Thoughts On Positivity

To say the least, it’s been a hard year for me. 2016 was the year when my life seemed to come to a crossroads, and everything from work to family and my love life seemed to get so much more complicated and more difficult to handle. And the biggest stressor, for me, was the question of what’s to come. I think that’s a very twenty-something problem to have, the “What am I actually doing with my life?” question. It came down to where my career was headed (seemingly nowhere), how attainable my dreams were (seemingly not very), and how close I was to getting the life I wanted (ditto).

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All that insecurity, fruitless work, and frustration can really do a number on a girl. I had a lot of bad days, a lot of stress, and a couple of breaking points. Throughout it all, the mantra “stay positive” echoed in my head, but at the end of bad weeks or bad months, I couldn’t remember what it even meant anymore. But when I had really good days, I remember what I’ve actually learned about positivity.Read More »

Lit Quote // Do what you love 

Today I have a hashtag Lit Quote for ya! This quote comes from my favorite book (possibly of all time), The Crimson Petal and the White. It’s a book I’ve read a few times, and written about several times. It’s set in Victorian London with an amazing cast of characters, one of which is a talented prostitute named Sugar. She’s one of my favorite characters in literature ever.

But this quote was said by a frankly kind of terrible character, who thinks he’s a poet/intellectual/writer, but in reality is just kind of a blowhard (pardon my French). He says:

the crimson petal and the white

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Favorite author of the moment // Daphne du Maurier

daphne du maurierMy love for Daphne du Maurier has been a slow burn. In high school, like approximately 97% of us, I read Rebecca and utterly loved it. Then we read “The Birds” in class and I loved that, too. Last year, I read her other short stories in a collection, and those horror-infused short stories still haunt me to this day. Then later on in 2015, I visited a secondhand bookstore in the city and bought three of her novels: Frenchman’s Creek, Jamaica Inn, and The House on the Strand. I absolutely adored Frenchman’s Creek, her romance novel with themes of female freedom, and now I am looking forward to reading the highly-esteemed Jamaica Inn. Daphne du Maurier is my favorite author of the moment, and here’s why you should definitely put her books on your TBR.
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Happy May Day // a Sappho poem for you

Today is May Day, a day I have recently associated with spending time with my sisters, usually putzing around the Bronx Botanical Gardens and eating takeout, or reading my favorite books. May is my favorite month of the year; somehow it always seems magical to me, and May Day is an ancient, pagan ritual that goes back centuries. Now, we celebrate it for fun, but it used to mean a lot to a lot of our ancestors.

It was originally a celebration of spring and a day to worship Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers. It was also associated, at times, with witches and the occult, whether it was positively skewed (as in healers and mystics) or negatively (during Puritan times).
But that’s all in the past. Anyway, I digress. I would like to share a poem here from one of my favorite poets, Sappho. Her work only exists in fragments, but her capacity to describe love, desire, heartbreak, and the strength of nature is undiminished despite the works’ brevity. Her work reminds me of spring, so it seems fitting to share here on May Day.

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Some Shakespeare for your Saturday

So, today, April 23, is the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, and according to some sources, his birthday as well! To honor the Bard in a small way, here are his first and last sonnets.

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From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty’s rose might never die,
But as the riper should by time decease,
His tender heir might bear his memory:
But thou contracted to thine own bright eyes,
Feed’st thy light’s flame with self-substantial fuel,
Making a famine where abundance lies,
Thy self thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel:
Thou that art now the world’s fresh ornament,
And only herald to the gaudy spring,
Within thine own bud buriest thy content,
And tender churl mak’st waste in niggarding:
Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
To eat the world’s due, by the grave and thee.

The first sonnet is addressed to a male friend of Shakespeare’s. He’s trying to convince his friend to have children, so his beauty and legacy can live on. He’s urging his friend not to be niggardly and end his family’s line, that it would be “cruel” to the world. Wouldn’t this sonnet convince you to have children? 😉
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A poem for your Saturday // William Wordsworth

Happy Saturday, everyone. I thought I’d share a poem here today, by one of my favorite poets William Wordsworth.

I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud

william wordsworthI wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling leaves in glee;
A poet could not be but gay,
In such a jocund company!
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

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My new commute and my need to read

Last week, I mentioned here that I’ve started a new job. Prior to this, I had worked from home and so I basically went to bed whenever I wanted, woke up with just enough time to start a shift, and had zero commute, obviously! But this new job is over an hour away and so my schedule has changed drastically.

I’m such a night person, but now I wake up at 6 and I don’t usually get home before 7:30, and sometimes even around 9 o’clock. Since I really like the job, I don’t mind the hours, but it’s the fact that I don’t have time for much else that bothered me in the beginning. I’m used to my hobbies: reading, writing, obviously writing this blog, and doing creative things. So in an effort to multitask on my hour-and-a-half long drive, I’ve started listening to audiobooks.

And it’s awesome! I’ve never been an audio “reader,” and I never thought it would be easy to concentrate while driving, but it turns out that listening to a book is not only a great use of my three hours/day commute, but it’s also much more calming than listening to music is. I’ve made it my mission to stay as focused as possible on my hobbies despite the long hours of the job, and I feel like listening to books rather than reading them is a great compromise, and as an added bonus, there were so many resources I found online that offer free audiobooks.

Right now, I’m listening to Great Expectations, a book I have had on my TBR for years. I “read” about 200 pages (according to a corresponding physical copy I already owned) during my commute this past week, and I’m going to make it my mission to “read” the big classics like this.

It’s twofold: listening to books sort of takes away the effort of getting into a difficult novel. It’s more passive than reading since it’s being read to you and so it’s sort of mindless—in a good way. After Great Expectations, I’m going to read Charlotte Bronte’s Villette and then maybe War and Peace, both books I’ve been meaning to read forever but never had the time to devote to getting into it. Audiobooks and my commute turned out to be a perfect combination.

Here are some free resources if you want to listen to the classics on your downtime, and finally get around to reading those books you always meant to: Librophile.com, LoyalBooks.com (where I found Great Expectations), LibriVox, and Audiobooks.net. I considered an Audible account at first but the $14.95/month price tag put me off. Trying to be economical here!

Note: none of this is sponsored; I just like to read books. 🙂

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Inspiration by Paulo Coelho

I’m not one for motivational quotes. Sometimes, I think they’re simplistic and cheesy, but every once in a while, I’ll come across a quote that makes me stop and think and that gives me some hope, strength, or motivation. Usually, these quotes come from books.

paulo coelho

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Charles Dickens’ ‘Christmas Festivities’

For me, Charles Dickens perfectly sums up the Christmas spirit: hope, love, good cheer, optimism, and charity.

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This year, I’m reading all of Charles Dickens’ Christmas stories in addition to A Christmas Carol, which is my annual tradition. I’d like to share a passage here of the first paragraphs of the first story in that clothbound Penguin edition, “Christmas Festivities,” because it speaks volumes about the way Christmas should be appreciated and celebrated:

“Christmas time! That man must be a misanthrope indeed, in whose breast something like a jovial feeling is not roused—in whose mind some pleasant associations are not awakened—by the recurrence of Christmas. There are people who will tell you that Christmas is not to them what it used to be—that each succeeding Christmas has found some cherished hope or happy prospect of the year before, dimmed or passed away—and that the present only serves to remind them of reduced circumstances and straitened incomes—of the feasts they once bestowed on hollow friends, and of the cold looks that meet them now, in adversity and misfortune. Never heed such dismal reminiscences. There are few men who have lived long enough in the world who cannot call up such thoughts any day in the year. Then do not select the merriest of the three hundred and sixty-five for your doleful recollections, but draw your chair nearer the fire—fill the glass, and send round the song—and, if your room be smaller than it was a dozen years ago, or if your glass is filled with reeking punch instead of sparkling wine, put a good face on the matter, and empty it off-hand, and fill another, and troll off the old ditty you used to sing, and thank God it’s no worse.”

I love this quote, because it reminds me that Christmas isn’t about stuff, but about family and love. It’s one time of year we can all choose to be happy, cheerful, kind, and loving. And I hope that wherever you are, and whatever holiday you’re celebrating this season, that it’s happy and cheerful and full of love.

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‘Modern Love,’ a poem by John Keats

Happy Sunday, everyone! Here’s a poem I love.

An English major in college, I had the chance to read and analyze a lot of Romantic poetry, which was the kind of literature I took the most classes in—it’s my favorite. And because I probably would never have gotten around the reading Romantic literature/poetry in my actual, everyday life, I was happy that I got to do it in college, when I was forced to! It introduced me to some of my favorite poems, this one included.

By John Keats, this poem is called “Modern Love,” and it is cynical as hell. I am so not a cynic, but I love this poem because it’s as if Keats is knocking love because he wants to understand it. And if you know much about Keats, he eventually falls desperately in love with a woman named Fanny Brawne. And then he dies. -___-

Modern Lovekeats

AND what is love? It is a doll dress’d up
For idleness to cosset, nurse, and dandle;
A thing of soft misnomers, so divine
That silly youth doth think to make itself
Divine by loving, and so goes on
Yawning and doting a whole summer long,
Till Miss’s comb is made a pearl tiara,
And common Wellingtons turn Romeo boots;
Then Cleopatra lives at number seven,
And Antony resides in Brunswick Square.
Fools! if some passions high have warm’d the world,
If Queens and Soldiers have play’d deep for hearts,
It is no reason why such agonies
Should be more common than the growth of weeds.
Fools! make me whole again that weighty pearl
The Queen of Egypt melted, and I’ll say
That ye may love in spite of beaver hats.

I think there’s some truth in this poem: that a lot of people think they’re in love because they like the idea of it. They think they’re like Romeo and Juliet, or Antony and Cleopatra. But it makes them fools, because they don’t understand real love, just the appearance of it. I think that’s still relevant today, making the title even more striking. What Keats thought in the 1800s still makes sense in our world.

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