Wednesday, July 26, 2017

S E C R E T S

It’s been a while since I started sharing a personal stuff and I kind of miss writing here online about it, after I’ve done loads reading or so I hope. What drives me to write again – something personal is my being the secret-keeper to some of my friends, mostly girls.

When I was on my freshman years, my classmates would always share their secret crushes, secret boyfriends, and some problems which they found me to be their confidante. Even when I was in university, some new friends did share the same thoughts, issues and secrets to me. I never complained or even criticized them. But what I realize, after hearing all their secrets, is the thought that not a secret did I hear that someone has a crush on me or someone liked me. I pitied myself but I keep on reminding myself not to because I consider it as a gift. It’s a gift to gain one's trust. It’s a gift to console someone who's in trouble by just listening and also give a piece of advice.

I never thought that after so many years of being their unpaid counselor/adviser, I still am consulted for the same topic. What differs is that some of my friends now are already married having an affair with other married men.

What a secret indeed.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

S I N G _ Y O U _ H O M E

 
Zoe Baxter and her husband, Max, desperately wanted a child, but couldn’t because of Max’s genetic problems. They started doing in vitro and three embryos were created. After several miscarriages, Zoe had finally become pregnant. She was very depressed when she found out that it was a stillbirth. Soon after, Max and Zoe divorced, as Max didn’t want Zoe to pressure him into trying for another baby. When Zoe met Vanessa, an openly lesbian, she was slowly pulled out of despair as their friendship accelerated into love. They married and Vanessa suggested that she could carry one of her embryos. Zoe agreed and she asked Max for the permission to give her the frozen embryos. But instead, Max, now a born-again Christian, sued her for the rights to these pre-born children. 

In humanities, we were just learning about human rights and in this book, a lot of things surrounded gay-rights. No one should be discriminated against because of their race, and so of course no one should be discriminated against their sexual orientation. Your sexual orientation isn’t something you can choose, you are just born this way, so why is it that gays should have less rights than heterosexuals?

In the book, the Christians considered “engaging” in a homosexual lifestyle as a sin, and that they are not fit for marriage, for raising children, that they should not deserve these simple rights that everyone else have. No one will ever want to be a homosexual, and certainly will not “engage” in one’s lifestyle.

Why will anyone want to be gay, and be criticized and judged at when you are just going out for a walk, holding hands with your boyfriend. But that doesn’t make them a worse person, just like being heterosexual doesn’t make you a better person. They can still provide love for their children; they can still sustain a relationship.

Homosexuals are just the same as anyone else, and they have the right to happiness, they have the right to express their feelings, they have the right to a family.

Even though our society is slowly accepting homosexuals, there’s still a lot of discrimination relating to sexual orientations. We need to try and open up our minds toward the things that are different from the norm. Just like what the book says, “You can’t choose who you love.”

Monday, July 17, 2017

S I N G L E

Enough about books, let's talk about me, something personal, about singleness.

I wonder if I am meant to be with someone I can share the rest of my life with. I kept myself busy with work-reading-exercise. I forgot to date even though someone asks me to. I become oblivious of the fact that I desperately need someone to hold hands with. I can’t remember the last time I kissed or have been kissed. Charrot! My mother constantly urge me to have a baby or to get married, though she knows what my preference is. She has never really dealt with or spoken about my sexuality.

How can I tell them that my chance of getting married is hanging at the edge of a cliff?

Later I got to thinking about relationships. There are those that open you up to something new and exotic, those that are old and familiar, and those that bring up lots of questions, those that bring you somewhere unexpected, those that bring you far from where you started, and those that bring you back. But the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love, well, that’s just fabulous. Thank you for that quote, Carrie!

However, part of me has always felt that life has no real meaning until you get to share it with somebody. Maybe that’s what I’m afraid of: my life finally taking meaning or suddenly becoming void of it.

Maybe I’ll share my life with somebody… maybe not.

But the truth is when I think back of my loneliest moments, there was usually somebody sitting there next to me.

Why you are so elusive?

Saturday, July 15, 2017

K A L A N I T H I

Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air was possibly one of the most profound and heart-breaking autobiographies I have read.

Talking about death, reading about dying, writing about it, is not easy.  As a doctor, Paul Kalanithi was confronted with death constantly, and reading his narrative history are jarring; the cases he’s dealt with are at times disturbing. The man is a saint for doing what he did for so many years. He’s the doctor you’d wish you could have when, or if, you need it.

Through this book Paul Kalanithi proves that he is more than just a talented surgeon. He is an exceptionally talented writer. His words are deep, philosophical, and penetrating, showing the world from his perspective in a way that is full of honesty and perplexity. He spent his life searching for a deeper meaning, both figuratively and literally, through the study of scripture and literature and the study and practice of medicine.

“I was driven less by achievement than by trying to understand, in earnest: What makes human life meaningful? I still felt literature provided the best account of the life of the mind, while neuroscience laid down the most elegant rules of the brain” 

This is a powerful and moving book but is not for the squeamish. He writes reliably about his time as a medical student, and later as a neurosurgeon. He tells about the first cadaver he ever worked on, the studying of organs. He describes what was left inside the stomachs of those who died before their last meals, pills, were digested. He says that many medical students change their course of study by about their fourth year of medical school, would rather to work in lifestyle areas such as radiology. But Paul Kalanithi chose neurosurgery. 


Death is unavoidable, but when will we die?

With no way of knowing how much time he had left, Paul Kalanithi was at a loss for how to spend what very valuable time he had. His doctors had no way of providing him a solid time frame because it was impossible to determine how his cancer would change with various treatment plans. His wife Lucy had recently given birth to their daughter, who brought new life and happiness to their lives and the lives of their families.

Paul Kalanithi eventually spent his last days in writing. Once they learned that his cancer had spread to his brain, it was all a matter of writing as much as he could as fast as he could while he still kept the mental clarity to do so.

“This book carries the urgency of racing against time, of having important things to say. Paul confronted death – examined it, wrestled with it, accepted it – as a physician and a patient. He wanted to help people understand death and face their mortality. Dying in one’s fourth decade is unusual now, but dying is not”

Death is not, in fact, unusual. It is the abruptness of being faced with it when we least expect it that is hardest to understand. And yet, Paul Kalanithi faced his death with strength.

Paul Kalanithi has given so much of himself in this book, he’s encouraged us to live meaningfully, and that we can effectively conquer the fear of death. There is nothing that can surmise this memoir better than his words himself.



Read More Reviews:

My Name is Lucy Barton - Elizabeth Strout
My Sister's Keeper - Jodi Picoult
American Gods - Neil Gaiman
House Rules - Jodi Picoult

Thursday, July 13, 2017

L U C Y _ B A R T O N

I just finished reading My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout – yesterday, which had only taken me about three hours ( I am not a skimmer, but a careful reader). Second book for this month – July.

I think My Name is Lucy Barton is not a novel  –  that was short, but rather a short story that was long. I was like wish-there-was-more-story-to-tell, but Elizabeth Strout creates a unified story – about love: about the complicated, complex love between a mother-daughter relationship. Sparse, grows on one as you read, but it is perfect for Lucy, who struggles to speak the unspeakable, both aloud and in her writing.

Lonely was the first flavor I had tasted in my life, and it was always there, hidden inside the crevices of my mouth, reminding me.

Lucy carries a deep loneliness throughout life. A loneliness that stems from a childhood in a home where poverty was so fundamental that it overshadowed both love and goodness.

Can you call such a family dysfunctional?

The extent to which one can give their children a safe and loving childhood – full of joy – when the threat of hunger and homelessness are banging on the door every night?

To what extent affect our childhood, our choices later in life?

Brilliant storytelling. Lucy delivers a personal and refreshing narration. The language is beautiful. The story is infused with suggestive and aptly remarks about life and the relationship between humans themselves.

I have mixed emotions in recommending this book. I don’t know.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

M Y _ S I S T E R ' S _ K E E P E R

I think cancer has affected us all – one way or another.

My mother is a cancer survivor. My father was diagnosed with liver cancer in 2013. We took him to treatment but he was at stage 4, so it was nearly impossible to get rid of the cancer. My father died December 12th 2014. He was 65.

I'll never forget that day. I basically saw my father take his last breath in front of me, holding his right hand and within seconds, he was gone. He died in his own bed, I was sitting beside him – alone. Watching someone you love suffer – die is not just painful. It takes everything out of you.  I thought My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult would be an interesting book that I could connect to personally.

Intense. My Sister’s Keeper is a poignant, thought-provoking, heart breaking and a compelling story about the Fitzgerald’s family. Kate has been diagnosed with leukemia at a young age. Her younger sister, Anna, was designed to be a perfect genetic match for Kate, and has been through numerous medical procedures as Kate’s donor to keep her alive. The story kicks off with a nice dramatic lawsuit, in which Anna files for medical emancipation against her parents.

No, I won’t spoil the whole story or the ending for you.

I’m flabbergasted with how this book is written. I feel a stirring of curiosity and I literally can't put it down! I've been reading it every spare second I have! Most of the chapters have a cliffhanger-ending, which makes me want to continue to read and read. It conveys the emotions of any family dealing with cancer, which is something I can simply relate to, which makes it even more interesting for me.

All the characters in the book are doing some soul-searching. Jodi Picoult has allowed the reader to read the six main character’s thoughts and feelings about every situation and predicament that comes their way.

One of my favorite characters was Jesse – wanting to live his own life – away from family drama. I adored his happy-go-lucky-troubled, I-don’t-care-if-I-get-in-trouble attitude. Although Jesse didn’t follow the right road in life, still, he cared deeply for his two sisters.

I also enjoyed the character of Campbell, the lawyer Anna hires. There was a great sense of mystery – intriguingly as he never told the real reason why he has a service dog. Plus, his relationship with Julia gave him more depth as a character.

At the end of the book, you realize that in life; there are no easy choices, or even right answers. There isn’t one person who can be judged for what they think is moral or ethical, or even justifiable. Sometimes you don’t know what the right thing is but as a mother, as a doctor and even as a sibling, you do what you think is right for you and for everyone else.

Through this novel, Jodi Picoult was not only able to capture all the emotions experienced by the characters but it speaks deep truths about life, family and selfless love.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

A M E R I C A N _ G O D S

Neil Gaiman's American Gods This is one of those books that you simply cannot read in one sitting; there’s simply too many layers to take in, to think over, to enjoy it to the full.

It took me two months, almost, of reading to finally complete the book, not because I found anything undesirable, but because there was this assumption that somewhere, hidden in those pages, all the secrets of the universe waited to be discovered.

I know. It’s senseless to think a fictional tale about gods would hold the answers to everything, but that’s exactly how it felt at times. The work of a master wordsmith or… maybe the work of a guardian who holds the universe’s mysteries?

It’s hard to separate the two ideas when it comes to the author. Then again, perhaps the two ideas aren’t mutually exclusive.

This book, which traces on a variety of subjects, is possibly one of the greatest literary work of art of the modern era. It is relevant, contemporary, somewhat relatable, and it delves into the human mind on more than one occasion.

Yes, some may find the work difficult to understand, or struggle to see past the religious figures who grace the pages of American Gods, but there is something incredibly important about the story.

But American Gods isn’t for everyone. I guess.

Over all, it's an EPIC novel.

And I am so excited to watch the TV series adaptation of the book.