July 18, 2017

For a true writer, each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed.

-Ernest Hemingway


Spontaneous Outings

It’s never fun when your original social outing plans get cancelled. But that also opens up a whole day to be spontaneous and explore new things. My best friend Siddiqi and I did just that.

We started first off picking up a vinyl player in the Hyde Park area for Siddiqi’s friend whose birthday is tomorrow. Next came the grand adventure at Half Price Books on North Lamar for 50% off day. Sold two overflowing bags of books for $24.50 (a major success) and got a couple CDs for close to $14.00. Siddiqi found two vinyls of Russian classical music for wayyyyy less than that.

We had lunch at MezzeMe in the Triangle. MezzeMe is a relatively new Mediterranean restaurant (I was overdressed for Peace Bakery). Siddiqi got a braised lamb (it’s halal btdubs) pita wrap with spicy tabouli and hummus. I got a Crazy Grain rice bowl with braised lamb, roasted eggplant, hummus, and sprinkled with parsley and feta cheese. It was pretty good. The braised lamb was spot-on. The hummus was amazing too and this is coming from someone who doesn’t like hummus. There was nothing really grand about the rice and the roasted eggplant had too much vinegar. If you get a pita wrap with the lamb, hummus, parsley and feta, it’d be a pretty damn good pita wrap.

Lunch at MezzeMe

He seems to be liking his deconstructed pita wrap.

MezzeMe is located on 4700 Guadalupe Street, #9, Austin, TX 78751.

Our next stop was Goodwill on Peyton Gin near 183. This is the only Goodwill in the Austin area that has a computer store. We browsed through the general area, finding old microwaves and a couple Sony cassette players. We then caroused to the computer store. I am not a computer nerd. I am far from it. I call the Motherboard a flat plate that pricks your fingers. You would think I would be bored as Siddiqi looked for power supplies and cables for a computer he’s building. Actually, I was not. Computer parts are like one big puzzle game with colors and boxes and shapes and weird foreign pieces. During the hour or so we were there I found a cool BG camera that takes lomography for $5.00. Held onto that for dear life. Also found an old Apple keyboard for $12.95. It’s got the USB cord and the traditional clicking sound and everything. The staff was super friendly and helpful (Siddiqi said it was because I’m a girl who was pretty dressed up and girls are rare finds in that part of the store). The supervisor of the computer store knew quite a bit about cameras and helped me look for more film cameras. His mannerisms reminded me of Doc from Back to the Future. Probably my most favorite part of the day. Who knew?

Photo Jul 16, 6 39 32 PM.jpg

Our next stop was Tours Les Jours, a Korean-French bakery in a small Korean plaza on North Lamar in Central Austin. Siddiqi was craving bubble tea and I was craving anything cold (100 degree burning sun is not fun without a cold drink).  He’s never been to TLJ and it was super close to Goodwill. I got blueberry cream cheese bread and a cold chocolate roll. Unfortunately, they ran out of tapioca for the bubble tea. 😦 We weren’t going to give up though! We went to the interwebs and found a place nearby called Snow Monster. We jumped into his Subura and drove off to this 4.6 star place.

Tous Les Jours is located at 6808 N Lamar Blvd B-115, Austin, TX 78752.

Snow Monster is a “build your own shaved ice” joint on Lamar and Braker. It’s relatively new, opened in 2014 by two Taiwanese UT Alumni. Snow Ice is, according to Snow Monster’s website, fruit extracts and fresh milk made into blocks and shaved finely to create flakes. You can add your own toppings, including fresh fruit, nuts and chocolate chips. You can also use soy milk if you are dairy free. It gives the same fluffiness as whole milk. I got vanilla snow ice with a side of strawberries and chocolate chips, topped with  condensed milk. Siddiqi finally got his bubble tea and according to him, it was delicious.

Snow Monster is located at 11220 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78753.

It was a grand day full of spontaneous productivity and amazing food. The clouds came in and the wind picked up so it was perfect timing to head on home. Pretty excited to go back to Sno-Mo and the computer store. Hopefully I can come up with a glossary of computer-to-my mind’s version terms of computer parts soon.

30 in 3 Book Challenge Update: Anna Karenina

Update on the book challenge!

I finished Anna Karenina! My 771-page book has been mastered! Took a few months due to fluctuating interest, but закончено. I’ll be honest: When it comes to Anna’s portion of the story, I should have stuck to the Kiera Knightley movie. But that would be terrible. Though I have never seen the movie, I don’t think the movie could encapsulate the other literary aspects Tolstoy so carefully placed in his mega novel. AK is beyond a mushy story about an affair between a beautiful aristocrat and a Russian count. There’s gender roles, philosophy, questions of religion and mental states.

The romance between Anna and Vronsky is exciting at first, but as you keep reading (and reading…and reading…and reading…), you start to think if Anna’s choice to escape with Vronsky to the realm of love and passion was a good idea. You question her credibility and her entitlement. Then, you think “Jesus! I’m just like the Russians in the book!” when you realize you are scrutinizing the woman and not the man. In the beginning of the book, Oblonsky’s, Anna’s brother, affair comes out. No one really does anything though. They don’t exile him. They don’t genuinely scrutinize him because he is the man, the master of the home, the breadwinner. They pity Dolly, Oblonsky’s wife, but it’s only surface deep. And this was set in the mid-1800s! When I think of today’s world with female empowerment and equal rights for all, it’s sort of the same yet sort of different. Women can easily be breadwinners and masters of the home. The shame though when a woman partakes in “inappropriate matters”, like an affair, well from what I have seen and even judged, is gray area. You hear a woman cheats on her husband or partner and others instantly go “what a slut!”. In this time and age though, you also scrutinize the man. I mean, it takes two to tango. Way to go Tolstoy, you got me thinking of gender roles.

My favorite storyline from AK is Levin’s, the co-protagonist. He’s kinda the odd ball out in Society because of he’s not a rebel like Nikolai, his brother, or a bookworm like Sergei, his brother who’s the shining light of Society’s intellectual clique. He’s nowhere near a socialite and hundreds of miles away from bureaucrat city. He doesn’t fit in any category of traditional high society, hence the appeal. He also poses many questions when it comes to Russia’s future. During this time in Russian history, Russia hasn’t full gone Western. Throughout the book, many folks in Society switch from Russian to French to English. Levin refuses to see his homeland go Western, but knows his homeland needs to use Western technology to stay relevant. There is also Levin and Kitty’s love story that is adorable: lost love followed by suffering but triumphed in the end. I am happy that there was at least one happy ending in AK. Literary nerds say Levin is a self-portrait of Tolstoy, citing examples as Kitty and Levin’s wedding and Levin’s acceptance of faith. I can’t necessarily agree nor disagree since I have don’t have much knowledge on Tolstoy, but I wouldn’t be surprised. I’ve been known to do that from time to time in my own stories.

Spoiler alert: The mental stability was great towards the end of the book. Anna and Levin’s reactions to their situation greatly juxtapose each other. Anna’s choice to be fully involved with Vronsky sends her down a spiral of living nightmares, delusions and mental anguish, leading to her downfall, both metaphorically and literally. Levin, on the other hand, experiences great inner anxiety about his position in life after his baby is born. He even contemplates suicide more than a few times. But, unlike Anna, Levin finds the moment when everything makes sense and everything will be alright. He accepts his position and his faith and lives happily ever after.

I did love the book, again, mostly for Levin’s storyline. Anna’s storyline did bring a little relief from the intense economic, philosophical and self-reflection aspects Levin brought about. If I read this four years ago, I would have been all over Anna’s romantic story. Now, it’s like “you’re a rich girl with first world problems. You’ll survive (or not….cough cough wink wink)”. I would recommend everyone to read it. I would also recommend you take a longgggggg break from the Russian writers afterwards because it does mentally drain you.

Next stop, the French!

June 26, 2017 – #HarryPotter20

Happy birthday Harry Potter!

20 years old…according to the rules of Etsy, you’re now vintage haha 😀

June 21, 2017

And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.

-F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Beautiful words from a beautiful book about a beautiful time of year. Bring it on 100+ degree Texas weather!

June 19, 2017

Books are for those who have cabin fever but can’t physically escape.

-Someone, somewhere (aka me)


Last 100 pages of Anna Karenina? Challenge accepted.

Note to self: stay away from the Russian writers for a long time. Hm, I wonder where that copy of For Whom the Bell Tolls is in my home library. I feel like going on an adventure.

35 books that will change how you see the world | indy100

My friend John sent me this article from indy100 yesterday. I was surprised to know this was beyond books you would typically read in high school English class, listing works such as All Out War: The Full Story of How Brexit Sank Britain’s Political Class by Tim Shipman and The 9/11 Commission Report.

I was glad to know some of the books on my 30 for 3 Book Challenge made this list (i.e. Le Petit Prince, Anna Karenina and 1984). Not for bragging rights or to boast how cultured I am. That’s just stupid. I just like knowing that people also share the same opinion about these wonderful works (I have received much support from various coworkers when they discovered my journey through the 700+ page beast that is Anna Karenina).

Thoughts on the list? Agree? Disagree? Read any of the books or report? Comment below!


30 in 3 Book Challenge

After graduating from St. Ed’s I told myself I’d continue reading. No matter how chaotic life will get, I will always make time to read a book. J’ai refusé de vivre sans les grandes histoires de Tolstoï, Hemingway et d’autres!

I created a list. The challenge to myself would be to read 30 books in three years. 10 books a year! That’s no sweat. It’s April 2017. I’m on book six. Yeah…life got more chaotic than I imagined. C’est la vie. Granted, I’m currently reading Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina and that 700+ page baby is basically three books in one.

I know. I know. You’re just dying to know what the list is. Enough chit-chat, here’s the list, in no particular order:

1. Anna Karenina – Tolstoy (currently working on)

2. The Catcher in the Rye –  Salinger (damn phonies!) (read)

3. The Things They Carried – O’Brien (read. Highly recommend if you are into the Vietnam war era)

4. Night and Day – Woolf (who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf, Virginia Woolf, Virginia Woolf? Oh Edward Albee, RIP) (began)

5. For Whom the Bell Tolls – Hemingway (because you know, this is Zelly & Ol’ HEM’s. That and this book has been sitting on the shelf for a couple years. Still waiting on that adventurous spirit to kick I’m and actually pick up the thing.)

6. 1984 – Orwell (the fact our world is slightly becoming Orwell’s 68 year old nightmare is both fascinating and terrifying.) (read)

7. War & Peace – Tolstoy (gotta love them Russkies!)

8. Portrait of a Lady – James

9. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn – Smith

10. Le voleur d’ombres – Lévy (because you know, can’t waste the French skills)

11. The Princess of Cleves – de la Fayette (this one has been sitting on the shelf longer than Hemingway!)

12. The Beautiful and the Damned – Fitzgerald

13. Save Me the Waltz – Z. Fitzgerald (you can’t have one without the other!) (read)

14. Atlas Shrugged – Rand

15. The Last Tycoon – Fitz

16. The Crucible – Miller (As Radiohead would say, “Burn the witch!”)

17. Le Petite Prince – Saint-Exupéry (the original French version. English translations are never fun when you know the original language.) (read)

18. How the Other Half Lives – Riis

19. Invisible Man – Ellison (Funny story: English teacher in high school had the option to choose this and James Joyce’s “Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man”. She chose the latter. To this day, she regrets not choosing the former.)

20. La Fortune d’Alexandrie – Messadie

21.On the Road – Kerouac

22. The Count of Monte Cristo – Dumas

23. Les Miserables – Hugo

24. Brave New World – Huxley

25. A Tale of Two Cities – Dickens (I can finally learn everything that happens after “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”)

26. The Glass Menagerie – Williams

27. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof – Williams

28. Momo – Ende

29. Age of Innoncence – Wharton

30. The Moviegoer – Walker (a mid-20th century New Orleans man constantly questioning the purpose of life and comparing life to movies? Sure why not?) (read)

The great thing about this is you can customize your own plan. Try a book a month! Or join in on the 30 in 3 Book Challenge. Get your friends to join! Create a book club. Don’t have all the books? Get it on your kindle. Old fashioned like me? Save the trees and buy used books at Half Price Books. Don’t have this amazing place of heaven in your town? No worries! Check them out at http://www.hpb.com.

Point is, there’s no excuse. Keep reading. Escape the world of politics and news and enjoy the world of dystopia or 1800s Russia or the Roaring 20s. Books are a great way to establish relationships and connections. Not only that, but they open our minds and provide various perspectives on events of the past, present and future. Save the books. Share the stories. Remember the artistry that is literature.