My Birthday Wish List –
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The holidays have always been my favorite time of the year. It just happens my birthday falls right between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Over the last few years, as my birthday approached, I get this invigorating feeling of joy as I start planning my birthday party. Thanks solely to a good friend, I realized that I should be celebrating this event and stop thinking birthdays are just child’s play. There was a time when I thought I was too “old” to blow candles or open up gifts. My inner-child is so happy I have moved on from those days. Now on to my celebration! This year I would like to publicly post a birthday countdown with the WISH that one of my GREAT friends and family members will read this and of course, SURPRISE ME with a special heart-felt gift! (Did I tell you I regress to an adolescent during this time of year!!??!!) Here is my Birthday Wish List below:
December 13, 2011 – MY BIRTHDAY
The day has finally arrived. Thank you to all of you for counting down the days with me. The last 30 days have been a great exercise of expression. A lot of you have asked me why I was putting my thoughts out like this on my blog. It is a great way for me to fully express my internal thoughts and emotions and allows me to really reflect on the important things in my life. Reading the past entries, you can see how special my friends are to me. I have come to a point in life where I appreciate the little things in life more. In the past, my ambitions would distract me from understanding the true joy and benefits of life. I am happy to see things a lot clearer and happy for the years that have added to my life. That’s the true joy of birthdays, the ability to grow and learn – to become better and closer to the person I want to be.
Today, I took the day off to celebrate my birthday with friends and family. It was a great celebration. I was extremely shocked at all the birthday wishes I received on my Facebook wall. To my FB friends and family, thank you so much for thinking of me and always sending me your best. There is a strong connection and value I get from you guys.
I celebrated with close friends. We started at a restaurant doing work and closed out at another restaurant drinking and toasting to our friendship. At the basic core, having others care for me and wish me well is the best birthday present ever. Thank you!
Looking forward to my next 365 days, I will continue to be open to life, challenge myself to grow, and get closer to being the person I strive to me. This past year was a great year. I was able to re-establish my financial foundation after going through a tumultuous ride in the work/career space the last few years. It was a rebuilding year in other areas too. I was able to get back into a fitness routine. I was proud to be a part of a championship Basketball and Softball team. I felt a sense of youth and began pushing myself to run beyond my previous limit, about 12 miles. I pushed my body further by adding a 10 mile bike to the running routine. As youthful and energetic I felt, it was short-lived as old age came back to nib me towards the end of the year where I suffered a strained Achilles heel and re-aggravated my lower back leading me to stop training for the last three months of the year. Next year, I will focus on strengthening my core muscles and conditioning to avoid these injuries. On a personal relationship level, 2011 saw a significant growth. I took more risks on the relationship front and was able to understand myself more and what I needed and wanted. I am very independent and am starting to learn that I don’t need another personal to push me emotionally. I deepened my relationship with God. It has been a great relationship and will lead to great achievements. For 2012, I look forward on continuing to grow closer to God and open to what life has in store for me. The next chapter in my life will be full of adventure and achievements. I am setting a lot of goals and will need to focus on working hard and efficiently to achieve these goals. I am going to push myself out of my comfort zone and challenge myself beyond my capacity. It is working towards the impossible that the possible is achieved.
Thank you again for reading and following my posts. I am grateful for your time and attention and more grateful for all your well wishes. The Laosy Life continues to the next chapter. Have a great Holiday and Happy New Years my friends!
December 12, 2011 – 1 Day to Birthday
Despite the lack of sleep, today brought a lot of smiles and deeper connections with friends. Work was great. I was happy to see eye-to-eye with my boss as we discussed my annual review. It was great to feel a good friend’s enthusiasm about a new love. He deserves a great gal and I wish him well in this pursuit. It was great to share a cold brew with a great old friend. It was great to make new friends as we decorated the office with holiday flare. It was great to amend and strengthen a special friendship. It was great to provide comfort to a friend during the train ride home. It was great to receive everyone’s well wishes throughout the day. All in all, it was a great day and I couldn’t have asked for anything better. I only wish I can have more days of deeper and meaningful connections. Thank you everyone for making this day great. I am tired and am looking forward to a great and peaceful sleep. The only thing that can make this sleep better is if it came with an ocean side view.
December 11, 2011 – 2 Days to Birthday
There is no better gift than the love of God. Today, the Sunday before my birthday, I was asked to lead the procession in church. It was an honor. I did not ask for the opportunity, it was offered to me and I accepted with great humility knowing it was the man above telling me he is here for me. I know many of you that read this might not understand the greatness of faith and have doubts about the whole concept of religion and spirituality. I am not here to debate with you nor explain to you how I came about to believe. It is a feeling beyond explanation. I have always felt a connection to a greater universe. My life has always been centered around religion and spirituality beginning with my birth. I am grateful for my religious and spiritual upbringing from the traditional Buddhist ceremonies to the powerful Christian prayers. I do pray and wish, no matter how you associate yourself with or without religion, that you feel a great love that transcends you.
December 10, 2011 – 3 Days to Birthday
Yesterday I was communicating with a friend in Malaysia via Facebook. She is like a “virtual pen-pal” and I have enjoyed getting to know her this past year. There is deep yearning for me to go back to Laos because of my pen pal. The best way to describe her is that she is a philanthropic adventurer. She visits third world nations and immerses herself into the care and well-being of the youth. She is one of my heroes. I know she has been planning to build a water sanitation system for a village in Laos.
For us Americans, we take many things for granted. Water is one of them. We are very fortunate to turn on the faucet and have clean water. Millions of people outside the states lack the proper systems to clean and purify water. Next time you jump in the shower, imagine the feeling of being washed by sewage water. Disgusting, eh? That’s the reality for many. Back to my pen pal, I wanted to send her some funds through PayPal and asked her to set that up. I will be making a contribution. I would love to ask that many of you do the same. If you can give me $5, $10, $20 or anything, it will go a long way to making sure people have the basic necessities to live. Thank you!
December 9, 2011 – 4 Days to Birthday
SNOW! On my way to the bathroom as I woke up from bed, I caught a vision of a winter wonderland. I stopped for a second and thought to myself, “That’s obviously snow. Was it suppose to snow last night?” Following the weather report was the least of my worries. After scrambling to get ready to run to the train station for work, I was in a state of frantic. I didn’t have any appropriate shoes for the snow. I didn’t want to wear my nice dress shoes and I didn’t want to go through the garage to dig out last winter’s snow boots. I laced on my sneakers and rush out the door. On the way to work, I realized I wanted a new pair of boots. Hence, the addition to my birthday list.
December 8, 2011 – 5 Days to Birthday
Well, I am not invincible nor did I ever think I was. Yesterday was a power day and today, I paid the price. My body was not used to running at this high level especially after coming off my medication treatment for my back injury recently. I was sad I had to cancel my attendance at a Holiday Party. As fatigue set in, I decided I needed a relaxing night. I got home from work and started researching Tablets. Yes, I am in the market for a Tablet for many reasons. First, I needed one to perform my work duties. YES, I am JUSTIFYING my need to buy one. So now that I truly convinced myself that I needed to get one for work, I had to debate, Android vs. iPad aka Google vs. Apple. I couldn’t wrap my head around exactly what I wanted and decided that I wanted both, one Android Tablet and one iPad. And then I read reviews about the Kindle Fire. I want that too and will add this to my wishlist.
December 7, 2011 – 6 Days to Birthday
What a power day! I was up early at 5 am and ended the day at 2 am. I get a sense of pride when I have days like these where I was able to experience and accomplish so much. My boss at the time taught me the importance of getting the most of every day and that we control our experiences. Time was my friend, not my enemy. I could achieve anything I wanted to do as long as it gave me nourishment and satisfaction. This was coming from an older guy who starts his days at 4 am, preparing for a conference call or leading a meeting, and ends his days later than 99% of people. It amazes me to this day that he was able to perform at such a high level on such little sleep. I am still far from modeling his daily routine and wish for advice or strategies to help me live LONGER. (No, I don’t want energy drinks!)
December 6, 2011 – 7 Days to Birthday
Ahhhh…. we have reached the home stretch, 7 more days! Today reminded me again of the unexpected events that can magically appear in life. I really prefer a quiet and simple day. I realize that there is no such thing as a quiet and simple day, just varying degrees of quiet and simple. Some days are more quiet and simple than others. I have come to expect life to give me a curveball and create some sort of chaos. Today was one of those days where I was heading to a pretty much routine day and like a chilly winter gust, I was slapped cold in the face with chaos. My face was frozen as I listened to a friend’s call for help. It is moments like these that I am grateful for the opportunity to be available to others. Today for my birthday, I wish for the people that I love all the best and that we grow together, no matter how much chaos confronts us, and live our lives to the fullest.
December 5, 2011 – 8 Days to Birthday
One never has to remind us that it gets colder and colder as it nears my birthday. Every single year I always tell myself that it is time to move to a warmer destination. San Diego has always been my number 1 choice if I decided to move. Everything about the area is ideal. Sunny all year round, perfect for a morning run on the beach, 18 holes at La Holla (Torrey Pines), lunch over-looking dolphins, surf the cool waves, mid-afternoon nap, fresh seafood dinner, evening tennis match, drinks under the moon. Yes, that’s the life waiting for me in San Diego. I miss the area a lot. My family and I used to vacation there every summer. When the economy cracked and crumbled, I was left waiting and wanting. For today’s item, I would love to plan a golf destination mini-vacation next year. Torrey Pines might be the perfect destination. Who’s in?
December 4, 2011 – 9 Days to Birthday
When I was younger, every Sunday my dad would give me $1.00 to buy the Sunday edition of the Chicago Tribune. It was something I really enjoyed doing. I would get on my bike and ride to the store. I would carry the bulky paper on my side as I navigated the return bike ride home. My dad would always be happy to receive the paper. He would give me the Sunday cartoons, Sports section, and the Toys R Us shopper. These are the little memories that mean a lot over the years. And like my dad, I read my Sunday paper from cover to end. I still spend too much time in Sports section, thinking I can somehow effect how my teams will play by bickering about the latest news or story. Today, I spent a lot of time looking at the shoppers deciding what gifts to start buying now for my loved ones. I saw some items I wanted for myself. Here’s an item I want but probably won’t buy for myself because I have yet to free myself to spend money on myself. Hence, this birthday wish list.
December 3, 2011 – 10 Days to Birthday
It just finally dawn on me that it’s December and Christmas is approaching fast. I haven’t been paying too much attention to anything lately as I was consumed with finishing the tasks on my To-Do list. I was flipping channels and noticed “It’s a Wonderful Life” was playing on one channel. Then I saw a commercial for “The Polar Express.” Christmas is coming and I better begin my gift list. In the process of sorting the shopping list, my mind wandered to my annual Christmas traditions. I really look forward to adding to my Disney figurine collection. I have amassed a nice collection of Mickey Mouse and friends. If you like to add to the collection, please feel free to present me with a new figurine.
December 2, 2011 – 11 Days to Birthday
Today I reached out to a dear friend for help. I was going through some issues that I needed some clarity. My friend was able provide a space for me to vent and was able to provide the words and care that helped me move forward. I have come to learn in recent years that great friends are in short supply. When you have one, you do everything you can to nourish the friendship. For today’s birthday item, I wish all my great friends, the few I have, nothing but the best. I realized that on November 24, Thanksgiving, I made a similar wish. Well, what can I say? I have some great friends that I appreciate. You can’t go through life without a handful of characters that will always be on your side.
December 1, 2011 – 12 Days to Birthday
As a result of skipping my medication yesterday, I had some trouble sleeping. I woke up in the middle of the night again like I have been for the last few days. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get myself back to sleep as I started thinking about what was happening around me lately. The insomnia caused me to over sleep and I took today off. I needed to recover from the last 48 hours of pushing my body and mind.
I took some time today to update my journal and reflect on life. It was such a great feeling to finally download what I was going through over the last few months. Life had given me a lot and I was very thankful for all of the special moments and people who have contributed to it. Looking back on recent years, this year was a great year as I have been able to make better decisions to help my own cause. One year makes a huge difference. As I approach my birthday, I would like to find more wisdom and courage to do the right thing . Today’s item is dear to me as I seek to have a closer relationship with the man above. For those who believe in the power of prayer. Please continue to send your loving prayers to me. Amen!
November 30, 2011 – 13 Days to Birthday
It was a long day. My body, more so my mind, took a beating. Earlier in the morning, I was dizzy as my heart rate increased to over 140 beats per minute. This was extraordinary high for me and I had to sit at my desk to slow down and ponder if I should go home. I probably should have never came in. Unfortunately, it was the end of month and I wanted to give it a great effort to close out the month. This caused me to skip my afternoon and evening dose of medication. I doubt I could have performed under the influence of the medication. After a long and successful day of work, I had a great time celebrating with a co-worker. Now I am ready to close my eyes and knockout. Before dozing off, I decided that it would a great gift if anyone would give me a day without pain or stress.
November 29, 2011 – 14 Days to Birthday
It’s starting to get cold. It’s glove and scarf weather. One of the most annoying things about wearing gloves is the inability to check and touch my iPhone. Needless to say, today’s item is an essential item for daily winter weather use.
November 28, 2011 – 15 Days to Birthday
I am working at home again today. Back pain is not subsiding and I was having some major sleeping issues lately because of the side effects of the medication. Thankfully by the end of this week, I will be completed with the drug treatment and get back to normal. One of the first things I am going to do is go out and dine at a great steakhouse, probably Gibsons or Morton’s. Who’s ready to go dine with me for some great surf and turf?
November 27, 2011 – 16 Days to Birthday
Without Jay Cutler, the Bears have lost a game they should have won against the Oakland Raiders. I doubt the Bears will be able to compete at the level they were with Cutler. It’s unfortunate and I am bleak about their immediate future. Most teams will stack the line in an attempt to stuff the run and force the Bears to win without Forte being instrumental. For my birthday wish, please send some luck for the Bears and help them get into the playoffs.
November 26, 2011 – 17 Days to Birthday
Now that Thanksgiving is over, I have no more excuses to bake. Lately, I have been mastering the art of baking apple pie. I am laughing as I write this because I just never thought I would be so passionate about baking apple pie. Like so many things I do in life, the idea of baking was derived from solving a problem. I didn’t necessarily wake up and want to bake. However, I do wake up and look for something to do or find a problem and fix it.
This year my mom went apple picking in Michigan and delivered more apples than one can possibly eat in an entire year. I started eating an apple a day. Soon, the apple a day theory reversed it course and instead of feeling healthy, I was sick and disgusted at the sight of apples. Then the Laotian side of me kicked in and I started thinking…. “I couldn’t waste food. There are millions of people who would be happy to have all these apples. Think of all the poor and impoverish children in Laos.” At that moment, I found a cause. I baked apple pies for anyone regardless if they wanted it or not. Along the way, I enjoyed the baking process and the delightful reactions others had after sampling my pies. Today’s item will help me master this craft. I would like baking supplies and in return, I will bake you all sorts of pies and goodies!
November 25 2011, 18 Days to Birthday
I celebrated Thanksgiving three times this year. Last night was the main event as we gathered at my mom’s house. Nothing can ever beat the experience of a family coming together and sharing memories. I stumbled and nearly cried saying my “Thanksgiving” speech. It’s amazing how much the brain can process within a few seconds. The memories of family brought me to tears, especially the ones with my sister. I missed her dearly and really wanted her to be with us for this special day. She is my closest friend and I love her dearly. For my list today, I want a plane ticket to Spain to visit her and her family. I want her to know that I will always be there for her like she has always been there for me.
November 24, 2011 – 19 Days to Birthday
Yes! It’s Thanksgiving. I find myself being very sentimental this time of the year. It’s always a time for me to reflect on my life and remember the path that brought me into the present day. In the words of one my favorite bands, Coldplay, “Nobody said it was easy.” It was not an easy path by any means. It was path worth taking. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. I learned valuable lessons about myself and life. One of the biggest lesson I learned was friendship, how to really identify true friends. I am so grateful for the few true friends I am lucky to have. They have made this journey safe for me. There were moments where I could have slipped off the edges. They were there to pull me back and guide me straight. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I sincerely want to thank all my friends, new and old, for being a part of my life. For the wish list item, I wish to grow my friendships stronger for many years to come.
November 23, 2011 – 20 Days to Birthday
We celebrated Thanksgiving early at my dad’s tonight. An evening at my dad’s house is always full of food and endless wine. My dad is a great host. He always accommodates others and makes them feel at home. I admire him so much for always opening his arms and heart to others. He has made a career of social services, helping hundreds of families through the years with various services like immigration, employment, financial and education. It doesn’t matter what problems or challenges a person brings to him. He will find a way to help them and will go above and beyond to ensure he serves them well. My dad’s favorite line fits him perfectly, “I am not rich in money but I am rich in heart.” Needless to say, he has been a great role model for me. My wish list item today is very simple. I would like to continue to work hard to be as great and caring as my dad. If you see me being a bum, please feel free to kick me.
November 22, 2011 – 21 Days to Birthday
Yesterday was our 4th Annual Lao Youth Leaders Thanksgiving party. I always look forward to this event and to see the smiling faces of the youth as we share a festive meal and reflect on our successes, both individually and as a group. They inspire me every day with their youthful and blissful creativity and energy. Little do they know how much of an impact they have on me. They keep me humble and grounded. I am reminded of my greater mission and vision in life. I am reminded that life with a purpose is the only way to live. I am reminded on how we all need each other to grow. I am reminded how others can positively influence and impact the life of others. They are true leaders. For my birthday wish list item today, I wish all the youth achieve their dreams and continue to be great leaders.
November 21, 2011 – 22 Days to Birthday
A picture is worth a thousand words. Over the past few years I have been moonlighting as a photographer snapping over thousands of images. For Christmas last year, I created and surprised my mother with a collage of images representing precious memories of her life. The piece brought joyous tears to her eyes as she captured each moment of her family. I didn’t know how powerful my images were. After seeing my mother’s reaction, I truly believed that a picture is worth a thousand words. I am looking forward on creating more pieces and sharing them as gifts or perhaps frame them for my personal collection. For today’s wish list item, I would love to request a gift of assorted picture frames for my various images.
November 20, 2011 – 23 Days to Birthday
Go Bears! Nothing is more exciting than watching the Bears win. They have won 5 games in a row after taking the spark out of the San Diego Chargers. I realized that I do now own any Bears clothing. How could I go so long without owning one? Well, as a few of you might know, I have a complex about spending money on myself. I would rather spend on others before I make a purchase for myself. Slowly, I am starting to treat myself. For today’s item I would like to include a Bears’ jersey or sweater.
November 19, 2011 – 24 Days to Birthday
Brrrrrr…. It’s starting to get colder by the sec. I have great memories of winter from my childhood. After the season’s first snowfall, I was always eager to go outside and immerse myself into the snow, creating mini-forts and igloos. No matter how cold it was outside, I would brave the conditions to build my snowy creations. Looking back, I am perplexed on how I was able to bear the winter and freezing conditions. Today, I can’t even go outside without complaining about the weather and stinging cold winds of Chicago. I find myself layering clothes to keep warm. The need to throw myself into the snow has gone into hibernation.
November 18, 2011 – 25 Days to Birthday
My friends have been so impatient lately. They want me to publish my entire birthday wish list so they can decide on a gift. It must be nice to be ahead of the game and have your shopping done. I try to get my shopping done early every year for Christmas but this never happens.
For today’s item, I would welcome coaching on how to plan ahead and finish tasks sooner then later. I am all ears for suggestions.
November 17, 2011 – 26 Days to Birthday
Today I visited another doctor for a second opinion on my back injury. Long story short, I was referred to a Spine Specialist and was prescribed four high potent drugs guaranteed to make me loopy and crazy. Before popping the pills, my mom and aunt consulted with me about the seriousness of taking drugs. I felt in school all over again. DRUGS ARE BAD! Duh! I get it!
I was frustrated having to go through a counseling session making me feel so little. The truth of the mater is I should be so grateful for havimg two women really wanting the best for me. My mom and aunt were doing their best to make sure I was safe. I quashed my negativity and said thank you to the two ladies for taking the time to make sure I pace out my drug usage. Finally, I was given permission to take two pills. And boy, an hour later, I was knocked out cold.
Right before I knocked out, I read the news about the Cubs hiring a new manager. Like many lemmings out there, I felt optimistic about the future for the Cubbies and know they will win a World Series next year. For my birthday or for all my future birthdays, I would like to see the Cubs win a World Series. Don’t call me crazy. It’s going to happen. And yes, it is the drugs talking! Go Cubbies!!
November 16, 2011 – 27 Days to Birthday
Today was like many days in my life. I woke up and I felt the day was over in a flash. I was rushing around all day trying to get things done and trying to get to my next task, next appointment, next outing, next this and next that. Life is always moving, just like the ticks of a clock.
While helplessly lying on a stretcher table at my doctor’s office, I had a several moments to reflect on the cause of my back pain. I was told to not run and to stay off my feet for a few months to heal my Achilles. No matter how hard I tried to stay idle, I was hating my stationery state. Knowing that I shouldn’t do anything physically active, I decided to continue my Sunday softball league after dropping my Wednesday flag football league and my Friday night basketball league thinking less is better than none. I thought I could go easy on my body and I would be ok. I just couldn’t sit still.
All my life, I have always ran fast whether it be athletically or mentally. I would do things quickly and move on to the next challenge. I was geared to sprint. A turtle, I am not. I generally wanted to take advantage of time knowing how scarce it is. Since I can never recover lost time and can’t ask for a time machine, my next item on my birthday wish list is a timepiece that will help me keep better track of time and keep me on schedule for my next this and next that.
November 15, 2011 – 28 Days to Birthday
One of the reasons why I love this time of year is the effect it has on the mass population. It is a fact that charitable contributions are at the highest in the months of November and December. It is truly the season of giving. We tend to see the best of people, displaying generosity and compassion in their giving and sharing. There are so many unfortunate people that need a glimpse of hope and a touch of compassion to light up their dark days.
To see great kindness in action at its best is one item I would love to see more of and today, it’s the act of generosity and compassion I would love to ask for my Birthday. A simple act of love can make a person’s day. One of my great friends was wise beyond her age when she told me that the “greatest poverty of all is the shortage of love” mankind suffers. When she told me this, I literally felt so sad for the frankness and truthfulness of her words. The world needs more love and kind people to help others.
In the spirit of giving, I would like all of us to do what we can to provide for others in need. It can be anything from donating a canned item to a local food pantry, donating a “Secret Santa” gift to a local youth center, delivering a freshly baked pie to a family member you haven’t seen in years, or as easy as “Liking” a charity in the Chase Community Giving program.
There are endless ways to give. If you need one, “Like” this group. It’s a non-profit I have been a part of all my life. I run the Youth Program for the Lao American Organization of Elgin. It’s been a true blessing to serve my community and see the impact our organization has on our Youth. Whatever it is that you decide to give, it would be perhaps the best Birthday present you can ever give me. Thank you!!
November 14, 2011 – 29 days to Birthday
I am currently working from home due to the recent back injury. Last week, at the height of the pain, I was unable to laugh because the giggles would work it’s way down my spine and upset my lower back. If my lower back could speak, it would probably be saying in response to the pain of laughter this way, “You’re an idiot. You should have listened to the doctor and stay off your feet and not run, dumba**! Look who’s laughing now.” Oh the spitefulness… Well, it’s too late to turn back the clock.
I am feeling a bit better today. At least I can laugh. And laugh I have been. Thanks to my co-workers and friends who are able to connect with me on the phone for cheering me up and supplying endless laughter. The main topic of conversation has been my health. After poking fun at my inability to walk, I responded that I needed a walking cane. I simply envisioned a plain one. What was I thinking? Didn’t I know you could “pimp-out” a walking cane? This notion was inspired from a co-worker who “pimped-out” her crutches when she injured her knee. I joked and said I will put “Hello Kitty” stickers on my walking cane. LOL
Now that I think about it, I do indeed want a walking cane. I would be the modern day Victorian-esque crippled walking down the streets of Chicago with my top-hat, overcoat and “pimped-out” walking cane. Add this one to my birthday wish list. I am serious! HAHA!!
November 13, 2011 – 30 days to Birthday
Due to my back injury, I have had plenty of time to prepare for the geriatric period of my life. Yes, birthdays are always a reminder that I am getting older and aging. And I simply HATE IT! I hate aging. In recent months, I have been plagued with two injuries, tweaking my Achilles about two months ago and now, re-aggravating my lower back. It has limited my mobility and spend most of my waking hours lying in bed and missing out on my normal extracurricular sports and social activities.
Forced into becoming a hermit, I have finished reading the novel, Drood by Dan Simmons. It’s a story about Charles Dickens’s last five years as narrated by his good friend Wilkie Collins. With its depiction of London’s Underworld and Wilkie’s opium nightmares, I was mesmerized by the possibility that Charles Dickens lived his last years as a lunatic. Like many good novels before it, by the end of 775 pages, I was left with many questions and needed to know more which leads me to wanting the following novel for my birthday, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins.