Memoirs of a Geisha

During the semester, I did not have as much time to read as I would have liked. I reread one of my favorite stories, Memoirs of a Geisha, recently and was reminded of why I enjoy this book.

The story is told from first person point-of-view from an older geisha. She begins the story when is a just a young girl in Japan during the Depression. Chiyo Sakamoto is a poor girl from a fishing village, but captures the attention of a man for her unusual eyes, which are a blue-gray color. She and her sister are taken from their home and Chiyo is sold to an okiya (house where geisha live) in a prominent area of Kyoto. The story is based on background information provided by retired geisha, Mineko Iwasaki, but Chiyo’s character is fictional. Without giving too much away, she becomes a maid before she begins her journey to being a geisha. Chiyo is in awe of the beauty of the geishas and the respect they are given, but the path is very difficult.

I enjoyed the novel because it read at a leisurely pace without being slow. In the beginning of the story, Chiyo is just a child. The narrative highlights her curiosities at that age and her emotions as she is taken from her home. It also reflects her maturity as she gets older and encounters different experiences. Reading the story made me feel like I was following Chiyo through her life. A good book will pull in its readers until they feel every emotion and that was my experience with this one. When there were moments of heartbreak, it hurt me to read of her tears and devastation. The story was very detailed, but well-balanced with dialogue. Many different characters are introduced throughout the story, but it was not confusing because there was a clear distinction between them. Each character had a strong impact on Chiyo and I could feel that through their descriptions.

Prior to reading this book, I had heard of geishas and only knew what they looked like. I did not know what they did, but there was a negative association between geishas and prostitutes. Geishas are traditional Japanese entertainers. They entertain men through song, dance, conversation and serve tea as hostesses. Young girls spent years training and perfecting their skills that would make them successful geishas. They went to schools that taught dance, musical instruments, and other skills. It was important for them to be successful because they were expected to repay their okiyas back for the money spent on their food, lodging, kimono, and other tools needed.

There is a great deal of effort and time that is required for being a geisha and not every woman can do this successfully. It is also important to note that some people would confuse geishas with prostitutes. The difference is that geisha’s wear their sash tied in the back, but the prostitutes tied theirs in the front. There are still some geishas practicing in Japan, but they are mostly in the company of the higher social class.

This book is controversial because Iwasaki sued Arthur Golden after the book’s release. According to her, he was supposed to keep her identity a secret and revealed parts of her life that were supposed to remain personal. She felt that he did not accurately portray her life and shamed the geisha profession. Iwasaki published her own book in 2002 titled, Geisha: A Life, to tell her story in her own words.

Whether the story is completely true or not, it is still a very good story that I can always come back to when I want something to read. This is also an award-winning movie.

The Keys

If you’re looking for a good motivational read then this book is for you. The Keys by DJ Khaled is a self-help that offer five major keys to being successful. Khaled breaks down how he overcame hardships and turned his passion into a career. Most people spend most of their life searching for what it is they were meant to do in this lifetime. How is one supposed to know what their purpose is? When you find it how is one supposed to achieve it? One of the things I enjoyed about this book is that Khaled show us what to do when you run into certain road blocks.

“Patience really is a talent. Sometimes when you see your vision so clearly, it’s challenging not to just want to rush the next win. I always say timing is everything, meaning as in, there’s a right time for everything, so patience is important. My patience has been tested at every step of the way to see the level of success I’ve seen, and I know in my heart that really big wins take years.” –Dj Khaled

One of the five major keys that Khaled mentions is Stay Away from “they,” who is “they” you might ask, let me explain. “They” is just a simple word for negative people or the haters, if you want to accomplish anything in life getting away from negative Nancy is a start. Like Steve Harvey says, “Stop telling your dreams to small minded people.” Khaled says, “as long as you stay away from “they” you will prosper,” sounds simple enough, right? There will be people in life that will tell you that thing that set your soul on fire is impossible or you’re not capable or worthy of certain things…don’t listen to “they.”

“They want to put you in to a box or put limits on you, so make sure your vision is so huge that it destroys the box and those limits.” (page 71)

There’s a section in which Khaled mentions the importance of being yourself and that section my friend touched my soul. Sometimes it can be hard to be the “black sheep” especially when you are living in a world where people are hesitant about accepting anyone not following the social norm. However, the thing you have to remember is that you are unique and no one can do the things the way you do it.

“Being yourself is power. In some ways, of all the major keys, it’s the most important key. But it’s the hardest to master. It’s the one you have to keep working at as life goes on, and it’s the one that leads to the others. Ignoring who you are will eat at you. When you live life by what other people want from you, you aren’t really living.” (Page 21)

I highly recommend this book to anyone that feel stuck or need that little bit of a boost to keep you going. The four other major keys he talks about:

Secure the Bag
• Respect the Code
• Believe in the Hustle
• Win, Win, Win no Matter What

Within each of these major keys he offers other life lessons that are beneficial to a person’s life. There’s a possibility that you’re scratching your head trying to figure out what these major keys mean…well I guess you’re just going to have to read the book to find out

Fun Fact: DJ Khaled’s first and last name is Khaled…so yes, his name is Khaled Khaled.

Demon-Haunted PechaKuchas

 

Dr. Rebecca Martindale gave a PechaKucha presentation at the end to give her interpretation of the book.

On Friday December 1, Dr. Rebecca Martindale, Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology, had her students present their PechaKucha presentations over the book, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan.

 

“When we first started these presentations, I kind of did it in the middle of the semester and Caleigh started at the beginning. She’s going to do her presentation of The Demon-Haunted World the way most students and faculty would present when they use PowerPoint Presentation,” said Dr. Martindale.

The event began with Caleigh Bailon’s traditional presentation summarizing chapter 1 of the book. She discussed the key points of the chapter and her slides were text-heavy, which is common in many traditional presentations.

“After learning the new method of presentation, it’s kind of gruesome to go back and look at something like this,” Bailon said.

Next, Philip Dorouen explained what a PechaKucha was and how they worked. PechaKuchas are presentations that follow a specific format. 20 images are shown for 20 seconds each and they advance automatically.

“They are a great creative way for students to express themselves,” he said.

The benefit to this presentation style is that it can prevent the speaker from spending too much of their time talking about one part of the presentation. They have to keep speaking to keep up with the presentation and it can shorten a lengthy topic to highlight the main points. You can visit the PechaKucha website for more information and to watch other presentations. He also played the following video for the audience to give them a visual of how this presentation method worked.

“One of the things they do is have PechaKucha nights. It was originally designed by a couple of architects who basically had this philosophy where if you give an architect a microphone, they’ll talk for hours and hours. People all around the world get together in lots of different venues and have PechaKucha nights to talk about whatever they want with this particular format,” said Dr. Martindale.

Abram Garza presented his PechaKucha to summarize chapter 3 of the book.

Abram Garza presented the first PechaKucha of the event to summarize chapter 3: The Man in the Moon and the Face on Mars. This chapter was about pseudo-science and how people tend to believe tales without proof of their validity. He used note cards to aid his presentation because this format relies on images without text. Roslyn Swofford was the last student to present and she summarized chapter 21 of the book.

Dr. Martindale ended the event with her own PechaKucha presenting her interpretation of the book. This particular method made it easier to stay engaged during the presentations. The absence of text put more focus on the presenter and what they were saying, while also providing an interesting visual. Next time you have a presentation for class, try using this method to make your presentations more fun, engaging, and interesting.

Need a Good Book?

Starting in 2015, I got back into reading and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. My favorite genre of books to read are motivational/self-help books, because I’m always in the mood for good energy. I also enjoy memoirs/autobiographies, because reading about how someone else overcame hardships remind me that it’s possible for me to. So, I decided to share some of my favorite books for those that enjoy reading or want to start reading.

1. Year of YesShonda Rhimes
This book is one I’m sure I’ll read for a second time and I benefited from it tremendously. For years Rhimes turned down any and everything that was outside of her comfort zone as most of us do. Until one day her sister Deloris whispered six simple words, “you never say yes to anything.” At that moment Rhimes decided to challenge herself for one year to say YES to everything that scared her. With this challenge, she learned so much about herself and the things that scared her ended up producing her biggest accomplishments. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone, because that is when you are really living.

2. Write It Down, Make It Happen- Henriette Anne Klauser
This was actually the first book that sparked my obsession with motivational books and the one that I picked up in 2015 when I wanted to get back into reading. This book Klauser discusses how simply writing down your dreams is the first step into making them a reality. There are many stories in this book of how everyday people wrote down their goals and saw things transform into reality right before their eyes. Klauser stressed that by writing down your goals and being clear about them makes you more motivated to want to do them.

3. Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success- Steve Harvey
I don’t even know where to begin about this book. Mr. Harvey, he helps you to find what your calling is. Once you discover that purpose he mentions how to make your passion your career. There’s a few times when Harvey talks about his personal life and how difficult it was to come from nothing to making a huge name for himself. Success don’t come easy, but as long as you work hard, don’t give up, and believe in yourself anything and I mean anything is possible.

4. Jump- Steve Harvey
Yes, I’m mentioning another Steve Harvey book, because when it comes to motivating people he’s perfect. One day after a taping of Family Feud, a game show in which Steve Harvey host he had an encouraging message to the audience. Well, without knowing someone filmed it and uploaded it to the internet and before you know it the video went viral. That video is what prompted him to write this book. This book talks about how nothing extraordinary can come staying in your comfort zone. All the real magic and joy is on the other side. In order to really maximize your full potential and your purpose you have to take that leap of faith and JUMP. He says that when you first jump from that cliff your parachute isn’t going to open right away. In fact, you’re going to get bruised up, scraped by the rocks but eventually your parachute will open, but you can’t be afraid to take that risk. I highly recommend this book for anyone that has been day dreaming about a goal and need that extra push to get started.

5. Life is not an Accident- Jay Williams
Talk about depressing this amazing memoir inspired me in a way that I can never fully put into words. This three-time Duke All-American player and number two pick in the NBA draft ended his career due to a motorcycle accident. Jay Williams the former player for the Chicago Bulls thought he was invincible until one day that came to an end. This book shows how he hit rock bottom and was still able to rise above and change his life around. I think this book also teach a person to always stay humble no matter how much fame or money you have, because there’s always something in life that will remind you being a good person is key.

Black Privilege

When you see the title of this book, what do you think about? I know some of you are probably thinking, “there’s no such thing as black privilege in America.” So, what does this title mean? Charlamagne defines Black Privilege in a different way, although some may agree to disagree, racism and white privilege are very real in this country and that’s fact not just my opinion. The subject of race can sometimes be an awkward topic to talk about, but if society keep sweeping it under the rug as if it means nothing, how are we supposed to fix the social issues that are going on? When asked about the title he says, “when you’re talking about black privilege you’re talking about something spiritual, not something systemic…I feel like we’re able to tap into a divine system that gives us abilities to prosper in spite of all the obstacles we face in America.”

Charlamagne Tha God is a cohost of the nationally syndicated hip-hop iHeartradio program “The Breakfast Club” and a featured television personality at MTV and MTV2. He is also a social media influencer; an executive producer with his own production company, CThaGod World LLC; cohost of the popular podcast “The Brilliant Idiots;” and author of his own Marvel comic. Born and raised in a small town in South Carolina, Charlamagne quickly rose to become one of today’s most unique and compelling media personalities. His point of view and proactive celebrity interviews help drive the daily national conversation about issues related to hip-hop, race, society, and politics. (CharlamagneThaGod, Black Privilege)

He can now add New York Times best seller to his resume`. Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes to Those Who Create it, discusses eight life principles to help people find what it is they were meant to do in life. He says, “live your truth, so no one can use your truth against you,” he explains that living an authentic life is the best way to live and that will bring you ultimate success and happiness. Within this book Charlamagne is unfiltered and give the raw honest truth about his upbringing and how he managed to completely change his life around coming from a small town called Moncks Corner, South Carolina to working in the city that never sleeps. After being kicked out of school, fired from multiple jobs, he found mentors that helped him to see what all life had to offer.

I’ll share three of my favorite principles that resonated with me most:

1. It’s not the size of the pond but the hustle of the fish: Principle 1
“Geographical location doesn’t determine what kind of success you will have, but your psychological position always will. How are you going to make waves in a bigger pond when you haven’t even learned how to cause a ripple in the pod you’re in? When you stop complaining about where you are physically and start focusing on where you are mentally, that’s when you will start to transcend your circumstances.” (Black Privilege, page 1)

I love this principle because I was raised in a small town that don’t offer many opportunities that correspond to my dream career. I’ve always thought, if I could just get to a bigger city then I’ll be successful. When in reality that’s not necessarily true. I’ve learned to just start where you are and make do with that, if you’re passionate about what it is you’re doing everything else will eventually will fall into place.

2. There are no losses in life, only lessons: Principle 4
“Always look for the lesson in any situation you think didn’t go your way. Understand that your plan isn’t necessarily also God’s plan for you.” (page 107)

This is one that really resonated with me because sometimes when something bad happens we take that as a loss. However, it’s not a loss just a lesson that you needed to be taught. Often times in life we get impatient and we want things quick and easy. I’ve always heard that “the things worth having don’t come easy.” You have to understand that all of your setbacks, roadblocks, and detours are necessary if you want to get to the next level in life. So, the next time you feel defeated by life think about the lesson that you needed to learn.

3. PYP (Pick your Passion, Poison, or Procrastination): Principle 2
“There are three primary “P’s” to choose from life: (1) Passion, which leads to prosperity. (2) Poison, which leads to pain. (3) Procrastination, which doesn’t lead anywhere at all, because you sit around waiting for things to just magically happen. Please don’t pick “P’s” numbers 2 and 3. Instead of hoping you’ll be successful, follow your passion and make conscious decisions that will help you realize your destiny.”( page 33)

What I like about this principle is that whatever you’re passionate about it’s important to follow that particular thing. Yes, it can be scary to step outside of your comfort zone, but don’t keep procrastinating on a dream that have been on the fore front of your mind for years. In the process of following your dreams separate yourself from the things that don’t bring you any joy. Surround yourself with people that are going to make you constantly want to evolve.

The Demon Haunted World

The book club meeting held on November 8 began with the video above. The book discussed was The Demon Haunted World- Science as a Candle in the Dark written by Carl Sagan. Sagan was an astronomer born in 1934. He worked on NASA projects and wrote the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Cosmos, that turned into a thirteen part television series that aired in 1980.

Science as a Candle in the Dark is a collection of Sagan’s articles and essays over a few decades. One of the points highlighted in the book is the effects of scientific illiteracy. Science and math are subjects most students are not excited to learn in school. Because of this, people take scientific assertions as facts when there is no proof of these assertions being true. A topic mentioned was UFO’s. Many people wrote to Sagan asking him to verify the existence of UFO’s. He could not say they existed, nor could he say they did not. However, he did think this was a hallucination.

One of the people who wrote to him said, “Your conclusion that large numbers of people in this country, perhaps as many as five million, are all victims of an identical mass hallucination is asinine.”

After the video, the moderator Dr. David Allard, Professor of Biology, opened the floor for discussion about the book and Sagan’s ideas.

In the book, Sagan discusses alien abductions and the people who claim to be victims.

“Carl Sagan talks about how he can hear his dad every once in a while in his head. He lived with his dad for so long and every once in a while he could hear ‘Carl’. Technically, that is a form of hallucination, auditory hallucination,” said Dr. Angela Sikorski, Associate Professor of Psychology.

After she said this, there was discussion about sleep paralysis, which Dr. Sikorski confirmed is real. Sleep paralysis has been a theory behind the stories of alien abduction for years. Sleep paralysis occurs when you are falling asleep or waking up. The mind is awake and fully aware of what is going on, but the body is asleep. You are unable to move or speak, but you are mentally aware of the sounds around you because you are awake. In this state, it is very possible to begin having visual hallucinations.

Dr. Dayna “Joy’ Goldstein, Assistant Professor of English, chose this book for discussion and said, “He touched my life as a scientist I could relate to and I watched the Cosmos series and he inspired me about the meter of the universe.”

A moment when Sagan inspired Dr. Goldstein was when she was at a point in her life when she was questioning religion and her beliefs. Sagan’s own religious beliefs were debated and he was not a religious man.

“As a person who never had a strong interest in math and science, I found the book very interesting and entertaining. Sagan was able to explain science in a way that made sense for the average person. The book was not full of confusing scientific jargon, but was written in a conversational tone.”

As someone who does not have an extensive background in science, the book was not difficult to follow. Sagan explained his thoughts in a tone that did not belittle the reader and was very interesting to read. He used examples and stories from real people to emphasize his points.

 

“Year of Yes”

“If you want crappy things to stop happening to you, then stop accepting crap and demand something more.” –Christina Yang, Grey’s Anatomy

The magnificent creator of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and executive producer to How to Get Away with Murder all share one thing in common…Shonda Rhimes. She has become a household name and is the super woman behind these hit television shows that own Thursday nights! Aside from being a producer, screenwriter, owning a production company ‘Shondaland,’ and being a mother to three girls, she is also the author of the book, ‘Year of Yes.’ When a person has that much going on it makes sense that Rhimes would say no to anything outside of writing for her Thursday night hits. Although Shonda is a busy woman that wasn’t the sole reason why she continued to turned down opportunities, but I’ll explain that a bit later.

Rhimes prefer to being behind the camera, why, because she’s a liar and she enjoys every second of it. Shonda Rhimes admits to the thrill of making things up in the opening of her book, “I’m a liar. And I don’t care who knows it. I make stuff up all the time.” Now before you freak out about that statement and boycott her shows, she gets paid to make stuff up…she writes for the shows that keeps her audience on the edge of their sofas every week. Now here’s the real reason Shonda use to skip out on opportunities, because she’s extremely shy! Rhimes explains in her book how much of an introvert she is, having panic attacks before television appearances, and saying ‘no’ to anything that involved her being the center of attention. Then on Thanksgiving Day 2013, Deloris, Shonda’s sister mumbled six simple words “you never say yes to anything.” Shonda, being the brilliant person that she is, decided to challenge herself and for one year said YES to everything that scared her.

“Year of Yes,” is a journey of how Shonda Rhimes transformed from saying “NO” to all things that scared her to saying “YES” to all things that scared her. That meant one day giving the commencement address to Dartmouth University in front of thousands upon thousands of people and even appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live, something that the old Shonda wouldn’t have done. I think this is a book that many people around the world could benefit from, because it challenges people to stop living life afraid of the unknown and to stop being comfortable in the place they are familiar with. As 2017, is slowly starting to come to a close this is the perfect time for those that want a change in their life to take on the “Year of Yes” challenge for 2018.

“New year, new me,” will be the statement that will be circulating around social media on January 1, 2018, so why not really mean it this time by doing something you’ve never done before? Do you feel like your life is a little stagnate, do you feel like you haven’t accomplished anything, still feel like you are the same person you were a year ago? If you answered yes to any of these it’s probably because you’ve been living your life in your little bubble that most called “a comfort zone.” A person’s comfort zone is a place that is familiar and nothing bad can come from it if a mistake happens. However, guess what, nothing extraordinary can happen from it either. So, with that being said I’m giving you a homework assignment, but don’t worry it’s not due until December 31, 2018.

I want you to go out and buy a notebook, and throughout the year write down every scary opportunity that is offered to you. Of course, you said yes to it because you’re participating in the “Year of Yes” challenge, right? Write down what was going through your mind when the opportunity presented itself and your experience after you completed it. At the end of the year reflect on what type of year 2018 was for you. I guaranteed it will be your most fulfilling year yet.
Good Luck!