The Alchemist

When I first read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, I was either in late middle or early high school. I found it to be enchanting and transformative. For a long time after that first read I continuously returned to Coelho’s words and his promise that “when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” I loved how his words gave me the freedom to dream and know that no matter what I attempted, I would not fail. I might not be successful, but everything would bring me one step closer to where I needed to be, as long as I didn’t give up on myself.

Upon my most recent read, I had a similar reaction. It reminded me that I should always be striving toward something, and that if I truly wanted it, the universe could bend to help me get there. In the wake of my recent breakup, I was pretty upset. The reason for the split as explained to me was that we were “growing apart.” But I think what he really meant was that I was growing up, and he was falling back into a lifestyle he trusted, one that was familiar to him. Coelho reminded me that my true love would not stand in the way of my Personal Legend. Basically, if he was the one, he’d accept my growth and movement instead of fearing it or wanting to hold me back. I have a renewed desire to find my passion in life, whatever it may be. And I know that once I am pursuing my dreams and my passions, I’ll be able to return to a possible love life. One that will support me in my pursuit and bring balance to my life.

While I admit that parts of The Alchemist need to be taken with a grain of salt, the overall moral of the story was one that resonated with me nearly ten years ago and today. With a message that powerful- how could I not recommend it? It’s a sweet story about a boy, but when you dig a little deeper I think you can find yourself in that boy.

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Poem: Thank You, Walt Whitman

A poem about the sudden inspiration, understanding, and love I discovered as I read Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself.

 

Thank You, Walt Whitman

 

How long have I been lost

wandering

through the jungle of my mind

searching

for answers I didn’t know I

needed.

 

This was not the first classic I’ve

uncovered

in my life yet it was the first to

demonstrate

the definition of myself has been

mistaken.

 

I am interpreted based on my

Appearance.

I am appreciated based on my

Profession.

I am connected based on my

Relations.

But they are not the me

Myself.

Technologically Impaired

I am used to having a mediocre knowledge of technology and how things work. I can get by, communicate, and stay up to date in my field advancements, and usually, that’s enough. But today I was beyond frustrated to the point where I actually cried at my incapability to figure out what the heck is going on. All I wanted to do was upload the pictures on my phone to my computer. I’ve done it a million times and never had any issues. Ever.

So here’s what happened. I plugged my iPhone into my computer using a USB cord. iPhoto pops up, and then has an error message about the phone needing to be unlocked. No problem. Go to the phone, it asks if I want to trust the computer, I say yes, and then nothing happens. WHY!!!! I did it a million times, I turned both off, I updated my iPhone, I checked for updates on my Mac and there were none. I reset the location and security settings on my phone. Nothing made a difference!

So, after spending over an hour messing around with it, looking up solutions, and crying- I still had nothing to show for it. And I couldn’t figure out iCloud either. Ah! I’m so far behind the times and crazy frustrated. Maybe tomorrow I can look at it with fresh eyes. Or next week. Or maybe next month. It seems like I might need a bottle of wine to get me through it!

Anyone else technologically impaired like me? Have you had this problem before? Or are you a tech guru who can help me?! Let me know in the comments!

Kass<3xo

Moving on Up, Moving on Out

Hey guys!

Big news…I think I’m moving out this summer! I’m so nervous and excited and happy and sad all at the same time. I absolutely love living at home..hanging out with my parents, snuggling with my dog, not having to cook dinner or go grocery shopping, and, of course, saving money. There really aren’t too many downsides to living at home, but the long commute is an inconvenience for a multitude of reasons: lessened ability to be more involved after school, less sleep, less energy in the evening, crazy number of miles put on my car (100 a day!!!), less social life… The effects are starting to weigh me down. So while I love being at home, I know this is the next logical step, and if not now- when?

That being said, I’m moving in with one of my best friends, which of course I’m excited about! However, I am nervous that his girlfriend (who is another one of my best friends- and would most definitely be a bridesmaid if I were to get married tomorrow) will end up feeling upset. She moved across the country for an amazing job opportunity, but I know she wishes he could move in with her instead. I completely understand, as I’d like to move in with my boyfriend as well, but the locations of all 4 jobs are not in favor of either of those options at this point. I don’t think it will be an issue, but of course there is a small part of me that feels concerned because our friendship is so important to me.

Regardless of my (many) fears, I am looking forward to this new adventure and progressing on my “adulting” journey! Stay tuned for updates in the future…!

Kass<3xo

Garden

It’s that time of year again! Last week, my family and I worked hard to get the garden planted. I love seeing how far we’ve come since the first little garden I planted. It’s more than tripled in size and variety!! We’ve learned a lot in the past few years, and this year we’re hoping for a harvest that’s better than ever! I’m doing a bit of data collection this year- figuring out which plants grow well in what areas and how to maximize the effectiveness of our planting strategies. It’s something I’m going at alone, but I have the whole family behind me helping with all the unique aspects of growing a garden. We still have a lot more left to plant (herbs and flowers and blueberries, oh my!), but for the base garden, this is what we have going on this year: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, lettuce, arugula, beets, radishes, cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, and acorn squash. Here’s hoping this year will yield a delightful amount of veggies and the weather will be in our favor!!

Review: Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

I have a love/hate relationship with Fight Club, mostly because the parts I hate are the parts that make it an absolute work of genius. I found the main character’s unreliability to be completely frustrating, especially because it is not apparent at first. However, I understand that Palahniuk was attempting to place the reader in the mind of a split personality and recreating the frustration and whirlwind mindset of such a personality. It’s full of absurdity in the Soap Company, only made more ridiculous by the fact that who knows if it’s even happening! Seriously, could it get more annoying than that? Literally it could all be happening, it could half be happening, or it could be in his head. The narrator is so unreliable the reader has no idea what to believe (annoying right?), but even more annoying is that Palahniuk realizes how annoying it is and it’s the exact annoyance he’s trying to create because his narrator has a split personality!

So, there’s my mini rant about Fight Club. There’s so much to unpack in this book, it makes an excellent book club pick, especially if you’re able to watch the movie as well. Additionally, a second read will undoubtedly cause more details to pop out and provide the reader with a deeper understanding of the narrator(s) and Palahniuk’s inconspicuous hints of what may or may not be going on in this novel.

Let me know what you thought of the novel in the comments!

Review: Men Explain Things to Me

Rebecca Solnit’s essay collection Men Explain Things to Me was a book club pick that I went into with no knowledge of Solnit, her style, or what it was about. Honestly, it was an emotional roller coaster. Solnit is funny, witty, serious, factual, uplifting, and includes more reality checks than the average person hopes to encounter in 150 pages. Punctuated with simple, yet powerful, art by Ana Teresa Fernandez, Solnit takes on the gender divide and how inequality continues to play out in our society in small, everyday ways. She takes on rape (more than once), people who are against same-sex marriage, Virginia Woolf, and many more topics.

Naturally, I enjoyed her inclusion of Cassandra from Troy, since that is where the meaning of my name (Kassandra) comes from. She was cursed with the gift of foresight that no one believed. In other words, she knew what was going to happen, but everyone ignored her and thought she was a liar. Apollo cursed her because she refused to have sex with him. Of this, Solnit concludes: “The idea that loss of credibility is tied to asserting rights over your own body was there all along” (117). From the age of the Trojans to 2017, Cassandra’s story is relevant.

My favorite essay was “Grandmother Spider,” in which Solnit discussed the obliteration of women historically. She talks about family trees only recording men, women and children taking the last name of the husband and father, women historically having no legal existence once married, a veil covering a woman until she is basically invisible, and many more topics underneath the blanket of obliteration. In particular, I was struck by her language in describing the picture for that chapter, shown here:

fernandez ch 5

Solnit writes:

A woman is hanging out the laundry. Everything and nothing happens. Of her flesh we see only several fingers and a pair of strong brown calves and feet. The white sheet hangs in front of her, but the wind blows it against her body, revealing her contours. It is the most ordinary act, this putting out clothes to dry, though she wears black high heels, as though dressed for something other than domestic work, or as if this domestic work was already a kind of dancing. Her crossed legs look as though they are executing a dance step. The sun throws her shadow and the dark shadow of the white sheet onto the ground. The shadow looks like a long-legged dark bird, another species stretching out from her feet. The sheet flies in the wind, her shadow flies, and she does all this in a landscape so bare and stark and without scale that it’s as though you can see the curvature of the Earth on the horizon. It’s the most ordinary and extraordinary act, the hanging out of laundry- and painting. The latter does what the wordless can do, invoking everything and saying nothing, inviting meaning in without committing to any particular one, giving you an open question rather than answers. Here, in this painting by Ana Teresa Fernandez, a woman both exists and is obliterated.

I found this passage to be simple, yet profound, as Solnit found the image.

Overall, I found Solnit’s collection to be all over the place emotionally. She conjured rage, pain, skepticism, reality, pride, and inspiration in me. She takes a hard look at gender inequality, and anyone willing to bypass the bias in their own minds will see that she presents a relatively fair view of the issues faced by women and all who value equality. The collection could be read all at once, or a little at a time, but regardless the message will ring true.