Adnan’s Story Book Review

Adnan's Story: The Search for Truth and Justice After SerialAdnan’s Story: The Search for Truth and Justice After Serial by Rabia Chaudry

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The summer of 2016 has proven to be a pretty good few months for Adrian Syed. With the murder conviction of Hae Min Lee being vacated and the release of a best—selling book he contributed to chronicling the days leading up to his arrest and the subsequent years, it seems as if Adnan’s luck is finally turning around.

Adnan’s Story, written by Rabia Chaudry with contributions from Adnan himself via various letters, was a much-anticipated body of work. Since following the Serial podcast, as well as both the Undisclosed: The State vs. Adnan Syed, and Truth and Justice (formally Serial Dynasty) podcasts, I couldn’t help but want more after the seasons focused on Adnan’s case ended. (Which by the way, I thought the titles of these three key podcasts were cleverly woven into the book cover.) But many of us are waiting with bated breath to know what happens next in this fascinating story of whodunit. Unfortunately for Hae Min Lee, this was not just a story, it was real life, her life that was tragically ended at the hands of another.

I originally purchased the hardcover version of this book, but after only a few chapters in, I resigned to purchase the audiobook version. The main reason being the difficulty in following the story through the text. The audio version of the book was much more easier to follow, than the text version. I really respect Rabia, but if I’m being honest, the book was written as if sentences were thrown together, and not a coherent account of the details. It failed to flow artistically or even in a well thought manner. Books go through numerous rounds of edits between the author and the editor/publisher. But this really seemed to be lacking, and read like the first or second draft of the book had actually been published. For someone as smart and talented as Rabia with a law degree, you would expect a much higher quality of writing. It puzzles me the number of reviews praising the writing of this book.

I found myself reading along with the audio version a few times, and identified several points throughout the text version that have errors. However, these errors were corrected in the audio version, and hopefully will be corrected in future iterations of the written text. Additionally, the flow of the book was not the easiest to follow as it jumped back and forth instead of chronologically. I can’t see a legitimate reason for writing this particular story in a non-linear way. Parts of the book were super redundant, and not for any obvious reason.

Ideally, the book would have begun with the reports of Hae’s disappearance and Adnan’s ultimate arrest. Then an explanation as to who Rabia is and her relation to Adnan and his family followed by the chronological details of the case unfolding, sprinkled with tidbits about Rabia, ultimately leading up to the inception of Serial, the appeals and the present day.

The last few chapters were pretty decent, and this may be because it takes place in the last 2-3 years so it is fairly recent events, OR because it’s first-hand information of Rabia and her interactions with Sarah Koneig, Susan Simpson, Collin Miller, and Bob Ruff. The last few chapters are essentially about Rabia’s life. I will admit that I enjoyed reading about the strained dynamic between Rabia and Sarah and for me it explained why I felt Rabia was a bit cold whenever she mentioned Sarah in interviews.

What can be assessed from the writing, and from Rabia herself, is that she is not nearly as familiar with the case and the minute details as you might think for someone writing a book about it. I totally respect that she wanted to capitalize on the popularity surrounding Serial and the case itself. But afier hearing/reading the letters that Adnan has written over the years, we all know how well spoken and how good his letters and his writings are. So while up against a self-inflicted deadline, given the opportunity, I think Adnan would have written an amazingly beautifully crafted harmonious manuscript. I’m really curious about Adnan’s thoughts on the book itself or if he’s been able to read it in part or its entirety. But my gut tells me his focus is on his appeal right now and that Rabia was the one doing the heavy lifting save for the few letters Adnan wrote for inclusion in the book.

As for the book’s contents, there was not much new information included in the book that those who haven’t been following the podcasts and online readings, would not be aware of already. So I’m a bit biased in that aspect. What I did enjoy were the personal details of Adnan’s life in prison, and how his family was coping with his imprisonment. I also believe that including the guidance that Christina Gutierrez gave him about refraining from contacting anyone outside of his immediate family prior to the trial helped put things in perceptive for outsiders. It is pretty clear to me that this book was written for an audience that is only familiar with Serial. This book was written to tie together, Undisclosed, Truth and Justice and both Collin Miller and Susan Simpson’s blog posts and legal commentary. For those of us well versed in the three podcasts and practicing attorneys, there was not much new.

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3 Basic Travel Must Haves for Any Trip

Preparing for any trip can be stressful enough, but here are my basic must-haves for any flight or travel.

Quality Luggage is a must! There is no greater annoyance than having luggage that does not travel well.  I mean-really! it has one job…  I’ve gone through my fair share of luggage but I’m most happy with my Delsey Helium Aero pieces in 25 and 29 inch sizes. In 2016, no person should have to travel with 2-wheeled luggage.  Delsey.jpg

But I do have other options when traveling for much longer periods of time (4 or more weeks), or if I’ll be in one location for the duration of my trip and not transiting several locales.  It is important to be mindful of the weight of your luggage in itself, since overweight luggage can put a damper on your trip before it has even begun, and the Delsey pieces I have are lightweight enough to help prevent this.

Packing Cubes I’ve only been using them for about a year but I find that they are a great way to keep things organized and keep you packed a bit more efficiently.  Somehow it seems I actually pack less items by using these cubes.  My first set was purchased for $29.99 from eBags and was the rectangular 4 piece set but after they arrived but before leaving for my trip I discovered that TJ Maxx also had an almost identical sent by Sharper Image for half the price at $14.99, so i got a second set of travel cubes.

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A few of my friends have purchased these travel cubes that are more square from Amazon and love them as well. Many companies are now marketing travel/packing cubes, but ideally you’ll want to ensure you purchase a set that has a see-through mesh or compartment, otherwise you’ll end up having to open each cube in order to identify its contents.

A Travel Pillow Because being responsible for yet one more thing while traveling doesn’t seem worth it on short flights to me. So I typically only carry my travel pillow with me on flights over 4-5 hours.  Flights longer than 5 hours for me, will most likely be international where frequently pillows and blankets are already supplied. Even when this is the case I make the most out of using both my personal travel pillow and the airline supplied pillow. Using one for my head and the other as a pesty armrest cushion.

There are very creative travel pillows on the market now that highlight and offer extras, so at this time I don’t have a particular recommendation. But I will say that for the typical horseshoe-shaped travel pillow you’ll see in any airport, be sure to purchase one that has a closure, fastener, snap, tie or some way to attach it to a bag, in order to make keeping up with it a no-brainer.  Otherwise you’ll be buying travel pillows more often than neccessary.

Hopefully these three items will help make your next trip more enjoyable.

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Ibiza Part II (End of the EuroTour)

While getting our tan on, we ran into Ed, a representative from Cirque de la Nuit, who explained the party packages they were offering.  After what seemed like forever we decided on a package that included the following tickets:

  • Thursday: Sankeys Club and another club I can’t quite remember the name of.
  • Friday: Ibiza Rocks
  • Saturday: 12:30 Boat Party with all you can drink followed by a pool party from 4-12

11855784_10153585527239190_7694926899291509965_n (1)One spot we went to played mostly techno and EDM, we did NOT have a great time there.

 

 

 

 

Another club we went to had the movie Alien vs. Predator showing in what can only be described as a movie theater room.

I think we spent the majority of the night watching that movie, or in my case, watching the insides of my eyelids, as I had absolutely no interest in the movie and was exhausted anyway.  They woke me when it was over and we went home.

Friday night was when we agreed to do our “white night” dinner.  We had walked by Le Bar one night on our way home from the club and thought it’d be a great spot for dinner. Unfortunately we hadn’t made reservations in advance but when we arrived looking as amazing as we did, they couldn’t turn us down and found us a nice table.



The service and our server was amazing and so was the food.  It was a great evening.

The boat party was the best! We all had a great time (well minus my one friend who refused to take her motion sickness pills knowing we’d be on a boat). But one monkey didn’t stop our show.  The drinks on board were made in batches and they had about 4 or 5 varieties in addition to beer.  The drinks were all really good and I lost count early on of how many I had consumed. 11889448_10153585527029190_3067368239767974309_n 11026321_10153585526779190_6324890737352355901_n (1)

The DJ was awesome he played a mixture of hip hop and dance and enough to satisfy the music taste of all onboard. and so were the other partiers on the boat.  The only downside was that we were under the impression that the boat would dock at a small nearby island and not just in the middle of the sea.  Many of the folks on the boat jumped off the boat into the sea for about 30 minutes or so before it was time to head back. I very slowly took the ladder down and mostly held onto the side of the boat.  Because the way my swimming skills are set up…

After the boat party we went back to our AirBnB to shower and get dressed. We went to Swag (the only club on the island that plays Hip-Hop every night).  We were originally told that Swag tickets were included in the package but apparently they weren’t.  Luckily Greta from Cirque de La Nuit got us free tickets. And we had the BEST time at Swag. I really wished we had gone before our last night since they played the music we liked best.

Swag was awesome, the DJ was from NY and he played a great set and mix of hits (he played a lot of Philly artists which was even more amazing since we’re all from Philly) that made us not want to leave (Sat Aug 15). But we had to be at the airport by 6:30 the next morning and the combination of drinking all day and partying all night was a bit much for me at 30.

Packing to leave for the airport took me forever. I was tired, still intoxicated, sleepy and by the time we got home from Swag there wasn’t much time to do anything but pack. The flight back was a bit rough for me. And it never fails, I always have the most fun on the last night of all my trips. Lesson learned: pre-pack as much as possible if planning to go out the night before you leave. I was sad to leave Ibiza but all things come to an end.

My TripAdvisor Reviews for this trip:

Cirque De La Nuit

Le BAR

Sante Carne

Revolution Bar

Worlington Hall

 

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Amsterdam (EuroTour Leg 3)

Once we arrived at our AirBnB in Amsterdam we dropped off our bags and darted out to get food nearby.

We noticed a bar near the Chinese restaurant where we got dinner, and stopped at the bar afterwards. They didn’t have much of anything that I prefer to drink and it was super crowded so we didn’t stay long and called it a night.

The following day we booked activities. Several of us picked different activities but we all agreed to do the Ice Bar, a guided tour on the canal, and the sex museum in the red light district.


I had a little time before activities so I got a manicure and pedicure. Although my friends wanted to see the Anne Frank house the line was way too long and would have cut into the other activities we had planned during our short stay.

One other friend and myself had purchased tickets for Body Worlds. I hadn’t gotten a chance to catch the exhibition several years ago when it was in both Philadelphia and the Washington DC area, so I was excited to catch it now.

 The Body Worlds exhibition takes an interesting look into the magic of the human body. One of the exhibits compared an average weeks spread of food for countries/cultures around the world and there was no surprise that the American family was among the top calorie consumers and had the unhealthiest food choices.
There were also several sex exhibits that were interesting and a display of a child fetus through each month of gestation. I really enjoyed Body Worlds.

 

I wanted to rent a bike and do some low key exploring but nobody else was interested and there wasn’t much time to fit it in.

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The canal tour was fun as well, our boat captain was funny and very attractive. And seeing the city from the canals was definite interesting, specifically learning about the architecture and design of most homes. Which explained why the steps in our AirBnB were so narrow and winding, which can be really dangerous. I will say it was a real team effort hauling our luggage up two levels of narrow and winding staircases.

The Ice Bar was an experience. It was fun and the drinks they have at their regular bar were really good.


   
After leaving the Ice Bar we headed to a nearby club, where we stayed and danced for almost an hour until I realized that I had left the hat (as seen in the photos above) I borrowed from my friend that day at the Ice Bar. As we were leaving to back to get the hat the bouncer tried to convince us to stay. We explained what happened and he offered us a bottle of champagne (well Prosecco) if we returned after retrieving the hat.

Unfortunately, the hat was nowhere to be found so we returned empty handed. But luckily the bouncer kept his word and the champagne was an added bonus to the night.


On our last night, we went to the sex museum and visited to the red light district. The museum was fun and enlightening. Learning about the sex industry in Amsterdam gave me a much different perspective on this business. I don’t plan to run out and join the industry but it is interesting to see how these “mostly women” are viewed by society and how the government has regulated or at least involved itself in this industry.

  From what we were told, a good majority of the women who put themselves on display in the windows and elsewhere to advertise themselves for sex, are in long term committed relationships or married. And their careers are not hidden or shamed by their family or friends. They all look at it as just another job.

I think most people will agree that Americans are quite prudish and overly judgmental when it comes to sex and ones sexuality. So I’m sure many of us a bit surprised when we are taken out of our element to a freer more open culture. Europe in general is a very sexually open continent, with nude beaches and nude bath houses etc.

It’s reasons like this that make me appreciate the traveling that I get to experience.

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Living OUT LOUD …

This is an awesome idea I plan to adopt for my next birthday. And I love this Living out loud mantra!  My birthday is next month so I don’t have much time to figure out my new mantra for the next year of my life. Additionally, I know I’ll be focusing on my 2016 vision board. Hopefully the two will go hand-in-hand. But I’m definitely looking forward to starting this new tradition.  Do you have any similar birthday traditions that you live by? I’m curious.  If not check out Jen’s tradition here.

Source: Living OUT LOUD …

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Full Tank, Empty Bladder

empty

So…I learned an invaluable lesson this past weekend.  Make sure you leave for your destination with a full tank of gas, and an empty bladder.

I left D.C. late Saturday night after a full day and having a few drinks with new and old friends.  The thing is, I knew I needed to use the lady’s room, but I only realized this after I was outside of the venue. Instead of going back in, I thought “I’ll be okay, I can make it home”.  So I headed to my car only to realize that I was already on “E” and hadn’t gotten gas on my way to DC like I needed to. As I’m getting closer to home I’m thinking there is no way I’ll make it home before:

1. My bladder gives out; or

2. My gas tank gives out.

I didn’t want to stop on my way home, because it’s mostly highway, and I didn’t want take a chance that a gas station I stopped at didn’t have a public bathroom or have to get the stupid bathroom key. Anyway, As I’m about to pull into my parking spot in front of my house I run out of gas. I put it in park and ran into the house so fast.  I woke up the next morning and peeked out at my car to see I was parked between two spots.

Needless to say, Sunday morning I started walking to the nearest gas station, purchased a gas can and a gallon of gas and walked back to fill the tank.  #LookatGod

Moral of the story once again is, make sure you leave for your destination with a full tank of gas, and an empty bladder.  Because this story could have surely ended a lot worse.

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2013 Year End Superlatives

Top comedian:

Kevin Hart

Top Movie:

I missed catching a few key movies this year so I’ll refrain from input in this category.

Top Male Singer:

Justin Timberlake

Top Female Singer:

Rihanna (sorry Bey)

Top TV drama:

Scandal

Best dramedy:

Orange is the New Black

Most controversial male:

Kanye West

Most controversial female: 

Miley Cyrus

Best song:

Blurred Lines

Most memorable moment:

U.S. Government Shutdown
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Pre-Surgery Irony

I had surgery the other day, and anyone who has ever had any surgery knows that you are prohibited from eating or drinking the day of and possibly the night before. So you’re usually starving going into the surgery, like myself.

 As I was wheeled into the pre-surgery room, we passed a setup of sticky buns and danishes. I thought to myself “they have got to be kidding me” as my stomach rumbles from hunger pangs.

Shortly after they began asking me questions to verify my identity and my medical history or any medical conditions.  A few minutes later a lady I had just seen getting prepped for pre-surgery downstairs, was wheeled into the station next to me separated by only a curtain. They proceeded to ask her the same/similar questions as me.

Now let me paint a mental picture of this woman’s physical appearance.  She was a 5’7 black woman with a tall/big build (mostly stomach) and she walked with a slight limp.

Prep Dr.:Any allergies?

Lady: Yes, Red sauce. (I chuckled to myself because I’m sure they were referring to medications etc., but can’t hurt to share)

Dr:Are you diabetic?

Lady: Yes

Dr: High Blood Pressure/Cholesterol?

Lady: Yes, both

Dr: Yea your pressure was a little high when we took it down stairs, so we’ll take it again in a minute.

Dr: Do you smoke?

Lady: Yes

Dr: How much?

Lady: I used to smoke a pack a day, now I’m down to a half a pack.

Dr: Do you have asthma or any breathing issues?

Lady: Yes, Sleep apnea

Dr: Heart disease or issues?

Lady: I have a heart murmur.

Dr: Any previous surgeries?

Lady: I had knee surgery in July.

Dr: What’s your height and weight?

Lady: 5’7 and I’m 265 lbs.

Dr. What are you having done today?

Lady: Carpal tunnel release.

Dr: On which hand?

Lady: My right hand.

Dr: Do you have any questions?

Lady: No but I’m hungry, and yall had all those sticky buns right outside the door, tempting me.

I laughed so hard, because I was thinking the same thing. But I was also thinking that those sweets were the last thing she needed to be concerned with.

I know I’m no “skinny mini” but, generally speaking I’m healthy at least to say I have no hypertension, diabetes, sleep apnea, high cholesterol etc., in spite of the fact that I’m pre-disposed to all of these issues.  I also try to work out and exercise on a regular basis, but after I finished chuckling to myself at the irony of this lady’s predicament, I felt sad for her. She has all these health issues and she was still a relatively young woman, probably around 40 years old.  I don’t know her story but I hope she’s doing what she can to get all of those issues under control, or carpal tunnel will be the least of her concerns.

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My Second Solicitation in Frankfurt

So im waiting at the bus stop on Sunday to go downtown. I see this older man crossing the street towards me in a Shalwar Kamize. I acknowledge him and he sits a seat away from me. After a few seconds he acknowledges me  back and says something in German. I reply “English?”.

He asks where im from and I tell him American. He tells me I’m  beautiful a few times before asking if I liked him. Confused on how to reply to that, I shrug and say I dont know.
Then he makes his request clear asking if I like sex? 

Im thinking oh boy here we go…
I didn’t respond so he continues.  Do you like sex outside?I said no!

You don’t like sex outside? And proceeds to point to the park behind us.  Only 2 or 5 minutes he adds, as if that was suposed to entice me to take him up on his offer. 

I just ignored him
                                                    
He asks if I have kids I say no. And adds you dont have kids, and you don’t like sex? Im not following his logic.  Does the fact that I’m a single woman traveling alone mean that I’m open for sex with any random, or that I’m a prostitute?

Oh did I forget to mention that he asked me how much? As in how much it would cost him to get with me.

Then he starts with the are you from africa?  I mean the fact that I consider myself an African American suggests that im of African descent. But I had to explain once again that my parents are american as are my grandparents and their parents.

I found out that he was Indian.  
He noticed my tattoo. And asked if I liked music.

And somehow he ended up          asking me about terrorists and the twin towers in NYC. I WASNT sure what exactly he was asking me at that point though. It seemed like a series of separate and seemingly unrelated questions. 

Finally the bus came and I was hoping he didn’t try and sit near me.

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I waited too late to try and snap a picture of him. But that’s him getting onto the elevator.

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