Forgiveness

Below is an excerpt from The Economist obituary for Maya Angelou, who passed away May 28 this year, at the age of 86. Self found out about Angelou’s passing in London. She and an old school friend, Doris Duterte Stanley, had walked to King’s Cross from Euston Station, where self’s train had just arrived from Wales.  In the lobby of King’s Cross, a gigantic video screen flashed the words: MAYA ANGELOU DIES AT 86.

(Self is so way behind in her reading of The Economist. At what point does she say Enough and quit her subscription? One more year, perhaps . . . )

When she was asked what words brought her comfort, she said, “Love.” And, after love, “Forgiveness.” Forgiveness did not mean you would seat your enemy at your table and feed him cornbread and fried chicken (though cooking food, and sharing it, often made peace). But it meant you could move on. In the words of “On the Pulse of Morning,” which she read in 1993 at Bill Clinton’s inauguration:

Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
To brutishness.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The Five-Year Happiness Project

Found, in the Huntington Gardens Gift Shop, on 9/11

Found, in the Huntington Gardens Gift Shop, on 9/11

Self read Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project last year. It took her ages to finish, because she found herself poring over practically every page.

Last week, at the Huntington Gardens, she found a small blue journal in the gift shop.  It’s a one-sentence journal, with months marked on the top of each page, and five spaces below, each space marked:  20__, 20__, 20___

Self began the journal on Sept. 11, she filled in the date 2014.

It’s now Sept. 15, and she’s managed to fill in NOTHING since then. But she might today, because she’s heading to Frasier Park, where a friend has a house.

There’s a quote on each page of the journal. Today, Sept. 15, the quote is:

One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy. One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Teaching Non-Fiction

Self is in the middle of teaching an on-line class for UCLA Extension right now, “Essential Beginnings in Nonfiction.” The book she is using is Judith Barrington’s Writing the Memoir: From Truth to Art.

From Chapter 3, which self is having the students discuss this week:

Do not make the mistake of thinking it is easier to tell the stories you have lived than to make up fictitious stories about imaginary people.  It is no easier to write your own story well than it is to write anything else well.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Catching Up: Books of The Economist, 15 March 2014

No more apologies!  Self is going to get to the every single back issue of The Economist (Her subscription is good until next year), by hook or by crook!

Here are the books she wants to read, after perusing the Books and Arts section of 15 March 2014:

The Hard Thing About Hard Things:  Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers, by Ben Horowitz:  Self chooses this book to read because part of it is a blow-by-blow of how a business failed.  The author’s advice for prospective entrepreneurs?  “If you are going to eat shit, don’t nibble.”  Mr. Horowitz took his company public, but alas his timing was poor, for the terrorist attacks on 9/11 hit just a short time later.  Mr. Horowitz goes into “wartime” mode.  Read how he does it.

The six-volume, 3,500-page autobiography by Karl Ove Knausgaard, My Struggle (The first three have been translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett):  The Economist calls it “the most exhaustive account of a modern life ever written.” Mr. Kanusgaard turned out this magnum opus by writing 20 pages a day, “baring bits of his soul to a timetable, coping, on the one hand, with the growing fury of his family and, on the other, with the ever-present fear of failure.”  Not until almost at the end of the review is Proust even mentioned, but Proust was in the back of self’s mind from the moment she began reading it.  Like Proust, Knausgaard is obsessed “with the mechanics of memory: he claims that he does not have a good memory until he starts writing.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

Kanlaon Was Nominated for a Liebster Award!

Self learned of the nomination a month ago, but she was in the midst of returning from Ireland and then setting off for southern California and then setting off for the Squaw Valley Writers Conference.

Nevertheless, here she is now, expressing her appreciation!

Self blogs a lot while traveling.  Because she firmly believes that one of the greatest pleasures of travel is being able to share one’s experiences afterwards.  It’s like re-living the moment, only better because you know you’ve survived the whatever.

So, THANKS THANKS MUCH to the blog Unexpected Wanderlust for the nomination.  Self deeply appreciates the honor.

And here are self’s answers to the questions posed by UW:

What is the most foolish thing you’ve ever done while traveling?

Wow.  This entailed so much reflection because self has done many, many foolish things while traveling.  Two years ago, she decided to join her friends on a bike ride around one of Amsterdam’s outlying islands, even though she hadn’t ridden a bike in almost 20 years.  That day almost killed her.  What’s worse, it made her lose her temper.  And we all know that when one is traveling, losing one’s temper is almost the kiss of death.  Because one should never, ever lose one’s temper in a foreign country.  Self’s just saying.

Who is the person you’ve met while traveling that you wish you could see again?

Another hard one.  OK, this:  the two German girls who accompanied self on the bus ride from the Marco Polo airport in Venice, all the way to the vaporetto in the Rialto.  Self bumped into them again outside the Frari church in Ca’ San Toma.  We had dinner.  Self lost the little notebook where she’d written down the girls’ addresses and e-mails.  She’s pretty sure she’ll never hear from them again.  But she thinks of them pretty often.

Where are you planning on traveling next?

Southern California.

If you had to settle down in one place and never leave it again, where would it be?

Oh gosh, why are all of these questions so hard?  San Luis Obispo, California.  Cambridge, United Kingdom.  Now if self could only find a way to support herself while living in these places . . .

How would you describe the perfect travel companion?

No question:  Son.  He was great.  Always.  Even when self was dragging him through the back alleys of Boracay in a pouring rain, and visibility was just a little above zero, and the water was sloshing up to our knees, and strange unmentionable objects were floating in said water.  He did express disgust (occasionally), but he never once lost his temper.

If you could be fluent in a language other than your mother tongue, which would it be?

Cantonese so that self could bargain in the Hong Kong night markets.  Gaelic because she was just in Ireland.  Spanish because she could read all the archives pertaining to Spain’s colonization of the Philippines.

What is your best travel tip?

Always travel light.  Plan on picking up things you’ll need along the way.  And never tote around more than two books at a time.

Have you ever felt more at home in a place that is away from your actual home?  If so, where?

Yes:  Bacolod City, Negros Occidental (Dear Departed Dad’s hometown)

Where have you had the best meal of your life?

  • The home of Irene Lacson and Zia Islam in Glendale, CA:  a Villanueva reunion in December 2012
  • Tender Greens, Spectrum Centre, Irvine, CA.
  • Van’s, Belmont, CA last January, to celebrate The Man’s birthday

What is the one piece of technology that you can’t live without during your travels?

No question:  Self’s MacBook Air

She’ll list her nominations in a separate post.  Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Between 5: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

At Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, there were many, many inspirational and self-help books that addressed such subjects as emotional stress, attaining inner peace, etc.  Self would estimate that almost half the store consisted of books aimed at people who wanted to be in a better place —  emotionally, spiritually, mentally, even financially.

And why not?  A majority of the people in the world are trying to get to a better place.  We are all “between,” we are all transitioning.

Here are a few titles from Vroman’s that caught self’s fancy (She wouldn’t have taken pictures of these books if not for this week’s Photo Challenge, so thank you WordPress Daily Post and the Broken Light Collective, who were responsible for coming up with this week’s photo challenge):

DSCN6211

DSCN6206

DSCN6210

BTW, Vroman’s is a truly great bookstore.

Because not only do they carry books, they carry bling!  Like these house slippers self bought, for $14.99:

"Ballerina Bling" fleece-lined house slippers to prove you're not in Kansas anymore.  $14.99/pair at Vroman's.

“Ballerina Bling” fleece-lined house slippers to prove you’re not in Kansas anymore. $14.99/pair at Vroman’s.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Back to Reading THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

Self is back in Redwood City, California.

Which can only mean two things:

She is back to watching all the episodes she missed of Game of Thrones Season 4 — which she missed because, you know, Ireland.

She is back to perusing The 48 Laws of Power, by brilliant (because-from-Harvard) Professor Robert Greene.

Here, for example, is Law # 14:

Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy

In the realm of power, your goal is a degree of control over future events.  Part of the problem you face, then, is that people won’t tell you all their thoughts, emotions, and plans.  Controlling what they say, they often keep the most critical parts of their character hidden — their weaknesses, ulterior motives, obsessions.  The result is that you cannot predict their moves, and are constantly in the dark.  The trick is to find a way to probe them, to find out their secrets and hidden intentions, without letting them know what you are up to.  (p. 103)

On p. 104, there’s a quote from Arthur Schopenhauer:

If you have reason to suspect that a person is telling you a lie, look as though you believed every word he said.  This will give him courage to go on; he will become more vehement in his assertions, and in the end betray himself.  Again, if you perceive that a person is trying to conceal something from you, but with only partial success, look as though you did not believe him.  The opposition on your part will provoke him into leading out his reserve of truth and bringing the whole force of it to bear upon your incredulity.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

 

Law # 13 of Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power

Why, why, why when self has a ga-zillion things on her mind — like leaving the day after tomorrow for London, and figuring out how to use her new external hard drive, and leaving comments on a friend’s book-length short story collection, not to mention poring over those just-so-good-it-hurts Everlark stories on fanfiction.net (the one she’s most obsessed with right now involves Peeta working the Capitol as a male escort while a clue-less Katniss tends to her two children by Gale back in 12) — why, with all of these things going on, does self still feel the nead to reach up to the shelf above her Mac-Mini and pull down The 48 Laws of Power, by Robert Greene?  What could be the reason, what could be the attraction?

Nevertheless, open the book she does, and lands on Law # 13.

Keys to Power:

In your quest for power, you will constantly find yourself in the position of asking for help from those more powerful than you.  There is an art to asking for help, an art that depends on your ability to understand the person you are dealing with and to not confuse your needs with theirs.

Most people never succeed at this, because they are completely trapped in their own wants and desires.  They start from the assumption that the people they are appealing to have a selfless interest in helping them.  They talk as if their needs mattered to these people — who probably couldn’t care less.  Sometimes they refer to larger issues: a great cause, or grand emotions such as love and gratitude.  They go for the big picture when simple, everyday realities would have much more appeal.

(This sounds almost word for word like something one of her Bacolod cousins told her last year.  What very smart relatives self doth have!)

LAW # 13 OF THE 48 LAWS OF POWER:  SELF-INTEREST IS THE LEVER THAT WILL MOVE PEOPLE.

STOP BEING LIKE THE ATHENIANS, WHO THOUGHT THEIR WONDERFUL IDEALS OF DEMOCRACY WOULD SAVE THE WORLD FROM BARBARISM. INSTEAD, BE LIKE THE SPARTANS, WHO KNEW ONLY BODIES HOTTER THAN THEIR OWN COULD RULE THE UNIVERSE.

What, what, what is self saying.

Time to go to bed.

Stay tuned.

 

The Meaning of “Scarcity”

Last month, when self was visiting son and Jennie in Claremont, she got to sit in on a panel sponsored by Women in Business.  The speakers, all of them, were great.  At the end of the afternoon, every participant was given the choice of one of three free books.

The one self chose was Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, by Brené Brown.

Chapter 1 is on “Scarcity” (Honestly, you’d think self would have gotten farther than that by now.  Note to Self:  quit reading fanfiction!

There are three components to scarcity and how our culture perceives it:

  1. Shame:  Is fear of ridicule and Read the rest of this entry »

Buddha Mind

This afternoon is self’s Vinyasa Flow class.

It is soooo relaxing.

Self has been pondering taking a course on Buddhism.

For, as Japanese sage Hakuin Ekaku (1685 – 1768) once said:

To study Buddhism is to study yourself.  To study yourself is to forget yourself in each moment.  Then everything will come and help you.  Everything will ensure your enlightenment.

–  Nakahara Nantenbo (1839 – 1925)

She did actually ponder learning more about Buddhism, but there are so many things going on in her life at the moment.

Dear Departed Sister-in-Law Ying was a Buddhist, and a gentler soul never lived.  When she died in Tel Aviv, in 2008, self was heartbroken.  Her ashes are in the family crypt in Manila, but some are in a temple in Bangkok, per her instructions.

Ying!  She was so proud of self that she would carry around a copy of self’s books, and when people would ask what she was reading, she would show them.

Now that self is contemplating the Buddhism thing, she also remembers hearing about Shari Epstein, a former classmate at Stanford, who was said to have founded a city on the northern California coast.  A Buddhist, peaceful city.  What was its name?  Drat self and her horrible memory.  The City of 10,000 Buddhas?  Something like that?  In Ukiah?

She recalls, too, a teacher named David Nivison (whose books are all available on Amazon) who taught a class called Zen and Nothingness.  Can you believe actually taking a class like that?  Self recalls the first day:  there we were, Chinese Studies and Asian Languages students, scattered around the small classroom.  The professor enters:  a very very tall and a very very skinny man.  Without preamble, he opens his mouth and begins the lecture.

We students look at each other in dismay.  The teacher’s mouth is moving, but no one can hear anything.  Slowly — and as surreptitiously as possible — a few students begin moving closer to the front of the classroom.  By the end of that quarter, this is how the chairs were arranged:  Prof. Nivison seated at his desk facing the class, and all our chairs circled around his desk, some even touching the desk, and everyone straining their darndest to make sense out of this Zen and Nothingness which — don’t ask self to explain the concept, it’s something like the sound of one hand clapping.  She knows there was a midterm and a final, and she passed both. But she has no idea what she wrote, what she filled her Blue Book with. Her grade, she recalls, was a B.  Which was extremely kind of Prof. Nivison.

Back to the Buddha Mind!

When we are trying to be active and special and to accomplish something, we cannot express ourselves.  Small self will be expressed, but big self will not appear from the emptiness.  From the emptiness only great self appears.

Now synapses are firing like crazy in self’s brain, for she remembers the Abnegation faction in Divergent, which she made yet another attempt to read last night, before giving up and going back to re-reading Mockingjay.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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