Archives for posts with tag: Reading List

“If there was a definitive end date to all of this, I can at least wrap my head around it,” I told my Dad last weekend, taking a swig of Ballast Point’s pale ale. We were in my parent’s backyard, sitting six feet apart. That weekend in April, the San Diego sky dried up after days of rain. The sun warmed my skin, and the sensation felt restorative––a simple pleasure that, when coupled with a brief, socially distanced visit to my family after only brief (masked and gloved) human encounters at the grocery store, I know is critical to maintain my optimism and sense of order right now. Lately, I’ve felt unmoored; like I’ve been holding my breath for a month, waiting to exhale. It’s uncomfortable, daunting, and I don’t like it.

Beyond the tangible harm coronavirus has caused, experts agree that the root of our collective anxiety is grounded in the unknown. “This is an invisible threat: We don’t know who is infected, and anyone could infect us. This is an ambiguous threat: We don’t know how bad it will get … we don’t know how long it will last. And this is a global threat: No community is safe,” Roxane Cohen Silver, a professor of psychological science, medicine and public health at the University of California, Irvine, told Mother Jones in an interview.

As we enter another week of self-isolation and social distancing, and wait for health and government officials to signal a phased return to the way we moved through the world before coronavirus, I’ve turned to consuming media offering different, more positive ways to think about universal themes of change and uncertainty. It’s just one of many ways I’ve been trying to exert control during a time when I feel like I have none. Here’s what I found:

Reinvention episode, TED Radio Hour

In 2020, Manoush Zomorodi takes over hosting duties of the TED Radio Hour from Guy Raz. She’s the author of Bored and Brilliant, which is all about how boredom and idleness helps creativity—I’ve read it twice. This TED Radio Hour episode is Zomorodi’s inaugural show, and through a number of thought leaders like the former UCLA Women’s Gymnastics coach and the mayor of Stockton, California, listeners are asked to consider themes of collaboration and empathy in order to reframe how we think about success and transformation.

Is That Nostalgia You’re Feeling? by The Atlantic

Reading about how and why we miss our pre-pandemic lives as a form of nostalgia, even though the past wasn’t that long ago immediately made me think of the Portuguese concept of saudade. In simplistic terms, I’ve come to learn that saudade probably feels like nostalgia—a longing for something (a person, a place, a moment) that may or may not happen again. 

A particularly encouraging thought in The Atlantic piece reads that nostalgia “…can help you remember that there are people in your life who care about you, that you have felt better than you do now, and that you will be able to feel good again in the future.”

Finding Connection and Resilience During the Coronavirus Pandemic, The New Yorker 

Nothing beats in-person connection (I’ll take a socially distanced coffee date in my parent’s garage over a phone call any day), but if this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s underscored humanity’s need to be with, and live for each other. Even though the end of this New Yorker article is unsettling, I love this quote from Agustín Fuentes, an evolutionary anthropologist at the University of Notre Dame, “One of the amazing things about the human species—once harmless critters not much more than monkeys running around—is that, over time, we have become very creative. We’ve adapted to survive. That’s what people will rely on now—coming up with incredibly imaginative ways to find connections even when they’re not in the same physical space together.”

What about you: Have you read, listened to, or watched anything lately that has offered an uplifting perspective on making sense of the coronavirus pandemic? Let me know in the comments.

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Admittedly, I knew very little about the power struggle over Kashmir before I read The Far Field. So I dug. Completing the book led me to this Al Jazeera video illustrating how the subcontinent of India has changed since 1947, the year India gained independence from Britain. Reading The Far Field also piqued my interest in watching the movie Viceroy’s House, currently on Netflix, about the final events leading up to Britain’s retreat from its colonies that year, and how religious conflict between Indians lead to partition, the event that would initially create Pakistan, for India’s Muslim minority. This decision would also cause the largest mass migration in history, according to the BBC. An internet search for more information about Kashmir results in reporting as recent as August 2019, describing frequent clashes in the area.

The Far Field is a lyrical historical fiction novel, and stories that string moving prose rooted in real events are my favorite. Narrated by a now 30-year-old Shalini, our protagonist, the book shifts between her privileged childhood, and adolescence. When the book opens, we meet our protagonist at home in Bangalore, who feels adrift following her mother’s death. She is barely an adult, working her first job out of college. 

She seems apathetic, and I’m not sure if it’s because our protagonist generally lacked ambition, or because young adults are generally unsure of themselves, or if her current state was a product of grief. We also sense distance between Shalini and her father, who is considering re-marrying. Amid the upheaval, as if Shalini were either running away from her issues, or conversely, confronting them directly, she sets off for Kashmir solo, seeking answers to her mother’s death.

Shalini’s childhood is set against the background of decades-old conflict between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. When she decides to pursue her mother’s past, and specifically, the charismatic salesman who used to visit their home in Bangalore, Shalini finds herself caught up in tensions. Throughout the chapters, we wince at how her blinding lack of self-awareness and nuance cost the people around her much more than what she thought she had to lose.

Shalini’s present-day journey to Kashmir and her interactions with the people she engages with along the way illuminate India’s stark and complex social dynamics. Yet, what resonated with me the most were the familial scenes, the flashbacks to moments with her mother and her struggle to understand a woman who had the capacity to lift her up and destroy her in the same breath. In one instance, Shalini describes the power her mother had over others, “…she had an exquisite instinct for zooming in on his frailties.” To me, these moments, sprinkled throughout the book, felt psychologically exacting and, most unnervingly, eerily familiar.

Learn more about The Far Field.

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Lychee at Polihale State Park, Kaua'i.
Lychee keep the day sweet.

Southwest Airlines begins service to Hawaii

Earlier this week, plucky budget carrier Southwest Airlines finally began selling tickets to my home state––Hawaii! In a statement, Southwest announced service to the Hawaiian islands of Oahu (Honolulu), Hawaii Island (Kona), Kauai (Lihue––shoutout to my hometown) and Maui (Kahului). Nonstop service to the Aloha State on Southwest begins with California cities including Oakland and San Jose with more information about flights from San Diego and Sacramento to be announced in the coming weeks.

Currently, reservations through June can be booked via the airline’s website.

Of course, you can still get to Hawaii from other Southwest gateways, but you’ll have to purchase separate, connecting flights if you want to fly Southwest. The airline continues to build out its schedule.

Southwest had this to say, as reported by USA Today, “As we continue to add service to Hawaii and increase some of our technical capabilities, we will only see more cities gain connections to the state.”

Hanalei Bay, Kauai

In the meantime, if you’re planning a trip to Hawaii, I’m resurfacing some of my favorite bylines to help inspire your time in the islands regardless if you’re flying Southwest or not:

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