On Love [Old & New]

Over and over again, I’ve found myself recommending this book by Alain de Botton (author of How Proust Can Change Your Life) and I think it’s because it so easily resonates for anyone who’s ever been in a committed relationship. If you don’t want to think about love, I do NOT recommended reading this. Young or old, male or female, gay, straight or what have you… if you’ve ever experienced the fall (or something like it), you’ll find yourself relating to the narrator or his beloved and imperfect Chloe.

The book itself takes an analytical approach to love and brings the subject down to the barest of circumstances making each stage of love (from the first jump to the extremely depressing end) universal in every sense of the word. His obsessive dissection asserts that love is not individualistic and it is only believed so because what we want in the end is to have the beloved love us for who we are, not what we represent. As such we convince ourselves that the love we share with our special someone is unique and it is only that person who truly understands us at our core.

On a personal note, reading the book brought me back to my one and only real relationship which ended about 3 years ago. During the 7 years we were together, I definitely felt my share of experiences relatable to both narrator & Chloe but one passage that really evoked some old emotions that have long been put away was this:

One does not get angry with a donkey for not being able to sing, for the donkey’s constitution never gave it a chance to do anything but snort. Similarly, one cannot blame a lover for loving or not loving, for it is a matter beyond their choice and hence responsibility—though what makes rejection in love harder to bear than donkeys who can never sing is that one did once see the love loving. One finds it easier not to blame the donkey for not singing because it never sang, but the lover loved, perhaps only a short while ago, which makes the reality of the claim I cannot love you anymore all the harder to digest.

The arrogance of wanting to be loved had emerged only now it was unreciprocated—I was left alone with my desire, defenseless, beyond the law, shockingly crude in my demands: Love me! And for what reason? I had only the usual paltry, insufficient excuse: Because I love you….

At one point of the us that once was, I played the narrator. I was left feeling deserted and out of control and damaged. I looked back on the years we had shared and deemed him despicable. Just as we so often believe that “…the one who rejects is labeled evil, & the one who is rejected comes to embody the good,” I followed suit and played the role of martyr remarkably well. Then we came back to each other, years passed and we came full circle but in the end, I was Chloe. I was the aggressor, the hateful person who could somehow wound a loved one, the vile betrayer of a love once shared. Unsurprisingly, while the world hated a way (at least for a spell), I thought I was doing the right thing. Freeing the person who I cared for but for whom I no longer loved in the way that makes a romantic relationship work.

Hollow. 8.5"x12". Oil & Acrylic on Paper. 2009 Stella Im Hultberg.

The book is in so many ways a tour de force. It made me laugh, cry and I still find myself picking it up from my bedside table to reread old chapters even after I’ve moved on to my next good read [Blindness by Saramago if you were curious]. Though the narrator definitely has his lows, the book ends on a positive note (somewhat): “We are all more intelligent than we are capable & awareness of the insanity of love has never saved anyone from the disease.” In the end, though he realizes to fall is a folly… it is one that is unavoidable and absolutely worth the risk.

I figure, I’ll get there one day. Naturally, of course.


I’ve been getting a few hits on my blog archive so I decided to reread some of those old entries to see why people were so interested [side note, I had quite the vulgar mouth back then, I almost couldn’t believe it… and it hasn’t even been that long since I stopped writing on NicBlot. I was also super self-involved and very mean, but I guess that comes with the territory of being a teenager].

I came across a book survey I had done on 22 May 2006. Reading it over, I realized there were still many books on the list that I had not yet read, but some that I had. So here we go, book worm revisited—

Instructions: Bold the ones you’ve read. (The books in red are the new books I’ve read since 2006. I also placed an asterisk [*] next to my favorites.)

  1. Bastard out of Carolina, by Dorothy Allison
  2. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
  3. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood *
  4. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
  5. Waiting For Godot, by Samuel Beckett
  6. Farenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury *
  7. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
  8. Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte
  9. The Baron in the Trees, by Italo Calvino
  10. The Stranger, by Albert Camus *
  11. Breakfast at Tiffany’s, by Truman Capote
  12. Cool Salsa, ed Lori M. Carlson
  13. Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
  14. The Cherry Orchard, by Anton Chekov
  15. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
  16. The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros
  17. Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad
  18. The Inferno, by Dante
  19. A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens
  20. Poems, by Emily Dickinson i adore her
  21. Ragtime, by E.L. Doctorow
  22. Crime and Punishment, by Fydor Doestoevsky
  23. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
  24. The Beet Queen, by Louise Erdrich
  25. As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
  26. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  27. Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank
  28. Grendel, by John Gardner
  29. Unsettling America, ed Maria Mazziotti Gillian and Jennifer Gillian
  30. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
  31. Mythology, by Edith Hamilton
  32. A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry
  33. Tess of the D’Urbervilles, by Thomas Hardy
  34. The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  35. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
  36. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
  37. The Holy Bible
  38. The Odyssey, by Homer *
  39. Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
  40. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
  41. A Doll’s House, by Henrik Ibsen
  42. Rhinoceros, by Eugene Ionesco
  43. The World According to Garp, by John Irving
  44. Daisy Miller, by Henry James
  45. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce
  46. The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka
  47. The Liars’ Club, by Mary Karr
  48. Schindler’s List, by Thomas Keneally
  49. On the Road, by Jack Kerouac
  50. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
  51. Annie John, by Jamaica Kincaid
  52. The Painted Bird, by Jerzy Kosinski *
  53. Angels in America, by Tony Kushner
  54. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
  55. Angela’s Ashes, by Frank McCourt
  56. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, by Carson McCullers
  57. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Garbriel Garcia Marquez Started this last November but unfortunately haven’t had the time to finish it. It’s a great book.
  58. In Country, by Bobbi Ann Mason
  59. Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller *
  60. In Search of Color Everywhere, ed E. Ethelbert Miller
  61. Beloved, by Toni Morrison *
  62. Harper’s Anthology of 20th Century Native American Poetry, ed Duane Niatum
  63. The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
  64. The Complete Stories, by Flannery O’Connor
  65. Long Day’s Journey Into Night, by Eugene O’Neill
  66. 1984, by George Orwell I can’t believe I still haven’t read this.
  67. Metamorphoses, by Ovid
  68. The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath
  69. Tales, by Edgar Allan Poe
  70. Hunger of Memory, by Richard Rodriguez
  71. Earth Shattering Poems, ed. Liz Rosenberg
  72. The Ghost Writer, by Philip Roth
  73. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger again … i need to read this book
  74. No Exit, by Jean-Paul Sartre
  75. Hamlet, by William Shakespeare
  76. Macbeth, by William Shakespeare
  77. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, by William Shakespeare
  78. Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare
  79. Pygmalion, by George Bernard Shaw
  80. 100 Best-Loved Poems, ed Phillip Smith
  81. Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, by Art Spiegelman *
  82. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
  83. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson
  84. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, by Tom Stoppard
  85. The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan
  86. Walden, by Henry David Thoreau
  87. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
  88. Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
  89. Candide, by Voltaire
  90. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
  91. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
  92. The Double Helix, by James D. Watson
  93. Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton
  94. Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman
  95. The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde
  96. Our Town, by Thornton Wilder
  97. The Glass Menagerie, by Tennessee Williams
  98. This Boy’s Life: A Memoir, by Tobias Wolff
  99. Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf
  100. Native Son, by Richard Wright
  101. The Autobiograpy of Malcolm X, by Malcolm X with Alex Haley

Here are a few other books I’ve read that have always stood out in my mind—

  • The Giver, by Lois Lowry
  • Animal Farm, by George Orwell
  • Three to See the King, by Magnus Mills
  • Sula, by Toni Morrison
  • The Harry Potter Series, by J.K. Rowling
  • The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis
  • On Beauty, by Zadie Smith
  • Lullaby, by Chuck Palahniuk
  • Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov

It’s been so long since I’ve read some of these books that I can barely remember some of the story lines. I’d really like to get back to reading a book a week (or at least every 2 weeks). I miss being that girl who always has her nose in a book. Life is so much fun when a story is playing in my head.

âmes sœurs

My weekend was marvelous.


I spent Saturday watching movies with two of my favorite cousins, Kuya Jay & Kuya Jeff. I finally watched Snatch (it’s amazing that I’ve never seen that movie until now), which more than lived up to my expectations. I also watched Wall-E for the first time and I have to admit there were times during the film that I held back tears—who would have thought a love story between two robots that say almost nothing would be that touching?

After a day of lounging on my cousins’ couch eating burgers and watching films, we headed out to pre-celebrate Kuya Jeff’s 30th birthday. photobooth-kuyasWe decided to take a photo booth picture (btw, worse photo booth ever. What ever happened to quality photo booths of the good ol’ days?) of just the cousins once we were a little less than sober. Ridiculousness ensued.

Unfortunately for me, I ended up drinking far too much and had to end the night relatively early with Kuya Jeff and Trisha walking me home (labs ♥).


Yesterday night was Kuya Jeff’s actual 30th birthday dinner party at Satsku (weird Japanese restaurant that didn’t seem to serve any real Japanese food… Kuya Jay and I ended up sneaking away for a bit and getting sandwiches at a deli down the street). Much fun was had and I saw a lot of people I haven’t seen since the new year.

Oh, and I learned some vulgar phrases in French! One apparently is pretty common and the other is supposedly so bad, I shouldn’t even say it (but I probably will eventually, haha).

Even though it was a Monday, I figured my cousin only turns 30 once so I had a few drinks and enjoyed myself. I was, however, able to hold my own this time around and ended up putting my two (definitely less than sober) cousins in a cab before walking myself home. All in all a very fun evening.


On an unrelated note, I received the sweetest package in the mail yesterday. A book written in French entitled âmes sœurs (soulmates or kindred spirits). It’s going to take me forever to read it… but I started on the first few pages at lunch today and it’s seems like a book I’ll like. I’m looking forward to finishing The Idiot so I can start on âmes sœurs.


Actually I have many things to look forward to… if only 2 weeks could fly by faster. ♥