Nothing Is Okay

“I wish him a lifetime of safety and platitudes, a soundtrack of fluorescent lights humming. I do not wish him me, though. Never me again.”


Dry Cake Wishes and Tap Water Dreams

Rachel Wiley speaks to everyone who has ever been made to feel like they weren’t good enough in a past relationship. And she does it in the most comical and sarcastic way possible. She manages to capture the not-quite-hatred of her ex in an onslaught of mediocre wishes for him on his birthday. She doesn’t wish him death, destruction, and ruin. She doesn’t wish him pain or revenge. She wishes him fluorescent lights and tasteless oatmeal breakfasts, because his reason for ending things with her was because she was “too intense”. Therefore, the poem that follows is anything but intense. It’s savagely normal, and comfortingly comical. More importantly, it details the importance of letting things go, of moving on and holding no grudges against those who may have hurt us. Her poem is not an angry call to arms or a swearing off of all men. At the end of her poem, she speaks of finding someone else, someone better suited for her, and she wishes him the life that he wants too, albeit a painfully boring one.


Button Poetry

If you like this poem, you can purchase her poetry book, Nothing Is Okay from Button Poetry, a publisher of diverse poets who come from many different backgrounds. Button Poetry also hosts live readings, which help to capture the unique voices of these poets in breathtaking performances. Use the code “secondchance” for 25% off your order!

Book Review | Biohazard

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“Since leaving Moscow I have encountered an alarming level of ignorance about biological weapons. Some of the best scientists I’ve encountered in the West say it isn’t possible to alter viruses genetically to make reliable weapons, or to store enough of a give pathogen for strategic purposes, or to deliver it in a way that assures maximum killing power. My knowledge and experience tell me that they are wrong. I have written this book to explain why.
There are some who maintain that discussing the subject will cause needless alarm. But existing defenses against these weapons are dangerously inadequate, and when biological terror strikes, as I am convinced it will, public ignorance will only heighten the disaster. The first step we must take to protect ourselves is to understand what biological weapons are and how they work. The alternative is to remain as helpless as the monkeys in the Aral Sea.”
Ken Alibek, Biohazard: The Chilling True Story of the Largest Covert Biological Weapons Program in the World–Told from the Inside by the Man Who Ran It

Ever since I played Resident Evil when I was little I have always had a fascination with biological weaponry. Strictly from a fictional viewpoint, of course. Which is where biological, viral weaponry should have stayed. I really wish Biohazard was fictional. Unfortunately the story detailed in this book is real, or as close to real as one is likely to get from a defected member of Russia’s bioweaponry department.

You see, as a reader, I was skeptical of all the facts presented in this book. Why would someone who called Russia his home for so long suddenly spill all of its secrets with no fear of reprimand? Why was he allowed to go public with the information he had? Not only does he discuss Russia’s side of things. He discusses America’s as well. While I don’t doubt the authenticity of his story, I read this book with grains of salt. How much was fiction? How much was real? And is hydrogen peroxide really enough to sanitize a lab room that was infected with a virus?

This book is a slow burner. There was no way I could plow through this in one sitting, just because I’m the kind of reader who likes to let things soak in, and this was a deep read that required many breaks. Despite this, the first three quarters of the book were easy reading. It could be defined as boring in some places because of the amount of detail paid to the description of scientific causes, effects, and procedures, but for the most part, it was a devourable read.

The last few chapters close out the book nicely by discussing Americas cures, vaccines, and safety precautions that are now in place to combat the ill-effects of his previous work. As he stated, more or less, was that this book was his attempt at making up for all the wrongdoings he did as a member of Biopreparate.

I feel that this book is vastly important and a must read for anyone who has even the smallest interest in war, Russia, America, military techniques, or bioweapons. And if you don’t have an interest in any of those things, I still recommend this book. It is heavy with politics and if nothing else is a quick history lesson into who was in power during the Cold War era in Russia and America. Very informative, and quite enjoyable.

WWW Wednesday | September 19th, 2018

Today is the first day I’ve heard of WWW Wednesday, so naturally, I decided to give it a try! I discovered this meme via Whitney over at Whit Reads Lit. She posts lots of awesome book reviews, so go check her out! The meme is currently being hosted by Taking On A World Of Words. So let’s get right into this challenge!


What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading Biohazard, the true account of the Russian bioweapon project called Biopreparat. I’m a pretty big fan of the Resident Evil franchise, so I am just lapping up this book. It reminds me a lot of the fictional world of Resident Evil. But on a more practical note, I really wish this book was fiction, because the things discussed are quite horrifying. And it’s all true. I think this is one of those books everyone should read at some point, as it details the arms race between America and Russia, as well as the Cold War. So it’s a dose of history as well as some really neat/horrifying facts about the creation of biological viral weaponry. I will have a full review up as soon as I finish reading, so stay tuned for that.


What did you recently finish reading?

Hey. Hey. Hey. Hey. Hey readers. Hey readers. Hey. Hey…
WHAT?!
…Nothing.

The last book I finished was C. S. Lewis’s Paralandra. I’ve started working my way through this series, but decided to stop before the last book to read Biohazard. I really enjoyed these books. You rarely find fiction like this these days. It’s philosophical more than anything, and uses a tight plotline to discuss human origins, religion, and the reason we are here in a fun fictional way. Again, I will be posting reviews for this series as soon as I finish the last book, That Hideous Strength. I am excited to conclude this series. One of the most memorable parts of this book is when the devil character sits there all night repeating the main character Ransom’s name until he loses it and asks “what”, only to be answered by “nothing”. Now that is truly hell!

I also recently finished Out of the Silent Planet, the first book in C. S. Lewis’s series. He is considered a classic author, so I wanted to chug his works down. And let me tell you, these books are classics for a reason. I truly mean it. They just don’t write books like this anymore. The depth and intellect in this series is astounding. I can’t wait to finish this series!

Girl Code was also a book I finished recently. It took me about a day to get through, and I found myself quite bored by the shallow content presented. You can read my full review here. In an age where everyone is publishing self help books, one must ask themselves if all of those books are necessary. But you can be the judge of that yourself!

Circle of Friends was another recent finish for me. I absolutely loved this book. You can find my full review here.


What do you think you’ll read next?

That Hideous Strength is obviously first on my list after Biohazard. This is the exciting conclusion of the series by C. S. Lewis. I fell in love with the character of Ransom and it’ll be interesting to see him take on a different role in this story, not as the main character, but as a tertiary character.

Welcome To Night Vale is second. I found this book at Half Priced Books and just had to get it, because I adored the podcast. If the book is half as funny as the podcast, I’m sure I’m going to love it. I read the first paragraph of chapter one and started laughing like a maniac in the middle of the bookstore, so…that’s probably a good indication of how this read through will go.

Foucault’s Pendulum by Eco Umberto is also on my to-read list. I’ve heard great things about him based on other books I’ve read and loved. Foucault’s Pendulum is said to be dark, twisted, and esoteric, which all seems right up my alley. And the premise seems supernatural, but really it’s just a creation of human imagination and the dangers that humans can put themselves in by believing certain things. So I am really excited to delve into this. Some online compared it to The Club Dumas, which is one of my favorite books, so we shall see if it holds a candle.


 

You! Yes, you!

What books are you currently working your way through? Link your posts in the comments to share the book recommendations and keep this challenge going!

Take care, and remember to take your medications! 

Book Review | Girl Code

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Girl Code is a motivational kick in the pants for any woman out there who is currently or is planning on running a business. The book concisely outlines most of the usual points that come up when discussing successful people in general. In other words, it’s all been said before. However, one of her points in the book is that just because other girls are already doing it doesn’t mean you can’t too. So even though this content has been touched upon so many times that it has become droll, Cara brings her own personality to the topic.

There is a term I use with my clients that I call limitless luxe. When you are in a space of limitless luxe, we understand that our desires should be boundless, and they can happen for us–no matter how big we perceive those desires to be. We have to undo our programmed thinking that we cannot have what we want in life, or that we should feel guilty, shameful, or selfish for wanting everything. Or that because someone else has it, there is none left for us. There is absolutely no shame in having desires, and the sooner you own them, the sooner they will flow to you.

I’m not really one to write negative book reviews, because I know how much work goes into the production of a book, but I found this book pretty difficult to get through. It had many golden passages, for example:

Many of my clients come to me with what they think is a “business issue”, but in reality it’s a “life issue” that we need to work on before we can even touch their business. If you think your unresolved issues with your ex or your struggles with your body image aren’t affecting your success, then you are wrong. Life and business are undeniably intertwined. When our lives are a mess, our businesses mirror that. And on the flipside, when we’re facing our life issues head-on and working to be the best version of ourselves, our businesses thrive.

But in between these spot-on motivational truths was a lot of empty words. Fluff. Space fillers. It felt like reading a blog post, but much much longer, and my thought throughout was, “was it necessary to turn this into a book length dissertation?” Perhaps it was just because I didn’t really click with her demographic. After all, I’m not necessarily a woman looking to go into independent business. But even if I was, I would say this book didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know.

Yes, Cara speaks a lot about her successes and how far she has come in growing her own business, but she doesn’t really talk about the downsides of it all. People like rooting for an underdog, a person who has built something up from nothing and beat all the odds. Girl Code just seems like a book about a blogger turned life coach who had no problems reaching her success. She had the money, resources, and network to make the switch to a professional businesswoman without a hitch.

In fact, at certain points during the book, she discusses “problems” she encountered during her progress, but all of them seem a little fabricated. They seem a little fake. She tells a story about how she is driven in the wrong direction by a lyft driver when she was meant to be live on tv, but calmly handles the situation by not getting angry and instead reassuring the man that it’s fine and she won’t be late. Earlier in the same story, she says she leaves about twenty to thirty minutes earlier to allow for traffic. At the end of her anecdote, she arrives at the studio an hour later, but still manages to make it just in time to go on air. The whole thing just seemed a little contrived, and not realistic. Because if I were in her position, I would totally be overcome by panic. I would be sweating. I would be making all the phone calls and snipping at the man who made the mistake. I’m sorry, but that’s what most of us would do. That’s realistic. Who would calmly sit there and say “this is fine”. Negative emotions are ok to feel, and I felt like this anecdotal example paints her to have acted in a saintly way when really she was probably just as flustered and panicked as anyone else would have been.

It also seemed a lot to me like she was bragging about all she had accomplished, or…maybe not bragging, but…defending? It felt like she was trying to prove something. “Look at all the books I wrote. Look at all the stuff I’m doing. Look, haters, look at my success. Witness me!” Did she really go into business because she had a passion for it? Or did she do it just for the money or because it seemed like the easiest path? Sure, I can sit up on a podium and tell woman that all they need to be successful is to believe and think positively. I’m not saying all life coaches are just nonsense. I’m saying that her stuff just seemed a little superficial.

I feel like that is just ragging on her, but it honestly didn’t sit well with me as a reader. She talks about needing to be ruthless as a businesswoman, but then talks only about she is always calm, unquestioning, and confident in her work. Is that realistic? No, everyone has bad days. It’s ok to be panicked sometimes, or disappointed when something doesn’t work out the way you want. Girl Code just seemed to be filled with the positives and not many negatives. That, along with the focus on high end luxury fashion just didn’t jive with me and my lifestyle. If you are the kind of woman who lives for fashion designers, anything stereotypically female like sparkles, the color pink, and champagne, then this book is for you. I’m not so much into that superficial stuff. I’m much more into the spiritual self growth, so naturally this book just wasn’t a good fit for me.

The interviews incorporated into this book also seemed very surface level. The answers were generic and lacked depth. I appreciate the idea she was trying to go for, but it seemed lacking in actual content. It’s like the women interviewed said what they thought they should say, not what they actually felt.

I actually skipped the last two chapters of this book, and I can assure you, I probably didn’t miss much.

However, moving on from that, I did like the layout of the book. It was very interactive, which I LOVED. She encourages the reader to highlight, write in, and dog-ear the book, to make it into a sort of compendium for success. There are end of chapter reviews too. I did not write in my book, or highlight it, because I don’t really do that to my books, but I did like that the option was there, and I did fill all the spaces out in my head and think about the reflective questions.


Should you read it?

Eh, you could probably pass on this book and your life would be just fine. Honestly, I’m a little miffed I actually paid full price for it. I mentioned it sounded like a blog post. I can forgive that sort of shallowness from a blog post, because it’s free content that I can read and process and move on from without much effort, but a book that a person pays money for should have a little more depth of content to it than this. I wanted action plans, real advice, step by step processes, or red flags to watch out for when going into business.

Book Review | Circle of Friends

 

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Everyone needs to drop what they are doing and go order a copy of this book here. It’s a book you are going to want to read over and over. Yes, that is how much I love this book. As soon as I finished Circle of Friends, it skyrocketed to the very top of my favorite book list. Allow me to get into the reasons why I love this book so much.

Written by the ever so talented, Maeve Binchy, Circle of Friends focuses on a group of college students living in Dublin and surrounding areas. The book was written in the 90’s and takes place in the 50’s. I found it listed on Goodreads as “Chick lit”, “Romance”, and “Period Pieces”, and while it is a period piece, there is almost nothing of this book that dates it. In a word, it is timeless. It could have been a book about any group of friends, in any time period, and in any part of the world. I also don’t feel like “Chick lit” does it justice. Although it is a chick lit novel, and a romance as well, it is also so much more than that.

Every character in this story came to life. That includes the secondary, tertiary, and quaternary characters. Even the character who dies at the beginning of the book has his own little story to go along with his character (don’t worry, this is not a spoiler alert, his death is the catalyst that brings our circle of friends together). Nothing in this book was meaningless or without purpose. Every single detail tied into the next, flawlessly.

Let us begin with the character of Eve Malone. She is the friend everyone wishes they had; honest, witty, and fiercely loyal. She is part of a duo of main characters (the other main character being named Benny Hogan who we will get to next) and if Benny is ice–calm, nice, friendly–then Eve is fire–bold, fearless, and hot-tempered. So rarely do you see a character written as truly and honestly as Eve, let alone a female character! I found myself cheering her on with tears in my eyes several times during this read.

Benny Hogan is truly the main character of the story, and second to Eve is an adorably relatable character. A dumpy girl from the country, big boned and awkward, she captured my heart almost immediately. Throughout the novel, her connection to food hit home for me, as I’m sure it did for many other readers. She is the awkward little girl in each of us, vulnerable, genuine, and affable, Benny is well liked by every person she encounters, and no doubt by every reader as well.

These two girls go off to study in Dublin, leaving their small town behind (or at least during the week when they have class). They soon form a circle of friends with Jack Foley, one of the most sought-after boys on campus, and Nan Mahon, a deviously gorgeous girl who is always used to getting her way. Throughout the story, we follow this circle of friends through bumbling romances, heated arguments, personal grief, and selfish vices. Each character must bare their own crosses; Benny must endure the creepy Sean Walsh who is trying to become a partner in her father’s business and who has a penchant for most unwanted advances on Benny; Eve Malone must settle some business with Simon Westward, an estranged cousin from a family who abandoned her; Jack Foley must learn that his actions have heartbreaking consequences; Nan Mahon must try and fix her selfish plan gone wrong; and Mr. Flood must battle with his visions of nuns in trees, nuns that are not actually there!

Will Benny thwart the creepy Sean Walsh and stand up for her family business? Will Eve’s temper get the best of her and ruin the only connection she has to a true family? Will Jack learn from his mistakes? Will Nan solve her problem? Will Mr. Flood stop seeing the nuns in the tree?!

Find out!

Should you read it:

Um yes. 110%. Yes. Yass. Si. Ja. Hai. Da. Oui. Do it. You will enjoy it! It’s such a good novel you could write essays about the character development and intertwining plot lines.

Pages And Poetry

Ever since I was eight years old I wanted to grow up to be a cigarette
Because it was the only thing my father could never abandon.

The Heart of a Comet, Pages Matam

I would love to post a picture of him, but they are all copywrite and I don’t want to steal anyone’s photography, so go google him!

In the spring, I was fortunate enough to attend a performance that would open my eyes to a different world, and a different creative soul than any I’ve ever known. The show was called The Sweet Spot, a burlesque show of appropriately risqué content, and the creative soul was Pages Matam. At the time I didn’t know his name, all I knew was his words, and they struck me someplace deep; a place most artists seldom reach. The show was entertaining, inspiring, and left me feeling a high for days. Of course, I am a huge fan of anything even remotely perverse, so the sexual content of the show was already enough to get me hooked. There were dancers, a comedian, and live readings. But when this man took the stage, the crowd worshipped his performance. He worked the microphone like a sensual prophet, lighting up the audience in a way the other performers could not. I went home after the show with his words running through my mind, endlessly. His poetry was eloquent and so powerfully raw.

Although it was not at first apparent through a quick google search, I soon discovered his Instagram through The Sweet Spots‘s page. The poets name was Pages Matam, and I immediately became a fan. Shortly after doing some research, I decided to order his poetry book, The Heart of a Comet. The thoughts expressed in the book did not disappoint. Written as a homage to his stepson, The Heart of a Comet was a collection of words from his heart, spoken with emotion about his own childhood and difficulties growing up. He writes about family, romance, and the sort of father he would be.

When an artist can make you feel what they feel, without ever having experienced what they have experienced, that is the sign of true art. So many of his lines were so powerful, like being slapped across the face, that I would stop mid-poem and reread them until they were fully marinated in my mind. I was struck with the notion that this is what separates the artistic greats from the amateurs; they have the ability to fearlessly say exactly what they want to say in a precise fashion. I often pick up poetry books that try to twist the words into meaningless gibberish to try and sound edgy, or plump their poetry up with purple prose that sound exactly like the last three poets you read.

But Pages’ poetry is different.

He has things to say. And he says them fearlessly.

It is artists like Pages that reignite the hearts of dead poets, of dormant painters, of the uninspired. I think that art is something like a spark that must be passed among the creative souls of this world. If it goes out, art will die, but as long as artists like Pages continue to speak from the heart and use their own unique voice, that creative spark will never go out. How refreshing it feels to be inspired once again by an artist.

Book Review | You Are A Badass


Author Information

Jen Sincero is the author of several books, including You are a Badass, The Straight Girl’s Guide to Sleeping With Chicks, You are a Badass at Making Money, and Don’t Sleep with Your DrummerShe is also a life coach, motivational speaker, and bonafide badass who went from an ordinary woman making pennies at a job she hated to being everything she wanted to be, just by taking the risk to actually do it. And if that isn’t motivational, I don’t know what is. (Of course, what would be even more motivational is if she wasn’t a middle-aged white female, because let’s be honest: success for that demographic never seems like much of a struggle.)


Review

This was a delightful little book to read on my vacation, as I am currently in a phase of my life where all I can think of is “MANIFEST, MANIFEST, MANIFEST!” Anyone who has read any self help blogs or articles that promote radical self love, manifestation, or life improvement might feel like they are having déjà vu reading this book. It concisely covers just about every one of those topics, but not in a way that had me rolling my eyes and saying “get on with it already”. She added a lovely layer of depth to each of the points, and always maintained a positive, inspiring voice throughout. She incorporates meditative and cognitive exercises that you can do anywhere anytime in order to change your thought process to be more positive. She consistently encourages self love, even to the point of ending each chapter with “love yourself, because…” and then goes on to list a reason based on the previous chapter.

The book did an excellent job of pepping me up, giving me a moral boost that I so desperately wanted while on vacation. I was pleased that the book was exactly what I thought it would be, and after putting it down, I felt better about myself.


Should you read it?

Sure! It covers many redundant self-love manifestation topics, but does so in a concise and refreshing way. It was a quick read and the exercises were fun to do along with each chapter.