ON THE READING LIST: MY STRUGGLE

My Struggle
My Struggle, by Karl Ove Knausgaard
This book has taken over the entire country of Norway and is inching toward European Union domination. In the US, however, it may better described as tilting towards stardom. Any synopsis of the book I attempt will likely sound bad. The Struggle is the story of the author Karl Ove Knausgaard’s life, an ordinary Norwegian life, told in retrospect. Each book covers a period in his life and each book is epic in length. As my friend described, “he looks like just another sexy European man.”
The novelty of the book, at least part of it, is that the author lays himself bare. He allows himself to be truly known, in a culture where this degree of self disclosure is unheard of. Have you ever wanted to be truly known? Not simply the good parts of your life, but the bad and even the mundane parts. Could you go back and surgically deconstruct your life? Could you do it in a way that captivates your country? That is also how my friend described this to me: she could not put the book down, and the book looks to be about 600 pages and a good seven pounds, paperback. 
I’m going to delve in soon, to the first book in the series, and see what the fuss is about.

FUN LINKS

Reed boat on Lake Titicaca
Lake Titicaca
Every five years or so even the best laptop will die, and when it does, you might want to check out this video. 
It’s not necessarily the content of this article, but the intense searing emotion behind it. If words could scream, this is what they would sound like. I live in California, and I don’t hold Silicon Valley in any particular esteem, but there is a mythology that some people like to build around that area, and this article rips that right down the center.
There is something calming about this article, it is the concept of minimalism mixed with pleasure. The two concepts don’t often associate, you don’t often think that simplifying can also be blissful, that is, until this. 
Did you want to learn a language? This is still being developed, but supposedly there is a formula to do this effectively. Apart from Rosetta Stone. Currently only French is available, but I would watch to see if more interesting languages come up.
The art of concentration is a lot one, and that is sad as someone who loves books, because what is reading but not the complete immersion of the self into this other fictional world, where hours can be spent playing in the endless fissures of your imagination? 
These are from Etsy, and they’re made by hand. I hold a special esteem for cobblers. 
You can chase happiness, and you can find it. There is a way. 
I like the ideas expressed in their blog, often a complex concept presented with concise precision. So it wouldn’t hurt to check out a few books from this list as well.  
Are you looking for unusual places to travel? Here’s an idea, and it’s a good one. 

ONDINE AT SUTRO BATHS

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In San Francisco news, I recently saw the play Ondine at Sutro Baths, next to the Ocean. The play chronicles the love between a mystical ocean creature and a knight. It takes place in the open air next to the water, and you get to move from setting to setting along with the cast. It’s freezing and wonderful.
These aren’t pictures from the play itself. But in between location changes, cast members drape themselves artfully into the landscape for you to walk watch and admire. They also serve you meringues. It’s one of the most unique experiences I’ve had in a good while.  
More information here.
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NEW DAILY HABITS

Nepal bamboo and nature vegetables
Recently, there have been two habits, and only two, that I have decided to incorporate into my daily routine. Neither of them involves meditation. There have been a lot of articles about meditation floating around so I think everyone alive now knows that they should meditate. No, the two things that I suspect will improve my life are these:
This is a site where you to type in a word, which the site will then email to you at daily intervals until this new word becomes a part of your long term memory. I plan on keeping this open on my browser so that anytime I run across a word, I can type it right in. A good way to expand your vocabulary, yes?
I have this article saved onto my phone using the Pocket app and I’m going to review it every other day to make sure I’m still in alignment. I have no articles saved on this app. There are very few things I feel the need to read on repetition. What this article offers is perspective. It offers the concept of Stoicism distilled into 9 key principles, each of which is crucial to remind you how to live a life in accordance with your beliefs. Because sometimes we stray. Sometimes we need a way to pull ourselves back. 

WOULD YOU CHANGE YOUR NAME?

*help*  WE NEED A NAME!!!
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A little after reading this article about transgender people choosing their names, I wondered, as I have since I had the ability to wonder, what I would choose to name myself if that choice were mine to have. What if the social custom was to allow people to name themselves as a rite of passage? You are called a generic term from birth, let’s say “young one,” the same as any other child. Then when you come of age, you choose a fitting name. I personally have two names, my American name and my ethnic name. If pronounced correctly, I prefer the ethnic name. It sounds beautiful with the right inflection. Unfortunately that never happens. 
There is a power inherent in naming. Actors usually get to choose a stage name that is usually more socially palpable than their given name.  It creates their outward persona, because as an actor, they are always hiding beneath a character. That idea has always intrigued me. So then begins a series of what if’s. What if I had been born with a different name? What would I choose? And so on. Then the stage of fantasy came to an end. 
In reality, there are very few opportunities to change your name, it’s an enormous hassle and in the worst case scenario may leave you open to an accusation of identify theft. One of the most common ways that you end up changing your name as a female,* is to take your husband’s name when you get married. There are a few ways of perceiving this. You could see as an opportunity to become your husband’s chattel (highly negative), or to transition into becoming a member of his new family (more positive). What if there were a third option? This could be an opportunity to define yourself anew, to emerge from your former self like a snake from it’s skin, fresh and unblemished? 
*Or as Zoe Saldana’s husband 

ON BEING LIKEABLE

“I think that what our society teaches young girls, and I think it’s also something that’s quite difficult for even older women and self-professed feminists to shrug off, is that idea that likability is an essential part of you, of the space you occupy in the world, that you’re supposed to twist yourself into shapes to make yourself likable, that you’re supposed to hold back sometimes, pull back, don’t quite say, don’t be too pushy, because you have to be likable.

And I say that’s bullshit.

So what I want to say to young girls is forget about likability. If you start thinking about being likable you are not going to tell your story honestly, because you are going to be so concerned with not offending, and that’s going to ruin your story, so forget about likability. And also the world is such a wonderful, diverse, and multifaceted place that there’s somebody who’s going to like you; you don’t need to twist yourself into shapes.”

– Writer Chimamanda Ngozi 

DUCK LANE

Can you imagine a world lined with duck lanes? The Canal & River Trust, a charity association based in England and Wales did it for you. They painted a lane, just for show, that would protect ducks from passersby and busy days, because they can’t walk as fast as you or I. 
More pictures here.

TIME TO VAG UP

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Instead of telling yourself to “Man Up,” why not “Vag Up?”
I heard my friend E telling herself this other day and thought this was a genius way to shine a positive light on female genitals. There is already so many negative associations already out there. If you’ve ever heard a guy call another guy a pussy, that about sums up the current situation. 
So I would like “Vag Up” to become a thing, I want it to hit the big time, and then to become commonplace. I’m trying to do my part to set the wheels in motion. 
Alternately, and I don’t know why this sounds more ladylike, I have known a man, a true feminist, tell himself to “vagina up!” It sounded darling.