One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I’d known early on that I did not enjoy reading One Hundred Years of Solitude. Apart from reading depressing scenarios each time I open the book, I did not enjoy following too many characters—generations of the Buendia—most of whom repeated the same mistakes through the years. None of the characters were very likable, and most of them did not get enough airtime—with the exception of Ursula and Colonel Aureliano Buendia, both of whom lived very long lives—for readers to learn to love them.

It seems that I should have stopped reading the book early on, cut my losses, and moved on with my life. However, I chose to finish reading this book because (1) I didn’t have too many options during this ECQ, and (2) I refused to let my effort of including the book in my move from SF to MNL to go to waste. So I read a chapter a night until the last night when I realized I could finally get my closure.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s a beautifully written book. I liked how the socio-economic landscape changed through the years even if it was as if nothing ever changed in that town. I found myself referring back to the family tree (very helpful if you decide to read this) provided in the beginning of the book. (The family tree spoils nothing, in my opinion.) When I reached the ending, I appreciated how Gabriel Garcia Marquez tied up all the loose ends. Everything made sense, and I appreciated the book as a whole after reading that last sentence.

Verdict: It is not my cup of tea, but I do feel a sense of accomplishment having read this book. I’m glad I didn’t have to read this for Literature class in school (some people had to). Otherwise, I would never have had the drive to finish this book since, on top of my not enjoying the book, I hate assigned reading.

Quarantime Check-In

It’s been five weeks since the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) began and a few days since the ECQ was extended in Metro Manila. I’m very lucky to be working remotely during ECQ, but I have to admit that it did take a while to acclimate myself to a different work environment. While I love the flexibility of being able to work from home, I perform best when I’m at the office surrounded by coworkers. (I strongly believe in the idea of a having a designated place to work and leaving work and related stress there. For me, home should always be a safe space.)

With working from home and social distancing slated to become the new normal for the foreseeable future, I’ve taken up some non-work interests to lessen my anxiety of bringing work into my home.

Home Workouts

I used to think that there was no way I could motivate myself to work out without a trainer or instructor. I’ve proven myself wrong. Over the past weeks, I have been designing my own workouts, researching exercises a night or two in advance and tweaking past workouts to add variety or difficulty. (I had been training with a gym trainer for a few months prior to the ECQ. This helped raise my comfort level in trying out new exercises.)

I’m happy to say that I’ve become more comfortable with my body over these past weeks. I’ve been documenting my workouts, and I’m quite happy with my progress. I hope the momentum doesn’t go away!

Indoor Plants

Caring for my plants has become such a therapeutic activity for me that I’ve incorporated this into my daily routine. Every morning, I bring my plants out to the balcony for sunlight. I leave them out for an hour or so each day—usually while I exercise, cook, or work—since some of them aren’t in the best-lit spots. I realize this has become part of my daily non-negotiables. (A meme was going around Instagram for a bit but I didn’t have an answer to share at the time).

The best part of this is that my plants have shown improvement. The pothos that I recently moved from the bathroom to the living room has turned a richer shade of green and grown new leaves. The trees in the balcony have also been growing leaves. I used to inspect every new leaf that was growing, but the my fiddle leaf fig has grown too tall for me to reach its new leaves. I’d never thought that plants could bring me so much joy, but here I am happy to sit and look at my plants all day.

At the end of the day, everyone’s situation is different, and each person has their own way of coping with the pandemic. Some of my friends have been painting while others have been baking. It’s not so much fighting boredom as it is coping with anxiety or stress, whether or not we are conscious of it. In light of this, I hope everyone is coping with the situation as well as they can. For me, the goal is to come out of quarantime a stronger woman—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Agile Innovation by Morris, Ma, and Wu

Agile Innovation is essentially a textbook for large corporations who are looking to increase growth. It largely focuses on changing perceptions and attitudes toward innovative projects—including the acceptance that most projects typically fail.

There are a lot of familiar concepts in Agile Innovation. For context, I purchased this book to prepare for a project manager position, but I had ended up prioritizing other books (The Lean Startup, INSPIRED, and Hooked) instead. To be frank, Agile Innovation looked far too much like a textbook that I didn’t want to pick it up from my bookshelf. I finally read it during the lockdown since I wanted to feel productive by reading something that would help my work, and I was running out of nonfiction options at home.

While Agile Innovation is very informative, I do not feel like I belong to the target audience of the book. The book covers interesting projects one could undertake provided an abundance of resources, which is not necessarily the case for small businesses. In my case, I’m more interested in problems faced by startups and small businesses. If you are of the same mindset, I’d skip this in favor of The Lean Startup instead.