Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Living Without Clocks

When I was in the seventh grade, I remember absolutely loving my history teacher, Mr. H. He seemed very wise…Not the normal teacher’s level of wisdom, but a level higher that went far beyond book knowledge.
You could see in his eyes. He was a war veteran, and yet completely razor-sharp; seemingly unaffected by the trauma of warfare.

Mr. H was nearing his retirement, and he told the class,
“When I retire, I am going to get rid of all the clocks in my house. All of these years, I’ve been waking up before the sun, arrive early, go to bed early. When I retire, I will get out of bed when I am ready to wake up. I will only go to sleep when I am tired…That’s what I’ll do,” he said, relishing in the idea, as if it was the most heavenly thought in the entire world.

It just struck me tonight that for the past year, I have been metaphorically living without clocks. I may not be rich, but I get to live a life at 24 that Mr. H came home from a war and worked for years before he could wake up when he was ready to wake up. Nap when he wanted to nap. Fish for as long as he wanted. It truly is a precious commodity.

I graduated college, and I needed to take a long, hard look at my life to decide what would make me truly happy. After deciding to leave my job I kept through all of college, I stopped going anywhere I was forced to be. I started a business that worked around my time schedule. On one hand, it’s an experience often filled with guilt for not waking up earlier to accomplish everything I need to do in one day, but even on those unproductive days, I go to bed, wake up, and finish what I started the day before. It's the only time in my life when the work I put into something is directly related to how much money I make.

I am not accountable for anyone but myself, and if I miss my own deadlines, I can’t fire myself, unfortunately. I am stuck with myself, so rather than getting rid of a problem, I am forced to improve. I don’t know how long this kind of life can possibly last. I am constantly empowered, and yet constantly terrified, which pushes me forward. I would love if it lasted forever. I’m sure glad I can experience what Mr. H was talking about while I’m still young.

Don’t get me wrong- I have nothing against waking up early and making the most out of the day’s work. In fact, I love mornings. In the summer, I often wake up at 6 or 7:00 without an alarm clock, because I am rested, and I am excited to just live.

Sometimes I think that human beings aren’t meant to live on a schedule. We are shocked awake by an alarm- the pit in our stomach protesting another day at a job we hate. The secret desire to call in sick, like we did as kids, pretending we had a stomach ache so we could stay home from school.

Someday, when I get married, I will have to wake up, make breakfast for the family, and bring the kids to school. I know this schedule-free life can’t go on forever. However, the motivation to get out of bed would be because I love the reason why I am awake, rather than the threat of being fired. I guess it has a lot to do with what they say- “find a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life.” Personally, I would say, “Find a life you love, and you will never want to crawl back into bed again.”

Friday, April 11, 2014

It's Spring, So I Can Finally Be Happy!

Today was the first day that it actually felt sort of hot outside, and I absolutely loved it. I had my dad in the back seat of my car. I was going inside a building, and I said, “You sure you don’t want to go inside? It’s much cooler in there,” and it immediately dawned on me; Oh my God, it’s actually warm. 

From last summer- My friend Sindy's beautiful front porch
This has been the longest winter of my entire life. We had some of the coldest temperatures and massive amounts of snow fall for the past 5-6 months, and warmth just makes me love life so much more. I honestly wonder if I have Seasonal Affective Disorder, because I become so much more alive in spring and summer.

My hate of winter comes from the combination of lack of sunlight, the inability to go about normal life without struggling (Example: not being able to just jump in your car and get out of the driveway unless you shovel for an hour first.) and the close brushes with hypothermia…The wear on my car, the holidays that make you eat more and get fatter…I could go on and on. 

In spring, I finally wake up. “Oh- THIS is happiness?”

That sounds pretty sad, but it’s true. In the spring and summer, I find myself smiling over little things. I am more motivated. I get outside more often, which in turn makes me into a more fit, healthier person.

Seriously…I need to move to a warmer climate.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Younger by Dr. Harold Lancer book review

When I began reading this book, I was afraid that it was just a glorified marketing scheme for Dr. Lancer. I quickly realized that I was wrong, and he clearly cares about the quality of people’s skin, and how much it can make a difference in someone’s confidence. He talks about how women can avoid undergoing radical plastic surgeries. He also makes suggestions to women even in their 40’s to reverse the aging process. It seems like this book is part of his life-long mission to let women know that as long as they take preventative measures and make healthy lifestyle changes, they would never need to have expensive, risky, invasive surgeries at all. Dr. Lancer explains what happens to our skin during different stages of life, and gives
practical and affordable tips that anyone can follow, regardless of whether you buy his skincare line or not.

The way this book is written is really enjoyable. Even though it was a book about skin care, I was really drawn in and wanted to keep reading. This isn’t just a book about skin and beauty- it’s about the human experience, and how our traumas can actually manifest on our faces. I am 24, and even though I still have nice skin and my family seems to have good genetics, I began worrying about maintaining my skin’s youthfulness in the past year or so.

For my entire life, I was anti-plastic surgery, until around the past year, when I began to feel as though I might actually get some ‘work done’ when I got older. Reading this book has changed all of that for me. I now feel that as long as I follow the suggestions from this book, I can age with grace and still keep my face natural and surgery-free.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, but I can now say that I would have spent money to purchase this book. It's worth it, especially if you're serious about maintaining youthful skin.
If you're interested in buying this book, click here:
Younger: The Breakthrough Anti-Aging Method for Radiant Skin

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Is Bill Gates the new Robin Hood?

I was really happy to watch this video from the 2014 TED conference of Bill Gates and his wife Melinda, who shared their philanthropic experiences. What I love about this is that the Gates family is encouraging all other billionaires and millionaires to give back to the underprivileged in order to balance out the wealth and make the world a better place.

I don't necessarily believe in the idea that millionaires should give their hard-earned money away on a whim...especially without careful research on the causes they choose to donate their money to. I am still a capitalist. I don't believe in receiving things you haven't worked hard for, and I do believe that the innovative business owners deserve to enjoy their wealth in whatever way they want.
However, I believe that the newly rich are forgetting a fact that old money has known for generations, and the Gates family is trying to resurrect; there is a responsibility that comes with having a lot of money. You can see an example of this in Downton Abbey.

Matthew Crawley, a middle class man who unexpectedly became the heir of an English family's fortune, insists he does not need servants. After all, he had lived his entire life taking care of himself…until his future father-in-law, the Earl of Grantham explains that as the noble family, they have a responsibility to the people they employ. Without employing servants, farmers, cooks, etc., many members of their tiny village community would not have a source of income.  It is a mutually beneficial arrangement.

I would think that millionaires and billionaires would have realized this by now, but unfortunately, they seem to still be clutching their wallets with death-grips. There are so many ways you can help the world and actually benefit from your charity.

For example, if I was a billionaire, I would restore a factory in Detroit for the purpose of creating new American industry. It would be both a business investment and a way to get unemployed people off the streets. The once booming industrial city is bankrupt. You can buy houses for $1. It’s filled with poverty, homelessness, and gangs. Giving people jobs in Detroit would also improve our economy, if it was the right product. In a way, it’s a form of charity, but in reality, it would end up making me money in the long run… If only, right? I am just as poor as 99% of the population, but at least Bill Gates has the right idea.

Maybe years from now, if the Gates family continues to help African nations, these countries can be part of the first world. They will be buying computers with Microsoft software just like the rest of the planet, and the Gates estate will be reimbursed by the millions and millions of sales. I’m sure that is not their agenda…The real prize is that he can live out the rest of his days being satisfied knowing he helped cure a disease in an impoverished country, and will probably go on to do much more.

You could watch the video, and all of the other TED talks. It’s pretty great stuff.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Comics and Language by Hannah Miodrag Book Review

For generations, comics in the ‘funny papers’ have been thrown in the trash or used as wrapping paper, and only recently has the academic community begun to respect comics as a medium. Famous titles like Maus and Watchmen brought comics to the literary forefront. We are living in the first generation of people who truly understands that we can analyze comics just as well as any other artistic medium.

Comics and Language by Hanna Miodrag is a text that defends the literary merit of comics. Miodrag gives evidence throughout the ages of examples of comics that she considers equally as literary as a poem or book. She cites famous critics, explains artistic techniques, and story-telling elements of what makes comics real literature.
I have gone through and read some of the reviews of this book, and the biggest complaints I see are that it is “dry.” I’ll say this: I only found it interesting because I, myself, am an extremely academic English nerd. Reading this book reminded me of all of the Film Theory classes I took in college. Everyone loves watching movies, but almost no one loves reading about film analysis. 

Academic articles on films are equally as “dry”. Comics are like films; once seen as cheap entertainment, and now being respected as serious art. Even though the general population of 2014 understands that films are a reputable art form, many of my classmates never even bothered to read the literary analysis of a film that we were assigned to read. Just because it made some people fall asleep doesn’t mean that the analysis wasn’t important.

That being said, this is NOT a book for a comic book fan who is not an academic. Just because you love reading comics doesn’t mean you will love reading about comic book analysis. It’s a case of- “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.” Seriously. I am tutoring my younger brother on the SAT, and after reading this book I made a long list of words I forgot to teach him so far. 

I believe that Comics and Language could be used as a textbook in literature classes. If you are a professor, I recommend that you check this out yourself to see if you would want to use it in your classroom. 

Think about it: How many times have you read a textbook cover-to-cover? How often did you get assigned a textbooks and think: “Damn, I would just love to read that to my future kids as a bed time story.” …None. Never.

I want to thank University of Mississippi Press for a free review copy of this text that normally costs $32.00 for the Kindle version, and $50.00 for the hardcover. If you are an academic interested in purchasing this book, you can click this widget below.

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Girl Who Played with Fire Graphic Novel Adaptation by Denise Mina and Andrea Mutti

I was lucky enough to be approve for an advanced reader’s copy of the graphic novel adaptation of The Girl Who Played with Fire by Denise Mina and Andrea Mutti. I have read the original novel by Stieg Larsson, as well as
seen the Swedish film, so I was already a huge fan of the story before I even opened the book, so you need to forgive me if I am a little bit biased.

Mina and Mutti found a way to make what was a VERY long and wordy novel into something interesting and fast-paced. While they had to cut out some of the plot points and water down events, (How can you not, when the original novel is over 700 pages long!?) They managed to focus on what was truly important to the story. Even though I knew what was going to happen next, I was still captivated by this adaptation.

Mina & Mutti also did a great job portraying what goes on inside of the character’s minds. It was really cool to see the story in a different medium, especially since it has been so long since I read the book. It got me excited to see the US adaptation of the film, whenever that will come out.

This graphic novel is set to release on June 3, 2014. You can pre-order it here on Amazon.