19 July 2012

From A to Z

I recently decided I wanted to be called by my middle name of Zoë. It's a name I've always had an identity with but never really "felt" like a Zoë. I was called Tatiana in high school and it worked out well with foreign friends who found it hard to pronounce the very anglophone "Autumn."

I was severely teased for my first name (Autumn) throughout my childhood and still get worn jokes about what season it is and whether it's okay to call me "fall" (it's not) and if I was born in autumn (I wasn't). I've learned to brush them off over the years, but it's still pretty annoying.

The main reason for the change is I'm just not the same person I was even six months ago, much less someone I used to be 3 years ago or more. I've grown into the beginnings of a person I've always wanted to be instead who I thought I should be (as I've said multiple times on this blog). I'm a new person.

Plus Zoë is pronouncable in many languages, which keeps things simple and uniform.

Zoë means life. And at this point in my life, I can finally feel that my life is mine, rather than held captive by tragedy, debt, or my insecurities. 

Please change your address books and phones to Zoë and rhymeswithjoey@gmail.com. Please do your best to call me Zoë.

Thank you :)

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17 July 2012

Re: The signs of a meaningful life

I'm a reader of the Skool of Life blog by Srini Rao and as I was going through my feed today, I saw this post by him.

In this post, he's on the way to a beach for a surf lesson and he sees a bunch of signs, looking much like someone's public bucket list.

I'm not a huge fan of "bucket lists" since I'd rather map out goals and make them happen as my circumstances allow.

Srini wrote: "But when I got  to the beach, I thought to myself “If I did all the things on this guy’s bucket list, I would feel as if I had lived a meaningful life.” An hour later, I overheard a girl in the water talking about the signs and the fact that she had just been proposed to. So I assume the signs had something to do with that.  The signs reminded me of just how much more valuable a life made up of experiences is than one made up of possessions."

I'm not a materalistic person. While I enjoy my possessions, the only things I truly would be devastated if something happened to would be my scooter. Everything else is moderately easily replaceable (though I'd rather not go through the inconvenience of doing so), but that scooter is a rare model and much more difficult to replace than a yoga mat, DVD collection, or iPhone.

How many of us would have items on our bucket list that simply show wealth or money or power? How many would actually be experiences?

If this was the last year of my life, what would I put on those signs?

1. Live in Europe
2. Hug a koala
3. Help an underdeveloped village in Africa
4. Hike to Machu Picchu (Inca Trail) and have a ticket to Huayna Picchu.
5. Backback from China to Singapore
6. Have coffee with as many friends (old or new) as possible.
7. Take yoga lessons in India
8. See all 7 Wonders of the World (Medieval list)
9. Write a novel
10. Leave my mom with enough money to retire comfortably

I've recently started putting my life back together and realized I had a blank canvas. I'm preparing to live the live I've always wanted and be the person I truly am and want to be, rather than the one I thought I should.

Srini said "When you get to the end of the road of this journey called life, all you’ll be left with is the feelings you’ve felt, the memories you’ve formed,  and  the footprints on your  imagination from the experiences you’ve had. As you might remember, nobody leaves this world with a thing in their pockets. So give some serious thought to what you want to be able to take with you when you go."

What is most important to you? What would you do if you found out you had only one year to live and a grant to let you do whatever you wanted?

This is my list. What's yours?

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11 July 2012

The reality behind following your dreams

I'm one of the first to encourage someone to follow your dreams. Whenever someone is discouraged from doing something, we have it in our mind that they just don't believe in us like we believe in ourselves.

Unfortunately hope and faith alone don't always pay off, like we're led to believe all of our lives. Hard work is probably one of the most misunderstood things.

 If you think you're working hard, someone else out there is working even harder -- with worse circumstances than you.

If you want to be a model, but are thickset and don't have the motivation to go to the gym daily and get a healthy body to truly be proud of
-- you don't want it enough.

If you want to fight MMA, but are more focused on partying with friends than training for fighting
-- you don't want it enough.

If you want to feature your photography in an art show, but never take the time to know your photography or develop your skills
-- you don't want it enough.

If you want to learn an instrument, but refuse to practice daily and listen to critiques
-- you don't want it enough.

No matter what "it" is, if you're not willing to sacrifice everything for your dream 
-- you don't want it enough.

If all you do is talk about it, instead of taking action -- you like the idea of it, but don't want it enough to take action.

If you're going to walk away the first time you lose, rejected, or embarrassed -- you don't want it enough.

Life knocks you on your ass and it's your job to get back up and find out how to be better. Find your strengths and play them hard; find your weaknesses and fix or improve them. 
Don't take criticism negatively -- see it as an outside opinion and a dose of reality and build off it. Your friends and family will most likely encourage you outside of your current abilities -- use that as support when you feel unmotivated or discouraged.

If it's truly your dream, your entire focus needs to be on it. Your dream needs to be an obsession and not just thoughts. Actions are what make dreams come true.

I didn't pay off $8,000 in less than two years by whining about how unfair the debt was and never seeking out ways to achieve that goal. 

I didn't learn 2 languages on my own because I let my physical location stop me or lack of money for classes or learning materials.

I'm not going to let anything get in my way of the rest of my goals...are you?

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08 July 2012


I grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico in the Chihuahuan desert, where it easily gets into the 90s and triple digits on the thermostat.

But I had air conditioning to retreat to after being outside, inhaling the air you can taste.

For some reason, our apartment doesn't have air conditioning and it's been consistently 90+ degrees daily.

But while I was dozing on the couch, hating the humidity combined with heat, I understood the books about summer reading under a great big tree and dozing off in an envelope of torrid.

It makes me want to go read Huck Finn in a hammock with a big straw hat.

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02 July 2012

Review: Fifty Shades of Grey

I want to make one thing clear: I don't dislike books easily. I've read more than I can count and I was also a journalism major in college. I enjoy all sorts of genres and writing styles and have only actually hated less than 10 books in my life.

I like to read books on the best seller's list because usually there's a good reason the book has had such success.

Every once in a while a book on the list will make me wonder why it got so much attention, as is the case with Fifty Shades of Grey (and what I read of Fifty Shades Darker.)

In case you haven't heard of this series, here's a bit of background: it initially was written as a fan-fiction of Twilight by E.L. James, who is from the UK. The recipe for this book goes somewhat like erotica added to Twilight, change the names and poof: James has a "book." To be frank, this book pissed me off.

Firstly, I felt like it was written by a teenager. Ana doesn't act like a normal 22 year old college virgin (and yes, they do exist). She acts like a sixteen year old girl, which makes sense, since this was written originally as Bella Swan, who is equally as obsessed with Edward Cullen as Ana is with Christian. If you're a giant fan of Twilight, go ahead and read, since this not only repaves the storyline of Twilight (lion falls for the lamb, he doesn't want to corrupt her innocence but can't stay away, etc) but also takes the honeymoon in Breaking Dawn further, like every Twihard wanted.

If you're still wondering why I hated it, it amazes me that Fifty Shades of Grey made it to publication. James desperately needs a good dictionary, as she used the same phrases time and again. At first, I believed it was character traits and thought it was clever, then after the 50th time Ana "flushed fifty shades of [whatever]" and hearing about "Christian's long bony finger" for the 25th time, I grew increasingly tired of it and was desperate for some new phrasing. I got sick of Jose saying "Dios Mio" every time he spoke (pretty sterotypical character in general), Ana saying "Oh my..." "he's so freaking hot" and fighting with her "inner goddess" and her "subconscious" in a very angel/demon type way. The inner conflict aspect of the story had actual potential, but was inconsistent in their respective desires for Ana as subconscious characters.

One thing that confused me was, without reading her bio, I noticed James is obviously British and has no idea how Americans speak. If it were me, I would've at least made the characters British and living in America, rather than trying to write about Americans with a Briton style of speaking.

The author used the very British words "trousers" and "fetch" while Americans would say "pants" and "go get" in the same context. It's not only unrealistic, but it was confusing for a reader to believe that everyone in the US state of Washington in this book spoke like that (and typical college-aged girls would own teacups). 

And the Adonis semi-god that Christian is? He's 26, has a jet, a helicopter, plays perfect piano, is a wine enthusiast, a billionaire, comes from a perfect family, a philanthropist, and his *one* negative is actually a positive because it causes Ana to "flush" every other page? I'm sorry, I know books are supposed to take us away from reality, but it also has to connect with the reader in some way -- no one, fictional or not -- is that perfect -- even Mr. Darcy. And why, exactly, does our society insist that stalking someone is romantic? I find Christian's abilities to literally stalk Ana more than a lot creepy...

The sex is dull, albeit decent for some who haven't read true erotica before. You'd do better stay away from chick-lit porn altogether, but if you do indulge, at least do yourself a favor and find one that didn't originate as some adolescent desire for Edward Cullen to tie her down and whip her. 

I'm just glad I had it sent to me for free on Kindle. At least all that was wasted on this "book" was time -- and possibly brain cells.

Find me on Good Reads.
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