Living Life, Free Style

August 29, 2008

Is the key to your future in your past?

On my mission to blog the three books that Lisa M. gave to me, I completed Free Style tonight.  Linda Neives-Powell creates a heroine, Idalis, who most struggling and newly-single/divorced moms can relate to.  Like Idalis, I am now in my 30’s and, in my youth, hit the dance club scenes with my girlfriends and danced with all the hottest guys.  Oh, the fantasies that accompanied those nights and those men!  It was a time of reckless abandon and freedom that I did not fully realize as such at the time, but rarely miss now.  

The story depicts the maturing life of Idalis, a latina from New York, and includes the parallel voyage of her best friend, Selenis.  The story touches on many aspects of a failed marriage, one that was set out with the hopes and ideals of all young couples… love is all it takes to make a marriage work.  Not so.  As Idalis and her husband, Manny, decipher whether or not they want to reconcile, date others, or divorce, you see them both experiencing all phases of separation, but never at the same time and to the same extents.  For me, it felt as if they were both tethered to one another via their son and those vows of the life that they thought was to sustain them through it all.  Not the case. 

In her separation from Manny, Idalis is able to achieve the ability to relinquish some of her control issues and give herself permission to live a life based on her truth.  In my opinion, she sheds her continuance of living her life out of obligation and reaches towards living the life that maybe, just is… and that life may be happier than one of any other kind.  At times, I pull for Idalis to speak her mind and break the walls built by insecurity for the sake of her safety at a faster pace than she did.  But, in the end, Idalis gets there and reminds me that ability is in each one of us.

I enjoyed Selenis’ journey to back to happiness within her marriage.  It was nice to relate to their “best-friend” (aka – “I know you!”) banter.  I believe Idalis and Selenis both learned that going back to unrealized fantasies were not to result in a renewed sense of true inner-happiness; rather, more like a “quick fix” or a band-aid.  When Idalis and Selenis went back to their old stomping ground, Club 90, and released their inhibitions, they each discovered something new about themselves or their marriages.  I believe that Idalis was reminded that the “what if”s” should remain in the past and that she needed to stop lingering in or holding onto those old fantasies.  Selenis, on the other hand, lost herself in those feelings in the past and didn’t restrain herself from cheating on her husband as a way to retaliate against him.  Now, I did have difficulty finding that their old stomping grounds and old loves would be so easily accessed, and felt that component of the story a bit too unbelievable.  In actuality, most of us don’t run into that past love and have the opportunity to be faced with either the realization that it was a fantasy type of love or was something real that needs to be explored. I believe that both women procrastinated in facing the complications in their marriages, hence diligently holding back only their internal growth.  Watching them overcome that was a positive component of the story.

I enjoyed the character of Idalis’ mother, especially with her very true-to-life comment: “You are going to get divorced after all that money you spent on the wedding and esa comida?  Now you have to stay married because that would be too much money to throw away.”  It sounds like something I would hear my own mother say. 

In thinking about it, I suppose that you can choose a life of unparalleled freedom in which you elect not to marry and make babies; in such case you would be free to live your life “free style” a bit easier than the rest of us.  There are trade-offs and sacrifices that mothers (and fathers) have to make every day to ensure the stability of their children.  Personally, I kept thinking at the end of the story that Idalis’ career choice was not the responsible one… how could anyone live off of $30K per year?  I think the offered corporate job would have given Idalis the opportunity to send Junito to college and get him the counseling that it sounded like he needed.

I found this story to be overall enjoyable, but a very light read.  It was a story that I could relate to, but kept picturing it as another Jennifer Lopez movie.  I would have enjoyed Nieves-Powell incorporating more of the latin culture into the story… going a bit more in depth to what in their culture had these women in such a place of powerlessness.  The tale was, for me, predictable, but that also gave it an ease in reading for me… I knew that Idalis would get there somehow.  I was disappointed that more time was not spent in delving into Selenis’ cancer, because that would have given this story more “meat.”   I also think that bring Manny’s perspective on the divorce and relationship would have enriched the story (and, for that matter, Ralphie’s too).  The “Thelma and Louise” references I could have definitely done without and I disagree with Jennifer Coburn’s cover on the front cover.

On Sheri’s “Out of Ten” rating system, I would give this one a six.  It’s an easy, beach or vacation read (for women)… and if something light and fun.

Buy Book at Amazon.Com: Free Style


Love In The Time of Cholera

August 27, 2008

Love beyond time, beyond reason…

Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ Nobel Prize Awarded Novel, made into a motion picture

This story, penned with precise beauty, was one that took me by suprise inasmuch that I commenced my journey into this book with hesitance.  Perhaps, it was the time in which I started the read or it could have been the unlikely event that my mind wasn’t prepared to focus on the painted pictures and quiet tamber in which the story unveiled itself to me.  In truth, I put this book down, read 5 others, and then felt an internal determination to pick it back up and complete my goal of reading this story.

So much had been told to me, via the media and Oprah’s Book Club opinions, that I felt it more of a necessity to be able to say that I have read this book than just the pure passion and excitement that I had discovered a book that I couldn’t wait to crack open.  When I picked up the novel for the second time, in almost a sense of obligation, I read it with a new set of eyes.

Although I had already read 20% of the novel, I began my second reading on Page 1.  The book begins with the near ending of the tale  and, as I discover the death of Fermina’s husband, I also find the beginning of a love story that I want to unravel and understand at a faster fervor than I first conceptualized, internally.  This is a love story as much as it is a story of anguish, despair, and the revelation of living in the dark depths of the human soul. 

My heart was always on the side of Fermina’s first psuedo-love, Florentino.  The manner in which he dealt with his unrequited love, his devastating heartbreak and despair, I could completely relate with in a state of full compassion.  Admittedly, I believe that at one time or another most of us have suffered the consequences of loving another more than the receipt of the returned love.  Florentino finds solace in numerous affairs, however never opens his soul nor heart to these women, many of which, came to feel deep love and compassion for him.  Which brought me to empathsize with that part of love when you fall for a lover whose love is unrequited…. and, yet… the hope remains alive in some form or fashion within your heart and mind.

The novel takes you back and forth between the lives of these separated lives to bring the reader the complete understanding of the origin of the decisions made by each one of them.  Being a woman, I had hoped that I would find more compassion and understanding in Fermina’s viewpoint, but kept finding disdain for her inability to demolish the walls around her heart and evolve from her continual attempts to remain in solice.  I pitied her for finding the beauty in her long-term marriage to Dr. Urbino only after his death.  I related to her desire to burn and eradicate all memories of this marriage, not commenced of love, but of duty and reason…. only to find that the love that was there was as real as the love she held for Florentino, despite her own internal acceptance and recognition of such.

The path that they each took in finding a way back to each other took longer than my impatient mind would tolerate.  Seeing Florentino substituting sex for love and Fermina’s stubborness continue for such an extended period only added to my compulsion to finding them back to one another at a faster pace than Marquez would deliver it to me.  So much so, that by the time that the world had broken Fermina to the point where she was ready to take those chances with her life and with her heart, I was reading with such a fast pace and fervor to reach the ending in hopes that they’d find that “perfect ending” in each other.

The ending of this book is as romantic as it is sad, for me.  I’ve heard of the movie and would like to see how others interpreted this literary piece of work… maybe my eagerness pushed me too quickly through the prose (hopefully, not).  This book surprised me and my expectations.  At times, this book aroused my senses and kept me clinging for more despite my tired eyes.  At other times, the smaller details which so richly described the setting, rather than painting a picture and finding my gratitude on the other side, felt like a weight on the story in which I so desperately needed to know the ending to.  I am a die-hard believer in not reading the ending first… so that explains my pace and fervor.

In recommending this book… yes, I would…. but, it should be said that it is for those who believe what Marquez states so eloquently at the tail end of the story:

“It had to be a mad dream, one that would give her the courage she would need to discard the prejudices of a class that had not always been hers but had become hers more than anyone’s.  It had to teach her to think of love as a state of grace: not the means to anything but the alpha and omega, an end in itself.” 

These words summarized so much that I believe to be true about love and life.

(And, on the “Out of Ten” scale, I’d give it a 9.75!)

Not a novel, but a novelty….

August 16, 2008

I have to indulge myself, just for a moment…

Although this has absolutely nothing to do with my reading habit and subsequent blogs, I had a “mom” moment yesterday that I just had to share.

Yesterday, my daughters and I were in the park with our doggies.  It was a lovely day and as the kids played in the playground, I laid under a big tree in the grass… holding the dogs’ leashes as they rested with me.  As I lay there, I saw a fly amounst the grass blades.  It was very large and I wondered if it was dead; “probably so,” I thought.  Moments later, my daughter Cole walked up to me and I asked her what she thought of the insect.  For those of us who know Colie well, you know that, at times, she has such a dry, witty, and intellegent sense of humor at the oddest times.  Simply, Cole told me that the fly was dead and I agreed. 

Cole sat down beside me and began to pet Claire, our basset hound.  She said to me, “Mom, did you know that the fly only has a lifespan of 3 days?”  I lifted my head and said, “really?”  From across the sandbox, her rather bossy and “know-it-all” twin shouted, “NOOO!  It lives for 10 days!”  From there, as my family and friends can attest and have witnessed on multiple occasions, the banter began: “3”, “No, 10”, “It’s 3, really!”, “Cole, it is not 3 days, for sure it’s 10!”, and so on and so forth.  After 5 minutes of the constant bickering, I tell them, as usual, to “knock it off!”  Cole settles back down into the grass. 



“What do you think the fly does in the 3 days that it is alive?”

“I don’t know, Cole.”

“I bet that on Day One, she learns how to fly, yada, yada, yada.  Then, the next day, she falls in love with her mate and gets married.  On her last day, she has babies and then she dies,” explained Cole.

(In the background, Bossy Boots in yelling, “No, Cole, that’s not what happens” and starts her rendition of the fly’s life of which I chose to ignore. 

“So, Cole…. that’s it, she learns to fly, get’s hooked up, gives birth and then dies?” I chuckled.

“Yeah, that’s what I bet she does.”

“Cole, the poor girl… all that just to croak?”

Colie starts laughing as do I. 

So, if you had three days to live, what would you do in those three days?  That’s a hard question for me to answer.  But, I guess she’s right, in a wierd way.  I would learn to walk, think and soar.  Then, I would fall in love and most likely have babies.  Perhaps she was right, afterall!  But, the “yada, yada, yada” was freakin’ classic! 

So, I went out with my girlfriend Danielle last night for drinks.  I tell her Colie’s story.  She tells me, well, Nicole may actually be right… you better do your research on it first because they do live an abnormally short life.  For those who are curious on whether Cole or Bossy Boots was right:

The House Fly – Life Cycle

These are the four distinct stages in an average house fly’s life:

  • Egg: Depending on the size of a female house fly, she can lay up to 500 eggs in a three to four day period. Eggs are white in color and are usually less than half and inch in size.
  • Larvae: Larvae are commonly referred to as maggots. Maggots emerge from the eggs within eight to 20 hours of being laid. Larvae begin eating whatever they can find in the area they were laid. They prefer warm, moist environments to grow in.
  • Pupa: After about four to 10 days, a maggot will move to higher, drier ground to move into the pupa stage of its life. This process take about three to six days and is where the maggot encases inself in a reddish-brown skin where the final stages of development take place.
  • Adult: Once the adult house fly hatches from the pupal stage, it has an approximate life span of 15 to 30 days. Females are able to start producing eggs after two days of life and will continue to lay eggs for about a month. Female house flys are usually larger than the males

    The House Fly – A Day in the Life

    You will find house flies pretty much everywhere there are humans or animals. Flies love things like garbage, manure and anything else that left out in a warm environment (like the chicken you left thawing on your counter all day). House flies don’t feed off of human flesh – they get their nutrients from spitting saliva on their food, which liquifies it so they can suck it up with their sponge-like mouths

     The House Fly – Did U Know?

  • House flies can travel up to six miles in 24 hours, but they usually prefer to stay close by their breeding ground.
  • The easiest way to keep flies out of your home is to keep things clean. Don’t leave food lying around, make sure you take out the garbage on a regular basis and wipe up messes right away.
  • Fly investations are often found on farms because it is hard to keep them from breeding in the readily available manure.
  • House flies like to perch on things like wire or string.
  • The newest show on Disney, The Buzz on Maggie, follows the life of a family of flies that live in the fictional town of Stickyfeet.
  • Got me to thinking, what about the rest of the planet?


    Elephant 69
    Horse 50
    Hippopotamus 49
    Chimpanzee  40
    Grizzly Bear  32
    Bison 30
    Lion 30
    Tiger 25
    Elk 22
    Mountain Lion 20
    Beaver 19
    Wolf 16
    Squirrel 16
    Chipmunk 12
    Cottontail 10
    House Mouse 4
    Turkey Buzzard  118
    Swan 102
    Parrot  80
    Great Horned Owl 68
    Eagle 55
    English Sparrow 23
    Canary 22
    Humming Bird 8
    Catfish 60
    Eel 55
    Carp 47
    Mosquitofish 2
    Giant Tortoise 152
    Box Turtle 123
    Alligator 68
    Snapping Turtle 57
    Cobra 28
    Cottonmouth 21
    Giant Salamander 55
    Toad 36
    Bullfrog  30
    Mud Puppy 23
    Green Frog 10
    Newt  7
    Cicada 17
    Ant (queen) 15


    Good grief… what a Giant Tortoise must see in her lifetime….. enough for several husbands and many grandkids!  Can’t wait to hear what Colie thinks of how she’ll spend her life!  Come to think of it, those turtles live a long time!  I wonder if there is something to be said about living life in a slower pace.  Just look at the hummingbird… burns out after only 8 years.

    Anyway, kids do say the darndest things!

    The Safety of Secrets

    August 13, 2008

    Delaune Michel’s The Safety of Secrets invokes memories of my own…

    Lisa M., who started me off on my first blogging venture about my passion for reading and books, lent me this novel to read, enjoy and perhaps even blog.  As this book was lent to me rather than me shopping it out, based on my taste, it was a bit fun to crack open the cover; almost like when a teacher gives you an assignment, but much more fun! 

    Ms. Michel’s novel is set in the landscape of Hollywood/Los Angeles with its primary character and her best friend from childhood both living their dream as actresses.  From what I understand, Ms. Michel was herself an actress and wrote another work on her relationship with Warren Beatty (The Aftermath of Dreaming).  I believe her accurate description of something she knew well and personally experienced, added to my excitement in continuing the story.  The story is rich with different characters, some of which I have a great mental picture of as Michel did an excellent job in character development and description. 

    What I struggled with, personally, in reading this novel, was the “back and forth” between the past and the present.  I would have preferred a more streamlined approach in the transitions.  Also, in some cases, I couldn’t understand why the protagonist felt as extremely as she did about circumstances she was under (i.e. throwing the clothes on the freeway). 

    It was a good read, a relaxing read, and one that I would give a “7 out of 10 stars” on.  It didn’t affect me as deeply and personally as some other great works of fiction have, however it was an enjoyable book.  I was reminded of my life-long friendships and the secrets we share; ones that most likely would never make it to the husband’s ears!

    Unaccustomed Earth

    August 8, 2008

    My first experience with Jhumpa Lahiri was a good one…

    I recently read Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa LahiriEight stories, all with similarities embracing the Indian culture and history, written to weave you into stories about relationships.  In the first story of Part One, “Unaccumstomed Earth” does a wonderful job capturing the reader.  I fell in love with Ruma’s father and the way that his visit impacted her life.  I equally enjoyed “A Choice of Accomodations” and “Only Goodness.”  As I understand that J. Lahiri is a “internationally best-seilling, Pulitzer Prize-Winning author,” I expected an incredible read in this collection of stories.  She does have a beautiful way of painting a picture in the reader’s mind so that you can vividly imagine the setting of the stories.  Her writing also kept me pulling for the enlightenment of the narrator of each particular story.

    It was a good read.  Short stories are a nice change of pace.. like a buffet where you get a bit of multiple choices.  The common thread was the Indian culture’s impact on these American lives.  Guess it’s time to read that Pultizer Prize Winner, The Namesake.

    Novels… no novelty to me… the more the merrier!

    August 7, 2008

    Welcome to my new blog site!  As I am a novice, your empathy of my work-in-progress is most appreciated.  The smart lady who got my “mission” started didn’t warn me about the adequacy of time required to be a blogger.  But, I am determined to give it a shot.

    So, how did I get started in this venture?  Simply, my day was unique! 

    Somedays I wake up with little thought about what my day will be like.  Today, I experienced a day different from most.  I met someone today who I instantly felt comfortable around.  Her energy was so engaging and caring.  As she and I got to talking, I discovered we shared the passion for reading.  She talked to me about blogging my thoughts on the reads and gave me three new books to read for review.  I look forward to writing about many of my favorite works as well as the latest reads. My passions… fiction, well… good fiction, biographies and books relating to world history and spirituality.  This year was my first year in investing into a bookcase; I’ve already outgrown it. 

    I am the keeper of a menagerie of people and pets in my Huntington Beach home.  My life experiences and love for diversity should hopefully give you a wide range of opinions, which I rarely hold back on.  My manner in speach, almost always, is direct and straight-forward.

    Just a part of my menagerie

    Just a part of my menagerie