Sunday, 15 May 2016


Milk and Honey is a collection of poetry and prose written by Rupi Kaur. The book is divided into four parts titled: the hurting, the loving, the breaking, and lastly the hearing. Each section is comprised of fitting poems and writings that take the reader through each experience and allow the reader to reflect and make sense of Kaur's words in their own away. Abuse, neglect, rape, feminism, sexuality, love, loss, enlightenment- these are just some of the few themes Kaur's treads the waters of. Here are a few of my favourites:

when my mother was pregnant 
with her second child when I was four
i pointed at her swollen belly confused at how
my mother had gotten so big in such little time
my father scooped me in his tree trunk arms and
said the closest thing to god on this earth
is a woman's body it's where life comes from
and to have a grown man tell me something 
so powerful at a young age
changed me to see the entire universe
rested at my mother's feet

This is my first time owning and reading an entire book of poetry. I love the minimalism in both her writing and the illustrations. I love being able to reread the poem in different ways to try and decipher the message or tone she is trying to convey. I love the fact that this can be reread again and again and again and again, no matter what point in life you are at. I love that she takes very difficult and draining issues in very real and direct ways, yet condenses such powerful words into a few lines. I know I stretched the time out to read this collection but it is because I wanted to savour every poem. This book will be one I will keep returning to on my shelf.

Monday, 9 May 2016


I'm a big anime nerd, I admit it. I would call myself an otaku but after discovering the negative connotation behind this label in  Wrong About Japan (see below), I'll venture away from that particular term.
There isn't much to say about these two movies, other than the fact that they function as  means of delaying myself from watching Naruto subbed on Crunchy Roll. I've been feeling particularly lazy to actually keep my full attention on every episode, especially since I'll be watching it in Japanese. Plus, I'm about 400+ episodes into the series as a whole and I've grown accustomed to the English voice actors.
Both movies are extremely corny and quite "extra." It's like watching 3-4 filler episodes in a row and then calling it a "film." My brother hated both but I remain indifferent. You got your wholesome, goofy, and sacrificial hero trope, what more can you ask for?


Wrong About Japan is a biography revolving around the adventures of Peter Carey and his teenage son, Charley, as they travel around Japan both debunking and supporting common assumptions about Japanese culture and animation.
As a writer, Peter Carey becomes intrigued about Japanese culture, in particular manga and anime, when his son Charley becomes thoroughly obsessed with Akira, a popular Japanese anime based on motorcycle gangs and a gothic-looking protagonist. Sparked by their love and curiosity, both father and decide to travel to Japan with Peter promising Charley not to show him the "real Japan" (quaint houses, samurais, and artistic performances based on Japanese traditions, hot springs, etc.) although that is exactly what he gets.
Upon arrival, Charley admits to his father that he has been developing a friendship with a teenager in Japan, and in exchange for letting him practice his English, he would show the duo around. His name is Takashi, and he looks completely like he has been taken right out of a Gundam episode. Father is not impressed.
As their adventure continues, Peter visits and interviews the animators of such television shows as Gundam Wing and even meets Miyazaki, producer of some of my favourite films like Spirited Away. He meets them riddled with questions but soon becomes deflated upon hearing the truths behind these world-acclaimed animations. Peter is set in his ways that there is always a deeper meaning behind every anime. For example, he concludes that putting teenage boys in charge of big robotic mobile suits exemplifies autonomy, especially at a stage in one's life that seems controlled and confusing. Mr. Tomino, in fact states that the anime was made in order to sell robots to young children. *whomp whomp (cue disappointment).
Experience after experience, more disappointment is met by Peter. He blatantly offends Takashi after choosing to spend the night analyzing My Neighbour Totoro with a friend instead of visiting Takahi's grandmother's house for dinner. Charley despises anything "authentic" the dad tries to do including bathing with him in a hot spring. And who can blame him? The only little piece of salvation is at the end when the duo gets to meet with Muyazaki. Speaking very little English the two groups find themselves connecting through art, with the producer amusing them and showing them his drawings to make them laugh. In fact, I dare to argue that this is the most enriching experience for the couple because Peter is not obsessed with asking critical questions. He is simply there, enjoying Japan with his son.
I relate a lot to Peter, I really do. Having grown up watching anime and reading some manga books here and there, I always tend to try to delve deeper into the meanings and history behind the stories. Call it the flaw of an English major, but I tend to over indulge myself by finding symbols that may or not be there or explanations for things that are plainly put. And I love it. I think that is one of the many reasons why I love reading so much. It really can be a game of inception. Of course the game can also be being too distracted about trying to uncover these facts that it detracts away from a good story or simply put it is like being Wrong About Japan.
Fun Fact: A geta is a Japanese clog that has a heel indirectly on the end and/or toe of the sandal. Contrary to popular belief, this type of shoe actually makes it easier to walk on mountain terrain and not harder like most people would assume. I guess that explains why samurais wear this type of footwear in all the anime I've watched. Mind blown.


Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki was a book given to me after assisting a friend assemble and organize his bookshelf for his new apartment. I had heard about it in my past, especially when my boyfriend was in the midst of working for Primerica. Known as almost the foundation or "finances for idiots" book, I was intrigued to give this reading a shot. I was in debt (still am), broke (still am), and ready to change my spending habits (working on it). Could I learn something?
Simply, yes. I did learn some very good life lessons, strategies, and definitions of words I vaguely knew. For example the books teaches you the difference between an asset and a liability (although his idea is very controversial), why education is important and yet not as important as we think, and essentially how to make your money work for you versus how to work for money. I mean, the book definitely struck a chord with me. Growing up, I have been witness to 2 immigrant parents who are STILL working hard to this very day. My mom does the 9-5 job, working as a part-time cleaner on her days off, and still seems to struggle to pay the bills. It's true. The more you make, the more you're taxed. And the more you make, the more you need to keep on making to pay for your expenses.
In summary here are some of the many things I learned from Robert Kiyosaki.
  • Pay yourself first. This way you are motivated to learn about how to make money. It also puts the power into your own hands instead of the government's.
  • Know the difference between an asset and a liability (in this case he calls his house a liability).
  • Winners don't play it safe. He basically refers to mutual fund and saving a percent of your paycheque as playing safe. You need to learn to invest.
  • Find something you are passionate about and have money generated from that. The more passion you have, the more interested you are in learning.
  • Winners lose but losers are afraid of losing. It keeps them from even trying.. I guess it's better to fail than to never try at all.
  • Learn from others, especially people who are more educated about a certain area than you are.
I can assure you there are many more things I learned but it is too late in the night to critique them all. So while this book has its cons, it has motivated me to become financially educated. And that I say is the best investment of all.


Deadpool, hands down, my favourite Marvel movie of all time. Quirky, fun, hilarious, brusque, unapologetic, sarcastic, and uncensored: all the ingredients needed for success.
Don't let the red and black spandex covered character fool you. He isn't your average Spider-Man. In fact I wouldn't even classify him as being a superhero. He's just a guy saving his girl, in the most conventional, non-conventional way possible.


The Courtesan by Alexandra Curry centers on the real-life story of Sai Jinhua. The author reimagines her life set in 1881 and writes as to how she thinks her life would have unfolded. With her the death of her father at the age of 7, Jinhua is sold into prostitution by her cruel stepmother. At the working house she meets Suyin, the closet maternal figure she has in her life, who not only teaches her the ways of a lady, but swears to protect and guide her. Soon after her 12th birthday, she is bought as a child-bride by a rich lord who believes she is the reincarnation of his now-deceased concubine. She travels to Vienna where clashes between the West and the East become all too apparent. This is once again a true story of love, lost, and angst.
Curry's writing first enticed me because she reminded me of the writing styles and techniques of Khaled Hosseini, my favourite author (see below). The first few chapters are beautifully written and focus on Jinhua father's death as well as the events proceeding after it. Her father is beheaded because he "speaks the truth" to the emperor and still after completing this book, no one knows what this truth is. Even the executioner knows he is innocent; the birds do too.
What follows after is very tragic. Jinhua, who idolizes her father, has to bear witness to her father's name being slandered, and is soon sold to a cruel master to work as a prostitute. Everyday she paints a faint red line across her neck, mourning the death of her father. The binding of her feet, a very popular Chinese tradition at the time, was probably the hardest thing to read.
After her time in the working house, the story for me personally, begins its decline. As stated, she moves to Vienna and there she is excited by a priest's fortune that she will meet a "great love." The story loses a lot of interest near the end but it did prompt me to do more research on this remarkable woman.
My thoughts on this book mirror how the Chinese see Jinhua. Some praise her as being a hero in the Boxer Rebellion and others not so much. I think this book has its moments and for a while, I couldn't put it down (even to sleep). Revisiting a whole new world and time in a book has been enriching and reading from what could be considered a marginalized voice is now even more enticing.


Gretchen Rubin's Better Than Before was- dare I say- a letdown in comparison to her book The Happiness Project. Mind you, I didn't particularly love that book either. It was forgettable, repetitive, and quite frankly mundane. However, Better Than Before, just leaves me a little baffled. I am someone who likes happy, neat endings. Tied up in a perfectly done bow. And with this, I wasn't really sure if I walked away with a better understanding of why I create habits, and more importantly how should I sustain them (which I think was the point of this book?)
Rubin does offer some helpful classifications of people who form habits. Quite simply put, there are people who: can meet external and internal expectations, meet the expectations of others but cannot make healthy habits for the sake of themselves, those who only set goals for themselves and hate external deadlines, and then there are the rebels- those who do neither, and frankly find the challenge in doing what people expect them not do.
And I think that's the most I got out of this book. To tell you the truth, I don't think I can classify myself into any of these categories. I'm a little bit of both. I do things largely for myself and my sanity, but when really driven I am a person who aims to please. Then again, make me mad, and I will do exactly the opposite of what you want me to do.
What made this book really hard to digest is there are just so many factors, so many probabilities, and options. I don't think anyone can be summarized into one type of person but even so, there were no real helpful strategies I can remember from the book (and I only just returned it today).
What I do remember, however, is this: Rubin wants to be more mindful and so sets the alarm clock to do meditation in the morning. She keeps up this routine and it seems like she is forming a habit. But then the end of the book she questions herself as to whether she really enjoys doing this habit (even if it a healthy one...which she constantly encourages). And then gives it up? I'm not sure. I honestly cannot remember.
She also suggests other things. Including going on a low-carb diet and how working out does not result in losing weight. She also uses a plethora of references, quoting psychiatrists, philosophers, and I wouldn't even be surprised if she included something from the cat. I started to wonder whether there was any cohesiveness in the book or if she just weaved a whole bunch of people's theories together.
I know I learned a few things but I just do not remember. What it did make me realize is that it is easier to pick up a bad habit (watching 5 hours of Netflix) versus developing a healthy one (going to the gym). One requires little attention and effort, while the other is less convenient. And it's about making that habit part of your daily routine that will enable you to practice this habit over and over again. It is about NOT making a decision. (We don't decided whether to brush our teeth or not...we just DO).
How one actually does that...well that's another topic. One clarified, perhaps, in a different book.


Nobody is perfect and since no one ever reads this blog, HECK, I can compile all the books and films I read/watched into one month who no feeling of guilt whatsoever! So here it goes. The books I have read thus far and films I have watched (minus my subpar reviews).
  1. My Mother's Secret: interwoven stories comprised of the hidden life of a Jewish family and a German solider all housed under a Polish woman by the name of Franciszka and her daughter, Helena. The book is fictional but the protagonists are surely not. Together they saved 15 Jews in Poland during Hitler's reign. Lovely short read.
  2. Zootopia: So much could be said about this film and it's underlying themes, but I do not have time to do it justice. Besides being a well-animated, engaging, and often times funny film, it is a great film to watch no matter how old you are.
  3. Allegiant: With the Divergent enthusiasm sizzling out, it was either this or Batman vs. Superman. Considering I already read the whole series, I figured it would be best to see how the whole franchise ends. The movie is nothing but a film, not short of the super high-tech, futuristic gadgets you'd expect to see. Not bad, not bad.


Today came with a sudden boom, a tidal wave, more like a...what's the term? Out of left field? (I had to google that one)
They say that when one door opens, another one opens. I hope this is true in my situation. It's crazy that after 3 years of devoting myself to a field in which I thought I would never be in could just suddenly came to a halt. "That's life" is a line that seems to be circulating amongst many tongues.
From the space bursting with hustle and bustle, coffee grinding, happy customers and loud indie music, juggling x20 different deadlines and goals, being so pumped to finally have interns supporting me, being genuinely happy going to work...not for the pay or the hours, but solely because of the people I loved being surrounded by and knowing that I was working towards achieving something good. I finally found my perfect mix of combining my passion of supporting youth in education and being an organizational freak (in the best possible way). No pressure, no set hours; to tell you I never once watched the clock or complained about never having a designated lunch break. I was having fun. Whoa. Work with fun? Who knew?
And now I'm just a little scared; a little scared that I am not going to find that joy again.
I get it when I'm teaching sometimes...when it's not mixed with anxiety and fear. But THIS is what I could see myself doing years into the future. And now I'm worried about what I'm supposed to do. Go back to school to get a diploma for this and gamble with more OSAP debt? More opportunities to be shut down because the lack of funding? Maybe not all places are like this one. What if not all places are as fulfilling as this particular job?
This was the first place where I didn't feel like I HAD to do anything. I did it because I LOVED it. And now, the portal doors have closed. Literally.
I hope as with always, this is a season of change. I hope I can work with this rather than against this. I hope I can find something as rewarding as this. One foot in front another, one step at a time, and all the other metaphors you can think of.
That's life.


When someone asks you, "What do you do for a living?" what is your response? Do you st-st-stutter looking for an appropriate response that lies between a truth and a lie? Something along the lines of, "I'm still doing some soul searching, but I am keeping very busy doing X, Y, and Z." Or perhaps you are one of those fortunate individuals who have "found their calling" for lack of a better description. Eager and booming with pride to tell others how your job changes lives, makes you enjoy waking up in the morning, integrates passion with ingenuity. Or maybe you lie somewhere in the middle; a little unsure about when your next job prospect will immerge, but hopeful, yes very hopeful.
See the problem with this scenario is not the answer you give, but the question itself. "What do you do for a living?" This question seems simple to us, but does not imply that the sender wants to know what your job is. Frankly, they would be better asking, "What do you do from 9am-5pm?" (If you're lucky enough to have full-time hours and in this economy who are we kidding?) The prying individual wants to know what you do and what you do is not always correlated with what you make or what you work as.
When did our career start to define us? Why does a career have to be an all-encompassing title? Why all the pressure? What about all the things people outside their job? The lives they change in their daily interactions, their causes and concerns, their adventures vast and small, who they are as GOOD people? That matters too.
Don't get me wrong. A rewarding career is a goal worth pursuing. In fact, it can act as the catalyst to finding a "living." But the trap, if we should fall into it, is the belief that a career is the only way to lead a meaningful life. The only thing we should take pride in. Reality is, we must learn to find purpose outside our employers, outside the Marxist world. Find what you do; no better, who you are. And yes there is a difference.
Make a list of things you do each day that are individualistic and unique to you. Things that bring you and the ones around you joy. Who said pastimes and hobbies don't make up who you are? When did we start being ashamed to say that bring a painter, reader, a good friend are things we love to do? Because ask anyone and yes, these take energy too. So when the next person asks you, "What do you do for a living?" you can hit them with a bunch of things you do to make life incredible. To make your life incredible.
In which a career defines you, well I don't believe in that.


I feel foolish to admit but in all my years of reading I have never fully devoted myself to reading all the written books of one particular author. My routine usually consisted of finishing a given book and then jumping onto Goodreads to find out what was the latest buzz on what everyone else was reading. That is, until I picked up my first book from Khaled Hosseini.
I stumbled upon his first and most famous book "The Kite Runner" at my job. We were having a massive book exchange and his novel just happened to be on the top of the overflowing bin with countless others. My boss encouraged me to take whatever I liked and having heard that title somewhere before, I decided it might be worth a shot to read it. Of course, without my fellow expertise from Goodreads urging me to start the narrative, the book lay dormant on my shelf for a few weeks.
Until boredom struck. And then I was hooked.
Khaled Hosseini is not just an author, he is a storyteller (and yes, there is a difference). Hosseini writes as if he is telling you the story and it brings to light some of the significances of keeping oral storytelling alive. Reading his work is like floating on water, it's gentle and you ride the current with ease, following wherever the plot may take you. Now, that isn't to say that there aren't a few bumps along the journey. In fact, his book "A Thousand Splendid Suns" probably has its fair share of tidal better yet, tsunamis. But it is something in the way he writes, something in which he is able to connect words on a page together, that make his writing so alluring and artistic.
I will not dive into "A Thousand Splendid Suns" into full detail because I know I would not do it justice. All you need to know, is that you must read it. As a short introduction, the book primarily focuses on two characters, Mariam and Laila, who develop an unlikely mother-daughter bond after dealing with abandonment, domestic abuse, and a shift in women's rights during the war in Afghanistan. Their stories are of heartbreak and loss, but even more so, of finding a place in society and in the familial unit. If you are looking for a love story, you won't find one until the middle/end of the book. But it is a love story most needed after witnessing the horrifying events preceding it. And it was beautiful.
And so I will leave my review as that and let Hosseini do the rest. Because it is worth going through the storm to reach the calm shore at the end, or at least a gentle bob in the water. The book is worth the read.

Sunday, 8 May 2016


I was elated when my I unwrapped Marie Kondo's beautiful little hardcover book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing." Partly mystified that my boyfriend had listened to what I wanted for Christmas and had chosen the correct book, I could hardly hold in my excitement to delve into the art (yes art) of tidying and cleaning.

On the surface, the book seems to attract those who need to declutter their house. Perhaps you are the kind of person who holds on to everything, whether it be sentimental or not, although it may have lost its purpose of functionality. Perhaps you want to start the new year with a "fresh start" and so am drawn to the book in hopes that Kondo will help you check that one resolution off your list "Clean the house-CHECK." However, after reading about a quarter way through, the book inspires much more than that. I will touch on that later.


In order to help one move forward into the process of decluttering, Kondo offers a few pieces of advice. In fact, she tends to repeat herself throughout the entire book, reminding the reader of a few key strategies that will keep participants from relapsing. Part of the KonMari Method encourages the reader to:
  1. Sort by category, not by rooms in the house. We tend to keep the same products in different places in the house and therefore can never really gauge how much stuff we actually have.
  2. Clean in the order of: clothing, books, papers, miscellaneous things, and then sentimental keepsakes. Kondo also discusses each category in detail and how to handle almost every item you can think of.
  3. Treat your objects with the respect they deserve. Kondo's writing is playful and funny but in fact at times can be quite enlightening. She advises greeting your house with a "Hunny, I'm home!" type of attitude and even recognizes the burden of the bottom sweater of a pile. She prompts you to think of that poor sweater that has been holding up the weight of its brothers and sisters time and time again. (Note: She emphasizes never piling your items on top of one another but instead arranging them vertically to maximize accessibility and care.)
  4. Understand fancy storage items are deceiving. You are not actually cleaning but rather just "moving things around." Decluttering is the art of being selective and getting rid of unnecessary things, not simply hiding them away like a bad IKEA commercial.
  5. Throw away things that have already filled their purpose. Kondo explains how many participants hold on to souvenirs, letters, and other gifts solely out of guilt. However, the true meaning behind these gifts were to convey to the receiver "I was thinking of you." So once you have read that letter or accepted that gift, the item has already filled its purpose. Throw it out.
  6. And finally, possibly the most important thing Kondo encourages, only hold on to items that spark joy. Kondo explains that the pivotal solution to having a clean and happy home, is by only keeping items that make you happy. So how do you choose items that elicit joy? Search your whole house and take every categorical item, lay them out on the floor, and touch each item one by one. Joy is a physical sensation, she states. It is recognizable on a person's face, energy, and body. If the thing you hold fills you with happiness, keep it. This means no opening books to read the words or saying "I might use this later." In a sense, it is about choosing things that make you happy in the present moment; no persuasion needed. She ever goes so far as to say that if her book does not bring you happiness after reading it, toss it into the garbage.
To wrap things up, Kondo's book was very insightful and I have already recommended it to many of my friends and coworkers. Two of them have already received their orders from Amazon and I undoubtedly foresee a few nights of intensive cleaning. The only advice I have for buyers, is to stick with it. Kondo's method works only if you have the guts, ambition, and desire to be ready to part with a lot of things. And for some people, like my relentless mother, this may not be a book for everyone. However, I can see this book being opened again and used in the near future for my personal use. Yes, this book deserves a place on my bookshelf of joy.



Even though I technically watched this movie in the last few minutes of 2015, I did ring in the new year still reeling and discussing this movie with enthusiasm to my mother. Hence, I'd like to think this movie's charm and wit traveled through time and space, and stayed with me until 2016. And so commences my 25 Books and 25 Film list with "The Lunchbox."

I had scrolled past "The Lunchbox" countless of times on my Netflix account and had even pressed the play button once or twice to see if anything about the film would pique my interest. Of course, nothing did for at least the first 2-3 minutes. The pace was slow and tired and it felt like the director was stretching the opening scene of  the mundane, everyday life. A steam kettle blowing out too much steam, the sound of oil cracking in a pot, you wipe your hands on your apron; on-off, on-off.
But that is exactly what made the movie beautiful.

"The Lunchbox" does not need any superfluous themes, gadgets, or plot thickeners to make the movie interesting. It cleverly captures how a habitual task of making lunch for a neglecting spouse can turn in a heartwarming story of love, loss, and possibly love again (the movie does not provide us with an answer at the end, nor should it).

At time, the pace of the film will be painstakingly slow. But doesn't that hold true to life? Our life course is not a series of quick action shots, cropped and cut to the next scene, but rather events that lengthen, shape, sever and bind us. We do not simply just "get over" the death of a loved one, a betrayal, or our first true love. We feel it, second after second after second.

Overall, the film is full of cheek-hurting smiles, light laughs, and a few heart drops. The picture and cinematography are beautiful, and there are definitely instances of symbolism that can be explored (if you choose to). On the surface, however, it is a movie worth watching or at the very least, adding to your queue on Netflix.


A friend of mine had the ingenious idea of starting a new year's trend to read 25 books and watch 25 films all within the span of 365 days. Actually, the goal was 50 books and 50 films but in my own interest and personal enjoyment I thought it best to set a more attainable target. And so begins the year with book #1.

I actually began reading "Wolf by Wolf" just before the new year began, about the same time I came back from my trip to the Philippines in December. However, I finished it at 1am on January 1st, 2016 and therefore count it as my first book of the new year. I initially read Ryan Graudin's preceding novel "The Walled City" somewhat absently mindedly on my vacation, but quite enjoyed her deviation from the mainstream blonde hair, blue eyed, gender troped protagonists. In fact, "The Walled City", was much inspired by a real settlement in Hong Kong and its characters artistically reflected what life could have been like then and there.

But enough of that book.

"Wolf by Wolf" begins it story in the year 1956, and through a series of flashbacks, follows Yael through her journey to kill Hitler. Yes, you read that right, Hitler. The book again pulls inspiration from some of history's most impacting political figures and eras. Combined with shape shifting, and other elements you would expect to see from X-Men, you end up with an action packed yet sometimes hard-to-swallow novel. I can't deny that I wasn't totally thrown off with Yael's objective to assassinate such a leader, but it did keep my interest throughout the book. I mean, the only outcome plausible was "FAILURE" since I highly doubted Graudin would rewrite history itself. Hitler was eventually defeated, but not by a 17 year old girl, I assure you. But she made it work.
I can't say I didn't shyly maneuver my way around the 13+ reading section, but I can't surely say I will be back to pick up another one of her books. (In my defense "The Walled City" was placed on the front tables of Indigo under a different subtitle. Clever.) But for what it is, for what age group it is meant to target, it was a nice read. However, I didn't get truly invested into the story until the middle, when the plot finally quickened. The subtle romance was also a nice catalyst.
All in all, this was a great read to start my new year. I have a ton of books just piled on my "to-read" shelf that are just waiting to be opened. Who's game?