A small but important accomplishment

Hi my name is Sharon; I play two instruments, speak four languages, and I can now drive a stick-shift!*

Every couple weeks this summer my boyfriend’s been teaching me how to drive his manual transmission car, and this past weekend I got good enough to drive on actual streets with traffic lights and actual other drivers on the road.
I do have to point out, though, that it hasn’t been a smooth process. In addition to being a multitalented fellow, my boyfriend has the magic ability to stay perfectly calm while I…
1. …stall the car, yell, and let out a string of expletives,
2. …pop the clutch, yell, and let out a string of expletives,
3. …change the gear and mutter a string of expletives under my breath.
In fact, this was a typical exchange:
Him: Okay, hear that? You should change to fourth gear.
Me: OhgodohgodohgodokayhereIgo [changes to fourth gear]
Him: Good!
Me: I know I’m going at 35 in a 45 zone but I don’t care, if the other cars think I’m going too slow they can just go around me.
Him: That’s totally fine.
Me: Ohmygosh it’s a red light whatamIgoingtodo [censored censored censored]
Him: Just brake, you’ll be fine.
The reason why I wanted to be able to drive stick, though, was not so I could drive my boyfriend’s car at my leisure, or because I wanted to be a better driver in general, or any of the sensible reasons you might come up with.
I wanted to know how to drive stick so that if I’m ever in a situation where I’m running from bad guys and my only getaway option is a stick shift, I’ll be okay.
Hey, you never know.
*I still don’t know how to back up and I haven’t driven on the freeway yet, but I think that if I’m on the run from bad guys, backing up won’t be involved, and everyone knows only the criminals from “Cops” take their getaways to the freeway.
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My Top 3 Books

I feel like I never blog about books enough, seeing as “books” are one of the four things I profess to loving in my blog profile. I remember seeing a Top [Number] book list in someone’s blog a while back, and I always meant to write about my own favorite books.

(And for the record, I am all for keeping the printed book around. The other day I had a quasi-nightmare that I had a Kindle. I know it’s cool and tech-y and lightweight but there’s something about throwing a well-loved paperback in your bag and reading it on the train.)
If you’ve read all of my Top 3 books, you might notice that I have a thing for books that somehow capture the essence of life. These three are my favorite books because I just relate so strongly to them, and they are so beautifully written and constructed.
1. The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

There is something magical and indeterminably lovely about The Little Prince, even though I am only ever able to read the translated English version. It tugs at my heart every time I read it—just reading the Wikipedia summary of this book makes me cry. It captured my heart when I was too little to understand what made it so beautiful and I still love it to death; so much that, in fact, that I end up succumbing when it’s used for cheap marketing gimmicks.
2. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith

I don’t know how to explain why I love A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. At face value you might say nothing remarkable happens in it; there are no shocking plot twists and it’s the literary equivalent of a picture album. But somehow Betty Smith has encapsulated the poignancy of childhood and growing up, of understanding life and heartbreak of all kinds, and her prose is so starkly beautiful—not flowery, mind you, but every word is so well-chosen it’s astounding.

3. The Namesake, by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Namesake is a more recent discovery of mine but it is such a beautiful book. It has the same illustrative prose and naturally disjointed style as A Tree Grows in Brooklyn but applied to the first-generation American experience. It captures so well the pain and loveliness and haphazard maturity that comes with being trapped between cultures.

“Honorable Mention” favorite books: Lolita, by Vladimir Nabakov (such an insidious journey), The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan, and of course, the Harry Potter series, because I can never stop reading them and still have the scary ability to quote entire passages at a time.
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Things that give me an incredible high

1. Pouring all my emotion into playing piano, be in in the practice rooms or in front of a captivated audience.
2. Being completely inspired and creating a work of art or a design that is as good or better than the vision in my head.
3. Successfully fixing code after hours of frustration.

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