FLAT OUT LOVE by Jessica Park

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I’ve been eyeing this book for a while now and finally decided to read it. I actually finished the book before 2017 ended but just posting my review now.

I actually spoiled myself when I was halfway reading. I scanned the last half of the book and then boom. LOL. Even with the spoiler though, I actually enjoyed the book. It adds freshness to the typical romance. It touches on pain, acceptance, growth, family, and of course love.

Flat Out Love is about Julie Seagle, a newbie Boston resident who was saved by her mother’s best friend’s family from living out in the streets after being scammed in Craiglist for the supposed to be ‘apartment’ that she will be living in throughout college and about her experience living with the Watkins. The busy and absent parents, the mysterious and away oldest brother Finn, the geek and kinda over protective Matt, the closed off Celeste, and of course Flat Finn which is a cardboard cutout of Finn, the older brother.

The story got me hooked from the start and I know that there’ll be more to the story than what’s already been laid down, especially regarding the elusive and mysterious FINN.

More so than the romantic aspect of the story, I was moved by it’s touch on pain, trauma, and family. Coz my guess was right. There was more to Finn. When “Finn” supposedly told Julie in their email what’s up with Flat Finn, I had a feeling that it was not all and that there was a deeper reason behind. And when I spoiled myself, I realized I was right. haha. The story touches on how losing one’s family member and witnessing the scene itself can cause problems which even when covered by ‘normalcy’ cannot be unseen.

Everyone deals with grief differently.

In the story, Finn died in a car accident which is primarily caused by the icy road but the mother couldn’t help but blame herself as the reason instead. I can only imagine what losing one’s child feels, especially if you’re blaming yourself for the loss. It might have been difficult and a long way to recovery, especially if you are already depressed to begin with. I can kinda somehow relate to this because I lost my father when I was 19. Although, in my case, I think I’m kinda apathetic and such a bad child. I cried, of course, but it was like I readily accepted it. I did not go through much grief like the Watkins family. Maybe because, my father and I are not really close. He has been working in the city when I was a child and I only see him on weekends. Maybe because, he has been battling Diabetes and his kidney failure for months before he passed. Maybe because, I was just really trying to suppress the pain and chose to feel numb instead. I don’t really know but for whatever reason, I did not go through much depression and grief. Life went on.

Let’s talk about Flat Finn which is one of the most important characters of the story. The cut out cardboard of Finn symbolizes a lot of things. It shows that the Watkins are not ready yet to accept the reality that Finn already passed. It symbolizes that the mother doesn’t want to accept her guilt or maybe she wants to be reminded of it instead. It symbolizes the pain of being number 2 which is the case for Matt who has always been second best, next to his brother. Slowly Flat Finn changed. He had “joints”attached to him. This change symbolizes that something is changing for the Watkins family. The wall that they have put tall is now cracked, even if it’s a little. Maybe, it just needs an outside force, a persistent one, to take down the walls that we have build for ourselves. Maybe, we are just waiting for somebody to intrude into our lives, so unexpectedly, and hope that he or she will be able to save us from misery. In the end, Celeste was able to tuck away Flat Finn to the attic. Basically, concluding the story that the pain and reality was now accepted and although, the Watkins is still in the process of healing, at least there’s hope, there’s change.

I also fell in love with Julie and Matt’s love story. It’s not really a new concept where somebody is pretending to be somebody else when chatting and the other person will fell in love with that person only to find out that the person is not the person she thought she was chatting with. Julie is a very straight forward person and Matt is her opposite. They met in an unexpected way, fell in love in an even more unexpected way, then reality stopped the momentum. Matt was pretending to be Finn. Julie started chatting Finn when she doesn’t know yet a thing about what really happened, and she fell in love. She fell in love with the Finn that she was chatting with. Only to find out that it was Matt in the end. It is definitely hard to accept that the person you fell in love with isn’t the person you think he is. But I guess, in the end, genuine gestures will make you get past the pretending act. And in the end, YOU FELL IN LOVE WITH THE CHARACTER and NOT JUST THE FACE.

Flat Out Love is a gem. I can’t say that it’s the best but it’s definitely one for keeps.

 

2018 is THE YEAR!

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2018 GOAL BOARD

I said that 2017 was not THE year nor were the years before it. I do believe though that 2018 will be THE YEAR!!! Yes, I have faith in this. I firmly believe. 2017 was the stepping stone year, the laying of the foundation year, the getting the act together year. And now, 2018 will be  THE YEAR to tie everything together and produce results. I’m not off to a good start, to be honest, but I believe I’ll pick up the pace and start running to the finish line of my goals this year (though my destination is really not clear still).

New year, same old resolutions, haha.  This time i’ll make sure that i’ll follow through.

Here are my goals for 2018.

FITNESS, BEAUTY, HEALTH

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2018 Fitness Goal Board

1. Love my body and accept who i am. 

I want to change, yes, but before I do so, I have a goal of being comfortable in my own skin. Accepting who I am, loving myself will be the first step for change.

2. Have clear face and skin.

I have bad skin. It’s been one of my insecurities for the longest time. I get acne a lot and they leave marks for a long, long, long period of time. Also, I don’t like wearing bikinis because it will show the stretchmarks on my butt as well as the dark side of my bikini area. I’ve been trying to resolve the issue for a couple years now but still to no avail. Recently, I’ve started using organic products for my facial wash, toner, moisturizer, cream, shampoo and conditioner. I’ll continue seeking the best way to handle my skin problem but my goal is to find it this year.

3. Have a fit and lean body.

This has been one of my most used resolutions but one of which I’m always falling. haha. This time around, I won’t let it be a failed one. Step by step, day by day, I’ll try to go ahead and achieve a fit and lean body. I’ll chronicle my journey as well which hopefully keeps me going.

 

CONTINUING EDUCATION AND CAREER GOALS

4. Enroll and finish Programming bootcamp (Tuitt).

This will actually be very challenging coz enrolling in the bootcamp  means that I will lessen my hours of sleep, travel to and fro my work place, enduring long queue in the train as well as a sea of people. I hope I’ll be able to survive 6 months of this and complete the course with flying colors. The fee is a lot so I really need to make this work.

5. Finish myTEFL course and get certificate.

So I finally purchased myTEFL 120-hr course last January 2. However, I haven’t had the time or energy to actually start focusing on completing it. I only have 3 months to work on it, pass the courses and get my certificate. I will work on building a habit to a lot at least one hour of each day on it and make up whatever I missed on weekends. I really hope I’ll be able to stick to this because I spent a fortune on the course.

6. Get accepted into an online teaching job in April.

After finishing the TEFL course, my goal is to find a teaching job online as a part time. It will put my skills to test and at the same time learn from the experience that I’ll be getting which will be necessarily when I apply for a teaching position in Japan by August.

7. Apply for US J1 VISA.

I got to know from one of my new co-workers how she interned in the US where she was able to earn money so she can visit Japan twice. USA, amidst all the political controversies going on, is still one of the places that I want to visit and live for a while. There are places I wanna visit and relatives I wanna meet too. So, I decided that I’ll save money and gain the qualifications needed so I can apply. My target is to apply by August.

8. Get a job in Japan/USA/Vietnam.

The future is unclear. I’ve been trying to go to Japan for almost three years now to no avail. This year, by God’s grace I will be able to go to Japan. Back up plan is to apply for a teaching job in Vietnam. The USA is another matter since I’ve allotted a year of preparation to go there but I really wanna work there too. Basically, I just wanna get out of my comfort zone and travel the world. Target date is September.

 

JAPAN GOALS

9. Get accepted in the PJ Link Scholarship Program.

PJ Link is a language center that periodically screens applicants who wants to go to Japan to work or study. I’ve applied twice for different programs but to no avail. Just this week, I’ve applied to yet again another program which is a scholarship program this time. Hoping this time, I will pass and be able to participate in the program and finally go to Japan. Well, interview’s next Saturday and I’ll be able to know if i pass or fail within the month. Hoping for the best.

10. Finally pass JLPT N3.

I’ve taken JLPT N3 thrice already. THRICE. AND I FAILED THRICE. Miserably. Lol. So I finally relented and took JLPT N4 last December 2017. Hopefully, I passed N4 so I can focus 2018 passing N3. I’ll get to know the result around 4th week of January. Praying that i pass.

 

PERSONAL GROWTH GOALS

11. Travel solo abroad.

It’s been one of my life goals to travel abroad. Coming from a lower middle income family, I decided that once I started working I’ll save up money so that I can go ahead and achieve it since it wasn’t an option when I was a kid. Four and a half years after graduation though and I still haven’t gone outside the country even once. This year though, I’ll really make it work. I had booked to Japan and China before but wasn’t able to apply for visa and got rejected  respectively. This year, I already booked a trip to Singapore in August. I’ll save money for the trip and make it one for the books!

12. Have devotion time everyday.

I’m a baptized Christian but I don’t see myself as one which makes me feel guilty. Following Christ is not easy, especially since I’ve prioritized the world for too long. But i’ll make it through. One day at a time. Having a devotion time every day is one of the goals, for reflection and meditation.

13.   Blog more.

I really ought to blog more. Express more. I started a number of blogs before but I always stopped updating them along the way. I won’t let the same fate befall this blog. I started this blog as a platform to where I can share my thought, what’s up with my life. A really personal one. It seems though that it’s like a book/movie review blog only. haha. I love books and movies and will definitely post reviews of things I’ve read and watch but I’ll go ahead and also start posting more about my life, my journey, reflections, and my goals, hoping that this blog will be able to touch at least one person.

 

I know that there are overlapping goals and no specific time limit there. I know that goals without deadline are just wishes. But I’ll strive hard this year to achieve the goals I’ve set. I can only plan but I lay everything to God.

HERE’S TO 2018! LET’S CONQUER 2018! 🙂

 

 

2017 LOOKBACK

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2017 was not THE year. I guess no year ever was yet.  It was not the year where #DreamsFulfilled happened which was my goal hashtag for 2017. It was not the year where I was able to achieve much or save much. It was actually a year that I lost a chunk of my savings. It was the year that was almost. I almost grasp my dream but then i was pulled back down by gravity. Almost, almost. But almost is never enough. However, for everything that 2017 was not, it still was a good year.

It was the year where I finally took a step forward (even if I went back and forth throughout the year). A step forward change. A step forward to becoming peace with myself. A step forward my goals. It was a step forward. It is a small step but it’s already a lot.

2017 was the year I bought my netbook and even though it runs in Celeron, i am still proud of myself that I was able to buy a working netbook. It’s a great milestone for me since I never spend money much (but I keep on losing it for some reason, prolly is food lol). But I bought my netbook in cash! It cost me Php13,000 which is a lot for me already.

2017 was also the year that I was able to read the most books. I have read around 170 books in total which was more that the number of books I have read all my life. It was a good year to get in touch with discovering my like for reading, writing, novels, and poetry. I discovered great authors and poets! 🙂

It was also the year where I started to really make effort in taking care of my physical appearance. I am not pretty nor did I became pretty after making effort. haha. But 2017 is the year where I started making effort in making me decent. haha. Before last year, I think I only bought clothes for myself around 5 times for my whole 23 years of existence. I never did like shopping. But last year, there’s a huge improvement. I spent money on clothes! Even though mostly are just tops, that’s a great achievement for me already. I also started spending money on beauty products, not make up per se, but like the products that will make your face clearer (though I haven’t found the right products for me yet). I will keep in trying stuff though til I found the one. I also purchased underarm laser diode treatment which helped me save a lot of tiring trips to the salon. It was also the year that I finally decided to get braces! and the year where I did a major change in my hair when I decided to have it digitally permed.

2017 was a year that my savings run stale. My savings were not much to begin with but last year it ran stale and most of the time I was dipping into my savings to cover my expenses. I got a lot of expenses. The netbook, the braces, all those clothes, the beauty products, the failed plane tickets, the failed unfortunate ForEx scam, etc. However, 2017 also taught me that saving is good but it does not have to be the only thing you do. 2017 taught me that it’s okay to spend as long as you enjoy what you bought and it will give you much more than its face value.

ONE IMPORTANT LESSON that 2017 taught me is that NOTHING COMES EASY. This lesson cost me a lot to learn, literally. So i was very into the easy, quick rich scheme. Like be a millionaire overnight type of thing. I lost money before investing in ventures or platforms that might make me more money but it was not until I lost Php 10,000 (approx $200) that woke me up from this belief. So I attended this Forex seminar. I was interested in learning Forex so this opportunity was hard to pass up. The speaker was good, really good that it convinced me to invest $10k right on the spot but then after the seminar, I checked the reviews and boom! I got dragged down to reality that I just lost my $10k to a scam. This time, I really learned my lesson “In life, what you really want will never come easy.” You must work hard and smart for the things you like to achieve.

2017 was a year of learning, of trying out new things, of downfall, of being able to let go. It was also the year of being able to dream, of trusting God, of taking a step forward. 2017 is an almost year. Hope 2018 will be THE YEAR!