Book Review: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

IMG_3174Like most people, there are lots of things I have given a f*ck about that I no longer give f*ck about. Thank goodness for that…

As straight forward as the title of the book seems, it did offer me a good supply of laughter as soon as I started reading it. Though the last chapter is on death [appropriately enough] and the topic is also something I myself thought about when I wrote my own book. At the time I had thought that I was a rare weirdo in being a 29 year old approaching 30 thinking about such a concept. However, at some point in the book I did come to the mathematical conclusion that Mark Manson and I are actually the same age too.

And while I too have lived an unconventional life in my own ways, Manson’s included traveling to 55 countries in 5 years and with it came even a larger number of lovers. But you don’t have to rack up those numbers in order to reach a nirvana of “not giving a f*ck.” It’s about living a life true to yourself in who you are, not what everyone else wants you to be or tells you to be. And in Manson’s case he ultimately came to the conclusion that this adventurous and exciting lifestyle he had envisioned for himself turned out to not be all that it was hyped up to be.

I am a fan of his”Do Something” Principle and the analogy he used of how his parents would look to him as a technology prodigy as an example to illustrate the principle. It’s often the stereotype that the younger generation is more technology-savvy but the point Manson was making was that he simply would try every button and plug or unplug every cable/cord to see what would happen until he learned how the whole system worked. The fear of trying and doing something/anything is trumped by curiosity.

I still go to auditions my agency sends me out on knowing that there’s a high chance that I will not get the gig but I go anyways because I know that if I don’t go my chances are zero. I wrote and published my own book last year, knowing that it’s most likely not going to become a New York Times Bestseller or a Pulitzer Award winner.

I believe you could always make improvements but I don’t believe in being a perfectionist. I too share the same belief with Manson (and Nike) that you just do it. Some of my earlier blog posts would make me cringe today. But the belief is that as you keep doing something you get better over time.

One might say that in some altruistic motive, I started this blog in hopes of inspiring others with my so-called modern vintage lifestyle. But as Manson points out, it’s the action that inspires inspiration and then that becomes a motivation. It’s not to say that my blog postings can’t be inspiring. But there are many people out there who feel inspired by motivational seminars who will not apply what they learned to make changes in their life or those who hear about courageous acts on the evening news and they themselves will never lift a finger to help a stranger in need.

Though at the end of the day, it’s our choice as to what we decide to give a f*ck about. And there are billions of people out there who couldn’t give a f*ck about what I have to say. The important thing is to give a f*ck about something that matters to you. And it’s not a bad thing to reevaluate what you deem as important once in a while.

-M

 

 

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Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale

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This novel has been turned into a Hulu series show recently but I have yet to watch it. So my personal review at this time is primarily based on my experience with reading the book.

Though in discussing the book with the book club ladies, I have heard from some women who have also seen the Hulu series that there were additional details that appeared on the show that weren’t in the book such as the real name of the protagonist character renamed Offred upon becoming a handmaid. The book was turned into a series of shows rather than a movie so I could see how a series would become more extensive and detailed whereas a book-turned-movie usually presents the opposite scenario.

As a recommendation for reading the book, I would actually reread the Introduction chapter upon finishing the book as it all makes more sense in doing so. Though this is a recent edition of the book and the Introduction is the one that was written by the author in February of this year. The book was originally written in the 1980s but has received a lot of attention lately as explained by the author in this Introduction chapter which references the most recent election and our current presidency and political climate as a result. Even though the book was written decades ago, there were many coincidences such as references to a wall being built which has made the novel feel relevant to current times.

In fact, one of the first comments that the book club ladies mentioned at our meeting discussing this novel was how the book did feel relevant and timeless. The author also explains that everything mentioned in the book has happened in history. I do recall watching an interview of Hilary Clinton saying that she was told by the credit card company to use her husband’s credit card when she first tried to get her own credit card in the 70’s which would help illustrate what happened that day women in the book lost their jobs and access to their credit cards.

Hence, I could see why the author gets the feedback about this book being a “feminist” book. As a “Modern Vintage Woman” I am in agreement with Sheryl Sanberg’s take in her book Lean In (which I had previously reviewed in my blog post last year) where women need to be supportive of each other and career-oriented women who work outside the home should not shame stay at home mothers and vise versa.

I have faced similar issues myself this year with women who criticized me for my choices (or was very aggresive in encouraging or discouraging me from making certain choices) ranging from my outfit choices, who to date, who to co-habitat with, what career movement I should make, the urgency to get married and have children, what to write/not write in my blog, etc. In the moment, it actually feels difficult to sometimes make a firm stance and defend yourself because you really may change your mind later (which you are allowed to do). But at the end of the day, I had to make peace with the fact that these other women do not have to live with the consequences of the choices I make for myself while I do. So in spite of any criticism I may continue to get, I must make my own choices. In the meanwhile, I try to walk the talk by being supportive of other women.

In the society I live in, I am thankful that I do currently have the right to exercise making such choices. So in reading The Handmaid’s Tale it makes me feel extra grateful.

It is always possible for society to retrogress and decrease the rights of women or continue to have it be the case as it is in many parts of the world. But as the book illustrates, the truth remains to be the case in both fiction and reality that the human population cannot continue to exist without women. So perhaps to some it may seem ungrateful for me to not use my abilities to reproduce to make such contributions.

But if anything, I was reminded by other women (and men) recently when I celebrated a major milestone in my martial arts career by passing my 5th degree black belt exam, that achievements by women are not limited to their ability to becoming a biological mother but can also be being a female figure in which other women can look up to for inspiration. IMG_2469I have since then found myself featured in other people’s blogs around the globe and had apparently caused quite a stir in strutting around the arena (in places where shoes were left on) in my high heels even while wearing my martial arts uniform. I’ve continued to make my stance in that I am entitled to be “feminine” or female and my youthful self in a martial arts world that is dominated primarily by older men while continuing to work hard to prove myself worthy of the title I have earned. This is me being a “Modern Vintage Woman.”

-M

 

My Love for Life-Like Inanimate Objects

I’ve done a few “Look Like a Princess But Don’t Act Like One” segments now. And this month, I’ve concluded that I would be Belle from Beauty and the Beast if I had to choose a “Disney princess” to be. I admittedly do a good number of my postings on book reviews too. And who doesn’t want a sexy beast?

Click here to read the film review I wrote on Beauty and the Beast in April

I’ve been raving to my friends about my recent purchase of forks and knives after I realized that I was down to just one fork (I only started out with two when I moved into my current apartment to start a new life two and a half years ago). And the one and only fork left had a bent tip. Voila, the fork and knives I got from Paris at Pylones (where I stumbled upon during my Paris trip in 2015):

The knives are male and the forks are female. If you take a closer look they all have faces (and booties when you flip them over on the back!) And the knives have a slight bulge for a package. Gosh, it all made me laugh so much!

As some of you also may recall, from that first visit to Pylones I also fell in love with the 58Products Tassen collection and have their tea set and bowls. I mentioned in my book that I would like to eventually collect all of them! This is a portion of my growing collection:

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As you can see from the photo above, I’m also a big fan of having silicone lids for my tea cups. Pylones does usually have a number of choices in stock but I’ve also been fortunate enough to stumble upon on them in other places now too:

Click here to buy the Bumble Bee, the Kitty Cat, or the Bunny Rabbit ones I found!

Eating and tea time should be a joyous time and it certainly has become so for me. As cliché as it sounds, sometimes it’s the small things that make all the difference.

-M

Book Review: Three Souls by Janie Chang

For this month’s book club meeting the ladies honored my book suggestion by reading this novel that was originally gifted to me by another lovely lady and I had been wanting to read it for a while now (when people find out you love to read you become that woman everyone loves to gift books to and you end up with so many that you no longer have to seek new books on your own).

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(For the purpose of privacy, I have blurred out the faces of the other book club members)

And to nourish our own souls, we indulged on high tea. Per tradition, the book club documents the books we read every month with a photo of my gloved hands holding up the book we read so I hand modeled in juxtaposition to beautiful tea cups:

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(Click here to purchase the gloves I am wearing)

The ladies of the book club are in agreement that the novel illustrates the enduring strength women had to go through in being married into families during the time period (the 1920s and 30s) and making the most of their situation or the hardships and consequence they endured when they chose other paths. It does also explore the concept of “what if” in how different each character’s lives would have turned out to be had the protagonist Leiyin not interfered.

Though the story has tragedy (ie. the novel does start off at the funeral of Leiyin so death is a constant overshadowing presence throughout the whole book) I was pleasantly surprised at how the women treated other women and their children with respect and kindness since mother-in-laws are traditionally very mean to their daughter-in-laws in the Chinese culture and even in modern times (regardless of the culture) stepmothers aren’t always nice to their stepchildren either. And while a majority of the prominent male characters turn out to be horrible, Leiyin’s husband Baizhen was thankfully an exceptional spouse (and student) to her and a father to their daughter. In a way, it all balanced out with the dark sides of the story about all the passion, secrets and betrayal.

The book pokes at the age old question about whether it’s better to lead a peaceful but long, dull life or risk a short-lived life of passion and hardships. Though I think it’s fair to say that a lot of people end up having a mix of both to a certain extent. And while some situations are beyond our control we must all live (or die) with the choices we make.

Overall, the book did end up having a good amount of twists and turns even if you know from the very beginning that the main character is dead. And as I was progressing through the book I did keep wanting to know what happens next. In a way, a lot of the book club ladies agreed that we all still felt that way when we reached the end of the book since there were questions hanging around of what ended up happening to this character or that character or how things were going to ultimately happen (like movie endings when it’s ended before you really get a chance to see what actually happens so you are left to imagine what you think would have happened).

I would give the book a letter grade A-

M

Book Review: Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

IMG_1952One would make the assumption that with times changing (along with the technology and the introduction of online dating) that things have changed in the land of pursuing romance in the modern world.

However, in reading Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari, that the author and my fellow book club ladies are in agreement that many things have not changed. Though a good chunk of communication that used to be done via phone calls have now been replaced by text message exchanges, that silly rule of waiting to call or text someone so that you don’t appear too eager/desperate still is very much commonly practiced.

Though before the internet it’s probably very unlikely that men you didn’t really know yet would send you a dick pic enclosed in an envelope to your house. As Ansari pointed out, unless you had your own photo development set-up at home most places would not have printed out a dick pic for you during the times when photos were all taken on film anyways.

Needless to say, this book definitely lead to quite an interesting an extensive discussion amongst the ladies of the book club in regards to dating in general. We all agreed that we found the field research done in Buenos Aires, Tokyo and Paris fascinating. Living in a region of the States where we have people from all over the world, it put things into perspective of how it would be a cultural shock for both parties involved when dating someone who have different views on things like cheating, chasing, etc. In spite of these differences, it is definitely universal that marriage is becoming commonly delayed in all of these countries if ever pursued. Thank goodness for the pressure easing off for us to get married by a certain age, especially for us women.

One of the things I appreciated Ansari doing in the book is the thorough illustration of the pros and cons of technology in the modern world of romance. A lot of us remember the social stigma that used to exist about meeting someone online back when online dating was still relatively new. Such stigma still exists for newer forms of online dating such as Tinder where the common view for that App today that it’s more for casual hookups. But it was interesting to have it be pointed out in the book that when we meet someone in person (ie. at a bar) you do pretty much the same thing where you make a snap judgment/decision as to whether you are interested in that person based on something superficial like their physical appearance. So the argument was that something like Tinder would be much closer to how we would decide whether we were interested in someone or not in real life.

It admittedly has been less than a year since I have owned a smart phone and one of the features I did appreciate immediately was the ability to block phone numbers. I can delete the phone numbers I used to list as “Stalker #1,” “Stalker #2,” so on. And while I am not someone interested in getting to know someone I just met via a texting dialogue, I do think it’s nice to have the kind of ease now in being able to share things like photos and videos that you can take anywhere with someone you want to share them with. But in case it wasn’t already clear to any man reading this, please don’t send an unsolicited dick pic to a lady you just met or have not even met yet.

-M

Journaling with Self Kindness

I journal every night without fail before going to bed.

This past week I had a very emotional moment as I kept going back and forth in my journal entry that night between how I was really feeling vs how I thought I “should” be feeling. I think in the self-improvement/self-motivating culture that sort of mentality is common. You want to remain positive and grateful so you try to shut down your negative feelings and emotions.

I finally couldn’t take it anymore, driving myself insane, and Skyped with a very good friend in Germany. She then proceeded to make me a gift that I have since then printed out to paste on my journal cover:

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I want to be that kind of friend/person who is there for someone when they really need me, the one that makes you feel like you matter. So that is why I choose to be kind and thoughtful as much as possible —- Because one person can make the difference.

And as I refer to myself as my “twin bestie” in my book, my friend in Germany gifted this book cover to remind me to be kind to my twin bestie too.

-M

Book Review: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

I admit I have a celebrity crush on Trevor Noah. Not that I would hope to be one of those crazy screaming fans if I ever had the chance to meet him. But now that I have read his book it does make me appreciate him that much more beyond the charming sense of humor he evokes on the Daily Show. On the Daily Show he makes fun of Donald Trump but in the book he manages to bring humor amidst some very serious dire situations he’s encountered in his own upbringing. And a man who doesn’t take himself too seriously is a good thing.

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Click here to buy the book Born a Crime

There are people who are “street smart” and those who are “book smart.” It’s very evident that Trevor Noah acquired a lot of “street smart” intelligence with all the different ways he learned to make money from a young age (I do also respect someone who is resourceful like that).

At the same time, it was also very evident that his mother wanted to make sure he was educated to be “book smart” as well — And be very loyal to religion as she was. I personally am not religious so my take on Jesus would probably be a bit more similar to Trevor Noah’s but I certainly enjoyed the debates he had with his mother about God and loved how they were able to love each other regardless of their differences. I would also like to believe that regardless of what/who you believe in that there is something to be said about faith and the magic or miracles of life that sometimes seem to happen as it did in Trevor Noah’s mother’s life.

One of the things that fascinated me about this book was learning more about the history of South Africa. Most of us know of Nelson Mandela and the period of Apartheid ending on a superficial level. From reading the book, I learned that I too would have been classified under the same group as Trevor Noah in South Africa since the Japanese were classified as whites and the Chinese were classified as blacks. Never in my life have I ever thought of myself as half white and half black so that was quite the twist! Then again, I also would have never imagined the name Hitler being common anywhere in the world after World War II.

The chapter that had me laughing so hard it got me hooked on the book right away was chapter 3. Laughter is indeed good medicine and it felt so good to laugh like that. A great book and a delicious hot cup of tea is the perfect combination to curl up with on a rainy (or a non-rainy) day.

-M