12 Books before the clock strikes 12

Speed reading may work for some people, however for those with an imaginative mind such as mine, I find it impossible to finish books as quickly as my peers.

English isn’t my first language, so there’s my first barrier in catching up with said cohorts. Yet after finishing Ryan Holiday’s, “The Obstacle is the Way.” I feel almost unstoppable.

My historical track record on average was finishing a book within 3 months. Many of you must be baffled at how slow this progress is for someone who “claims” to be a literati. (Well, I aspire to be anyway.)

I am now posing a new challenge for myself. 12 Books before clock strikes 12 into 2019.

  1. All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
    • Reason I haven’t finished: Doerr is an incredible author able to paint with his words. Given his masterpiece is depicting WWII, I haven’t really had the stomach for certain passages.
  2. Wildcard by Marie Lu (Book slated for Q3 2018 release)
  3. Meditation by Marcus Aurelius
    • Holiday finds Aurelius to be his favorite Stoic. I simply can’t wait to get my hands on this book
  4. The 4 Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris
    • This is a refresher. As I’ve read this towards the end of my college days, it didn’t really apply to my adulthood now
  5. Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
  6. You are a Badass by Jen Sincero
    • I got this as a birthday gift. It’s a light & fun read.
  7. Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
  8. My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella
  9. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them By JK Rowling
    • Literally Crimes of Grindelwald is out in Q4 and I still haven’t read this!?
  10. The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday
  11. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  12. BONUS: My friend is writing a Trilogy and I’m beta reading Book 1.

Okay so it’s now June 3, I’ve got 6 months left to finish out 9 more books.

Oh boy… this is exciting yet a bit overwhelming. But it’s an obstacle and I’ll find the way.

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You should get rid of your family & friends

So the title is a bit jarring. I totally get it. If I had seen an article that tells me in order to be more successful or improve myself, I need to trim out the closest network in my life, I’d probably think the writer’s f-king crazy and move on to the next post.

But the reality is, when I overheard this in a TEDtalk VOD, I couldn’t resist listening till the end.

Menon goes on to share what strong ties are: family & friends, and how we need to grow our weak ties (people we’ve just met) to create a wider network. That’s because our strong ties are redundant and familiar. The weak ties opens up this much larger canvas of possibilities. This goes on to a larger lecture I heard on “getting out of our comfort zone.” We all have this safe bubble that feels nice and warm, but is it doing us more harm than good? We all have aspirations to be more successful, be more adventurous, do more excitement. So I decided to put this new philosophy to work.

I went to graduation celebration just last night. There were the usual suspects I knew from the party. Of course, I targeted the ones who invited me and stuck myself to their hips for the first hour of the party. But I knew I never reached beyond that comfort zone. Then a girl that I’ve always known through the same mutual friends but rarely bonded with was within eyeshot. I really made the effort to say hello and we started connecting. I found out about a new job she’s adoring, her newfound singleness etc..

By the end of the night, we’ve made plans to hang out 1:1.

She and I might have nothing in common now, but we could find that helpful in creating this new social universe and cross pollinate with our own social circles to make this much larger world to tap into. To be totally honest, I dug a little deeper and knew that I was always a bit intimidated by her. She was this gorgeous thin LA stereotyped girl. Not in a bad way, but this Venice-style resident always seemed like she’d never be interested in me. But did I even try? She was so welcoming last night but I never would’ve know about a new friendship had I not trekked outside this safe bubble I blanketed myself in.

I’ve only taken a first step but the reward has been more than generous. I caved to my fears before but now I’ve thrown that heavy weight off and made a new acquaintance. My first chapter into discovering more weak ties & shedding off this comfort zone.

Is there truth behind my words?

If you stopped loving me, would you ever tell me?

Would you tell me as easily and boldly as the way you proclaimed you loved me?

Words are so easily spoken without action, we tend to use them for granted.

We swing between “never” & “always” on a pendulum without ever fully meaning both.

“I’ll never drink again,” says the girl hungover on a Sunday. But we all know she’ll grab a bottle the upcoming Friday surely after a long week at the office.

“I’ll always love you and cherish you,” says the lovesick boy on his wedding day. But a decade down the line, his eyes will wander as the candle he once held for his partner flickers and dies out.

We say so many things without conviction, it becomes hard to value the words we hear from others.

Where is the underlying truth? How do we learn to trust in a world where everything is accessible and nothing is valued anymore?

So before we dive into the next bold statement we carelessly spew, think:

“Will I ever so freely speak the opposite once I stop feeling this way?”

“Will I so openly tell her I’m over her, just as quickly I’ve promised I’ll love her?”

We’re all Plugged

We rely on this tiny little device to grant us instant gratification.

We say we miss each other so we bookmark a day to “brunch” only to be holding up our phones obstructing our view of the other person.

We cuddle side by side on the couch yet not a word flows between our lips as a show runs on screen.

Modern technology is death to the human experience. 

We feel depressed when we don’t garner enough likes.

Social media has evolved to social competitions.

Brands have collected private data to target, seed, and plow our every penny.

The 4th Industrial Revolution has simplified our routine but complicated our mental health.

With the emergence of easier communication, we’ve saturated ourselves with more strangers and lost the meaning behind connecting with close friends.

The notion of everything being “instantaneous” soured our patience.

Seeing 20% battery has brought new waves of anxiety to ourselves we didn’t think possible 2 decades before.

Plugged in: the well that cures or poisons? 

SATC: the friends I’ve always wanted

In my quest to live alone in my late twenties while I sort out my life, I’ve come to realize there’s quite a bit of down time between getting off from work and sleep.

Thanks to streaming services like Netflix & Hulu, it’s fostered a new routine: binge watch old shows and reconnect with some of my favorite heroines.

Time & time again though, I find myself harkening back to SATC. Yup, Sex & the City with Carrie’s unrequited love for Big, Samantha’s unwavering demand for her individuality, Miranda’s unforgiving nature to put work always first, and Charlotte’s undying hunt for the model husband.

Samantha struts strength in her Louboutins and brings independence towards every relationship in her life. It’s always about Samantha. It’s about putting her wants and needs first and never compromising or sacrificing that for anyone or anything. Going through a breakup? Samantha would be the first you’d text and by 7PM you’re already 3 scotches deep, eyeing the 6 foot 3 beachy manbun AND his best friend with the perfect jawline. She’ll catch on and give her nod of approval and say, “Options girl, you now got options instead of the loser you were tied to three hours ago.”

Miranda’s climbed the glass ceiling and fully smashed it when she became a partner at her firm. What an inspiration as she juggled being a single mom while she continued to be a top lawyer in NYC. The days we feel we can’t have it all, we all channel a little inner Miranda and remember we can do it and to keep going.

I want nothing more than to have the positivity Charlotte shines in all her endeavors. She’s able to find the most radiant flower in the darkest nook and cranny. Imagine going through a rough day and calling her up to come over with wine. You know she’ll have your apartment smelling like fresh baked chocolate chip cookies & buttery popcorn evenly salted to perfection while she sits with you on your loveseat listening to your problems.

Last but certainly not least, Carrie. We all learn through her mistakes. We all carry a little piece of her as we go through our own adulthood and trials in love. She taught us that in a way, we tend to always fall for the same person because we gravitate towards what we like. She gave us the hall pass to go back to the ex because sometimes the heart wants what the heart wants. She documented her pain the way we type love into words on pages. We bleed suffering onto this blog holding on to memories the way she did in her column.

These four forces have been such role models in my upbringing. I guess they’ve always been my friend as I made my own mistakes and confronted my own failures.

What’s pride worth if we all lose

I lie awake unable to sleep
head and heart thrown asunder
losing my mind thinking about you
this isnt love I tell myself.
this is defeat.
it’s not a battle for affection
but a game of cat and mouse

The worst part is, my heart’s pleading to spare you
yet my head is chanting conquer
so which do I feed?
one on it’s knees…
or the one shouting to break free…?

You’ve seen enough pain.
I promised myself not to hurt you.
I don’t want you.
I just want victory.
so I keep playing.

At night I lose sleep.
plotting and fabricating.
your move,
then mine.

We’re in an infinite loop.
eventually, my pride wins.
I withhold from telling you how much I care
So you leave without opening up your feelings
both our egos walk way feeling triumphant.
but somehow we both lose.

Fkc Instagram. Here’s the real milestones I’ve hit.

Year 1, I give up something very precious and dear to me

Year 2, Doctors find abnormal cells in my body leading them to consider precancerous cells in my body

Year 3, the family house I grow up in catches fire

Year 3.5, my first long term boyfriend and I break up

Year 4, I give up eating red meat and chicken from fear of the food industry and getting hit with the worst food poisoning to date

Year 4.5, I give up alcohol after something I did that I fully regretted.

Social media highlights all the most precious moments in our lives but we forget to remember the bad. I guess it just gets too real and ugly for everyone to digest if I post these things. No one wants sadness painted on their feed so I’ll keep it real here.

Last summer, though I’ve suffered a tremendous loss, I realized my perseverance to be unwavering and everlasting. I handled what I could and remembered that this life that I call mine will always throw curveballs at me. It’s when these unfortunate events happen, that I assume power over the situation. If you asked me four years ago how I’d handle my house burning down on a random given day, how I’d handle finding out I would need to do biannual check ups until I clear these cells, how I’d bounce back from a 2 year break up– I would’ve failed to give you the details of my strength today.

The captain of the firefighting squad that day was surprised at my nonchalance. And, all I could say was, these things happen.

The Obstacle is the way right, Ryan? (Read it, it teaches us Stoicism and how people conquered their problems instead of retreating)

If I can’t pull through all of this, how am I ever going to overcome everything else tossed my way in the years to come? Life only gets harder, which means these curveballs will come at me faster. Everything is practice. Each step with these milestones only force me to lift harder, pedal faster, and rise higher.

Life.

Here’s looking to you. I’ll endure what news you’ll bring me just as I’ve endured these past four years.

You have more strength than you think you do. Believe in that. When life zips by and slams you down on the cement, you’ll always find something nearby to help you up. A rail… a kind human being holding out their hands… and if all those cease to exist, you have yourself to push off that gravel and keep going.

 

Revenge of the Sixth: My Star Wars Story

Today is two days after the ubiquitous “May 4th” otherwise known as May the Fourth Be With You. A pop cultural phenomenon that’s blasted it’s radius worldwide since nerd culture became the new “IT” thing like froyo a decade back.

After the famous May 4th every year, we nerds spend the next day(s) or day celebratinng Revenge of the Sixth (or fifth), depending on your preference.

This year, I’d like to recollect my very first Star Wars story.

In scorching hot May of 1999 in Arcadia, CA, my father heard through his coworkers the long awaited Star Wars trilogy has revived since it’s introduction to the silver screen in the late 70’s. In the 90s, there wasn’t streaming services to catch up with the Skywalker family so my parents and I went into the theaters with fresh eyes and no background what Star Wars was all about.

This Star Wars pastime brings me back to something I hold very dear to my heart. My parents immigrated to the United States in hopes of giving us a chance for a better life. We certainly weren’t wealthy but father did give up his chief role as dentist in a big hospital and mother left her job as a broker agent so I could live in greener pastures.

They spent all of their last savings so that we could start a life here.

The day we went to see Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, we drove out in my dad’s secondhand beater silver Plymouth. Yellow stuffing from the leather seats pushed its way out. The stitchings on the back of the passenger chair were loose and haywire reminiscent of shriveled dry leaves barely clinging on a branch. Those small details never bothered me as a child. It was our family’s first car and I had nothing shinier in the world to compare to.

Back then, we rarely had family outings on the weekends where it cost us any money. Father must have saved every last penny to take us three that day. I didn’t know any better at the age of 9 so when I asked for popcorn when we got in, I couldn’t comprehend the frowns and resistance from my parents. We went back out to the parking lot and got back in the car. I saw my parents bent over picking up quarters and dimes from the torn carpet in our Lincoln. It became this fun hunt for me as I tried to find more shiny coins to point out for my mom to claw in.

I’ll never forget how much my parents showed love that day. Instead of saying no to their little girl, they found a way to still provide for me. We didn’t have enough for popcorn but they did end up buying me this gigantic cookie that was the size of my face. I tried to savor every bite of those ooey gooey chocolate chips as the film went on. I felt happy sitting between my two role models and my tastebuds were in kid Heaven. My first memory of Star Wars brings me back to a time we weren’t at our financial best, and it’ll keep reminding me to stay humble and grateful for what I do have in life.

 

Loving you is like opening a fridge door

I open the refrigerator door knowing there’s nothing good inside save for leftovers and uncooked groceries.

10 minutes go by and I find myself insatiable for something delicious. So I open the refrigerator door once more hoping there’s something worth eating yet knowing it’s the same as I left it the last time I opened it.

Being with you makes me feel like this damned fridge with nothing good inside. I’m hopeful that each time I open it, something will change, but nothing ever does. I can’t seem to learn and go back for more each time.

I tell myself it’s not worth it. I’ll just leave feeling frustrated and disappointed each time. But like an old habit, I’ll open that door again soon enough and see the emptiness of our relationship filled with rotten leftovers.

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