’ll have to pay for the thousands of dollars in piracy I possess. But this is not that day!



A fair book fair

This morning I finally decided to take care of my school life. Up to this day, I’ve never really cared about studying, because I’ve never really had to, but I realised that I need to gain more discipline and responsibility over my learning. That’s why the first thing I did in the morning was finishing my delayed homework.

During French class, I noticed I have troubles understanding certain variations of the spoken language, and since I saw on TV there will be a new French show on Cinemax, I’ll look for it and start watching it. Later, after the Italian test, I saw that my note will be great, and happy as I was I promised to take a rest to focus on the languages that give me more troubles. But first, I have to pass the oral test, and that is a team work, so my new convictions can wait until Wednesday. I’m going to work with a friend that acts strangely, though. She seems to flirt with me, but she doesn’t really like me. She has some sort of a boyfriend, and things between them are odd. Basically, He works in oil, so he’s in town only a week every month. They’re not an official couple, so I’m fine with her flirting. But I understand we wouldn’t work as a couple, and so does she, because we’re totally different. In fact, I think the only thing we have in common is Italian class. And that confuses me about her attitude. Why would a girl who is on a relationship flirt with a friend who she’s not into? Women are weird.

Anyway, the book fair is on! After my test I had a free hour and I went to check. I found out two things: Number one, books for learning are more expensive than they should. And number two, the dean will use any excuse to look good in front of the cameras. I couldn’t see all the aisles because he was taking a lot of space with his team and the journalists, but I saw enough to realise that I will get poor after this week. I had some cash and I bought two books about Japanese learning and one about Mayan culture, and I am thinking about how I will choose the other books I’ll buy. I don’t want to pay for anything that I have already read, but I can’t know that a book I haven’t read worth my money. Of course, I could just buy the first books I see, but I’ll feel empty and vain. And I don’t want to buy the popular books; reading them while they’re mainstream topic takes away a part of the reading experience, the sensation that you and the book are alone and belong to each other, and that you can have a level of privacy that is impossible with other people. Wow, that sounds incredibly weird now that I wrote it down.

Later I went to Japanese class and I heard great news: Matsumoto-san is staying! Matsumoto-san is a Japanese man who got married with an ex-student of Japanese, and they weren’t sure about where they would live. But now I found out that he’ll stay in the city, he’ll teach some martial art and maybe he teaches advanced Japanese. He’s a cool guy, and I hope I can hang out with him every once in a while. He doesn’t speak Spanish or English, so he might not have too many options to pick from. I know that’s cheating, but I don’t care. I have a Japanese friend now.

I came home with the clear idea that I was going to work on my Kanji, and I did. I learnt… ten Kanji. Ok, maybe it’s not a lot, but if I keep perseverating I will learn the basic 2,000 in less than a year. A part of the purpose of the blog was to get discipline, and I feel like it’s working. I already feel obliged to write at least a page every night.  I must now integrate the Kanji study into that routine.

Well, today was not a busy day, so that’s pretty much all I have to say. I’ll try to spend some time with Matsumoto-san and help him get used to the local cuisine. And I must keep my Kanji updated.

So, the three things I learnt today:

1.- I may or may not have a book fetish.

2.- Flirting and Love can be completely unrelated, or at least some girls see it that way.

3.- Discipline is the key to all learning.

Also, here’s a little list of Kanji. If you know a bit about Japanese you might noticed I skipped the basic, but I already know around a hundred and I don’t think I need to work on those.

耳 Ear

金 Gold, money

左 Left

右 Right

手 Hand

足 Foot, leg, limb, addition

生 Previous, forward

先 Life, to be born

赤 Red

青 Blue



Next post: A wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey dilemma

My brain’s capoeira

Kuáng’s boyfriend broke up with her yesterday.

We still don’t know what happened; it was like he was listening to everything we talked about yesterday. I saw her today on our first class (6:00 a.m., not even an important subject) and after we finished the activity the teacher gave us she told me everything. Apparently, when they were hanging out he just dropped the bomb. “I think this isn’t going anywhere”, he said. He asked her if she had doubts about the relationships and after five minutes of talking if was over. The interesting part is, she wasn’t sad about it. Maybe she hadn’t assimilated it yet when I saw her, but she wasn’t even worried. She says she won’t date anyone else until she finishes the uni (why do all girls say that?). I said it was cool and if she ever needed to talk about it I was there for her.

Later, after French class, I went to hang out with my crew. Well, my other crew. This is the thing: my friends can be divided in four crews. The Classroom crew, the other nerds. The Otaku crew, a group of girls I know from Japanese class and their friends. The Hipster crew, a bunch of guys older than me that are so liberal I can talk with them about things that would freak out most people (where’s the do-not-cross line on incest, for example). And the High School crew, my oldest friends that I don’t see a lot because we all are in different universities. Well, back to the ranch, I went to hang out with the Hipster crew only to find out they are going to a Linguistics congress out of town. I was angry at first because I couldn’t afford to go, but then I found out that the other three straight guys were also staying (I don’t know if it’s connected). I don’t have a lot of male friends so I thought this can be a real opportunity to spend more time with them.

I was only a little mad because Curlz, the other girl I liked (my next retrospective will be about things with Whovie and Curlz the last semester) was ranting about how she’s so poor and her daddy doesn’t want to give her money. Normally I wouldn’t care about it, but she actually received a lot (the double of the all-paid cover) and she’s the one who will be more loaded there. She seems to not fully understand the concept of being poor. And as you might guess someone who sells munchies at school isn’t exactly Tony Stark, so I felt offended by her attitude. I didn’t say anything, though, I’ve done it before and she just can’t see it.

After ignoring her for a while and spending time with the rest I went to French class (the official one, not the one I’m taking for will). Everything normal, although I almost fell asleep in class (I curse with all my heart the one who decided 6:00 a.m. was a great time to take classes). It was in Portuguese where I had problems.

I’m starting to feel frustrated.

I’m good in Portuguese; I understand easily and can pronounce and write decently for my level. But lately I don’t really enjoy the class the way I did at first. It could be because we’re going too slowly or because we’re repeating lessons, but I no longer wait for the last class with enthusiasm. It is becoming a routine act to go, and I often miss classes because I just don’t want to stay. Through the years, I’ve always believed that in order to learn a new language you need to love it, you need to feel passion for it. And that’s the way I feel about my other languages; every time I learn something new I just want to use it, to share it with someone. And it used to be the same with Portuguese. But I’m not sure if it has to do something with Curlz or her “boyfriend”, or the way the class has been developing, I feel like I go to the classroom by pure obligation. I’ve been thinking about leaving, but I don’t think that’s a good option. After all, I paid for that class; I’m even writing a paper about how to incorporate it to the university. It doesn’t feel fair.

I was thinking about all that when a friend reminded me: next Monday starts the Book Fair! I’ve been saving money for a while (last year I didn’t know and couldn’t buy too much) and I’m excited about it. I’m still trying to get over Whovie (though nothing really happened there) and a bunch of big ol’ books is just what I need. Let’s see how everything goes.

And the three things I learnt today:

1.- Mind reading in couples is a possibility. I should dig into that.

2.- If you have something most people don’t, try to be sensitive when you talk about it. You might hurt a friend without noticing.

3.- The love for your career is as important as the love for your soul mate.



Next post: Whovie’s quiet farewell and Curlz’s confusing moves