Passages from a Blackout

February 9, 2016 at 12:57 am (Currently reading..., My 2 cents on nothing important, Recent Obsessions, Sharing is Caring, Thoughts) (, , , , , , , , )

I’ve read four books this year so far, and that is by far a lot more than I read by Feb of 2015. I think part of the reason I’ve been much faster at getting through books is because all four of these have been extremely powerful.

I mean,

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian.

Room by Emma Donoghue

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

You can’t get more stay-up-all-night, at-the-edge-of-your-seat than that!

But the fourth, and latest one, I think resonated with me the most.

Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola.


Here are a couple passages that I underlined, highlighted, read and reread again and again.

“I understood drinking to be the gasoline of all adventure.”

“Wine has become our social glue, the mechanism of our bonding. We needed the wine to shut out the jackhammers of our own perfectionism and unlock the secrets we kept within.”

“A certain group of women have made booze a very public and very integral part of culture. Young, educated, and drunk.”

“I drank myself to a place I didn’t care, but I woke up a person I cared enormously.”

“The nights I can’t remember are the nights I can’t forget.”

“I’ve always been mixed up about attention, enjoying its warmth but not its scrutiny. I swear I’ve spent half my life hiding behind a couch and the other half wondering why no one was paying attention to me.”

“People like me disguised our true feelings in layers of detachment, endless pop-culture references, sarcasm. Because no one can break your heart if they don’t know it.”

“The wine turned down the volume of my own self-doubt, which is what I blocked writer is battling: the bullying voices in her head telling her each thought is unoriginal, each word too ordinary.”

“The real problem is that I still fear my own talent is deficient. This isn’t merely a problem for writers who drink; it’s a problem for drinkers and writers, period. We are cursed by a knowing fear that whatever we are – it’s not good enough.”

“What a powerful voodoo – to believe brilliance could be sipped or poured.”

Spot on.

 

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The OCD corner is a bit too dark…

July 23, 2014 at 2:32 am (Currently reading...) (, , , , , )

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Reading Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes because a friend recommended it and because it got great reviews on Amazon. I’m about 14% through, according to my Kindle, and my God. Can Cathy BE more insufferable?

I get it. Something bad happened to her (exactly what, I haven’t found out yet), which is causing her to be paranoid and way over cautious. That I understand. But the narrative of her OCD-ness is driving me crazy.

The whole time I just wanna yell, “Stop it! Stop it, you crazy person! You are f*cking insane! GET OVER IT!”

And the problem is, someone who went through a traumatizing (I’m guessing) ordeal is probably going to have some psychological side affects. I just don’t need to read about every million gagillion time she checks the locks.

Get to the storyline, Haynes, so I can see what all the fuss is about. But please spare me page after page of detailed lock checking.

I am definitely OCD on a certain level, but the craziness has got to stop.

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Midweek Link Love

May 7, 2014 at 5:09 pm (Currently reading..., Life happens whether you like it or not, My 2 cents on nothing important, My life, and how I live it, Recent Obsessions, Sharing is Caring, Thoughts) (, , , , , , , , , )

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1. I love airports. I love watching the planes come and go, the hustle and bustle, imagining all the stories the travelers can tell, from vacations to business trips to visiting loved ones. I even don’t mind the hassle of security checkpoints and rude TSA. So naturally, I also love this bird’s eye view of airports all around the world.

2. The first time I traveled to Paris, I did so alone, and it was incredible. I’ve been back since, and it was great in other ways (engaged!) but this New York Times article and particularly the following passage, really resonated with me:

“The question that bubbled up was not so much, Will I be back?, but rather, Could I bring back with me the feeling that I had cultivated here?”

3. This blog post on An Inch of Gray also reached deep into my heart. “I think years of busy-ness and scorekeeping and nurturing the heck out of small children somehow leave little room for thoughtfulness for each other. I think people are generally wired selfishly, and each day is a struggle against a me-first attitude. And our culture leaves us asking every day, “What’s in this for ME?” rather than “What can I do for others?” So when we feel spent, as we often do, we don’t go around looking for ways to serve our spouse.”

This is a constant struggle in my marriage as well, both of us working so hard in our respective roles that is difficult not to ‘score-keep,’ due to never fully understanding what the other goes through on a day to day basis. Anna’s article reminds us to put our mundane bullsh*t aside (well, not in those words) and stop only worrying about what’s in it for ourselves.

4. On a lighter note, check out this on the Bold Italic. Right before I read this, I ran to the store that is literally next door to my place to get some coffee beans. But in order to get there, I have to walk through THE BIGGEST wind tunnel EVER, and I cursed under my breathe every step of the 20-step way. Reading this made me feel a lot better. So I’m not the only person who ‘can’t with this wind.’

5. Mother’s Day is this weekend (the second one I’m celebrating as a mother!) and oh, #16, you are speaking to me, aren’t you?

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Midweek Link Love

April 30, 2014 at 12:32 am (Currently reading..., My 2 cents on nothing important, Recent Obsessions, Sharing is Caring) (, , , , , , , , , )

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1. Looking for inspiration in your daily mundane life? Maybe these notepads will give you the boost you need! (1), (2) Even brainstorming menu ideas and writing out grocery lists can be made more fun, I hope.

2. Elephants are really weird looking animals if you really think about it, and I can’t get enough of these gifs! Reminds me of when Dragon first started feeding himself and his hand-mouth coordination was, well, not there.

3. I was introduced to this book by A Cup of Jo and it made me laugh too! I can definitely, definitely, definitely relate to “Close the door quickly or everyone in the restaurant will hate you.” The illustrations make it all the better.

4. Jenver in Denver mentioned this animal rescue site on her blog. I immediately signed up, and you should too. With a free daily click, you can help fund food to animals in shelters all across the country. How awesome (and simple) is that?

5. This is bringing body painting to a whole new level. Can you even tell what you’re looking at?

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Friday Five

April 25, 2014 at 5:50 pm (Currently reading..., Exploring the city - SF Edition, My 2 cents on nothing important, My life, and how I live it, Thoughts) (, , , , , , )

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1. Sunset at Ocean Beach on Easter Weekend. To me, Southern California beaches are for fun, and sunbathing, and water sports galore! And San Francisco beaches are where you go to write sad poetry. Even on a clear day, I can’t fight the melancholy.

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2. First time to San Rafael. Though it’s less than 20 miles from the Golden Gate Bridge, it feels like a completely different world. Cue, wild turkeys.

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3. I love a good list of recommended books to read, but please, it’s 2014. Stop recommending Hunger Games. Chances are, people have heard of it by now. It just gives me the impression that you don’t read a lot.

4. When I read style posts, I tend to gravitate towards layering, like this outfit for instance found on Happily Grey, or this leather and lace combo over at Penny Pincher Fashion. But when it’s actually time for me to get dressed, I realized that when you’re running after a toddler all day, tucked in shirts are the bane of my existence.

5. Reading If I Stay by Gayle Forman, and tears! They don’t stop coming! Looking forward to following it up with Where She Went. Maybe I’ll write a post on it if I can wrap my head around the whole ‘sacrifice’ versus ‘choice’ theme. Why is it often the YA novels that have such great impact?

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Racial Profiling – an unjust reality

April 23, 2014 at 3:35 am (Currently reading..., Sharing is Caring, Thoughts) (, , , )

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This article I read on The Atlantic was supposed to be the fifth link of my new Midweek Link Love series. However, I think it’s such a heavy topic that it needs it’s own post.

When my husband and I moved to San Francisco, we had a mobile baby who prevented me from helping move. So we called up whatever company Uhaul recommended and hired movers to help us load our Uhaul.

The guys who showed up were 2 well-built African-American young men who brought gallons of their own water in preparation to get down and dirty. They were very gentle-mannered and polite, all yes mam, no mam, though they weren’t at all required to be. Upon small talk, I learned that they had already moved someone in the morning, and were gonna move someone else after us. Highly impressed with their work ethic and how speedy and efficient they were.

I was manning the Uhaul thinking about what to tip them and what raving review I was gonna give, when a patrol car pulled into my complex and a cop approached me. He questioned me about our truck and informed me that someone in our building was concerned about the black men moving stuff out of the building and had called the cops.

I was appalled. APPALLED. And incredibly embarrassed. The cop insisted that I bring him to my apartment, and had my husband prove that we lived there, ID, mail with our name and address on it, etc. Satisfied that we were not in fact robbing an apartment in broad daylight, he left, but not before another cop car pulled up as backup. Backup!! In case of what?!?!

Ashamed and mortified, I apologized profusely to the gentlemen, who absolutely did not deserve that kind of treatment. And to my even greater horror, they brushed it off and said it wasn’t the first time that’s happened, and it wouldn’t be the last.

What’s ironic is that after we arrived in SF, we hired 2 more guys to help us unload the truck. This time, the company sent over 2 Caucasian men, and I’ve gotta say, these guys were the laziest, whiniest little b*tches I’ve ever met. They moaned and complained the whole time, left our furniture and boxes littered and unattended all over our complex, and certainly took their sweet time, being paid by the hour and all. And no, no one called the cops.

I’m not saying one skin color is any more or less superior to another skin color. I’m saying you can be an honest, hard-working man, or you can be a lazy bum, and it has nothing to do with race. You hear about racism on TV shows or in the news, but it’s never been a part of my inner circle…and I’ve been living my life fairly oblivious to how cruel and unfair it is. And as Glanville says in the article, how does a parent of a minority race explain to their kids these differences?

It was the first time I came face to face with racial profiling. I wasn’t even the one who was profiled, yet I still get goosebumps thinking about it now. I can’t imagine living life having to deal with it every day.

This article by Doug Glanville is powerful and thought-provoking. If you only have time to click one link on my blog today, make it this one.

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3 Thoughts on The Goldfinch…so far…

April 14, 2014 at 2:15 am (Currently reading..., My 2 cents on nothing important, Thoughts) (, , , , , , )

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I am reading The Goldfinch, because everyone else is reading The Goldfinch and I am a cliche. According to my Kindle, I’m only about 40% into the book, and so far, I’m really not sure what the hype is about, nor am I sure where all of this is going. I do, however, have three thoughts: (SPOILER ALERT!)

1.  Going into the book, I purposefully avoided all reviews and plot summaries so that nothing would be spoiled. All I knew was that an “accident” took the life of the little boy’s mother, he was taken in by a wealthy family, and a piece of art was somehow involved. Well, the description of said “accident” was shocking and absolutely gut wrenching.

When I was living in New York, The Met was my favorite museum and I frequented it often. Reading about what took place there was so vivid that it actually gave me nightmares, and in a post-911 New York, it is always in the back of everyone’s mind that something horrifying like that may happen again. I give it a 10 in shock value.

2. Ever since I became a mother, story lines that involve mother and child are especially effective at pulling my heart-strings. I just finished reading Kimberly McCreight’s Reconstructing Amelia and couldn’t even begin to imagine how it would feel to lose your only child. Though it’s the opposite scenario in The Goldfinch, I found it equally as heartbreaking to think about my son losing his mother. I had to put my Kindle down several times reading about Theo waiting for his mom to come home, the way he wanted to be on his best behavior, the way he left food for her in case she was hungry. That killed me.

3. The boy Theo became after he moved to Vegas really got me thinking about how important parental figures and nurturing are in a kid’s life, even if the kid is already a teenager. In New York with his mother, he was a normal kid, going to school, growing up, dealing with your run of the mill teenage adolescency. But in Vegas, living with a father who couldn’t care less about him, and no one to give him care or direction,  he turned into a raging alcoholic/stoner/petty theft criminal. In his own words, “How had I gone from AP everything to being lumped in with a derelict…” It’s sad, and no child deserves that kind of life.

Other than that, where the plot is heading, I have no idea. I’m stuck at a point where it’s rambling on and on about Theo’s life in Vegas, and I don’t know what this has anything to do with the painting, the wealthy family in New York, the little girl at the Met, or the owner of the antique store. At almost 800 pages long, it really needs to pick up the pace and get to the point. (If there is one?)

My interest and curiosity are waning. Something, anything, happen already!

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Goat or Thoroughbred?

August 10, 2013 at 2:37 am (Currently reading...) (, , , , , )

“I’ve also cleaned up my act considerably since I met Peter, curbing my emotional and alcoholic excesses for our life together. I’ve always heard that animal trainers put goats in the stable with particularly high-strung racehorses because the goats are calm yet stubborn and the Thoroughbreds chill out.” – Jessica Grose, Sad Desk Salad

This just goes to show, while my husband may be the calm goat, I am the true Thoroughbred 🙂

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An inspiration – Kate Morton

November 9, 2012 at 2:19 pm (Currently reading..., My life, and how I live it, Recent Obsessions) (, , , , , , , , )

A couple of years ago, I randomly picked up The House at Riverton by Kate Morton. The title attracted me first, and as I had anticipated, it was indeed a story about family secrets,  old houses, the help vs the wealth, and mystery mystery mystery, everything that I was fascinated with.

I knew little about the author, nor did I really care, but I knew she churned out book after riveting book, and any book that was associated with the name “Kate Morton” jumped to the top of my reading list as soon as they hit the bookstores.

A few months ago, in the email updates of books “Coming Soon” that I receive from Barnes and Noble, I was excited to see that a new book was coming out soon: The Secret Keeper.

Then coincidentally, at the end of August, I attended a book event at the country’s oldest family owned and operated bookstore, Warwick’s. It combines all the elements I love about bookstores: books, stationery, unique gifts, and it’s not a chain (yay!), so I thought the friendly book sellers there would be a good source to recommend new books. And…that night,  I found out that Kate Morton would be visiting Warwick’s on her U.S. book tour, the only stop she’ll be making in San Diego! Woohoo!

I immediately RSVP’d, not caring that I’d be about 4 weeks post-partum, and announced to The Honey that he’d be on Daddy Duty by himself for the first time that night.

When I first arrived at Warwick’s, I was excited that I had RSVP’d early enough to be in the front row, but I was antsy, and all I could think about was Dragon and how The Honey was handling him. ‘This is how it’s always gonna be, isn’t it,’ I thought. ‘Even going out sans baby, I will never be fully present again.’

Well, I was wrong. Kate Morton (aside from being gorgeous) captivated me in her talk. She was funny, charming (Australian accents always are!), motivating, friendly, and most importantly, she was an incredible inspiration. She spoke about what got her into writing, where she gets her ideas, and how she does her research. Remember when I wrote about “writing what you know?” Morton said what was more important is “writing what you love,” and that makes so…much…sense. She says writing a book is like putting on a theatrical production, except you get to be everything, the director, all the actors, the set designer, costume designer, everything. Now isn’t that putting things in a new perspective?

What really hit home for me though, is the fact that she has 2 young boys, which in her words is like having 4 children. How she is able to juggle parenthood and being disciplined enough to keep at writing is really inspiring for me. Working from home, I think, is more difficult than having a full-time office job, because it is so easy to make excuses for going off schedule. I know I do. Oh, I’m tired, the baby needs me, there’s housework to do, the TV is so inviting, maybe I’ll just surf the internet some more, etc etc.

Through Morton, I realize now’s the best time for me to focus on writing. I don’t have a 9-5 job, Dragon’s not awake 24-7, and housework? Well, that can wait. Time to stop making excuses, put the Real Housewives of Whatever on the back burner, and start figuring out “what I love.” Even if I never become an author, it would be nice to have a record of this magical time in my life.

But first, I need to hunker down, and open up the very anticipated The Secret Keeper. I will let you know how I like it. I’m sure I will 🙂

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Paris in Love

June 6, 2012 at 12:04 am (Currently reading..., Thoughts) (, , , )

Eloisa James writes in her memoir, Paris in Love, “…two ‘classes’ of people come to Paris: those to whom the city will never be more than the sum of its parts, and those who grasp the overpowering, constantly increasing sense of the great city’s personality.”

I wonder if this is true for New York City, and if it is, which category I fall under.

 

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