And The Mountains Echoed, Khaled Hosseini

I’ve been having such a hard time focusing on basically everything that I love to do and thus have been distracted from finally finishing this book that I have carried around with me for months now. Hopefully now that I have finally overcome this barrier and lack of focus, I’ll be able to get through some imaginary booklist much more smoothly.

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Riverhead Books (A Penguin Group), 2013

As someone who has read The Kite Runner, my mom was more than excited to pick up this gem and read through it way faster than I did. Upon completion, she adamantly suggested that I, too, read it. I was hesitant, mostly because it was my mom and I wasn’t sure if we’re always on the same page (haha) when it comes to the subject matter we like to read about. It was in this hesitation that she started to appeal to the writer in me, telling me how well it was written and the descriptive style he utilized. So, putting my initial hesitation aside, I took up the book and, okay, I was glad I did.

This is the first of Hosseini’s works that I’ve actually read and now I think I may need to read more because (holy cow) this was unlike anything I’ve read in a really long time. While there is only one major storyline throughout the novel, it branches off into several smaller plot lines/backstories. And while this usually becomes confusing or tiresome, this novel becomes neither. Hosseini is a master in flowing into and out of each storyline and each new narrative and character. The structure was weird at first, but by the middle of the actual novel, it all made sense. There is no other way he could’ve written this novel. And if he had, it wouldn’t have intrigued me as much as it did. My mom was right. It was interesting and well written and his descriptions were on point. (I say it like this because I am not a very descriptive writer myself and am really not a huge fan of overly descriptive writers, but this was great. GREAT, KHALED HOSSEINI.)

The story follows a brother and sister, Abdullah and Pari, as they begin their lives, become separated through a terrible family situation, and are ultimately brought back together at the end. (Was that a spoiler alert because sorry.) However, throughout their story, we are introduced to about five other characters who receive their own storyline and while this seems like it could get real messy real fast, it does just the opposite. Not all the characters and backstories were necessary to describing the bond between the siblings, but it was necessary to the book and to each character’s role in bringing the two back together. The connections that Hosseini made between each character and story and occurrence was absurdly awesome (is this a real term I can use in book reviews? I’m not good at this, remember?). You’re flipping page after page and reading different stories and then a connection is made and your mind is blown.

And okay, maybe I got teary eyed once in a while.

Hosseini is known for writing novels based on areas and people in the Middle East. He touches on their culture and their lifestyle and it’s the coolest thing. I was never one for history, really, but when reading literature that discusses a different culture in such detail in ways that I could never imagine, it touches you. It changes you. It joins us together in a human way and being a person and using words to do that reminds me of everything that I want to do with words. To show everyone the power of words. The ability to change mindsets and introduce cultures with words. It’s a crazy thing.

Okay, and because I’m 100% not qualified enough to be giving out book reviews of this nature, I’ll just leave it with my most favorite quote from the entire book because I think not only does it show the writing style of Hosseini, but also the importance of understanding one’s culture:

“He said that if culture was a house, then language was the key to the front door, to all the rooms inside. Without it, he said, you ended up wayward, without a proper home or legitimate identity.”

Problems With Living Alone and Working at a Mall

So, as most of you all know, I have recently (maybe not recently it’s been four months, I’m not sure how long I can keep using the term recently to describe my relocation) relocated halfway across the country to find the kind of adventure that everyone claims comes with such a drastic move. To find some sort of environment that I couldn’t even create in my old space. To find something that back home couldn’t provide me with. To find myself. But the more days that I spend out in the metroplex of Texas, I start to wonder if I was ever even looking. Maybe finding yourself is a nice sentiment, but maybe it’s not necessary to go out and try to find it. Maybe it just finds you. Maybe yourself finds you and maybe no one understands that. Maybe we all have to stop looking for ourselves because maybe we’ve been the exact person in the exact space that we’re supposed to be, but we just didn’t realize it. But now as I write all that out maybe going out to try to find yourself only teaches you that you didn’t need to search. That you yourself is okay as you are. That anything else is an added adventure. Or a way to teach you that you yourself is okay as you are. 

Goodness, epiphanies are a weird time and maybe I’m having one?

I won’t say that living on my own is the worst time, but I’m sure as heck not going to say that living on my own is the best time either. I’m also not going to say that I am the most well adapted person in this world, because, as much as I claim to be, I am not all that adaptable after all it turns. I guess everyone moves away to a different city or state or country with this fantastical idea of romance and adventure and self realization. And maybe that’s what I did. And maybe I’m still convinced that will happen for me. But life right now is none of those things and I’m not sure how to make it all of those things really very quickly. 

I think one of my problems is that I work at a mall. And I say this because I like to blame all of my life’s failures and misfortunes on this fact. Working in a mall is a great and terrible time. Maybe great for a while. Like high school kid working at the mall is great. They love the mall. And what could be better than working part time at their favorite store while getting a pretty outstanding discounts on clothing that they may not be able to afford otherwise. Even a full time college student working at the mall is having a pretty great time. Same discounts, maybe better pay, all the while going to school to learn how to do exactly what they want to do. Yet here I am, out of high school, out of college, and at a mall and I can’t quite put my finger on just how I ended up here. Here in a different state with a college degree working part time at a mall. Life is weird and sometimes annoying. But maybe my biggest problem isn’t that I work at a mall, but maybe it’s that I don’t really like how I feel about working at a mall. Does this make sense?

Okay, here it is: working at a mall is not my life goal. I do not dream of being a store manager at a mall running some store with the hopes of moving on to bigger and more corporate retail things. This has never been something I have wanted to do. No, there is nothing wrong with this. That’s fine. Especially if that’s what you’ve always wanted to do. But this is not something I’ve always wanted to do, but it feels like this is all I’ve ever done. And as I hypothetically list retail job after retail job after retail job year after year after year on a resume to send out to get a real career somewhere, I can’t help but feel a little, well, under qualified? As hard as I try to escape the mall, I can’t help but think maybe this is the only place I’m qualified for. The only place I really know what I’m doing. Dare I say it? The only place I feel comfortable enough to work? I’m scared to think that I’ll never get out of this funk–this feeling of being so little in such a bigger world–and get stuck in a life I never envisioned for myself in a mall with no escapes. 

2013: A Summary and Salutation

I guess this post is a little delayed, but better late than never, amirite?

2013 was a weird year for me. But I guess most years are. And I guess most years are for most people in some way. It’s cliche to say that 2013 taught me all of these profound things. It’s even more cliche to that 2013 changed me; transformed me into the living creature that I am right now in this moment. And I’ll be double cliche because both of those sentiments are true. The last year taught me numerous things. Maybe my lessons weren’t as profound as some. And maybe my lessons weren’t even new lessons–maybe they were lessons I had learned before that I needed to be retaught or that I was just experiencing once more. Maybe I didn’t change all that much. Maybe my life hasn’t morphed into something to be envied. Maybe it has. Who knows because I sure don’t. 2013 was a year of firsts. And of lasts. New relationships, new friends, new people. It was a year of endings and beginnings and new experiences. It was a year of tears and laughs and smiles and anger and hatred, even. It was a year of life.

I came into last year on the wrong foot. Just months before the new year, I lost my grandfather. The one person I could never imagine being without. I was “talking” (I guess romantically?) to someone I wasn’t fully interested in. I was involved in friendships that didn’t challenge me. I was in a rut. I lived in my basement for a few months. I lived on my couch for a month after that. I wasn’t able to cope with life and death because for so long I wrote fictional stories about loved ones passing away and I wrote the reactions and feelings surrounding individuals would have and there I was, living the nightmare I so easily wrote about. And I realized I wrote about it so easily because I had no idea. Not even the slightest. But through this, I found a voice. I found the voice. The voice I had been looking for. The story I had been searching for. It was with this voice that I drafted my first manuscript. Maybe it won’t go anywhere. Maybe it won’t get any attention. But it was something that I didn’t think of doing ever until I did it. And it made sense. And it felt right. And it got me back on track. I took another trip to Texas and decided that this was a place that I should maybe live. I met a boy who changed my whole perspective on boys and relationships and futures with more than just me. I long distance dated. I worked my butt off. And I lost friendships because of it. I learned the difference between want and need. The difference between who mattered and who didn’t; who really meant they’d stick around no matter the circumstances.

I said goodbyes.

I said goodbyes and I picked up my life and moved it half way across a country by myself. I left the comfort and security of everything I had once known. I doubted myself every step of the way. I wasn’t strong enough for this life. For this experience. I would never last. How could I last? Why would I want to last? How were people younger than me moving out every day? How were people younger than me so easily settling into a new life away from their old one? I ate dinners on the floor and slept in the cold. I was awoken by construction at 7am. I abandoned my writing and I could’ve abandoned myself. I learned that I’m strong enough to deal with not only what life throws my way but strong enough to deal with the things I want. Strong enough to do the things I want. Strong enough to move on and not regret it. Strong enough to know when moving on isn’t right. And when letting go is wrong. And when changes need to be made to better my life and increase my happiness.

I was reintroduced to the boy who changed my perspective on the idea of “the boy.” I let go of all the fears I once had. Let go of all the uncomfortable thoughts and awkward moments. I let go of everything I thought I had to be in order to get someone’s attention in that way. I let go of myself and along the way I found myself. I found myself in a relationship. I found myself in a relationship where I could be myself.

2013 was the year that I learned that I love myself. In spite of all the years of self doubt and insecurity and a lack of confidence, I love myself. Love what I’m capable of. Love what I’m passionate about. Love the way I see things, the way I handle things, the way I react to things. I learned that only after accepting yourself can you accept anything else and now here I am. Here I am at the beginning of a new year that I’ve decided to completely dedicate to myself. This year’s resolution is to be selfish. I’m going to write more for me. Read more for me. Find new hobbies; start playing the piano again; paint my nails; curl my hair once in a while; take long car rides with the radio on full blast; sleep till noon; travel; eat chocolate chips right out of the bag; blog more. All these things done for no one but myself. It’s time to get myself focused again. No more losing sight of how I’m going to get where I want to be. No more losing sight of what it is I want.