Write Simply or Like You Walked Out of a Thesaurus?!

“I tell my students that when you write, you should pretend you’re writing the best letter you ever wrote to the smartest friend you have. That way, you’ll never dumb things down. You won’t have to explain things that don’t need explaining. You’ll assume an intimacy and a natural shorthand, which is good because readers are smart and don’t wish to be condescended to. I think about the reader. I care about the reader. Not ‘audience.’ Not ‘readership.’ Just the reader.”                 

-Jeffrey Eugenides-

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This quote by Jeffrey Eugenides, which he tells his students in his creative writing classes begs the question of how smart exactly is the average reader.   I would like think the average reader is smarter than most, even me.  I mean I’m average in so many ways, and not ashamed by it.  I’m an Asian un-gifted in the math and sciences.  This is why I’m not a doctor or dentist or anything related to medicine.  If I was, guess what?  I’d probably be somewhere walking down the halls of some hospital or clinic, maybe wishing I was doing something else.  There were no brainy individuals in my bloodline, and accepted this a long time ago.

This doesn’t mean my biological parents didn’t give me anything.  They gave me other things besides  a brain that belongs in Mensa or near Mensa.  You might say I’m viewing myself as stupid, but that’s not the case.  I’m seeing myself as realistic.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve adopted realistic goals and centralized viewpoints with many different topics.  Basically, I’ve become less focused on how others view me and more on what I can do improve myself within my own life.  I’ve become less competitive with others including myself.   Unless you’re writing in the academic world or for a specific age group (preteen or teens),  I think a happy medium should be adopted when you write the average novel. 

I’ve purposely left out things in past stories or scripts to not hit the reader over the head with the obvious.  This led to my roommate, often my guinea pig, to say what are you trying to say or do in this paragraph or description.  I learned when you border on being cryptic, misunderstanding can occur and does as the pages increase.  Therefore, I have added necessary information to the reader so there is no guessing for the reader in my current rewrite.  I suspect I’ll learn even more as I rewrite more, and hoping my next rewrite doesn’t take as long.  Writing should feel as natural as can be, but still keeping objectivity as much as possible.  I suspect most of us are smarter than we let on in some cases, while in others we play stupid silly.   This is all I have to say about this for now.  

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Book Recommendation: Middlesex

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“At the age of forty-one, l feel another birth coming on.”

-Calliope Stephanides-

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Publisher: Picador

Publication: June 5, 2007 (1st edition in 2002)

Page Number: 544 pages

Jeffrey Eugenides wrote Middlesex after The Virgin Suicides, which the latter was adapted into a movie in 1999. This is his second novel out of three novels and two short stories compilations written so far. Eugenides is currently a Professor of Creative Writing at Princeton. Middlesex is about being born one way, but not wanting to be that person later, and making the changes necessary to be comfortable in your skin. The protagonist, Calliope Stephanides, exposes family secrets everyone else wants to keep hidden long after they had left their home country. The story traverses back and forth from a tiny village in Asia Minor to Detroit, Michigan, highlighting immigration ordeals, and the study of sexual norms and practices. It is also partly a coming of age story because where Calliope started is vastly different from where she was by book’s end, and partly neutral referencing of political events happening around her during this growth period in America. Despite it being a little thicker book, it is rich in content and well written.

Explore Middlesex on Amazon

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Book Recommendation: Freakonomics

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“Information is a beacon, a cudgel, an olive branch, a deterrent–all depending on who wields it and how.”

-Steven D. Levitt-

“If you ask enough questions, strange as they seem at the time, you may eventually learn something worthwhile.”

-Stephen Dubner-

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

Publication: August 25, 2009 Original edition

Page Number: 315 pages

Documentary: 2010

Contrary to the title of this book, Freakonomics is not so much a book about economics as it is about sociological phenomena discussed by an economist, Levitt, and Dubner, musician and writer who was story editor at The New York Times Magazine. There is an updated and revised version of this book published in 2006 due to the embellishment of one of their sources. Despite this flaw which they corrected, it’s a type of book where many leapt into bookstores or ordered online because it is written for the reader to understand. Freakonomics includes interesting topics from cheating in school, real-estate, KKK, drug dealing, abortion legalization, parenting, and naming children. The authors make comparisons throughout the booking, often incorporating how it relates to criminology data and trends. I read this quite a while ago, meaning I was one of those who ran to the bookstore, but now it is time for me to invest some of my time on SuperFreakonomics, and re-watch the documentary.

Explore Freakonomics Book on Amazon

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My Juice Detox Thoughts Now That The Seven Days Are Done

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I’m going to be again brutally honest.   I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect on this seven day juice detox.  I know there are no easy fixes to losing weight.  I also know being healthy is more important than anything else.  A person can be thin, but their organs might tell a different story.   Just because you look healthy doesn’t mean you are healthy.  So how really helpful is a juice detox?  Some say it is beneficial if you don’t do it longer than three days.  Others say seven days is too long especially when you are only drinking juice.  Here’s what happened to me.

The first day was easier than the end because I had just started.  I made the mistake of drinking two bottles within a short amount of time on the third day.  Therefore, I visited the bathroom more than I wanted.  Otherwise than this, I only used the bathroom for the normal activities one goes through.  I needed some reassurance to keep going on the fourth day as my stomach grumbled a little more and my mouth was getting drier.  I kept going back to the reason for doing it in the first place, which kept me going.

The primary reason I did this was to jump start my eating habits.  While I eat pretty well during the day, I like to snack at night.  It’s my biggest weakness when it comes to eating.  The other thing I tend to do is eat things that aren’t exactly the best for me.  I’m not too much into cookies or chocolate, but noticed I’ve been eating these more and it needed to stop.  I was also eating other foods highly ineffective when you’re trying to lose weight.  Ones diet is just as important as the quantity and quality of exercising.  It won’t be effective if what you eat is garbage, insert fried food.

I was in the best shape when I was exercising two hours a day, incorporating a lot of running uphill and weight lifting.  This was way back when, but times have changed even though I’ve been trying forever to get to that point again. I wasn’t in the best mind frame back then and worked out partly for the wrong reasons.  Yet, the physical results were what I wanted.  I lost 20 pounds in a five weeks.  What I wouldn’t give to lose those 20 pounds again.  It won’t happen unless I’m willing to make some major changes to my overall diet not just for a week but for the rest of my life.  This detox was a way for me to get back on track as I’m one of the millions of people who have trouble eating healthy 90% of the time and exercising regularly.  If I don’t make major changes, neither will my body.  Here’s to cutting out as much sugar, salt, and fried foods.

This juice detox offered six juices a day.  The max I could do was five on one day and only drank four the rest of the days.  I found it more difficult to drink the flavors except the one with carrots and beets especially on my last day, which was today.  I broke down and ate additional vegetables starting the third day after work.  I ate a few organic carrots, but mainly organic small bell peppers and Persian cucumbers.  I was going to wait on Friday to eat something, but I couldn’t wait any longer.  I ate the soup I’ve been waiting to slurp up since Monday.   The next few days I’m going to gradually work my way from liquids to solids.

I was able to get through this detox because it offered more than the Master Cleanse.  This was one of the mistakes I made five years ago.  I lasted basically 5.5 days until I called it quits. I would never do it again, not even if someone paid me one million dollars.  It was that bad.  The ring of fire they described was more like a quadruple ring of fire.   RAW Generation actually gave me substance in their bottles.  If I were to do this again, which I might,  I would only do the three day detox.

This whole experience made me realize that yes, you are what you eat, but there’s never not a time to improve what you are putting or not putting into your mouth.  I’m not looking to be a clean, healthy eater 100% of the time, because it doesn’t exist.  Even the ones who say they are healthy 365 days have weaknesses.  While I will stumble and eat something not good for my body in the future, I’m hoping this detox further awakens the realization that just because dark holes exist doesn’t mean you have to stay there.

The order of my least favorite to best have changed.  The beet is #1 (red bottle), the orange is #2 (orange bottle), the cucumber is #3 (light green bottle), and while I could taste more difference at the beginning, the rest of the green bottles tasted the same by the end of my detox.  And there you have it, my take on my seven day juice cleanse.

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Hills After the Fire Near Sepulveda Boulevard

The fire is gone near the Getty, but the hills continue to grow to be what they once were before the flames.  Grass seed was laid down and some of it has definitely taken root.  It’s hard to take photos of it when driving and usually only take it when the traffic has stopped completely at a stoplight.  I’ve missed a few opportunities, but managed to get a few snapshots when traffic wasn’t too busy.   These photos don’t do it justice because driving back from work the hills are pretty cool to see.  It has been raining all week so I’m sure the grass will really take off now.  I plan on getting some better photos, meaning be the passenger and not driver.

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March 2018: African Sculpture

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African Sculpture

I’m carrying the tradition of focusing on a certain country or continent instead of a particular artist. I’ve made a few clay masks in my life during various art classes. They are fun to make.  African sculpture was first made from wood and other organic materials. You can deduce most of the earliest ones did not survive. Those that had a better chance were made from clay for religious ceremonies in West Africa. The earliest known sculptures in this region are from the Nok culture in Nigeria. These people lived between 500 BC and 500 AD. As time progressed, the sculptures included bronze casting for reliefs. Central Africa masks had features such as heart-shaped faces with dot and circle patterns. East Africa was known for their pole sculptures that had human shapes with geometric decoration. These poles were associated with death and the ancestral world. South African clay sculptures date from 400 to 600 AD. These sculptures had cylindrical heads with human and animal features. Here are some examples of the beautiful masks and sculptures from the the past.

Pictures/Information by Wikipedia

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