Wednesday, February 26, 2014


I found myself thinking about you at odd times. There were stray bits of conversation, or small observations that I had remembered, those idiosyncrasies of yours that made you you, I kept reminiscing. I found myself looking forward to the next day simply because you'd be there.

I remember the first time we met. You came straight up to me, while I was in conversation with someone else who was explaining things to me. You looked me straight in the eye, with that amazing huge smile of yours, stuck your hand out and that was it, I was taken in by you. The warmth of you, the confidence in your grip and smile, you were someone I knew I would really like.

There were so many things I had wanted to tell you. Things I have left to tell you. The many hours spent in small random conversations to fill a regular day; they remain with me. You made me laugh, made me smile, and impressed upon me this sensation that life was so much more supersized, because you filled it even more with everything that you had.

Then the phone rang, and that was The Call. And now you're gone, and now you are missed.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Book Review: To Rise Again At A Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris

'Paul O'Rourke is a man made of contradictions: he loves the world, but doesn't know how to live in it. He's a Luddite addicted to his iPhone, a dentist with a nicotine habit, a rabid Red Sox fan devastated by their victories, and an atheist not quite willing to let go of God. 

Then someone begins to impersonate Paul online, and he watches in horror as a website, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account are created in his name. What begins as an outrageous violation of his privacy soon becomes something more soul-frightening: the possibility that the online "Paul" might be a better version of the real thing. As Paul's quest to learn why his identity has been stolen deepens, he is forced to confront his troubled past and his uncertain future in a life disturbingly split between the real and the virtual. 

At once laugh-out-loud funny about the absurdities of the modern world, and indelibly profound about the eternal questions of the meaning of life, love and truth, TO RISE AGAIN AT A DECENT HOUR is a deeply moving and constantly surprising tour de force"

5 out of 5 Star Rating.

Having received an Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) from Little, Brown and Company through the Goodreads First Reads program, I can tell you that it was love at first sight for me. Some say that this LAFS phenomenon is a thing of lust and infatuation, since it is technically based on appearances. In the case of To Rise Again At A Decent Hour, appearances definitely had a bearing on my experience: from first opening the package to carrying it around with me for reading on the commute to and from work, I can say that I almost wanted to hold it up for everyone to witness its beauty in all its glory. When sitting beside another commuter who was reading a physical book, I could not but help gloat smugly at the internal feeling that my book was way sexier than theirs.

But not just in appearances. In my first few lines in, I was totally baited and Joshua Ferris simply continued to reel me in thoroughly and completely. What a read!

Throughout reading, I found myself pausing every now and then simply to reflect on how well-written this book is. And it never ceased. I had to observe that this was a very intelligent book, and that the 'feel-good' (chick-lit and YA) reading I had been feasting on in recent months made this realization and contrast even more stark. Ferris' writing style simply shines - he writes so densely, tightly, compactly, and so thorough in mind-boggling detail of much of what we take for granted in life. With writing like this, it bodes well to take the time and pace yourself in reading and absorbing; trying to complete reading this in one continuous stretch may likely cause internal implosions and disillusionment. I can safely say that my appreciation is heightened by having rationed my reading for only those hours spent on my commute, so I found myself eagerly awaiting the chance to reopen to the page I had left off at and dive right back into the depth of Paul O'Roarke's life.

Written in first-person, Paul O'Roarke is the protagonist you simply cannot help but relate to. I felt such an uncanny awareness of recognition; I had to consider that I really felt I knew Paul. Maybe it was myself that I saw in him, or maybe a man I know and love well that I also saw in him, or perhaps a few other men, but yes definitely myself. Granted, he differs in so many ways from who I myself am, in gender, age, profession, background, religious-affiliation to name a few examples, but at the very root of what makes him human is that fundamental concept that resonates strongly with what makes me me. Paul is such a flawed character and yet, intelligent in his hopelessness. In his personal reconciliation with his own failings, he makes us ask and consider the same of our own selves. Or rather, that's what he did for me.

To believe is to doubt, because to doubt makes us ask, and in asking we come to understand. That's one of the underlying themes of To Rise Again At A Decent Hour. Paul's disillusionment with life, with his own self, is itself a story, and while it may lend an air of despair and desperation to giving an impression of a intensely sorrowful story, that's not the case. Ferris infuses so much humour into it, that you cannot but help chuckle. I had to moderate an unexpected bout of laughing out loud on the bus ride home one evening, only to still keep grinning to myself even pages after the episode that made me laugh. Through Paul I realized that there is so much that we constantly take for granted in daily life: his mere ability to sit down and observe the most mundane and futile of observations bears contrast to the big picture of his disenchantment and loss of purpose in life. Perhaps that is exactly what Ferris sets out to do, and which is why I cannot but sing the glory of his writing; the possibilities for further introspection through simply reading this book makes my mind do happy cartwheels.

This is a book I can read again and again, I will pick it up and find another passage that will make me pause, stare out the window and think and ruminate and say 'Yes! Eureka! Thank you!', (I cannot emphasize here how many times this man (Ferris via Paul) has made me sigh or sing hallelujah at the uncanny points he elaborates upon which I too have pondered, for example this phenomenon of society's dependency on technology) and then months again I can look at the same passage and compare it and see something new from a different perspective. There are sheer levels and a plethora of microthoughts garnishing the entire story -- love, faith, (dis)contentment, loneliness, identity.. --, and that is why, for me, this book most definitely is a Supercalifraglisticsexyalidocious read.

I am totally putting Ferris down as an author I need to read, and will be reading his previous and future novels! I encourage and recommend To Rise Again At A Decent Hour  to anyone and everyone. The book comes out in May 2014.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Coca-Cola Christmas Edition

I wonder if, one day, in a future world we cannot even yet imagine, an educated intellectual bunch, maybe future scientists of this world or even another world, will uncover our communications and deduce that we more or less worshipped a special man who bestowed upon those who were good that which was dearly wanted, and to those whosoever were bad, lumps of coal, and from inferring this produce copious amounts of studious compilations in enlightening the people of their world and time and perhaps declaring the belief in Santa Clause as a religion.

I wonder.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Professed Love

'NO!' Wanda seethed, 'No no no no no! Why won't they stop?'

She pushed her phone away from her in frustration, and glared stonily ahead. The professor at the front of the class at that moment turned, and his eyes met Wanda's stony glare and he stopped, startled.

Wanda dropped her eyes shamefacedly and picked up her pen, making some haphazard scribbles. Great, just great, even the professor is staring at me, just what I need. 

With the class resumed and the attention of the professor restored on his power point presentation, Wanda reached out and slid her phone back toward her. She sighed gustily, and scrolled back to the conversation she had silently screamed at.

Great, now IQ was tweeting about mini-professor-babies that Wanda would have with the Professor. Yuck! Ew! Ugh! Her professor - professors, all of them were old, married men! What was wrong with IQ and Ajay, they just would not stop with this whole teasing thing. How did this even start? It was beyond frustrating! It wasn't even funny.

Wanda was having a sad-smiley-face moment. She just wished she had a bubble above her with a huge ":(" so everyone could see that she was not amused. Especially IQ.

Class having ended, Wanda was now in the library. She knew if she tweeted about how the professor had stopped in mid-sentence meeting Wanda's eyes, IQ would have a huge field day about it, and would never stop teasing her about it, and Ajay would just join right in and keep the whole teasing malarkey going. Sad face moment. Sad face moment, most definitely.

Pulling up her secret-blog, Wanda sat down with a furrowed brow and started tapping away.

Dear secret blog,

I don't know what is happening! Somehow IQ started this story about a love story between me and my professor! That's just disgusting! And what is worse, she just won't stop.  I don't know how to deal with this because it's IQ!!! I mean, IQ (grr her name is already in caps I can't even yell (capslocks) to emphasize her name grr grr.)

This really bugs me because it's like she is human! HOW CAN THAT BE POSSIBLE? She is supposed to be PERFECT! How can I be like her if she's being..... annoying? And that is just the whole problem, IQ IS ANNOYING. I never thought I could admit it, but I did. And I feel like I committed blasphemy because I said it. Yes, I realize this is my 'secret-blog' so she won't see it, or well, noone will see it (I HOPE), but still. I see it, and now I will be HAUNTED by remembering I said it. Now it is undoable. OH NO WHAT DID I DO!!

P.S. If anyone hacks this blog and reads this please do me a favour and ignore this post, and whatever you do not copy or distribute it, thank you.

Wanda hit Publish, and sat back, letting out a huge sigh. She looked up and spotted someone looking at her. What the heck is everyone's problem today? Is there something wrong with my face? 

She picked up her phone and went to Twitter: 'Weird guy staring at me in library o.O Wonder what is wrong with my face.'

Almost immediately she received a reply. IQ: Ooh Professor staring at you in the library! *wink wink*
And just as quickly another. Ajay: Haha lol. I agree! 

Wanda slapped her forehead. She stabbed Reply and typed 'Ajay you always agree with everything IQ says! Don't you have a brain of your ow'  No no no, she hit backspace backspace backspace backspace until she deleted it all. That was mean. And uncalled for. Okay, maybe not uncalled for, but definitely mean. 

'The guy,' She typed instead, 'happens to be a kid! So, kindly stop with the Professor thing, I do not appreciate it.'

She rolled her eyes and then caught the same guy, tables away, still looking at her, somewhat bemusedly. Um, okay then. Weirdo.  

To be 

Friday, February 14, 2014

In Celebration of Love

Every morning when I get off the bus at the final terminal station, I take a 'shortcut' through the huge neighbouring mall to get to my office building.

This is the time when most of us are still bleary-eyed and cold, half asleep and ready to crash back into our seats at our desks with our first cup of coffee. At least, that's usually me. But, every morning as I take that 10 minute walk through the mall to get to the egress closest to my office building, I traverse by the food court, where a phalanx of elderly folks have already spent most of their mornings taking their daily exercise around the mall a few times, then settling down for their cups of coffee, tea, bagels and biscuits from the Tim Horton's which opens early to cater to them.

I admire them. They still have the will to get up that early in the frigid cold and make their ways to still exercise. They have the willpower yet still to remain healthy, and if you take a moment to look at them, they've still got that lovely sparkle in their eyes telling you that life is still worth it.

As I approach the final 30 seconds toward the exiting doors, every morning as I turn the corner I come upon two very frail elderly persons. Arm in arm supporting one another, white-haired, support-shoed, dentured, hunched over, they are there almost every morning. Some mornings I see them smiling politely with another elderly person, or involved in early morning chit-chat, some mornings she's holding him carefully as he's breathing through nose-nubs, or leaning on a walker, but they are always, always together.

This morning as I came upon the food court area, there is a bench that's just outside the seating plan of the eating area, and upon this bench was this elderly white haired couple. Arm in arm, hand in hand, they sat, and they couldn't have noticed anyone else, for they - as old as they may be - were lost in their own world, giggling to one another, sharing moments of mirth, in their own conversation, sparkling eyes fixed upon one another, in love.

In celebrating love, I wish you all a Happy Valentine's Day: may the love at its foundation resonate through all your other days of the year.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014


If there is anything that has always been a constant for me, it has always been reading. Even before writing, which is sort of obvious when you think of it, since of course we learn to read before we write.

Reading has always been a thoroughly personal experience for me. Other than simply a relaxing pastime, which definitely it is, the process of reading (fiction, specifically) has always meant so much more. Perhaps, because I've always sought ways of evading reality (having had a not very pleasant childhood), and being an innate escapist, it's only natural that reading became my portal.

In one aspect, we could view reading as the way one simply forgets reality and escapes to other worlds to live vicariously through the characters. Interestingly however, I've realized that somewhere along the way, a different aspect of reading developed. Rather than superimposing upon my reality the more appealing fictional world, somehow my process of reading became such that reading only emphasized, highlighted and enhanced my reality.

Maybe that's simply the process of growing up. When you're young you are expected, and encouraged, to use the imagination to develop new worlds and make-believe stories. Then somehow while growing up, you aren't. 'Grow up, already': get your head out of the clouds, stop daydreaming, get your feet on the ground, face reality. That's growing up. And it makes sense, because the process of growing up entails assuming more responsibility, and to do so you can't be always in the twilight zone of imagination.

Growing, 'becoming an adult' means that you have to come to terms with reality, with your life. You need to face it head on, and not engender futile daydreams that would detract from your execution of what actually needs done. I'm hardly lecturing here, if that's the tone it seems; these are lessons I especially have had to learn, and am constantly being reminded when I tend to go emo and trail away in my own Lalaland.

What I have discovered is that what I enjoy most about reading now is that ability for an author to be able to speak to me, heart to heart. The ability to relate is what ranks highest (or at least up there with some other variables) for me in reading. One line a character utters could make the entire book for me. Hence, the process of reading is entirely too personal for me.

Which brings me to the point of reviewing books. I find myself hard-pressed to be able to write book reviews for amazing books because it is difficult for me to extract myself out of what had just happened while reading. To accurately review a book would mean that I need to extricate the many tangles and knots of the story out of myself, or else only attempt to describe to others who could not possibly understand my entire life. Rather, my whole being - because for some reason referring to 'life' seems lacking in what I am trying to explain,  life seems to just mean the series of events occurring to make it up, almost distinct from me, or me-ness. I mean me, as a product of my life in conjunction with my cognitive and emotional self.  And to simply write a review without this is difficult, if not entirely impossible.

Sometimes I want others to experience what I had in reading a certain book, so I recommend it. But this is also a bit tentative and shy on my side since I can't expect that another person with their own 'me' would be able to appreciate what I did in the same way. It also occurs to me that this process of sharing something one truly likes and appreciates is another medium for us to understand or learn more about one another. We could open to the thought of what and why exactly did this person like it, and rather than just the literal context of the plot, what is it that makes a person receptive to a certain theme or concept or mood. I guess that is how we sort of gauge where another person is on a mental frequency. You send out vibrations and they hit that person and bounce back and you absorb the return frequency to learn that person's aura. (If that went over your head, think of a bat and their sonar echolocation. No kids, I said bat, not Batman. Focus.)

This morning I get an update from Goodreads that another person had finished reading a book and rated it 5 stars. Why am I telling you this? Because I recommended said book to that person and THEY RATED IT 5 STARS. I mean, that's awesome - they liked a book I LOVE.

This book is coming out as a movie. At first I  had huge, and I mean HUGE, misgivings about this news. Cmon, by now we all know 1. how absolutely screwed up books made into movies are, and also 2. how much I detest this happening. But apparently the trailer has been released and everyone is absolutely raving about how amazing the trailer is and how this movie will be absolutely great. And this is a "hey, wait" moment for me because it's not just anyone raving about the movie, it's like-minded book readers who really love the book just as I do, so it could be said that their comments have more credibility. At least, to me. I  have yet to see this trailer.

In case you were wondering, the book in particular is The Fault in Our Stars, written by John Green. It's a YA book, and yet there are so many wonderful things about it.  It isn't a long read at all, and I would love for everyone to read this before they watch the movie.

(Quote from The Fault in Our Stars)