Category Archives: depression

Evenings at the Argentine Club

evenings-at-the-argentine-club Victoria Torres is an Argentine American woman who still lives at home. A slightly over-weight college drop out, Victoria works at her father’s restaurant – a gathering place for the Argentine community in Burbank, California. Lacking direction in life and self esteem, she’s shocked when a fellow Argentine American boy she grew up with comes back to town and takes an interest in her. Eric is handsome, successful and they share a common history, but what is he doing back in town, will he stay, and what does he see in Victoria that she can’t see in herself?

Evenings at the Argentine Club by Julia Amante brings something unique to a genre saturated with stories of Mexicans and Cubans, (not that I don’t enjoy those stories as well!)  The first few chapters were a little slow going, but it soon becomes an unpredictable page turner as one becomes emotionally invested in Victoria and Eric’s turbulent but passionate courtship. (Some scenes are borderline Romance novel material but she pulls it off leaving the reader wanting more.)

The story of Victoria and Eric’s budding romance is contrasted by the crumbling marriage of Victoria’s parents, Victor and Jacqueline. Amante is successful at weaving the two together and demonstrates a superb ability of being able to get into each character’s heart and show us what they’re feeling – from a stubborn, overly macho father and husband, to his lonely heart-broken wife who struggles with his infidelities, empty nest syndrome, and her stifled dreams.

I found myself identifying equally with young, insecure Victoria as she falls in love as well as her wise mother Jacqueline who mourns her grown children and is frequently a victim of nostalgia and loneliness.  Emotions are so well described in this book that I will admit to shedding a few tears.

This is a really beautiful story that touches on many common themes such as sacrifice, marriage, love, confidence, family, and  independence. But what I found most interesting in Evenings at the Argentine Club were the more unique thoughts on how different people define success,  and how immigrant families with American-born children can achieve the American Dream while still remembering who they are.

Non-Spanish speakers will appreciate that Amante uses Spanish words judiciously throughout and always in a context that is easily understood, making Evenings at the Argentine Club accessible to everyone.

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Filed under books, career, change, chick lit, culture, depression, dreams, family, marriage, men, opinion, romance, self esteem, Spanish, women, work

Happiness

What is happiness?

A book I was reading (Geography of Bliss), made me really think about this. Here is a passage that made me stop, close the book, and sit in contemplation.

“[Philosopher, Robert Nozick], devised a thought experiment called the Experience Machine… Imagine that “superduper neuropsychologists” have figured out a way to stimulate a person’s brain in order to induce pleasurable experiences. It’s perfectly safe, no chance of a malfunction, and not harmful to your health. You would experience constant pleasure for the rest of your life. Would you do it? Would you plug into the Experience Machine?

If not, argued, Nozick, then you’ve just proved that there is more to life than pleasure. We want to achieve our happiness and not just experience it. Perhaps we even want to experience unhappiness, in order to truly appreciate happiness.” -copyright Eric Weiner/Geography of Bliss

So, would you plug into the Experience Machine? My immediate answer, before even finishing the paragraph in the book, was “No”. It was instinctual and I was puzzled by this answer until I finished the paragraph. Yes, he’s right. I want to feel unhappiness at times, and I want to achieve happiness on my own. I don’t want it artificially. Isn’t this, in part, the reason I stopped taking anti-depressants? Everyone told me to stay on my medication but I knew I couldn’t live like that. I felt numb and robotic. That wasn’t happiness because I knew deep down I hadn’t earned it.

And so, this gives perspective to the unhappy moments in life. It’s so easy to think, “If only I had this or that, I would be happy.” This or that can be many things. It could be money, a career, a college degree, a talent, a body type, a lover, children, a bigger home, a car, or even something as simple as a particular pair of shoes … but as we work towards acquiring these things in life, it’s funny how we never realize that whatever we had been striving for, once in our possession, is simply replaced by something else.

Part of happiness is simply enjoying the pursuit of that happiness. If everything you ever wanted was simply handed to you, how happy would your life really be?

“It’s not having what you want
It’s wanting what you’ve got.” ~ Sheryl Crow/Soak up the Sun

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Filed under About me, books, culture, depression, gratitude, positive thinking