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small things in life

Finding a book on Kindle is like finding a guy on Tinder. You have to make quick, uninformed decisions based on woefully inadequate amount of information.

To extend this bad analogy further: reading the book “reviews” on Amazon to determine whether a book is a good fit is akin to asking a guy’s flock of birds whether they’d hang out with him. Case in point: Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy got 4.4 out of 5 stars on Amazon.

Unlike Tinder however, once I’ve downloaded a book to my Kindle (whom I’ve named Marvin), I feel I’ve made a $9.99 and up worth of commitment – I have to see this through to the end. Reading has become an obligation and the stake is now unnervingly high in which book I choose to date.

I’ve had a bad dating streak lately.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette. I found the most popular guy annoying as hell and felt extremely guilty.

Mr. Mercedes. It’s my own fault to assume that since I loved Lisey’s Story I am a Stephen King kind of gal. ikr?

The Buried Giant. My bad for thinking that I was smart enough because I was able to appreciate The Unconsoled. So why the f* couldn’t I decipher the deeper meaning this time around? It’s not me. It’s you. You changed!

They’re not necessarily unworthy books, they’re just not for me. Ok, some of them I did find fingernail-on-chalkboard annoying and made my way to the end just so I did not have to listen to the whining — Looking at you Hausfrau and The Daylight Marriage. There were dates whose names and faces I can’t remember. Even ones I tried to forget. For some of them I’ve even gone so far as to expunge the record of us ever spending time together – deleting the copies from my Amazon account.

What made the bad streak even worse? None of these were one-night stands. Nooooo. These were dragged-out lengthy affairs because I have the opposite of a commitment issue.

After three months of slugfest I finally finished Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake. It occurred to me why someone once told me that I can’t say I am a Queen’s fan if I only like A Night at the Opera; The fact that is my favorite album is irrelevant. I adored The Handmaid’s Tale, Alias Grace and The Blind Assassin. Atwood’s writing remains brilliant and her vision of what the future could bring, thought-provoking. It is just not my cup of tea.

When I finally finished Oryx and Crake and saw the other two books in the MaddAddam trilogy waiting at the corner on Marvin (my Kindle), I thought, “Ok, let me power through these two books then I can start reading all these other books [I’ve also foolishly swiped right for].” It felt like a burden. A bitter vegetable. I slunk down in my seat, hating this whole thing.

Then I remembered: I am an adult now. I can eat desserts first. Heck, I can eat only desserts if I want to. Heck, I should eat only desserts. I should only go out with guys I like and I can change my mind even if I’ve swiped right. [apology for mixing the analogies…]

I picked up Marvin and deleted all the “I may get to that when every other book dies” books.

Then I went to the library.

Nothing beats actually seeing and flipping through the real things.

 

books you can touch and return

 

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I first published this post in 2009 and reposted it in November 2010. Every year, as early as towards the end of October, I found myself aghast coming face to face with Christmas merchandise and sometimes even MUSIC when the leaves are still sporting brilliant red and yellow.

Seriously? What the F people?

What about Thanksgiving? You know, the quintessential American holiday? The way I see it, FAUX NEWS should be carrying this “Bring Thanksgiving Back” flag if they talk about being the TRUE Americans all the fucking damn time.

The following is my now annual (so it seems *sigh*) tirade against the demise of the significance of Thanksgiving in the face of overwhelming commercialism…

Yeah tirade! Aren’t you glad that I am back in more ways than one?!

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I started campaigning for a forced postponement, a temporary deferral, of celebrating Christmas until AFTER Thanksgiving Day four five six years ago.  I even registered for the domain name: BringBackThanksgiving.com (which is still available… I am sad to confirm… Any takers?)  I stopped paying for it after two years when I realized that with a full time job and three boys to take care of, I simply did not have the capacity to deal with Microsoft FrontPage. (Yikes. Do you remember the days, the days before Blogger, WordPress, etc. when one had to use a software such as FrontPage in order to have one’s own website? *shudder*)

“Curb your enthusiasm!” I beseech you.  “As you recover from the sugar high from all the Halloween candies.  As you dispose of the spider webs, the goblins, the mummy tombs, the rotten carved pumpkins.”

Please, oh, please don’t switch directly from Orange and Black to Red and Green.  However tempting it is when you move all the Halloween boxes down to your basement and see all the Christmas boxes beckoning at you. The smiling Santa with the chubby cheeks.  The snowman. The reindeer.  Resist the temptation: Didn’t Jesus die on the cross partly to teach us this lesson?  Be strong for the sake of your children.

The children need you to show them that, Yes, you believe in the meaning and significance of Thanksgiving Day. Yes, it is important that we take one day out to deliberately remember and show gratitude to all the people who add meanings to our lives, to all the material goods that we are blessed enough to own. To strangers who give you a smile in the street and thus brighten your day. To strangers who by merely doing their jobs are making the world a better, safer place.

My heart aches upon seeing houses adorned with Christmas lights right after, sometimes even before, Halloween.  Of course I am not intimating that the homeowners are therefore not thankful.  No siree.  I am simply dismayed that the significance of Thanksgiving, the arguably ONE holiday that we should all be able to agree on and celebrate, is undermined sandwiched between Halloween and Christmas.

(I admit: I may be putting my foot in my mouth by saying this. I have no clear idea how the native Americans take this holiday though I suspect there must be a lot of conflicting feelings. Do they sometimes wish that Squanto were not so kind as to assist the pilgrims? FWIW, by reading “Thanksgiving: A Native American View” and “Teaching About Thanksgiving“, I am convinced that Thanksgiving is indeed deeper and bigger than just the Pilgrims and the Indians… I hope I do not offend should anyone of Native American descent stops by this post…)

I blame the turkey.

You heard me right. It is the turkey’s fault. In terms of merchandising, turkeys are just not as attractive as say, bunnies, chicks, Santa Clause, snowman, reindeer, and so on.  I have not seen any child hugging a plush Turkey toy lovingly.

turkey

To be honest, that red thing hanging down the throat freaks me out.  Pardon me for being crass, but it always reminds me of testicles. I don’t know why. But it does.

Many, especially Hallmark (bless their heart!), have tried to turn the turkey into an adorable icon:  but seriously, how adorable can you make a turkey?

Turkey for eating

Even more sickening is that in these cutesy depictions of turkeys, they are all forced to celebrate the event in which they will be slaughtered, cooked and eaten! The abomination!

No cute icons, no easy way for merchandising. No easy way for merchandising, no rampant commidification of Thanksgiving. No rampant commidification of Thanksgiving, no shelf space at your local drugstores and grocery stores.

(I am grateful for no longer being in the academia which affords me the opportunity to posit theories full of holes and preaches them on the Internet with no qualms… I am like Glenn Beck on an anti-Turkey path…)

But with your help, we can stem the tide.  We can start it from inside of our homes.

Perhaps we can all start a tradition of having each one of the family members mention one thing that they are grateful for, every day, in the month of November.  No matter how small or how trivial.

Perhaps we can start a quiet movement to resist the Red and Green color scheme from popping up inside of our own houses. Until the day after Thanksgiving.

On the morning of November 26 this year (because November 25, Black Friday, is reserved for Competitive Shopping, or most likely, nursing a stomach ache and hangover headache), I am moving up the Christmas Tree from our basement first thing in the morning.  I am really looking forward to it. And to optimize my effort of transforming my house into a winter wonderland for Christmas, I shall keep the decorations up until after Valentine’s day. Thank goodness for the lllloooonnnngggg winter here. That is, of course, until one of you starts a campaign for bringing back Valentine’s Day…


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My 8 year old, Mr. Monk, is on a “Back to the Future” kind of mission lately.

He’s acquired two rotary phones earlier this year for a buck each at a garage sale. Probably my fault for I might have explained to him, with too much excitement, how we used to hate folks’ phone numbers with too many zeros and nines.

Click click click click. As you dialed that dial all the way around. Impatience grew. Why can’t they have a number that’s 111-1111? You know what I am talking about. If you don’t, ask your grandma about it.

I have also told him that it would be a great idea to have a rotary phone in the house as it does not require electricity to work and will come in handy one day when we lose power yet the phone line still works. (And what do you know? We did lose power for a whole day and his rotary phone did save the day)

After the rotary phones, he’s been obsessed with what he calls “things from the olden days”. The other day he came home from the neighbor’s house with an gigantic outdated cordless phone. “They gave it to me for free even though I offered to pay for it!” I wonder why. This one is truly a big chunk of lead weight.

 

You may have seen this photo floating around the Book of Face:

 

First of all, Mr. Monk totally knew the answer because I have told him the story one too many times. (Huh. I am seeing a pattern here…) It was almost like a sign because on the same night when I first LOL at this picture, we acquired a Sony double decker complete with high speed dubbing action from Craigslist for $20. After I casually mentioned how much it would mean for Mr. Monk to have a good ol’ boombox that can also RECORD, the man offered to drive 20 miles on the same night to bring it to us. Mr. Monk was beyond excited. He stood by the window waiting for his new old toy the way other kids waited for a new puppy. It was fascinating to watch his fascination as I explained to him, and my 13 year old, how each of the buttons worked and how to prevent from taping over the cassette tapes by accident. (Many a tears were shed for such accidents…)

Here’s him posing a la Say Anything at my coercion…

 

We have been listening to the 80s music in this household, and this time it is NOT playing inside my head. Mr. Monk seems to have taken a liking to Pet Shop Boys… I notice repeat plays of “Left to My Own Devices” almost every day… Oh what have I done?

The Husband asked, “Do you think we should tell him about record players?” I gave him The Look. But it is probably just a matter of time since at our Goodwill store, there is an entire table stashed with records for $1 each. I will keep you all updated.

Although I managed to not come home from Goodwill with any records, we did come home with this:

For two bucks? A good deal. That is, until I found out that films cost about $3 each and hard to find. This is a great contrast to how we snap away when we take pictures with digital cameras. Since the marginal cost is zero, we tend to ignore the pictures once they are taken. Somehow though, the old photos without digital copies seem to occupy a more special place in our hearts. I think Mr. Monk is right in wanting to bring back forth that sliver of magic that comes with pre-digital technology. There is something to be said to be able to hold something in your hand.

Tangible.

That is one of the new words he’s learned.

 

p.s. This post has been approved by Mr. Monk himself on the condition that I tell you he is not just an old soul. “Just tell them. I am of the past, present and future.”

 

 

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A flower for me

April 20, 2011 random

  As I walked out the train depot, I saw his familiar face from afar. He has taken over the position from Mr. Jim, the white-haired veteran whose presence has been a staple at this corner of the corridor connecting people to the bustling city life. I used to give something every time I walked […]

63 comments

Defiance

February 13, 2011 random

If you are out and about this past week, it will take a lot of resilience to not be carried away or affected by all the pink and red hearts, the flowers, the chocolate and candy in pretty pretty heart-shaped boxes wrapped in red ribbons tied into perfect little bows, the flowery typeface all over […]

13 comments

Ants

December 11, 2010 therapy in session

I have been thinking about ants a lot lately. Or rather, the absence of ants. It probably has a lot to do with all the holiday-related activities happening in this house: cookie baking, frosting, sprinkling, gingerbread house decorating. Every time when I see Mr. Monk walking around with a sugar cookie that he has added […]

35 comments

Bring back Thanksgiving! Please, no Christmas decorations until Black Friday…

November 9, 2010 imho is just a polite way to say I know you don't give a hoot what I think but I'm going to say it anyway

This is a post originally published last November. For some reason, ever since September, a lot of people have searched for “turkey” and landed on my post from last year, skewing my stat counts since I know all of them got the pictures of the turkey and left without even looking at my blog. Tis […]

35 comments

Sundays in My City – Small Things in Life

September 6, 2010 random

I sometimes wonder whether this whole brouhaha over “small things in life” is not a conspiracy started by people who did not have an exciting life to begin with. Oh… *Rubbing hands together* Let’s make them believe that the small things in life are far more grand than the BIG things. This way they would not pity […]

45 comments

Hope springs eternal

April 2, 2010 a picture is worth a thousand words

Hope humbly then; with trembling pinions soar; Wait the great teacher Death, and God adore. What future bliss He gives not thee to know, But gives that hope to be thy blessing now. Hope springs eternal in the human breast: Man never is, but always to be, blest. The soul, uneasy and confin’d from home, […]

14 comments

The Internet has changed forever what we take pictures of…

November 29, 2009 a picture is worth a thousand words

… even more so now that Smart Phones are becoming ubiquitous. For the better… or for the worst? To a certain extent it has changed WHEN and WHERE we take pictures. The way we interpret the world. The way we caption the things we see. Now every snap shot that comes through my daily life […]

19 comments