I am Okay, Really

I just feel like my previous posts had been mostly negative. It is easy to write about painful things, because the heart overflows and the will spill unto paper. I write about it and feel so much better afterward. But you know, my life is not all gray, and I wanted to keep this clear.

Right now I am living my life as a SEO writer and student. My job does not pay much, and it eats time to do but its very fulfilling for me. I also got an excellent scholarship for a teaching program with allowances. My status if not financially abundant but it would do.

My boyfriend had always been sweet and would text and call at different intervals of the day. “Do you need anything? Do you need me to print stuff for you? I love you.” Bless his heart. Being mostly an independent woman, I would say no thank you. I am okay. I love you too.

It’s just sometimes the lonely emotion dawns on me in the most mundane locations. Like while standing in the grocery aisle of yogurts and dairies, a sudden exhaustion overcomes me, as if I had lived for too long. It is often a drastic perceivable change, and people seeing me in this mood can tell my tiredness by the slump of my shoulders and the darkness under my eyes. “Aubs, you look like you need rest.”

I am okay really. After moping a little bit I voluntarily shake this off by emerging myself in music, podcasts and work. Lots of these. Enough for me to lack time to think of negative thoughts and feel accomplished. Work makes me happy. Then the cycle begins again.

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I Think I Shouldn’t be Writing This

When my boyfriend told me that he will be taking steps to go to Australia, my first reaction was shock. He always talked of going there to study, but in my mind I had tucked it away as an event far away. And yet here it is.

My next emotion was rage. How could he leave me? How could he? But he was not leaving me, he is just going to another country to study. I know that. Fuck, I know that! But the rage became hot and burning tears. They flowed uncontrollably and unreasonably.

I struggled to accept it and become supportive. So I swallowed my tears and they mixed in my blood like poison. I continue with my life. I don't say anything.

"Let your soul take you where you want to be. Only then you can belong to me."

I am often emotional. I wept to the random melodies. The purposeless remarks about love. I wept everyday without telling. And as my secret sentiment grew, I feel like it is eating me and my part of our relationship.

I wonder if he had noticed the sliver of ice that had crawled into my heart. People say that the opposite of love is hate. No, its apathy, the absence of any emotion. A void. A gaping, growing void that threatens to eat everything in its wake.

I write it here because I wanna feel a little comfort. I don't wanna say anything because what kind of person I am to stop him from leaving? I doubt if he understands. After all, he is not the one to be left behind.

1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die

Total Read: 35/1000

Sometimes when I am in a bookstore, I feel lost. I feel lost in the cascade of titles, authors and book covers. All of them can possibly be life-changing good or possibly I-regret-buying-this bad. So when I tumbled on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, I felt comforted. To me, this list is like a guide to which books I should read. It doesn't have everything (like the Harry Potter Series) but it's a very good guide. I know that its impractical to think I can finish it in my lifetime. I hope I can't, because I am hoping to live a full life that would feel like something out of a book, not a life behind books.

I am publishing this so I can keep a concrete list in case my files get destroyed. Below is the list of books I read from Peter Boxall’s 1001 Books: You Must Read Before You Die. The text have links from the original wordpress post I copied it from. If you wanna see the full list, you can click the link above.

49. Life of Pi – Yann Martel (1)
It is surprisingly more morbid and gory than the movie. Still amazing though. This is a type of book that leaves an afterthought which lasts for weeks.

52. The Devil and Miss Prym – Paulo Coelho (2)
-(check my Paulo Coehlo post :))

90. Veronika Decides to Die – Paulo Coelho (3)
-(check my Paulo Coehlo post :))

93. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden (4)
Beautiful. Just as beautiful as her stunning gray eyes.

436. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey (5)
This is easily a favorite of mine. I would read it again and again at times just for leisure. The book has characters that are worth revisiting.

456. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee (6)

496. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov (7)
Controversial yet it is unique and well written.

529. The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger (8)

574. The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (9)
This is my favorite book of all time. Some points of the book make me cry every time I read it. It is not simply a children's book. You have to read between the lines.

779 a. The Call of the Wild – Jack London (11)
781. The Hound of the Baskervilles – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (12)
783. Kim – Rudyard Kipling (35)
789. The Turn of the Screw – Henry James (13)
794. Dracula – Bram Stoker (10)
799. Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy (14)
804. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (15)
809. The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde (16)
820. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson (17)
825. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain (18)
831. Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson (19)
846. Far from the Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy (20)
868. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll (21)
873. Les Misérables – Victor Hugo (22)
880. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins (23)
883. A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens (24)
897. The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Lawthorne (25)
905. Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray (26)
908. The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas (27)
909. The Purloined Letter – Edgar Allan Poe (28)
911. The Pit and the Pendulum – Edgar Allan Poe (29)
913. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens (30)
916. The Fall of the House of Usher – Edgar Allan Poe (31)
917. The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby – Charles Dickens (32)
918. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens (33)
931. Frankenstein – Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (34)

The Paradox of Being Small

I had recently begun my addiction to podcasts. I don't usually provide feedbacks to stuff I watch, listen or read directly to the makers but there was one episode of 'Stuff to Blow Your Mind' that I had an opinion I wanted to share. I sent the email below:

Dear Robert, Christian and Joe:

Hi I am a polar bear from Svalbard.

I am just kidding. My name is Aubrey. I am a biology graduate and I really enjoy the biology references and facts you throw in each episode. I was looking for podcasts that would help me enrich my knowledge while I am doing chores. That's why I stumbled on your awesome podcast.

I wrote today because I just want to share my take on your episode Height, Health and Human Happiness. You had mentioned that small people are often stereotyped to having a Napoleon complex. I think there is a paradox on that belief. I am a very short woman. I tell people I am five feet tall but I may be shorter by an inch or so. Yes, people like me are believed to be loud, selfish and overconfident but I think for us those traits are even a necessity. If you see the world in my level, everything seems to be made for bigger people. Positions of leadership are not easy to assume since it is easy to look down on us (metaphorically and physically). In a world where everything seems to be bigger than you, it looks pretty scary. I would feel the need to outdo the people with average height and above. At times to succeed I have to be louder and more confident than the rest to be noticed. This extra perseverance to the the goal may be perceived as ambition, greed or selfishness by others. If society thinks that we have Napoleon complex, it is society that has made us so.

I enjoy being a small person. And I enjoy your show very much too! Hope you continue making mind blowing episodes.

With gratitude,

Aubrey

They didn't reply. But I bet they get virtually buried in hundreds of mails a day so I really didn't expect a response. That was alright with me. 🙂

Alone at a Table for Two

 

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“Do I look lonely?”

As I listened to the song “Death of a Bachelor” by Panic! at the Disco while I sat alone in the middle of the night, I can’t help feel life’s irony.

What is love for? I thought love is the cure to loneliness. Instead here I am trying to jump around to avoid murky lonely puddles.

“Smile even though you are sad.”

My questions isn’t the same as yours, Brendon. Right now I just feel like I have been sitting alone for a table for two for too many times. I am sorry that I am not the type to ask for help.

Is this fitting for a happy ever after? How dare I to ask for more? Please do not blame the song. The fault is mine. I am inherently lonely most of the time.

Shadows 

A wave of light

floods through and illuminates

my small isolate world

that had too many sunsets. 

Yet the shadows stood silent

without their persons

abandoned 

without an answer

to my equally silent cries. 

I do not claim property to the image.

Collecting Paulo Coelho’s Works: A Guide and Review

It had always been my dream to read the best books ever written. I want to discover books that people hardly knew, but told exceptional stories. Authors than can be compared to those who wrote the bestsellers. I also want to read the works of the famous writer. I want to know firsthand if their fame is well deserved. To pursue the latter goal, I read the books that are commonly in bookstore shelves. This begun my journey with Paulo Coelho.

His first book that I read was The Devil and Miss Prym. This was a book I had read way back, years ago when I can’t even afford one of his books. I borrowed one from a cousin and immediately got lost in the detail of the story. A stranger arrived in an isolated town called Viscos where Miss Prym lived in. He offered a staggering amount of riches to the townspeople, that is if they commit a murder. Every person can justify a murder, and the book greatly revolved on the internal struggle of Miss Prym and the townspeople. It presented to me a bold and unique setting that questioned if money had become more important than moral.

I was impressed and promised myself I will keep an eye out for his books. Next, I encountered Veronika Decides to Die, through a close college friend. Veronika was a woman who neither felt happy, sad nor angry about her life. She looked at the future and felt indifference. Thus, she decides to kill herself. I became in love with the book. Suicide had always been a delicate topic for me, and I loved how Coelho explored the reason why people decide to kill themselves and what are their reasons to continue living. The book is a celebration of life and of living it. I would really recommend reading this one.

I was captured so I decided to collect his books. The Winner Stands Alone, was a book I wanted to buy ever since it came out. The title and the book cover lured me. As a newly promoted employee who had seemed to lose all my friends in the process, I knew I would greatly relate to the book. The novel told stories of different individuals brought together to the Cannes Film Festival by their desire for success. The book criticized our success driven society and tells the unseen consequences of winning. His novel detailed what was behind the fame and the lime lights, a setting that only few dared to write.

During small talk, I started telling people that I am collecting Paulo Coelho’s books and their first question was “Have you read The Alchemist?” When I say no, I receive a flood of exclamations, all telling me that I should read it. So, The Alchemist was my next book, and I have to say that it was much simpler and more optimistic than the first books I have read. The book had a classical approach to it, a fable to explain Personal Legend. The story says that every person knows what he is truly meant to be, their greatest potential. But people get swept away by the world, and soon forget. The story followed a young boy and his search for his Personal Legend. It was short and full of mythical things. But it speaks to the readers’ dreams directly and becomes very close to reality. No wonder it’s Paulo Coelho’s most famous book.

Another title that caught my eye was “By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept.” To my surprise, this novel was a love story. Though I am not really a fan of love stories, I decided to buy the book. For me, the story spoke of love in all it’s forms: the human, the divine, the parental, the sacrificial and the painful. Pain had always been a part of love, and the female protagonist Pilar struggled if she will believe and accept the love that was presented to her. I was not entirely impressed by the book though. I was beginning to feel a rift between the author and me as a reader in that book. The story was heavily detailed of religion; speaking in tongues, performing miracles, the introduction of a feminine god, talking directly to the Virgin Mary. The concepts of religion Paulo Coelho presented was certainly new to the original religion I know. And it overwhelmed me.

Supportive as ever, my boyfriend gave me a copy of Aleph. I was thankful and really looked forward to reading it. One book I did not entirely like will not make me change my opinion in a snap. So I excitedly started to read. I learned shockingly that Aleph was not a fictional story, but a story that happened to Paulo Coelho himself. My capability ‘to suspend my belief’ reached its limits when I read the book. Coelho claimed that the violinist he met at the bookstore was someone he had met in the past life. That he himself had seen his past lives. He also said fantastic details every few pages like “my wife speaks to her guardian angel as she paints.” Maybe I have a too conventional mind. Maybe I shouldn’t take the book literally? Whatever it was I did not finish the book. I just couldn’t. 

I had another unread Paulo Coelho book on the shelf: The Zahir. I gave Coelho the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps this book are not like the two previous ones. I checked the label, it definitely said fiction. I begun to read. The Zahir, is a book about a writer and his wife … I closed the book in disappointment. The book was too similar to the author, and I have not recovered from Aleph to read this one. I did try to peruse a few pages, only to find more reasons to dislike it. A writer who continuously cheat on his wife whines about his wife leaving him. He claimed his cheating was freedom in their relationship. His wife leaving him was freedom from relationships. I was disgusted.

Will I stop reading Paulo Coelho’s books? I might. I might also give him another chance in the future, but I will carefully search the synopsis and feedback before reading it. I might just stick with his earlier works. Coelho has talent but I can only read some of his works, the others I have to reject. It had been a great run, and I am saddened that I will end my journey with Paulo Coelho like this.
I will add to this article in case I get an opportunity to read another book of his. In the meantime, I am going to find my next favorite author.

Credits to the owner of the photo. I do not claim the photo or it’s contents as property.