Manila Blues

I haven’t been feeling very well lately. Blame it on bad eating habits, pollution or good old-fashioned hormones (that shit gets blamed for everything), I’ve been having terrible skin breakouts on my face. I’ve also added on a lot of weight due to my reckless hedonistic indulgence and passionate love for food. The family also decided to spend a week in Manila and the street pollution is killing my vibe. The congested traffic, the unregulated car fumes, and the crowded streets just made my trip to the city not so fun (of course, I wasn’t feeling so good to begin with and I really needed an outlet for the frustration). Hence, it’s safe to say I wasn’t feeling especially fabulous.

After two days in Manila, I figured, I might as well enjoy my stay here and not sulk over the traffic and over how not-so-fabulous I feel. I figured there’s only a few attractive (and affordable) options that could help get rid of the vacation blues:

In no particular order
1. Massage
2. Facial (preferably a pimple removing facial – those breakouts are terrifying)
3. Eat (worst option – the last thing I need is added weight! Resolve to eat healthier in 2015!)
4. Party! -> hey, I’m in Manila. Might as well enjoy my stay here and where better to enjoy the night life than in the country’s capital?

Okay, the last part is hardly cheap but it’s almost always usually worth it. I love my friends. I love meeting new people. And, I needed the buzz. A change of environment is good. More people to meet and drink with is exactly what I need to distract myself from the blues.

I don’t really need to be reminded that I’ve put on weight. My sister alarmingly remarked that I looked pregnant, which is a bad thing since I didn’t even get to enjoy the “how to get pregnant” part in the last few weeks and I’ve just had my period. So, to resolve on removing the god-awful flabs on my arms and abdomen, I’m avoiding rice and sugary snacks. I’m serious.

Thankfully, a week after I met some of my sister’s friends in her review center, one of them remarked that I looked thinner (or at least thinner than my fat, bloated self a week ago) so I guess that means I’ve shed a few pounds. I’ve resolved to avoid the weighing scale since it doesn’t help with my mood. I just know, at the moment, that I want to go back to being a size 27 with smaller arms. Sigh.

Oh well, at least I managed to not drink soda for a week now. Same goes with not eating rice, white bread and sugary sweets. That’s good. No more junk in my system. I’ll keep on doing that as soon as I get back to Cebu. I’ll probably do a fast and a detox, then go back to working out. 

Wish me luck!

xoxo
Sheree

Why you should read Running with Scissors

So I just finished reading Running with Scissors and it was, in one word, FASCINATING.

Not in the “ooh, it’s magical” or “oh, it spoke to my soul” fascinating. It’s more tragic, wild, crazy, nauseatingly funny and, most important of all, it’s real.

Running with Scissors is a memoir written by Augusten Burroughs regarding his childhood to early adolescence as he struggles to figure out how the world works, figure out what he really wants in life – you know, typical quarter-life (or 1/16-life crisis) – all the while trying to adjust to a household that boasts of being the antithesis of The Brady Bunch, dealing with a mother with frequent psychotic episodes, bible dips, psychiatric patients, and a pedophile friend

So, before I go on a fangirling rage of “Oohs”, “Aahs”, and spazzing over how wonderful of a read it was, here are the top 5 reasons why you should read Augusten Burroughs’ Running With Scissors:

1. It’s a sad story but a story so sad it has to be a joke (right?), only it’s not
What makes the book truly fascinating is the understanding that despite the crazy, shallow, psychotic and tragically humane episodes of each character in Burroughs’s story, they are painted so realistically that it’s easy to think, “yeah, this could very well happen in real life”.

2. The characters are brilliant!
I love each and every one of them. I don’t care that they’re eccentric and people would think badly over their behavior. I just love each and every one of them. They’re all so crazy and spontaneous and noisy, but it sounds pretty much like any other family. There’s a squabble here and there, there’s definitely a whole dose of crazy, but there’s definitely a whole lot of love. I would even go right ahead and say Augusten Burroughs probably wrote this memoir with utmost affection for each of these people he has written about. After all, they all shaped his life…no matter how unconventional it could be.

3. Augusten’s narration is hilarious
I knew this book was embedded with a dose (or more) of dark humor, but I didn’t realize up to what extent.
Augusten’s narration is hilarious in that he could essentially complain about one thing, one relevant thing that could spell a possible psychotic episode, then he goes right ahead and prioritizes something different.
An example would be how he complains about going to a psychiatric ward then decides that it would be so much better than going to school anyway.

4. The book isn’t pretentious.
What you read is what you get. Either you love it or you hate it. You could believe it or you don’t. Either way, the book simply wants to relate a story – a story truly believed to be true by the author himself – and it doesn’t matter whether you like it or you don’t because in the end, you still read it and the goal of relating that story has been accomplished.

5. Just read it for the total craziness of it all
Because if it wasn’t about feelings, emotional maturity, Freudian psychoanalysis, adoption, adolescence, love, family, or relationships, then it’s only half the fun and…

if it’s half the fun, then there’s no point. it’s either you go big or yoy go home and for this memoir, Augusten Burroughs definitely went for the big field.

xoxo
Sheree

Currently Reading: The Iliad by Homer (translated by Alexander Pope)

I blame this on Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods.
I obtained a copy of the book and started obsessing over it. Though, it’s not entirely Rick Riordan’s fault.

For one, I’m a huge geek and I’ve been obsessing over Greek Mythology ever since I learned how to read. Second, I’m an even bigger fangirl. In general, that means I obsess a lot over things, events, people, and everything else that interests me. This obsession is alleviated by the fact that I’m a huge fangirl over the Percy Jackson series and I have just recently completed the last book in the of the Heroes of Olympus series …so, yeah, my obsession has really deep roots.

Now, back to Iliad.

I managed to get a copy of the book translated by Alexander Pope from Project Gutenberg. It’s a website dedicated to providing free ebooks to the public. These books, like The Iliad and The Odyssey, are already in the public domain and are no longer subject to copyright so it’s safe to say downloading from the site is legal and safe.

I’m already currently in Book III of The Iliad. That may not sound much, but there’s so much going on in each chapter it’s so hard to notice that I’m still reading the early parts of the book.

The Iliad is essentially about the war of the Aecheans and the Trojans. Helen, wife of Spartan King Menelaus, was taken by Paris, Prince of Troy, as his lover. Because of this, Menelaus requested the help of his brother, King Agamemnon, in enlisting several Greek warriors, kings and their kingdoms, to aid in getting Helen back.

“”Approach, and view the wondrous scene below!
Each hardy Greek, and valiant Trojan knight,
So dreadful late, and furious for the fight,
Now rest their spears, or lean upon their shields;
Ceased is the war, and silent all the fields.
Paris alone and Sparta’s king advance,
In single fight to toss the beamy lance;
“Each met in arms, the fate of combat tries,
Thy love the motive, and thy charms the prize.”

I must, say, I’m quite impressed by the translation of Alexander Pope. The words are translated beautifully into verse, so it’s hard not to appreciate the beauty of it. I love good poetry, and Pope’s translation is really good. It reminds me of Bards singing songs of the tragedies of war, glorifying heroes and kings, then swigging down a pint of beer (I’m not very sure why that particular image comes to mind, but it does).

Still, I have to admit, I’m having a bit of difficulty comprehending what’s actually going on because the prose (for the sake of keeping accurate with the original Greek poetry by Homer) doesn’t go straight to the point. The poem also had to make use of a lot of older English and this makes it harder to fully comprehend what’s going on.

For example, in Book I, Thetis reminds Zeus of his debt to her so that he would bless Acchilles and bring the Greek army to ruin because the hero refuses to help the Greeks. Acchilles was pissed off because his beautiful slave, Briseis, had to be given to Agamemnon because Agamemnon’s slave had to be returned to her father (who happens to be Apollo’s priest…and Apollo unleashed a divine wrath on the Greek camp).

When Thetis pleads to Zeus, I honestly have to reread the poem again to comprehend that Thetis just reminded Zeus of the time his fellow Olympians (led by Hera) bound him in an act of rebellion. Thetis helped free Zeus by asking for the hundred-handed Briares to cut off Zeus’ bonds:

“When bold rebellion shook the realms above,
The undaunted guard of cloud-compelling Jove:
When the bright partner of his awful reign,
The warlike maid, and monarch of the main,
The traitor-gods, by mad ambition driven,
Durst threat with chains the omnipotence of Heaven.
Then, call’d by thee, the monster Titan came
“Whom gods Briareus, men Ægeon name),
Through wondering skies enormous stalk’d along;
Not he that shakes the solid earth so strong:
With giant-pride at Jove’s high throne he stands,
And brand ” brandish’d round him all his hundred hands:
The affrighted gods confess’d their awful lord,
They dropp’d the fetters, trembled, and adored”

Essentially, the point of the poem was simple, but it took a while to process. I wouldn’t have understood fully what was happening if not for the fact that I already knew about Thetis asking help from Briares to free Zeus because this was also referenced in the Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods book.

I love how it is written but since I have just started reading The Iliad, I want to understand what’s actually happening first before I continue on to appreciate the beauty of each prose.

That’s why I’m currently searching up the Robert Fagles translation since it’s written in contemporary English and it would greatly help in understanding what’s actually happening in The Illiad and, eventually, in The Odyssey before I continue on with the Alexander Pope translation.

At the moment, I’m going to hold off the Pope version because I need to find a simpler account of the story first.

Partial Rating: A

—————————————————————-

UPDATE:

[P.57]

When the Spartan queen approach’d the tower,
In secret own’d resistless beauty’s power:
“They cried, “No wonder such celestial charms
For nine long years have set the world in arms;
What winning graces! what majestic mien!
She moves a goddess, and she looks a queen!
Yet hence, O Heaven, convey that fatal face,
And from destruction save the Trojan race.”

Okay, let’s stop and appreciate how beautifully written this prose is and how beautiful Helen was described.

She moves a goddess, and she looks a queen!

Okay, she’s gorgeous but other than that, Helen is also Spartan.

When the Spartan queen approach’d the tower

What does this mean? Why is it relevant that I have to point this out?

Because this shows that even if Helen is beautiful – goddess-level beautiful – this also shows that she’s more than just her face.

How could I say so? Because Spartan women are also provided with the requisite Spartan education, known for its very rigid military training. What’s more, Sparta’s patron god is Ares himself. They even had a statue of him chained to Sparta so that his fierce might will not leave their kingdom. Chaining Ares meant that the Spartans were very serious about war and military strategies.

What does this have to do with Helen? Helen grew up in a military household and in a military community. She is not to be taken lightly. Young women in Sparta were taught to fight as warriors since it was believed that this would help them sire strong Spartan warriors. This meant that Helen is a trained warrior educated in the many histories and aspects of war. For Helen, the Trojan war isn’t just about two men fighting for her affections, it’s a real-life lesson on war and of which she is familiar with.

This, I feel, is relevant to point out since Helen is more than the contemporary portrayal of her beauty. Helen is almost always portrayed in books and movies as this weak damsel in distress who simply followed her heart and, because of her beauty, has caused a war. No, it’s not that simple. Helen is a strong, independent woman who knows how to strategize her way out of any situation. She knew there will be a war. She knew her way around it. She knows how to get herself out of the situation she got herself in.

Because she is a warrior. Yes, her beauty started the war. Yes, her lust/love for Paris caused the Aecheans to attack the Trojans.

But she also knew when to stop. She decided as soon as she saw Paris fight that Paris is a weaker man compared to Menelaus and that the Aecheans have a better chance of winning…and she looked for a way to get out.

Helen is an admirable woman. She may not have shown her skills in battle, but I’m sure that, being Spartan, she knows how to hold her own. Oh, and yes, she also knows how to use her feminine charm and beauty to get her way.

Helen is definitely more than her looks.

The more people see that (and ignore the unjustified portrayal of her by contemporary media as a damsel-in-distress), then the more people will respect Helen’s role in the war. I actually think more women should look up to Helen’s strength as a woman and as a warrior and understand that true strength lies beyond beauty.

Oh, wouldn’t that be nice?

xoxo
Sheree

Daily Photo: Librong nabili ngayong araw

I decided to splurge on books today. I’m probably going to regret that, considering that Christmas is right around the corner and I’m already running out of cash.

Still, books will always be good investments and these are too beautiful to pass up on.

I don’t know anything about Patricia J. Williams other than what’s written in her author description, but the book seemed interesting. I breezed through a few pages before purchasing and I love her humor and attitude. I think I will thoroughly enjoy her book.

Then there’s Augusten Burroughs’ Running with scissors. This book has been frequently included in the list of books highly recommended by friends and by Goodreads. I figured I will read it in epub format, but finding it in a book sale for a very cheap price could only be divine intervention. Hence, I just went right ahead and bought it.

I wish I could have bought more but my budget won’t allow it. Oh well, I’m including these in my long, long, long list of books to read.

xoxo
Sheree