Medium Raw

How did you come across the book?

Uh, I read his first novel… ‘Kitchen Confidential‘… and so, found there was a next one, and decided to read the rest.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

I guess the shift that the author went through from, you know… well, the first book, ‘Kitchen Confidential‘, is way more about the restaurant industry itself, and then this shows his shift into becoming a celebrity chef and, yeah…. it shows his perspective that he gained out of it; the retrospect and everything. I like it because it’s still… it’s not just about that… it’s still about food and the industry and what not, so yeah. I’m a cook right now, and I’m inspiring to be a chef, so any bit of information I can get, you know, is good.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

I definitely would recommend it. I mean, because I personally enjoy it, a lot. I think though that it could be interesting for anyone, just because he’s…. I’m mean, I only have around a year or so experience cooking and all that, but from what I’ve seen so far, he stays true to what everyday life is in a kitchen. And, on top of that, you know, he’s uh… he’s a pretty entertaining writer; he’s funny and all. So, yeah… if you want to have a good laugh and you happen to be interested in food, yeah, I definitely recommend it.

Stuck In The Amber

Here we are, such as we are; and whether or not we are pleased with this moment, we have no other choice than in accepting it.

“All time is all time. It does not lend itself to warning or explanations. It simply is. Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all, as I’ve said before, bugs in amber.”


I’m currently on a train, traveling through mainland china, enroute to a new city, a new experience. At this very moment, I am leaning against a cushioned human shelf up against the window, among a chattering crowd in the dining cart section, a small elevated table in front of me where my keyboard now rests as I bug it with type. To my right, the kitchen dishing out a foreign menu, both by flavor and script; I’m hungry, so I’ll try it. “Nǐhǎo. Menu?!” “Ah, xièxie!” To my left, the crowd, filled with wide smiling faces, made up of families, friends, associates and strangers, I’m guessing, and a little girl barfing into a plastic bag, being helped by her un-phased, “been-here-before”, loving parents; no one minds, they are busy enjoying the scene, though a few pair of curious eyes are caught by the bald “Měiguórén” (American) lone and curious himself in the corner.


Here I am, such as I am.

The moment in time with which we are given, the one we currently find ourselves encompassed by, embedded with rather, this is where we are, and to the best of our understanding, this is what we are; people, stuck in this spec of existence, alive.


“The flat car sometimes crept, sometimes went extremely fast, often stopped — went up hill, downhill, around curves, along straightaways. Whatever poor Billy saw through the pipe, he had no choice but to say to himself, “That’s life.”

This is life. I’m surrounded by it. A part of it even. I am life, and so is everything and everyone else around me, far beyond me, beyond this place, even more. Yes, this is a moment, and though we are limited in sight, sometimes in mind, to only our little pipe hole view of it, this moment is massive. It encompasses everything and everyone you know, and for that matter, don’t.

You are only a part of it.


I return to my seat, only a short time later to again return to the dining cart, due mainly to restlessness, part also out of angst; I’ve never been one to rest easy during travel. I’m too curious. I’m too wound up. I have too much on the mind. I wonder where everyone is heading? And if they’re heading there, where ever there is, by choice or by have to? I’m heading now by choice, on return by have to. No one from the looks of it seems concerned, at least on the outside. What about the inside? There are a few dull expressions filling this cart now, whether by idleness, worry, contemplation, or something else of this sort, as we maintain impressive speed, hurling with grace and subtle rocking through farming lands along the route. The younger crowd is still playing. Some drawing, some eating or attempting to eat, others yanking the fake flowers out of their waterless wicker vases placed on each table and examining them, then quickly reaching to yank out another. There’s another little girl twirling about, table to table as she ignores the call of I’m guessing her father. She might need to throw up too later on due to the dizziness she’s playfully tumbling into. She’s having fun though. All the younger crowd is. I don’t know about the more-aged crowd anymore. Some are eating or attempting to eat, others are poking around on their phones or laptops, one man is putting pen to paper, maybe he’s drawing, and some are examining the fake flowers shoved into their waterless wicker vases, not yanking them out, though. They’d probably like to yank them out. They seem preoccupied this time, though. Aren’t we all? I wonder if by choice or by have to? Either way, we’re all heading there; somewhere.


“You sound to me as if you don’t believe in free will,” said Billy Pilgrim.

“If I hadn’t spent so much time studying Earthlings,” said the Tralfamadorian, “I wouldn’t have any idea what was meant by “free will.” I’ve visited thirty one inhabited planets in the universe, and I have studied reports on one hundred more. Only on Earth is there any talk of free will.”

Here we are, such as we are.

And, this thing we call time has no care or concern of our wants or our desires anyhow. It doesn’t work for or against us in any way, though we’ve played it up to do that, for us or against us, romanticizing our lives for needed substance, I’m guessing. Hell, time isn’t even a real thing, Einstein said it, I think. Anyway, it’s as if we needed something to fill the spaces between this and that, the spaces between until this turned into that, the spaces until this became that, or the ones found pointing us to do this first and then that next. Time we’ll call it, and we will tie to this thing now known as time all of our most important things this life can, not must, contain. But, this can we will turn into must, so now this life must contain them. And we will spend our time making sure those things happen. And to make those things happen, time will need to be spent. So we will make things worth more time then they really should take, increasing in mind the value of this time, because the big things now take and demand the most of it, and applying it in pursuit towards things which take more time to acquire, demands thus more time for you to give, and you willingly will, and more and more time for it to take, and it gladly will. Give the time, give them time, give the time, only to have it taken. And then, no time left. Where is there free will in this? I guess you can choose how you fill said time, but following the form of times design, do you choose, or is it chosen for you? I think I’ll order a coffee. “Nǐhǎo. Hēi kāfēi?” Yeah, I’m in the mood for one.


“Why me?

That is a very Earthling question to ask Mr. Pilgrim. Why you? Why us for that matter? Why anything? Because this moment simply is. Have you ever seen bugs trapped in amber?

Yes.

Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why.”

Take me back to the amber. No. Let me realize it myself. Wait. I’m already here.

I’m ready now.


Back in the dining cart again I find myself. It’s full this time, again with families and friends, associates and strangers; people. The aroma of the foreign cuisine fills the space as my hunger again toys with the thought of succumbing to its warmth, to its welcome, as others have already decided to do so and have delved in, face first, enjoying the innate pleasantries of its simple yet meaningful serving; there are three plastic microwaveable options to choose from; one with chicken, one with the beef, and the other a vegetable option I believe, but damn do they hit the spot when hunger finds us. A baby awakens and begins to cry, but is quickly eased down by the loving caress of her mothers embrace; she’s now sleeping again. Another mother watches as her young boy devours the plastic container of food in front of him; she’s concerned and hopeful he finishes it all; you can tell by her look, she’s a mother. A dad of two catching some much needed sleep either before the trip begins or now after its end; you can tell by his look; he doesn’t have one; eyes closed, body limp, the arm he’s slumped upon without doubt asleep as well. Others are still poking away at their phones, maybe texting a loved one, maybe reading an article, perhaps playing some video game, or maybe doing whatever it is that makes them happy; it doesn’t matter, let them enjoy it if they do. Some are conversing amongst each other as we continue our trek through this massive stretch of farm land, still hurling by, still subtly rocking; their conversations remaining as foreign to me as the menu, but their presence shares a commonplace; their warmth, their welcome; it doesn’t matter what they are talking about, it’s human connection and thats a wonderful thing. Another little girl, standing between her fathers legs, head barely clearing the table, appearing to be eating a bowl of noodles for the first time, excessively and forcefully attempting to blow away the heat of the bite, only to find that her efforts are spent having not cooled the spoonful; she’s not concerned, shes hungry. She takes a swig of water from a bottle which dwarfs her little hands to wash away the sting of the scalding noodles, coughs because the sip must have gone down the wrong pipe, then hurries back to begin again with another round of excessively and forcefully attempting to blow away the heat of the next scoop; she’s enjoying those noodles and she finishes the whole bowl of them in this manner; still unconcerned, tongue slightly burnt, I’m guessing, but fed and happy to be so. Stewardesses carefully toeing around, hurried taking orders and taming the nerves of the crowd as they serve out not only plates and snacks and drink, but more effectively and appealing, attention; they are great at what they do and impressively patient; also, a sight for sore eyes I’m unashamed to admit, or admire. Farm land has turned into outskirts of towns, still rural, but in its own ways charming; I could spend sometime here; only a short while though. And I, the bald lone “Měiguórén”, again in the corner, looking around and typing away, taking it all in, and realizing the richness of this amber, of this moment I’m a part of; all of this, and much more my capacity of attention missed, in this one moment, the only one either one of us here can see, but rich enough none the less, no need for anything more.


We may be bugs, stuck in the amber, but this amber is enough. There is everything we could ever need, here, now, in the amber which embodies us.


“That’s one things Earthlings might learn to do, if they tried hard enough: Ignore the awful times, and concentrate on the good ones.”

“Um,” said Billy Pilgrim.

Here we are, such as we are; and whether or not we are pleased with this moment, we have no other choice than in accepting it, and I believe we can do so by realizing and embracing the richness of the amber we find ourselves stuck in. Free will is found in the appreciation and the realization of the moment we are embedded; in our acceptance and in our contribution to such. This moment is all we are given, its richness derived from our acknowledgement, our autonomy actualized in our choice to partake, in our chance to just be.

Though a bug stuck in amber cannot choose to move freely, no matter its struggle to, at least that amber is rich, and in its richness it is sweet, it is warm, and it is golden. It’s not nothing. It’s very much something, indifferent to our neediness to know why me, why us, why anything.

It is something.

Here we are, such as we are.

You are only a part of it, yes, but you are, most definitely, a part of it.

A little bug, stuck in the amber of now, and its enough.

“So it goes…

Oh, wow! We’re already in Xi’an. “Zàijiàn”. “Bàibài”


***

This post was inspired by my reading of Kurt Vonnegut’s classic ‘Slaughterhouse-Five‘. I recommend highly your reading of this book as well.

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A Confederacy of Dunces

How did you come across the book?

Ohh, that’s a good question! Uh… I was looking up comedy related books… and than this is like… this was just suggested on a Google search… on like Amazon and stuff, so… and I’ve heard about it, so I was like, “Ah OK, maybe it time.” So, yeah.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Ohh… perspective in my own life? Yeah… ahh… perspective? I don’t know. So far its pretty cool. It’s about… ahh, its kind of a cool… well, I’m doing research on the book… I took a break from reading it to read the Wikipedia page. The book is hailed for its accuracy of said New Orleans… hailed for its accuracy of its description of New Orleans, and of its description of its language. Being from the south its kind of cool given that I like the way people talk… I can hear the voices in my head as I read which is kind of cool… that New Orleans southern draw.

Would you recommended, and if so, to who and why?

Oh… yes! For… right now I’m only a chapter in… the foreword and the chapter, but so far its fantastic; its great; its definitely… well, I was looking for a comedy book, because I do stand up, so I was looking for something like this. But this is a great novel so far, again, I’m only in chapter one, but I absolutely recommend it, and… why? Probably because its… I mean, so far its living up to every review that I’ve read about it, so… so, yeah… yeah man.

If The Fates Allow

I am away.

Far away now from most of the things in this life I have come to love, to accept, to miss.

And that I do; I miss them all, deeply.

But this I chose, and this choice was hard, as most the greats tend to be.

Something inside of me though has always yearned for adventure, and that is where I currently find myself, both in terms of mind and of body.

This too happens to be something that I have come to love, to accept, to miss as well.

How couldn’t I?

Now you see where the contrast lies.

Life does that.

It never matches up.

Never offers everything at once.

Never allows you to find your stride in one without tripping you up with the other.

On one hand I want stable, I want unity, I want consistence.

On the other I want movement, I want differences, I want unexpected.

Currently I am experiencing the latter, and though I am enjoying it fully, currently I am yearning for the former.

So what to do?

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” – Viktor Frankl

So then,

I will begin to both allow and to challenge myself to find the two within the same.

Within those and thats that my life has formed into my stables, I will find the movement, the differences, the unexpected.

Rather, I will allow them their opportunity to flourish within my life.

No longer block them.

No longer believe them not to be.

And,

Within those and thats where my life has provided my movement, I will find the stable, the unity, the consistence.

Rather, I will allow them their opportunity to grow within my life.

No longer stunt them.

No longer doubt their strength, their purpose.

And,

If the fates allow,

I will do this with those and thats that I have come to love, to accept, to miss.

This I hope they do allow.

And,

Since I am still here, this they do.

So,

One final effort before the sun sets.

If, of course, the fates do allow.

Over the Edge of the World

How did you come across the book?

Well, I’ve read it before. One of my friends in Hawaii gave it to me actually.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Uh, I’ve gained a lot of interesting knowledge actually. It’s kind of like a text book, but it’s still like storybook, so it’s still really, really easy to follow and interesting… a lot of information in here. I was surprised!

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Yes! I’ve been trying to get my dad to read it for the past year… just because he’s into the whole history thing… and I mean, if you like history, its definitely entertaining enough.

“The fun of talk is to explore…”

The next conversation you find yourself in, do me favor; explore, and have fun doing so.

How many times do we find ourselves a part of the typical, mundane, monotonous sharing of words, of which we all care very little of asking and of sharing, and even more so of hearing? No need to respond, for we all already know the answer. You ask this, I tell that, I ask that, you tell this, and so on. The thinking of it now makes me sick, depressed even, for that is where most of our breaths are wasted away. They have their place, this I know, but they do not deserve a grander lot when compared to the potential.

There is hope though, as there always is with any endeavor in which the mind, the body and the soul of a human are involved. The mere involvement does not guarantee the improved quality of experience, but the opportunity is always there, if those involved are willing and are courageous enough to delve and to act.

As Hemingway so simply, yet powerfully put it,”The fun of talk is to explore…“. So, let yourself do so, and allow the same for others involved. Ask for the answers you so deeply desire to learn, open the gates to those you have not yet even thought of, share the truths of your being and listen to the truths of others, all of which will inevitably appear in this exchange of words and of life, again if you and if all involved are willing.

Want to learn something of another, to a point of excruciating intellectual or primitive interest? Then ask the damn question, and do so with passion, with innocence and curiosity, and with life, and allow the conversation to go. Be courageous and confident enough to ask and to share, but even more so of the pair in your acquisition of response. Responses, yours or theirs, are not always what you dreamed them to be, but they are real, no matter their basis of truth or of origin, or to the degree of their reveal. However, the deeper the better.

Are you scared to do so? Good. You should be. You should be scared to the point of faint, to where consciousness approaches the fall, mere steps away from being lost. Feel it. Be afraid it, but join it, and share your words to the same extent in your response towards the expression of another, and give them the same. They deserve it, we all do.

Cautious to offend someone with question or with view? To hell with that, for taking offense only shows one has not yet accepted the harshness of the world, of reality; not yet ready to dance with, yet to even acknowledge, it’s toil, it’s strife. Offense taken to words shared, towards ideas expressed and thoughts revealed, of questions asked, symbolizes only one’s poor attempted defense of their own internal, an attempt to hide themselves from others, even more so from themselves. A cowardly act, but one I will acknowledge as common and as difficult, for the choice to do or to not is enough to debilitate even the strongest of us.

The truth? No matter what you say, someone will always take offense, and that is not within your control, so share and pursue anyway, of course again, if you and if all involved are willing and courageous enough to do so.

And if someone responds with malice? Confront it, don’t shy away. We are designed for the challenges of life, to confront them and to overcome them, be them physical or be them vocal. We are built for this, though even more, we yearn for this; for the confrontation of life and for the overcoming through expression of self.

And, what about the fun? Didn’t you mention it would be fun? Have your fun, explore the secrets of the mind, of the opposites, of the people you know nothing about, and of those for which you think you know much. The fun is in the exploration, so there truly is no limit, only that of what you set for yourself. Ask, share, try, fail, connect. Then? Ask, again. Share, again. Try, again. Fail, again. Connect, again. Then? Again. But, have your fun, for, “When you stop doing things for fun you might as well be dead.

The fun of talk is to explore…“, so do so, no matter the conversation’s nature. The mystery of the exchange had and of to come, where may it lead? One cannot truly tell, but this should not stop us, nor do I believe anyone would like for it to. There is no shame in this, nor should there be. We are all here together, experiencing the same world, though of varying context, of varying frame. Good. Intellectual, or that of a more primitive nature, approach the familiar and the uncharted with growing experience and innocent curiosity, and simply, explore, for, “You may talk. And I may listen. And miracles might happen.

Playing The Piano For Pleasure

How did you come across the book?

Um… I’m a musician, so I just pick up as much literature as I can on music and try to extract from it what I can to serve what I do play. My mother does estate sells back in Long Island… she cleans out houses and a lot of contents end up back at home, and this book made its way from one of the houses… and she thought it belonged to me and uh… so, I took that as a sign to take it home to go through it. I’ve already read it before, but I’m going back for a second time to see what else I can get out of it.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Well… as a musician it’s all about this, uh… I believe he wrote for the New Yorker back in like the 20s or 30s, this guy Charles Cooke… he was big on the amateur musician and how, as an amateur musician, you don’t have to compete with professional musicians… you can sort of enjoy it for your own pleasure and develop at your own pace… and get a lot out of it without the stress of having to compete with top-tier musicians, and… I think there’s a lot to be learned from that approach, as I feel there’s so many people in the city trying to quote-on-quote “make it” in a creative sense, and if your serious about it, that will drive you to compete on those top-tiers, but… if you can sort of take a step back and enjoy it on the many tiers below that, and figure out your own level, there’s a lot more pleasure to be had that way.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

I would recommend it to any other musician or artist for what I laid out in the previous question, just… I don’t know… I’d recommend it to anybody!

To Each Their Own

I’m tired. However, and I realize this, I’m tired of all of which I know to be of my control, of my choice.

I’m tired of the comparison. Of comparing myself with others; their wants, their needs, their dreams and pursuits, their current lot and the futures they speak of, and so on. It’s not me, not at all, but its easy to. It’s also easy not to, if of course I choose against it. Similarities, they can exist, but the same? No, not at all. Remember, to each their own.

I’m tired of the doubt. Of doubting myself, my worth, my place, my acts, my thoughts. It’s old, it’s tiresome, it’s cruel, self imposed I know, but cruel the same. It’s not me, its my choice and I can stop this at any moment. To allow it to remain, to persist, how much of a fool can you be? Stop your pity, instead choose to try, choose to do, and then you will know. Remember, to each their own.

I’m tired of the confusion. Of confusing myself, of being confused by others, or rather, allowing myself to be confused by the pair; the words they say, the actions they take, and the same of mine; my words, my actions. Choose, choose now, then choose again, not to be confused and you won’t be. Confusion from curiosity, let it live, that’s fun, but confusion from your own allowance of both the internal and the ex-, let it pass you by — give it no mind. Remember, to each their own.

I’m tired of the hatred. Of the kind from others, but even more so of the self-loathing of my own partake. Do you enjoy the act of self-defeat? Of self-betrayal? The tearing down of your own being? Or the destruction of your own peace? No. Than enough, no more. Allow these thoughts to again pass you by, for they carry with them no real anchor, only the hope that you may offer harbor for their taking. Don’t. And of others hatred directed your way? Also, don’t the same. Choose, then choose again. Remember, to each their own.

Okay, enough of this. Who cares if I’m tired of anything, anyways? Typically not many, sometimes not a one. Maybe I’d be better off by simply not caring myself, not of just anything, but of what I perceive to be worth the time.  Again, not that of just anything, but of things of this nature; harmful. Let it go, move on, simply stop. It can be that easy. It is that easy, if you want it to be. If you choose it to be. Maybe easy isn’t the word. But, if not easy, able; always able. Let it be difficult if you must, “If it’s endurable, then endure it”; accept its confront, but remember, you’re able; always able.

Choose not to be compared — and you won’t feel compared. Don’t feel compared — and you haven’t been…

Choose not to be doubted — and you won’t feel doubted. Don’t feel doubted — and you haven’t been…

Choose not to be confused — and you won’t feel confused. Don’t feel confused — and you haven’t been…

Choose not to be hated — and you won’t feel hated. Don’t feel hated — and you haven’t been…

“Choose not to be harmed — and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed — and you haven’t been.” – Marcus Aurelius

But I do — than you will. And if I don’t? — than you won’t. Choice always remains. You’re able; always able.

And in closing, all I want to do in this life, and I assume for many the same, is love. Love what I do, love who I am with, love where I am, and love where I am going — than you will — if you choose to. And this choice? Remember, to each their own.

In the Still of the Night

How did you come across the book?

The first book I read by him was called, um… ‘The Supernaturals’… and this is part two if it. He has a lot of other books out that I just haven’t gotten around to yet, but ‘The Supernaturals‘ was the first.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

It’s about a group of people who met… in the first book they were only about… eight people, and only two or three really knew each other. This book takes place about seven years later, so these people have gotten closer, but they still have a lot of issues. It is about… well, supernaturals… so it is sort of a horror book… but its also about human nature. It’s about politics too, which is very timely… I mean, I didn’t realize that until I started reading… but its very timely now… and its about a president who is disturbingly like what we’ve got in the White House. So, um… yeah, so… I have no idea how its going to end, but it’s just very, very interesting, and um… some parts are disturbing, because… oh my goodness… human nature… people who’ll do anything for power. But, then again, there’s a lot of friendship in this too, because again, these people have gotten to know each other, and each of these people have like real, serious, um… somewhat tragic backgrounds, so… its good to see them come together. But yeah, lots of disturbing stuff in here too, which is… uh, I mean… to be expected.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Oh, absolutely! I would recommend it to anybody who… who… just enjoys a good book that you can just sit down with and just, you know… go with it! Yeah, just go with it. Don’t have any preconceived notions about what its about… just go with it. Normally people would say, “Well ok, if you like horror, then go…”. No… just, just read it… just read it! You know… cause’ I mean… I read everything… you know, I read everything. I don’t care, you know… you cant tell me, because I’m reading a horror book, only recommend horror books to me… no! Read everything! If its an interesting book… recommend it to me, and I will read it! So… same thing here… read it!

Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore

How did you come across the book?

Truthfully? I work in the same building as Penguin Publishing, and there’s always free books in the mailroom. Yeah! That’s how I came across it.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Well… its mainly about a woman who is just trying to find herself… and she’s going through these major changes, so I feel like, in regard to perspective… I mean the character, she’s very daring and true to herself, so I feel if anything, that’s the perspective… to just stay bold!

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Yes, I would recommend it. Probably to one of my best friends who is an English teacher, just because I feel like she would appreciate literature taking place in the 6th century. So… that’s who I would recommend it too.

A Poem to Share: ‘Nothing More’

It isn’t lonely,

for I have been there before.

Its absence,

nothing more.

 


Pair this short read with ‘The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone‘, brought to you by Maria Popova’s brainpickings.

The Constant Princess

How did you come across the book?

Funny you should ask! I’m actually in a book club, and I am about to meet them… um, pretty soon. This was a book that someone else chose. It’s only like five of us, but one of them picked this book for the month… and I’m just about to finish it up. Otherwise, I would never think to pick this out. It’s really good actually… I like it. That’s the part of… the good thing about book club… you read books that you wouldn’t normally pick yourself.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Well… this is like… kind of a historical account of the Queen of England, in around the early 1500s… and, uh… so I guess it just kind of opened my eyes to thinking… or the logic of that time. I guess that’s pretty much it.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Absolutely! This is… it has a really strong female, hero character… and, so… it shows that women can overcome… we all can overcome.