Saturday, December 31

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!  Wow, it's exciting isn't it?  Next year has so many possibilities!

It's my birthday on January the 5th, on Thursday, and my sister's on Tuesday, so plenty of parties straight away!  But then it's also my last year of school, so so much will be happening.  I'm going to be on my game "going go-go-gadget at it" as I've phrased it several times to relatives.  I'm going to be super-organised because I've bought a half-size white board for my wall to plan on, and I have an incredibly geeky but wonderful Where's Wally wall calendar, and I can't wait to go stationary shopping before school starts.  Wow!  I'm getting all excited!  I'm going to make this a really good year!

Do you have any resolutions for this year?

I might have to get back to you, because I don't have time now to have a really good think about it, but here is my draft list of resolutions:
  •  Start doing the things I say that I "will do when I'm older"
  • Write more! 
  • Do more things with my friends during the school term
  • Learn French! (I'm buying a CD set from the Book Depository these holidays!)
  • Wear dresses more
  • Be surprising and cheerful with little lovely things
  • Be more patient with my sister
  • Strengthen friendships with certain people
There you go.  I'm sure I'll be able to add to that, so I'll keep you posted.  Anyway, I suppose all I can really hope is that this next year will be just as wonderful and fun as this one has been.  Thanks for being here!  Lots of love from the Book Florist.


Wednesday, December 28

Jonathan's Grandmother

How was your Christmas?  My family spent the day fairly quietly at home until the afternoon when we went down to the beach to spend the pre-twilight hours flying kites.  It was very lovely. 

And yesterday again was fun.  We took a day-trip to Maleny for the bush-walks and ended up with something like 35 litres of free milk from the Maleny Dairy, a litre bottle each of Farmer's Choice Guernsey milk we consumed on the drive home while listening to the best of Burt Bacharach.  It was just the greatest fun.  Anyway, to kickstart back into blogging, I have a passage for you from Eating Animals

In Eating Animals, Jonathan begins with stories of his grandmother, an introduction to food in general. It's amazing to consider her being the same grandmother from Everything is Illuminated.

Once upon a time there was a person whose life was so good there was no story to tell about it. More stories could be told about my grandmother than about anyone else I've ever met - her otherworldly childhood, the hairline margin of her survival, the totality of her loss, her immigration and further loss, the triumph and tragedy of her assimilation - and though I will one day try to tell them to my children, we almost never told them to one another. Nor did we call her by any of the obvious and earned titles. We called her the Greatest Chef.

Perhaps her other stories were too difficult to tell. Or perhaps she chose her story for herself, wanting to be identified by her providing rather than her surviving. Or perhaps her surviving is contained within her providing: the story of her relationship to food holds all of the other stories that could be told about her. Food, for her, is not food. It is terror, dignity, gratitude, vengeance, joyfulness, humiliation, religion, history, and of course, love. As if the fruits she always offered us were picked from the destroyed branches of our family tree.
Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, 2009. 

Saturday, December 24

Merry Christmas!

I would like to thank you all for the great experience, encouragement and friendship that I'm enjoyed this year.

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!

Love from the Book Florist.

Friday, December 23

Sentiments on Sentimentality

The valuing of emotions over reality.  Sentimentality is widely considered out of touch, weak.  Very often, those who express concern about (or even an interest in) the conditions in which famed animals are raised are disregarded as sentimentalists.  But it's worth taking a step back to ask who is the sentimentalist and who is the realist. 

Is caring to know about the treatment of farmed animals a confrontation with the facts about the animals and ourselves or an avoidance of them?  Is arguing that a sentiment of compassion should be given greater value than a cheaper burger (or having a burger at all) an expression of emotion and impulse or an engagement with reality and out moral intuitions?

Two friends are ordering lunch.  One says, "I'm in the mood for a burger," and orders it.  The other says, "I'm in the mood for a burger," but remembers that there are things more important to him than what he is in the mood for at any given moment, and orders something else.  Who is the sentimentalist?

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, 2009.

This is a segment from his "Words/Meanings" section.  I've read it three times over.  The first time I had an epiphany.  The second time I didn't understand it.  The third time I discovered that it made a lot of sense.  It takes some thinking to comprehend the point that he's taking, but once you pay attention to the words and thoughts he's expressing, you realise that the point he makes is completely mind-blowing!  Has it hit you?  It does take a while.  Some re-reading. 

I don't know exactly why I found this so interesting, but I think the fact that he caused me to think outside of a preconcieved box makes reading like this exciting. 

Thursday, December 22

The Hobbit Trailer

And just because I'm super-dooper excited and all, here's the link to the first official showing of The Hobbit official trailer!!!!! 

Oh my goodness gracious me!  Our Martin Freeman from Sherlock!!!  And the same sets, soundtrack and atmosphere as Lord of the Rings.  Uuuugggghhhh!  I haven't been so excited about anything in such a long, long time.  Isn't it absolutely exhilarating?

And don't forget that I've been excited more than one today, so please don't neglect to read the previous post, Eating Animals, because I spent a lot of time being extremely passionate. 

Eating Animals

I want this to be a post that you really pay attention to because I've got all excited over this in such a short amount of time and want to share it desperately!

I went to the library yesterday to pick up a hold, and ended up with a copy of Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence and Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer.  Yes, our Jonathan Safran Foer.  This is his non-fiction work loosely about, as the title suggests, 'eating animals'. 

Along with my two other new loans, I started the book yesterday afternoon, and have hardly been able to put it down.  I used to be a huge non-fiction reader until I was about twelve, and I haven't read any since besides the little required for school.  But being the sort of writer he is, even without the preliminary interest, or even curiosity, in the subject that is usually required of a reader to enjoy a work of non-fiction, Jonathan Safran Foer has got me completely riveted to his study. 

It is not at all the case that I'm fascinated by animal welfare, rights, agriculture, the species barrier, organic food, vegetarianism, or any of the other areas he covers.  What I'm fascinated by is his incredible ability to tell stories, and force me to completely re-evaluate and assess my attitudes, beliefs, and values towards these topics. 

In his second part, 'Words/Meanings', he has alphabetical headings of all the terms and abbreviations related to the topic and defines and analyses these words so that we can logically comprehend what they consist of and how they influence and effect. 

There are so many parts of this book that I want to show purely for the point of proving how amazingly he writes, but if I was to do that, I might as well just hand you the book and tell you to read it all. 

You don't need to be interested specifically.  He makes this incredibly approachable, incredibly available, and unbelievably captivating.  He allows you to understand every aspect, from a new perspective or from a perspective at all as is my case, since I had never really thought about it before.  It's exciting, because I'm thinking now about things I'd never considered and realising the truth behind them.  It doesn't make me want to become a radical environmental animal rights campaigner, but its opening new doorways of my mind to me. 

There is so much now for me to consider!  I am overwhelmed with opportunities to rethink and dwell on understanding.  What an experience!  Pick up this book!  This redefines writing for me - how one can give another these new thoughts!  It's truly incredible!

Tuesday, December 20

People Who Live Near Waterfalls

Let me tell you a story, the Dial went on.  The house that your great-great-grandmother and I moved into when we first became married looked out onto the small falls, at the end of the Jewish/Human fault line.  It had wood floors, long windows, and enough room for a large family.  It was a handsome house.  A good house.

But the water, your great-great-great-grandmother said, I can't hear myself think.

Time I urged her.  Give it time.

And let me tell you, while the house was unreasonably humid, and the front lawn perpetual mud from the spray, while the walls needed to be repapered every six months, and chips of paint fell from the ceiling like snow for all seasons, what they say about people who live next to waterfalls is true.

What, my grandfather asked,do they say?

They say that people who live next to waterfalls don't hear the water.

They say that?

They do.  Of course, your great-great-great-grandmother was right.  It was terrible at first.  We couldn't stand to be in the house for more than a few hours at a time.  The first two weeks were filled with nights of intermittent sleep and quarrelling for the sake of being heard over the water.  We fought so much just to remind ourselves that we were in love, and not in hate.

But the next weeks were a little better.  It was possible to sleep a few good hours each night and eat in only mild discomfort.  Your great-great-great-grandmother still cursed the water (whose personification had become anatomically refined), but less frequently, and with less fury.  Her attacks on me also quieted.  It's your fault, she would say.  You wanted to live here.

Life continued, as life continues, and time passed, as time passes, and after a little more than two months: Do you hear that?  I asked her on one of the rare morning we sat at the table together.  Hear it?  I put down my coffee and rose from you chair.  You hear a thing?

What thing? she asked.

Exactly! I said, running outside to pump my fist at the waterfall.  Exactly!

We danced, throwing handfulls of water in the air, hearing nothing at all.  We alternated hugs of forgiveness and shouts of human triumph at the water.  Who wins the day?  Who wins the day, waterfall?  We do!  We do!

And this is what living next to a waterfall is like, Safran.  Every widow wakes one morning, perhaps after years of pure and unwavering grieving, to realise she slept a good night's sleep, and will be able to eat breakfast, and doesn't hear her husband's ghost all the time, but only some of the time.  Her grief is replaced with a useful sadness.  Every parent who loses a child finds a way to laugh again.  The timbre begins to fade.  The edge dulls.  The hurt lessens.  Every love is carved from loss.  Mine was.  Yours is.  Your great-great-great-grandchildren's will be.  But we learn to live in that love.

Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer, 2002. 

Monday, December 19

Drowning in a Flood of Thoughts

And so it was when anyone tried to speak: their minds become tangled in remembrance.  Words became floods of thoughts with no beginning or end, and would drown the speaker before he could reach the life raft of the point he was trying to make.  It was impossible to remember what one meant, what, after all of the words, was intended.

Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer, 2002.

I haven't done much blogging, or even all that much reading, but in the final chapers of this book, I was hit by the short passage.  That is such an incredibly poignant anology of drowning in thoughts before reaching the life raft of the point one is trying to make.  I feel that I have experienced this myself, and perhaps you will have too.  It always astounds me when someone can explain the feeling of something I've felt, but could never explain. 

I've been thinking a lot about deep and meaningful things, perhaps prematurely.  Thoughts about the reality of growing old and either getting to do the things I wanted to do with my life or missing those oppertunities; the idea of bringing up a child of my own, obviously very much in the future, but how can one bring up a child so they're not messed up; living a life upon choices made by others, but trying to still work out my own dreams or writing my own books and reading stories; am I doing the right thing going along with my parent's plan of my becoming a teacher?; the ability to even express what my doubts are in intelligible form; the concept of love and loving the idea of something and someone; plans to go to France; how can I be a person that people would actually want to love?; what are my talents for and how do I work with them to create something?; will I ever come up with an idea for a book that I can actually work with?; what is inspiration and creativity?; what sort of writer will I be?; the thought that perhaps I will never get to read to anyone other than my dad; what is it that I actually want? 

What are you thinking about?

Sunday, December 18

Two Teen Milestones

I'm strangely not in the mood for blogging, reading, writing, movie-watching or anything, basically, than watching E.R. which I think is a sure signifier that I'm hooked on this TV series.  Anyhow, there are two things that I thought you'd like to know.  Two teenaged milestones reached in under a week!
Milestone Number One:
I finally got my learners license!  Yes, I'm a year overdue, and no, "too busy" probably doesn't sound like much of an excuse, but I can assure you that it's only these holidays that I've had the time to study for the theoretical exam.  I haven't actually started driving, but it's going to start happening. 
Milestone Number Two:
I dyed my hair.  I was always pretty proud that I hadn't ever done anything drastic to my hair, and along with my unpierced ears, polish-less nails and unmade-up face, I had intended to keep it that way.  But I love the colour orange.  If I could have chosen, I would have been born a redhead, which is hard for my redheaded friends to understand.  My dad works in oncology sometimes as an art therapist and has often stressed to me how much I should appreciate my hair.  He says to me "do what you want with your hair because I trust you and you never know how long you will have it".  So I decided to take a plunge.  Not a big one, nor a permanent one.  I used an orange rinse (lasts a maximum of eight washes).  Sadly, as my hair is very dark brown, the difference is very subtle.  But it has auburned-up the sun-bleached streaks in my hair and given it on the whole a sort of Jaffa glow, which I'm enjoying a lot.  So on the whole I think the experiment was worthwhile.  And after it washes out, I intend to give the red rinse a go, because it is recommended for dark hair and so I should get some pretty out there results.  And anyway, it's Christmas, so red is very appropriate, right?

Tuesday, December 13

Three's Company

You might have noticed that I've put three books under the What We're Reading Now banner, and indeed that does mean that I am in fact reading three books at once, which is scary stuff.  Well, what with my aggravatingly slow holiday lifestyle, reading what I've felt like when I've felt like it has worked fine for me. 

As a matter of fact, I've been reading a whole lot more of Everything is Illuminated than anything else, and in a single binge, I've been consuming up to a fifth of the book.  But it's been good, going to bed at nine ish, depending on the movements of the rest of the family, and just reading until I'm too tired to prop my eyelids open any longer.  It's funny, actually, because it feels like once I start reading, no matter how tired or energetic I was when I sat down to begin, it sets a timer of approximately 45 minutes before I have been rendered almost unconscious by creeping sleep.  It certainly gets me in the mood to dream, which I've been enjoying more than anything these holidays. 

I think that although I'm usually opposed to reading more than one book at a time, having more than one storyline at once and, more importantly, having the choice between these storylines is keeping my reading fresh and more appealing.  It's become like chosing which chocolate to eat from a box. 

Friday, December 9

The Poetess

My dad has started a new habit for himself - at least once a week, he will watch a Ted Talk.  Ted Talks are posted on this site, and are talks on anything and everything, under the banner of "ideas worth spreading".  There are talks on everything, and once on the webpage, you can select to see all tabs and there chose a talk that focuses on your area of greatest interest.  There is however, such fun in hearing about something completely random and being blown away by it unexpectedly.  So far we've watched DNA scientists and genetic researchers, authors, singers, professional illusionists and magicians, musicians, storytellers, historians, film-makers etcetera. 

But what I really wanted to show you is a 12 minute "talk" by this amazing spoken-word 'poetess' and storyteller, Sarah Kay.  Through song she forms a connection with her audience, followed by her poem, her story and another poem.  Please watch it!  The final poem is breathtaking.

That final poem films a lot like Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close to me, with that feel of tiny details being so important and personal and perfect.  Isn't she an absolutely wonderful storyteller?  Our breaths were taken away when we first watched it, and we were reduced to tears.  Her articulation, even her gestures, just fill out her words so that you get so deeply lost within them.  What I would give to have the power of words as she does.  It is so beautiful!  What do you think?

Thursday, December 8

The Beauty of Re-reading 'The Beautiful and Damned'

As they entered, the orchetra were sounding the preliminary whimpers to a maxixe, a tune full of castanets and facile faintly langurous violin harmonies, appropriate to the crowded winter grill teeming with an excited college crowd, high-spirited at the approach of the holidays.  Carefully Gloria considered several locations, and rather to Anthony's annoyance paraded him circuitously to a table for two at the far side of the room.  Reaching it she again considered.  Would she sit on the right or on the left?  Her beautiful eyes and lips were very grave as she made her choice and Anthony thought again how naive was her every gesture; she took all the things of life for hers to choose from and apportion, as though she was continually picking out presents for herself from an inexhaustible counter. 
The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald, published 1922.

It being the holidays, I'm back to my favourite pasttime of reading to my dad, and we've just begun The Beautiful and Damned, which I deem to be one of the greater works of the wonderful F. Scott Fitzgerald.  It's been so much fun, and rediscovering this book with someone whose perspective is not only very different but much more mature than my own means that I am reaping more from the experience than the first time round.  I'm getting the oppertunity to re-enjoy the writing, laugh at different parts, and articulate the beauty as I go.  I remember everything from the first time I read it, but I think that I'm realising how brilliant it is with a greater comprehension of the brilliance; reading it and thinking every paragraph that that was amazingly written.  It's an exciting rediscovery!

Tuesday, December 6

Strenuous Relaxation

I have successfully done nothing today.  Well, I successfully did nothing of any consequence today.  I haven't changed out of my pajamas and the sudden welcome cold snap has given me the oppertunity to wear a cuddly jumper as well.  So with a warm sleeping-bag pulled over my lap and several cups of tea, I surrendered my free time to the myriad of DVDs and games I'd rented for the week. 

Firstly, I've been playing the new PS3 game, Skyrim the last two days (I rerented it so I could get an extra day out of the overnight hire).  Please don't take me for one of those full on gamers, because I never, except for the last two days, ever plays video games.  But I've kind of got myself into this Lord of the Rings mindset, so I'm all hyped up about walking cross country and riding the horses, revelling in the drawn-out quest feel of travelling (I actually bought a horse so I could leave off stealing them). 

On a DVD note, I'm watching the TV series, ER (Emergency Room), which my parents enjoyed years ago.  And as a follow up from your recommendations, I've also started watching Pushing Daisies.  I've been really enjoying it too!  I love what Chuck wears, and both costume and set design is so refreshingly bright and sunshiney.  I love that Tim Burtonny music style and the narration, which gives it that gorgeous homey feel.  I can completely see why you both enjoying it so much!  The only catch is, however, that my video library doesn't have the first season, so I've had to brush up on the details and relationships via Wikipedia, and carry on with the second season.  Have I missed too much?  I couldn't stand to be deprived of the experience just because they didn't have the first season.  I seem to have caught up anyway

And the last thing I can think of to mention is that I taped The Last Tycoon on television a couple of days ago and I'll watch it on Thursday when I can have the house to myself.  I can't wait to watch the movie of the book that blew my brains.  Should be good!

Sunday, December 4

Your First Answer Please

I wonder if I ama better talker than I am a writer, because when I talk and explain my ideas and opinions to people, it comes out sounding eloquent and clear, flowing with my thought processes to the exact place I wanted them to go.  When I try to write this down though, I not only loose the flow and clarity of instantaneous thought, I lose the words that made it perfect in the first place.

My way of talking is unique.  What I say is just how I say things.  They say in exams that your first answer is most likely to be correct, so if you're not sure, don't rewrite your response.  My immediate response to people is individual, clear, and reflective of how I feel.

I feel that I lose my individuality when I write.  I read so much that I know exactly how things should sound.  I use the words that I know 'work', with no thought to whether they are my own.  I think into my hand, but my fingers translate my thoughts into generic terms with the goal of sounding 'good'.  But what is 'good'?  It isn't what I was thinking of at the start.

I feel that I often misrepresent things because I use the wrong words.  The problem is, though, that those words 'work'; they just weren't mine.  Who do they belong to?  Probably a hundred different authors.  I think that I'm in a position of having to learn to write things as I would say them, because I don't mis-represent in my talk.  What I spontaneously say was just how I meant to say it.  I think back at times with a new answer in mind for a person I was talking to, thinking "this would have been more of a 'me' thing to say", but the fact that I said what I said at the time makes the thing the 'me-est' thing I could have said.  The first answer is more likely to be correct.

Friday, December 2

The In-the-Moment Magic

There was a statement made in a scriptwriting handout from drama that my brain specially remembered:

"There is an immediacy about theatre.  The audience has to watch.  Something is happening now and it cannot be missed."
This ' in-the-moment' magical quality of theatre is something that can't be found in movies or books... or so I thought. 

But Fitzgerald, in This Side of Paradise, in the chapter 'Babes in Arms', was so tinglingly momentous and 'now' that I was scared and thrilled by the possibility of it running away from my eyes as I read. 

It was about the romantic tension between Isabelle, the Popular daughter, and Amory Blaine.  The clean, crispness of the night an the tremling, flighty feelings of fear in the reveral of power roles and possibility, exhilarated me.  I was agraid I would miss it.  I wanted to laugh out loud at how perfectly real it all seemed, but I couldn't give the pure moment an oppertunity to escape. 

It was beautiful, and felt so inevitable.  By my emotions were Isabells's - up, up, racing heart, must, must, will, shall I?  It was sickening, anxious, hungry.  Amory's impatience, the interruption by the party, the smashing of the moment and its oppertunities, possibilities and passion turning off with the switching on of the light.  It was so rare and exhilarating and momentous.  My poundig pulse cooled with curiosity that I should ever know his kiss. 

What an experience!  

Thursday, December 1

My Romancewith Fitzgerald

I had recently been feeling that my relationship with F. Scott Fitzgerald was on shaky grounds.  My parents assured me that the age difference was to blame, and my friends suggested that we had grown apart.  I felt that I didn't have time for writers who couldn't provide me with two, what I thought, necessary, things - a beautiful writing style and a good story line.  I was worn out by writers who flirted with one ideal or the other, but couldn't commit to both.  I accused him of falling under this banner, but I don't think I did him justice with this label. 
The season I spent away from Fitzgerald gave me time to experiment, but the time also made me forget about the nicer parts of living with him.  I threw my time and care to Jonathan Safran Foer, and for weeks on end I went to bed each night with the lovely Mr. Herriot chattering warmly away in my ear.  But Spring romances faded on my shelf and I returned to Fitzgerald.  I wondered whether we still shared a spark of love anymore  Just so I could know for sure that it had properly died out after those months of avoidance.

I was soon reawakened to his loveliness; his subtleties, his beauty and romantic whims.  He forgave me quickly for my doubt and amended my fears with his familiar smile - a smile that warmed me every page of our romance.  We danced alone, long into the night, for hours and hours, back in love.  He reminded me quickly why I had fallen in love with him in the first place.

Wednesday, November 30

Tribute to Twain

All of you who have used Google's services today will have noticed that today is Mark Twain's 176th birthday, and I would like to further acknowledge his greatness.

Born in Missouri as Samuel Langhourne Clemens on November 30, 1835, he was the author of the iconic novels, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, as well as The Prince and the Pauper.  In his time, he wrote several novels and short stories, as well as numerous essays, plays, satires, poetry, and even autobiographical work.  It is unanimous that his writing has greatly influenced both American literature as a genre and literature as a whole for the better.  Twain died of a heart attack April 21, 1910, upon which President William Howard Taft said: 

"Mark Twain gave pleasure – real intellectual enjoyment – to millions, and his works will continue to give such pleasure to millions yet to come... His humor was American, but he was nearly as much appreciated by Englishmen and people of other countries as by his own countrymen. He has made an enduring part of American literature."

I feel that there is a lot to be said in tribute to Mark Twain, but I don't have the time or space to outline it all for you, which leaves me feeling a bit guilty for trying.  I totally agree with President Taft that his work was American - for me it is symbolic of America itself, and reading his works have been a delight both as a younger teenager and now.  I just thought it was important to say so. 

Tuesday, November 29

Soft, Pink, Sticky, and Lovely

I haven't been in at all a blogging mood recently.  My holiday activities so far have consisted of reading outside in the dusk cool; having long baths; dancing to Hall & Oates' You Make My Dreams Come True, which is impossible to get out of your head once it's in; going to the video library; and watching what I rented from the video library.  So far my rentals have included  It's Complicated, The Devil Wears Prada, and Morning Glory.  But, as I learnt from last Christmas holidays, it's great to have a TV series to get really stuck into.  Last time, we watched the complete series of Seachange, which I adored, and Mork and Mindy, which has left me in a glowing state of Robin Williams adoration.  This time round, however, I had no clue which direction to turn for my holiday entertainment. 

Working at a video library certainly has its perks, and even without having read the back of a film let alone having seen it, I've become acquainted with a crazy number of random DVDs.  It was like this, "putting it back on the shelf" as I refer to my way of knowing, that I was made aware of the 1989 series, A Bit of Fry and Laurie.  No one can argue that Hugh Laurie is a great actor, and the last year has functioned to make me a huge fan of the witty, eloquent gentlemanliness of the glorious Stephen Fry.  (I am now ridiculously excited to see him as Mycroft in the new Sherlock Holmes film which comes out on my birthday amazingly enough!!!) 

As a Woody Allen fan, this quirky little show has huge appeal to me.  It is certainly an acquired taste, and oldfashioned and a bit British... well... British... but it is so delightful to watch - thriving entirely on the greatness of their facial acting and the complete glory of their lines.  Observe!  

This is a sketch from the 1987 BBC pilot.  It is my favourite sketch, and shows Stephen Fry in a very young, albiet soft, pink, and gorgeous, state.  How great is that line - that cloud of gorgeousness part?  Uuuugggh!  It's so fantastic.

Friday, November 25

Peanut Brittle

As you know, I am officially on holidays now, and what more fitting for the first week of holidays than to finally get round to reading F. Scott Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise?  Because that is what I've done.  I was thinking I might even be a bit naughty and read a couple of books simultaneously.  Just to shake it up a little and avoid falling into the lingering slough of despond that waits to gobble up bored readers.  I ordered Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer from the library, but it'll obviously take some time to arrive.  I know the story well since the film is a family favourite, but I'm sure that his writing will make it wonderful regardless. 

However, in true Fiztgerald style, I am already hooked in This Side of Paradise on a line:

"The invitation to Miss Myra St. Claire's bobbing party spent the morning in his coat pocket, where it had an intense physical affair with a dusty piece of peanut brittle".

Isn't it great?  That fantastic, almost random idea, like an orchestra's forte blast to make sure that no one falls asleep, (a trick my school strings ensemble has often had to use).  He's a clever, clever, clever writer!

Wednesday, November 23

Going it Alone

I did a pretty brave and exciting thing today. 

Ever since I knew it existed, I wanted desperately to go see Midnight in Paris, half because I adore Paris, and half because I adore Woody Allen.  I wanted to go with Dad rather than one of my school friends, because I have always watched all Woody Allen and French films with him.  But he wasn't able to go.  As simple as that. 

I toyed with the idea of asking my best friend to go with me.  But the fact remained that watching a French Woody Allen film was going to be quite personal for me, and I didn't want that meaning to kind of fall flat because it wasn't shared. 

One of my good friends goes to the cinema alone on a regular basis and he told me how much he enjoys that feeling of being alone and just enjoying it purely and personally.  And I thought that this would be the perfect oppertunity for me to give it a go, and go it alone.  So I did. 

It was my first day of the holidays, so I gave myself a freshening shower, prettied myself in a skirt, tights, my new shoes, and my new cardigan, and got to the bus station.  I really hate public transport because it never seems to make sense, and always gets itself wrong - bus numbers, bus times, stop locations.  I can never seem to get any of it right.  Hate it. 

Anyway, I got there, got a ticket, got myself a packet of lollies and an ice tea, and sat down, right in the middle of the middle, and spread my lardy-dah around me comfortably.  I was one of eight people in the cinema, and I was the youngest one there by fifty years easily.  There was one elderly couple, a elderly group of women, and an elderly woman with her slightly less elderly daughter, and they commented and laughed at certain moments during the trailers and film itself.  I found it very funny, actually which parts they enjoyed most, and I loved the wit, even though it wasn't anywhere near as biting as classic Allen. 

I will sum up my appreciation of the movie with the imagery of a bauble.  The movie was a little bauble.  It had its one point to make, its handful of simple characters, its simple story line.  It was short and snappy.  It made its point and ended as quickly as it began, leaving you with a feeling firstly of, oh, that was nothing, and then secondly, of, that was incredible.  I loved the point it made, and the way it made it.  I couldn't say anything much because of those who haven't, and will now have to see it, but it has a whole heap of writers from the past in it, including some that I am personally enamoured with, and that delighted me to giggles.  So that was wonderful.  And of course the scenery was just absolutely edensque.

I think, however, that the moral of the story, at least so far as my dad keeps telling me, is that through going to see a movie alone, and furthermore enjoying seeing it alone, I've proven how comfortable I am with myself.  And I do think he's right.  I couldn't do it with all movies.  I need to hold someone's arm in movies with any form of suspense in them, but this one was the perfect thing for me.  I was very comfortable. 

Tuesday, November 22

Goose and Gosling

That dreaded email from the library: 

Reminder Notice

Your record shows the following items will be due within the next three days.

Items not returned by the due date attract an overdue fee of 35 cents per item per day.

Renew these items now via eLibCat.

1. call number: AD - FICTION FOE
ID: 34000070248760
Extremely loud & incredibly close / Jonathan Safran Foer.
Foer, Jonathan Safran, 1977 -
due: 24/11/2011, 23:59.

Needless to say, I rushed straight onto the e-library catalogue and pulled up my account to renew my checkouts.  

Renewal failed.  Item has holds. 

Oh the horror!  With only three days to finish the book, mountains of homework, two exams, two shifts, no time, no time, no time.

It's amazing - they always say it's so - you can always find time if you care enough to.  Last night, amongst math textbooks, formulas, and exercise books, I made time to finish the book.  I'm not sure when I finally turned off the light and went to bed, but I know that I was satisfied with my efforts, and more than satisfied with the book itself.

Many Colours of Happiness!  You deserve a huge pat on the back for recommending me Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.  And a hug.  And a box of chocolates.  And a bouquet of sharpened pencils. 

This book 'got' me more powerfully than any book I remember reading.  It is so beautifully written, and profound with its ingenius, ingenous quality.  He does this incredibly wonderful thing where he plants a little idea, a seemingly meaningless idea, at the start.  It delights you then.  This sweet, challenging idea, but it fades to the back of your mind because it is nothing but a thought.  But he doesn't allow it to end there.  He brings it back and reminds you of it, and ties it up so that every phrase, every idea, every thought turns out to have a purpose.  It blew me away.  It knocked my socks off.  It's like in those colouring in books where you draw a line to connect the mother animal with its offspring:  dog with a puppy, goose with a gosling, bear with a cub.  A small idea, connected to a grand one to make an incredible point.  Nothing has astounded me so much.

Thankyou for this extremely loud and incredibly close experience.  I walk away changed. 

Sunday, November 20

Wouldn't It Be Nice?

Aughh!  I'm so sorry for all the silences.  I haven't been able to get the pictures of my Christmas cards ready for a grand revealing, but I'll try and compensate with some stories from the last couple of days. 

The birthday party I went to last night was wonderful fun, but on arrival home, I was so utterly danced out that speech itself was a huge inconvenience.  Predictably, I shed the shoes after a few songs, and the dancing succeeded to rubbing my toes raw.  I'm astounded my legs don't ache after it all, but maybe I'm fitter than I thought.  Pleasant surprise.  Still.  Sore toes.  I also manage to take some very lovely photos, and after six and a half hours of reminding the DJ, he finally played my requested song, the Beach Boy's Wouldn't it be Nice.  And it was the second last one he played before I was picked up, so that was auspicious timing!  That song is a bit of a thing for me, and I'm not even all that sure why.   

Maybe it's that when I'm singing to it, I fall in love with the idea of love.  That is definitely something I would do.  I tend to fall in love with the idea of things, as well as the thing itself.  That song reminds me of things I did, said and thought about, and still continue to think about and dream about.  Having that song, and having it with those people, made my night. 

Well, today, I've been disgustingly lethargic.  I have my English exam block tomorrow, and today has been a failing attempt to prepare for it.  But seriously, when there is not a grain of energy left in you, and your can hardly keep your mouth closed and your eyes open, how can you do anything?  I loitered in avoidance for hours and then tried to doze it off.  But after startling myself awake after an hour and finding that my room was beginning to boil with the heat of the afternoon, I was actually worse off.  Right now, I'm looking so so so so so forward to having a shower tomorrow morning, an orange and a bowl of cereal for breakfast and getting dressed with that lovely feeling of pure cleanliness.  Cleanliness.  Wouldn't it be nice?

Friday, November 18


Eh bien, this has been somewhat of a whacked out week, and I think that first and foremost, I need to apologize for not blogging in such a long time.  It's been partially the internet dropping out, partially working late, but mainly studying.  Not to mention, if I had blogged at all during this time, it would have been fairly uneventful as I really had nothing to relate save for the amount of mind-boggling effort that this seemingly friendly last week of school had in store for me. 

I finished watercolouring and wrote on all twenty of my Christmas cards, which I am delighted with, as they turned out beautifully.  Then my drama performance went well and my final drama lesson was spent eating tons of junk food and watching the recording of the play in celebration.  Then there were two teary moments and so many hugs that I wanted never to end.  And then to top off that full-on day was a shoe-shopping trip, definitely not a habit of mine, for a big birthday party this weekend, which was much more successful than I expected because I ended up finding a stripey blue cardigan - something that has been on my list for a long long long time.  I really love cardigans, and scarves, not to mention. 

Well, after all that lardy-dah, I was well and truly knackered, and I fell into bed last night and was out like a light in minutes.  I don't recall a single thought crossing my mind, or a single flicker or flutter of a dream until I woke up.  At five past noon! 

Oh the horror!  My sleeping-in record has been until 11:30 am, and I was never able to match it.  But then to randomly pull out a 5 past noon?!!!  I was shocked wide awake when I finally found my pocketwatch and turned it over.  I suppose I'm sort of proud.  It feels like this event has marked my unofficial arrival at the typical teenager milestone.  Me, who wakes up at 6 every morning, sleeps in til 6:30, is up and at 'em by 7, and in bed every night by 10:30 at the latest.  A typical teenager.  Well.  I'm kind of proud, and kind of embarrassed, because I enjoy the thrill of breaking convention and this feels a little too stereotypical.  Anyhow, I feel well-rested. 

On a completely different note, I haven't felt like sharing passages out of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close for a while, because Tangled up in Blue has bought the book, and I don't want to wreck it even in the slightest for her. But for Many Colours of Happiness, I'll let slide some references to my favourite bits so far. 

I was frozen with delight at the sound of the bird with the hearing aid, shocked into smiles by museums of husband and wife and blown away by the beauty of the tourguide.  This is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read, and every chapter succees in blowing my expectation and shaking me heart and soul awake.  It is so untypical that it feels almost forbidden.  I am enjoying it so so much and I can't thank you enough for recommending it. 

Friday, November 11

King of the Mountain

I seriously enjoyed your comment, Tangled up in Blue, and thankyou.  That sounds like something Douglas Adams said, but then he might have been saying something that sounded like something someone else said.  Regardless of how adamant I was that my various attempts to remedy my cold would work, I am still sick.  My nose is running like a tap, and my face aches despite that lemon paracetamol drink I took.  A full packet of my favourite blackcurrent Fisherman's Friends later,  and I have succeeded only in making my breath smell strangely like alcohol (I don't understand how, though everyone keeps telling me "it so does!"). 

Not to mention my brother had me crying this morning after making me watch this clip. 

My favourite part is the two glasses of water.  Did you get it.  That stung me hard. 

Anyway, my boots are already lighter having my Ancient History presentation finally off my chest.  And I certainly look forward to the view at the top of the assignment mountain! 

Thursday, November 10

Extremely Sick and Incredibly Tired

Well, it's beginning to heat up now!  At the super pointy end of the year, everything is suddenly due and there is suddenly no time for it.  Not to mention I have suddenly come down sick.  Not retchingly ill but certainly sicker than usual.  My nose has been running like a tap and my throat is sand paper.  I am proud of my remedies, however ineffective they seem to be so far. 

I have so far enjoyed:
  • Black tea with honey
  • Salt water gargle
  • Betadine gargle
  • Two cold and flu tablets
  • One Vitamin C tablet
  • Eucalyptus lollies and
  • Blackcurrent Fisherman's Friends
And all the while, I have on my mind an Ancient History assignment due tomorrow, a huge drama performance on Monday, a Modern History assignment on Tuesday, and English and music assessments to have complete within next week. 

But in all this mess of tissues and text books, I have found Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close a shining light of glory.  I have structured my day around it.  I stop studying at half past nine and hop into bed with a cup of tea to read until my eyes droop.  I am enjoying it so much, and dreading every second the imminent closure.  I'm reading too much!  I will finish it so soon and then what life line will I have to clutch at as I plummet down the rabbit hole to completion of grade eleven?  That was a cheesy line.  Anyhow, do any of you have a burning suggestion for what I should read next?  My last couple of books have been unbelievably perfect, and I want to continue on this ride of great reads. 

Monday, November 7

My Play

Alright, well I said I would show you my script adaptation of my short story, A Storm in a Teacup.  I've headed the post up so you can find what you need.  First of all, make sure to read the SYNOPSIS, as it gives the outline of the entire play, of which my assignment is only an excerpt.


Scene One opens with young sisters, Kathy, and Amelia, sitting in their living room on a thunder storming afternoon in February, 2010. The ceiling is leaking and there are various pots, pans and cups scattered about the floor, catching the drips. There is one last teacup in a tall display cupboard behind them, which Amelia goes to use when another leak begins above her head. Kathy protests, however, that the teacup is too special to use for such a vulgar purpose, and she goes on to tell the story behind its value.

The teacup, part of a china teaset, was given to their grandmother, Lucy, as a girl by her own grandmother. After her grandmother’s death, she would invite her best-friend, Paul, from next door to her tea-parties. 

Scene Two depicts Paul’s marriage proposal to Lucy, their wedding and their move into a suburban house with a wattle tree in the backyard. Lucy continues to hold tea-parties, now under the wattle tree.

Scene Three portrays the 1974 floods that ravaged Ipswich after Lucy’s first year of marriage. Lucy rides the flood waters on a raft, and manages to save the teacup as it drifts past her. When the waters have subsided, she finds Paul and learns that their home has been destroyed, and that the teacup is all she has left of her belongings.

Scene Four illustrates a conversation that takes place between Lucy and her friend, Peggy, several months after the floods. At this time, both have been able to buy new houses due to their insurance and are resuming their everyday lives. Lucy, however, still grieves the loss of her belongings, in particular the memories associated with them. Peggy does not experience this connection with her own belongings and so is at odds with her.

In the ensuing blackout, there is a knock at the door. The lights come on, and Grandma steps in to see what they’re up to. Amelia tenderly offers her the teacup. Grandma thanks her and comments on how much care Amelia is showing it. Amelia responds by stating that it is special, and the three sit together on the couch while the leaks drip and the rain continues outside.


I chose to structure my script as non-linear. As Kathy’s story of their grandmother’s past unfolds, I use the convention of blackouts and split screen to transition into an enactment of the story. The plot allows for interaction between the past and present towards the beginning and end of the script, when first Kathy and then Amelia rejects the split screen convention to first pass the teacup into the past and finally reclaim it. Besides this, there will also be frequent jumps back and forth between past and present when Amelia interrupts Kathy’s story to ask a question. I felt that it was necessary to structure the script in this way so the audience can ‘see’ the story as well as hear it.

I decided to include the first half of Scene One, Scene Three, and the first half of Scene Four, as these excerpts give a clear idea of my intentions for the split screen convention, and contain the most significant events in the plot.


KATHY Eleven-year-old sister of Amelia

AMELIA Nine-year-old sister of Kathy

GRANDMA a.k.a Lucy; Kathy and Amelia’s grandmother, Paul’s wife

PAUL Kathy and Amelia’s grandfather, Lucy’s husband

GREAT-GREAT GRANDMA Kathy and Amelia’s great-great grandmother, Lucy’s grandmother

PEGGY Lucy’s friend

Act One

A thunder storming afternoon in February 2010. A living room. KATHY and AMELIA sit on a couch in the u.s.c, playing ‘Go fish’. Pots, bowls and cups are scattered about the floor, collecting drips from the leaky roof. Tall display cupboard with one teacup on the shelf stands u.s.r. Door u.s.l. ‘Rain’ soundtrack plays. A new leak starts dripping directly onto AMELIA’s head.

AMELIA: Kathy, there’s another leak! (getting up to fetch the last teacup in the cupboard)

KATHY: We used all the cups. Do you have any... fives?

AMELIA: (picking up teacup) There’s one left.

KATHY: One what? Five?

AMELIA: No, there’s one cup left.

KATHY looks around, and seeing AMELIA with the teacup, leaps up on the couch.

KATHY: Put it back, Amelia!

AMELIA: No, I need it for the drip!

KATHY goes to snatch it from AMELIA, and she drops it. KATHY catches it.

KATHY: See what you almost did?

AMELIA: (quiet) You’re a bully.


KATHY: It’s too special.

AMELIA: How is it special?

KATHY: It’s Grandma’s special teacup. It’s very old and... there’s a long story behind it.

AMELIA: Could you tell me the story?


If you do, I might forgive you for being a bully. Depends if it’s a good story.

KATHY: It is. (leading AMELIA back to couch where they sit) It begins when Grandma was a little girl as old as you. She and her grandma, our great... great (counting off on finger) grandma, used to have tea-parties-.

AMELIA: It will be a boring story, because there’s nothing to look at.

KATHY: Close your eyes and imagine it then.

Blackout. Front of stage is lit. GRANDMA and GREAT-GREAT GRANDMA sit together at a table laid with a china teaset. GREAT-GREAT GRANDMA looks around.

GREAT-GREAT GRANDMA: There should be another teacup.

KATHY walks into light, gives her the teacup, and leaves.

GREAT-GREAT GRANDMA: Mmm, there we are. A complete set. You know, Lucy, I’m getting very old. Before I forget, I must make sure that my favourite, most beautiful teaset has a home. I was hoping that you would look after it.

GRANDMA: Really? I would love to look after it for you.

GREAT-GREAT GRANDMA: I thought you would. You are the perfect person to own a beautiful teaset. You must promise me, though, that when I can no longer come to your tea-parties, you won’t stop hosting them. Because that would make me terribly sad.

GRANDMA: I won’t make you sad. I’ll invite Paul from next-door, who’s my friend.




KATHY: And then came the ’74 floods.

Blackout. “Floods” video plays. At end of clip, light washes front of stage. GRANDMA lies on a raft, supported by two people all in black so as to be invisible. They gently ‘drift’ and rock the raft as on flood waters. She half rises, surveying destruction.

GRANDMA: Paul? Paul! ... Someone?!

Another invisible person enters s.l. ‘floating’ the teacup. GRANDMA paddles the raft with her hands towards it and grabs it. People gradually lower raft as water goes does. She steps off and walks as though wading in shallows. PAUL enters.

PAUL: Lucy! Thank god! Are you alright? Are you injured?!

GRANDMA: (going to him and embracing him) Paul! I’m alright!

PAUL: Thank god.

GRANDMA: Are you OK?

PAUL: I’m fine. I’m fine. (they freeze)

AMELIA: What happened to the house?

Blackout front of stage. Back of stage lit.

AMELIA: I want to know what happened to the house and the wattle tree that Grandma loved.

KATHY: If you listen, you’ll find out.

Blackout back of stage. Front of stage lit.

PAUL: Lucy, the house is ruined. The water came up to the ceiling. And... the wattle was uprooted. I’m so sorry my darling.


GRANDMA: What will we do?

PAUL: We’re going to be OK. The thing to think about right now is getting somewhere safe and then warm and dry. (Starting to lead her off)

GRANDMA: (in reference to the teacup) This is the only thing we can save? (Paul nods. Both exit s.l.)




Front half of stage lit. GRANDMA and PEGGY sit at table d.s.c. There are new tea things but GRANDMA uses her same teacup.

PEGGY: Your new place is just lovely. I don’t like to say “I told you so” but wasn’t I right? It certainly paid off to the have the flood cover on your insurance. It feels as though you were passed over by the entire thing.

GRANDMA: Ha, it doesn’t feel like that at all. Is that what you feel like?

PEGGY: Yes, I do, actually. We like our new place, the new neighbourhood. It was a scramble, but I’m back into life, and it’s as good as ever... I don’t feel like much has changed. We were lucky.

GRANDMA: Lucky? I don’t understand how you can bounce back so quickly. I couldn’t help grieving for the thousands who lost everything, but I could ease the suffering by volunteering my time and care to make a family’s hardship just that little bit lighter... But even after time, my own loss is still so heavy.

PEGGY: Your loss? What are you on about? You got it all back.

GRANDMA: The material things are replaceable. But what... what about the memories, Peggy? The house, the tree, everything Paul and I said and did... Reminders of my thoughts and feelings, hopes, regrets...


PEGGY: Regrets. (ever cheerful) Well, then, perhaps you can enjoy this fresh start.

GRANDMA: But I would like to remember the past. (Taking a sip from teacup)

AMELIA steps into the light, gently takes the teacup from GRANDMA as she offers it to her, and leaves. Blackout....

Sunday, November 6

One Single Grain in the Sahara

When Dad was tucking me in that night and we were talking about the book, I asked if he could think of a solution to that problem. “Which problem?” “The problem of how relatively insignificant we are.” He said, “Well, what would happen if a plane dropped you in the middle of the Sahara Desert and you picked up a single grain of sand with tweezers and moved it one millimeter?” I said, “I’d probable die of dehydration.” He said, “I just mean right then, when you moved that single grain of sand. What would that mean?” I said, “I dunno, what?” He said, “think about it.” I thought about it. “I guess I would have moved a grain of sand.” “Which would mean?” “Which would mean I moved a grain of sand?” “Which would mean you changed the Sahara.” “So?” “So? So the Sahara is a vast desert. And it has existed for million of years. And you changed it!” “That’s true!” I said, sitting up. “I changed the Sahara!” “Which means?” he said. “What? Tell me.” “Well, I’m not talking about moving that one grain of sand one millimeter.” “Yeah?” “If you hadn’t done it, human history would have been one way…” “Uh-huh?” “but you did do it, so…?” I stood on the bed, pointed my fingers at the fake stars, and screamed: “I changed the course of human history!” “That’s right.” “I changed the universe!” “You did.” “I’m God!’ “You’re an atheist.” “I don’t exist!” I fell back onto the bed, into his arms, and we cracked up together.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, published 2005.

I feel so delighted by Tangled up in Blue's sudden decision to buy the book after hearing some of these passages.  Well, I reckon that's a job well done!  I think that you will really enjoy it.

I liked this passage because there was something in this concept that encouraged me a bit.  As Oskar would say, it made my boots lighter.  It's definitely something warm and bright to muse upon.

On another note, I would like to let you know that I have finished my script-writing drama assignment.  If I get the time tomorrow, I will post the script excerpts and synopsis so you can see how I adapted my story, A Storm in a Teacup to theatre.  Head's up!

Saturday, November 5

It's Major! It's Major!

This one is for you, Many Colours of Happiness.

An ambulance drove down the street between us, and I imagined who it was carrying, and what had happened to him.  Did he break and ankle attempting a hard trick on his skateboard?  Or maybe he was dying from third-degree burns on ninety percent of his body?  Was there any chance that I knew him?  Did anyone see the ambulance and onder if it was me inside?

What about a device that knew everyone you knew?  So when an ambulance went down the street, a big sign on the roof would flash


if the sick person's device didn't detect the device of someone he knew nearby.  And if the device did detect the device of someone he knew, the ambulance would flash the name of the person in the ambulance, and either


or, if it was something major,


And maybe you could rate the people you knew by how much you loved the, so if the device of the person in the ambulance detected the device of the persn he loved the most, or the person who loved him the most, and the person in the ambulance was really badly hurt, and mighteven die, the ambulance could flash


One things that's nice to think about is someone who was the first person on lots of people's lists, so that when he was dying, and his ambulance went down the streets to the hospital, the whole time it would flash


Googolplex, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, published 2005.

Thursday, November 3

Crystal Chandelier in a Houseboat

What about little microphones? What if everyone swallowed them, and they played the sounds of our hearts through little speakers which could be in the pouches of our overalls?  When you skateboard down the street at night you could hear everyone's heartbeat, and they could heart yours, sort of like sonar.  One weird thing is, I wonder if everyone's hearts would start to beat at the same time, like how women who live together have their menstrual periods at the same time, which I know about, but don't really want to know about.  That would be so weird, except that the place in the hospital where babies are born would sound like a crystal chandelier in a houseboat, because the babies wouldn't have had time to match up their heartbeats yet.  And at the finish line at the end of the New York City marathon it would sound like war.

Chapter One, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, (published 2005).

This passage, which is in fact the second paragraph of the book, had me beautifully hooked.  It was like another a-ha moment for me, or, as we call it in my family, a "Ratatouille moment".  It made me smile and then frown as I thought it through again and again.  It continues to amaze me.  War.  There is something about that final word which makes the entire passage sound so profound, whether I understand it or not.  I can tell that I am really going to enjoy this book.

Wednesday, November 2

In Stitches

I sat in bed last night and finished All Things Bright and Beautiful by James Herriot.  Yesterday, you'll recall I talked about how emotionally involved I had become with the characters, and how much the change, James, Tristan and Siegfried's departure for war had affected me.  Well what I read last night was absolutely heart-wrenching. 

You know how I've mentioned how James uses this convention of tying up both ends of his chapters with a joke of a anecdote etcetera, so that even though it's one chapter in a larger story, it is a satisfying story in itself?  Well, I realise what he had been doing all this time.  All this time, these little stories, his chapters, were adding up to his final point.  He tied the story as a whole up with such a perfectly sorrowful ribbon of words that I was reduced to hysterical sobs for half an hour afterwards.  It cannot be explained any better to you, because it took the entire journey of reading it to reap the full blast of the beautifull conclusion.

I think that I can unashamedly proclaim that this is my new favourite book.  I have been emotionally involved and sucked into books before - Wuthering Heights made me grit my teeth and growl, The Moonstone made me gasp and shudder, The Lord of the Rings made me cheer and burst out in tears.  But never before has a book made me do all the above. 

I grit my teeth and growled when James had to deal with exasperatingly rude clients.  I gasped when the Peter the yellow budgie died in his hand.  I shuddered while he operated on Rock the Irish Setter's leg.  I cheered when he triumphed against the odds.  I burst into tears when he left for war.  And what's more, he made me laugh.  Time after time.  He had me in stitches.  Fittingly enough, for he is my favourite doctor. 

Tuesday, November 1

The Wind of Change

I've been struggling lately.  Struggling to come to terms with the fact that their all leaving.  I never suspected it would or even could happen, but perhaps I should have seen it coming.

James Herriot, his partner, Siegfried, and Siegfried's brother, the dashing Tristan, are all heading off for war.  World War I.  There were scrappets of talk about the war.  I completely took it for granted that the war was even going on - that the English boys would soon be off, that because it was a true story, there was no fictional possibility of hiding away, staying safe, evading all change and danger by staying at home.  But no.  They're going to war and I am struggling with the parting.

There is something about James Herriot's writing that has lured me in further than usual.  Perhaps it is the fact that he is no just a character but a real human being who actually made me laugh.  Perhaps it is the fact that I must have a reader's crush on him and Tristan.  Oh Tristan.  But whatever it is, I have taken hardly to their going away, and to the change that they are about to experience, even though I, as their attentive listener, stay where I am. 

I have become the wives and girlfriends of all the troops.  My boys going off to a dangerous and terrible thing far away for an undetermined amount of time, and having to stay behind, stay at home, stay alone without them.  The change, or the threat of change is so real for me.  Because James has been giving me such a sweetly satisfying life, the idea that not only am I going to finish this book, but he will have gone to war and the sweet satisfaction of that constant feeling of home will have vanished, leaves me shaken to the roots.  Change always shakes me.  I adapt quickly, but I'm always unhappy having to change.  

I've never had to experience such change from a book.  It distresses me.  I will a tearful handerkerchief waver from that bed-sitter's window. 

Sunday, October 30

A New Milestone

I didn't even notice!  Oh my goodness gracious me!  I can't believe I didn't notice! 

Yesterday, completely without realising it, we met another milestone at Bouquets of Sharpened Pencils!  With my tribute to Enid Bagnold, I unsuspectingly published my 200th post! 

So today, to make up for the lack of celebration, we will celebrate our 201th post! 

It's amazing what we've gotten up to since I started in March.  It feels like an eternity - an enternity of realising my opinions, my friendships and my ambitions, inspirations and motives for life.  Wow.  It is incredible really, and strange.

I suppose thanks are in order.  Thankyou all for the comments, the encouragement, the thoughts and feelings that you shared. 

Though Bouquets mightn't have shaped out to be quite what I dreamed while I was nursing her in the baby stages, but, as my dear beloved James Barrie said, 'The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it.'

This is too true, and I feel that though my intial hopes have not quite been met, everything we've done has been more fun than I imagined it could be, and the people I've met through the experience have been completely unexpected and beautiful.  Every now and then in life you meet some people who are really wonderful, and I'm so glad that my dear Bouquets has given me a chance to meet a few more.

Thursday, October 27

National Bagnold

Today, the 27th of October is the birthday of Enid Bagnold, British author and playwright.  She was born this day, 1889, and passed away on the 31st of March, 1981.  This wonderful woman was responsible for the 1935 book National Velvet, which is undoubtedly one of my all time favourites.  Because her book is so important to me, I thought it would be fitting to, even in so hideously brief a manner, to think of her. 

Very unhappily, I was unable to get an excerpt from National Velvet to share, not owning a copy and no being able to access one on the internet, so that's a bummer.  But I recommend it extremely as an amazingly authentic and delightful story that sounds with an unexpected auro of sweetness.  So a thankyou to Enid Bagnold for giving it to the world.

Tuesday, October 25

A Tantalising Tarantella

Yes, isn't it great how thinking about beautiful words gets you excited?  It got me taste-testing dictionaries and thesauruses like the best sort of connoisseur, rolling sips of fine words around my mouth before giving in to their sweet intoxication. I'm glad you jumped to suggest some of your favourites.

Tangled up in blue loves such beautiful words as 'harpsichord', 'gobbledygook', 'zephyr', 'isthmus', 'bamboozled', 'tarantula', 'artifice', 'beguiling', 'epistolary', 'turtle', 'plectrum' and 'kaleidoscope'.  I love 'plectrum' as well, because of the twanging plick it makes with your tongue.  And 'tarantula' reminds me of 'tarantella', which I equally enjoy the sound of. 

Many Colours of Happiness loves 'cobblestones' and 'kerplunk!' and my brother is adamant that 'napkin' deserves a spot amongst the greats.  It 'napkin' does, than I think that 'catnip' does too. 

How about onomatopoeia? The word, as well as other words that fall under its glorious banner?  Sizzle, buzz, swish, hiss, clatter...  Just thinking about these makes me laugh!  It is a tantalising tarantella of beautiful words! 

Monday, October 24

The Wonder of Words

Somebody made my life sparkle today.  It so happens that when that someone was reading Francis Whiting's article, The Lyrical Language of Love and Life, on the words that she and her fans adore, they thought of me.  So they popped in and gave it to me accompanied with a little list of their own favourites.  Well.  It was thrillingly sweet and surprising, and it's got me thinking about the words that I love most.  I can hardly restrain myself.  I am swinging my mind from branch to branch of the language tree, adoring the sound of words! 

"Dumpling" was one that Francis Whiting liked.  And after toying with it and rolling it about my mouth like a gobstopper, I found I agree.  "Dum" like a heavy tolling bell, and "pling", like a ping-pong ball bouncing.  Awesome. 

Here a some of my favourites:
  • ameliorate  (because it sounds like it would smell of gardenia air-freshener)
  • rumbumptious (because it's so poncy-poncy and bouncy and fat and fun)
  • resplendent (because it glitters)
  • jocular
  • jaunty
  • magnumopus
  • equilibrium
  • phantasmagoria (because it is just as whimsical and wonderful as it sounds)
  • quixotic (quiz-otic) (because it's chivalrous and over the top and very fun to pronounce)
  • soporific (because I always see Benjamin Bunny and his children sleeping in Mr Macgregor's lawn clippings with paper bags on their heads when I hear it - thankyou dear Beatrix Potter)
  • sagacious (because it sounds slow, wise and benevolent)
"Chocolaterie!"  Pronounce shock-a-lat-er-eee with a heavy French accent and it will feel like hot, melted chocolate in your mouth.

Hokey-pokey!  Higgledy-piggedly!  Fiddle-sticks!  Knick-knacks!  The click clack of "coquetterie" as it clops on your teeth. 
Cobblestones.  Embellish.  Quirky.  Quibble.  Somnolent.  Replete.  Aren't they fun to say? 

What words do you love? 

Sunday, October 23

High on Helium

Yesterday was an epiphany of awesomeness.  First of all a birthday party for one of my closest friends consisting of pass-the-parcel, hotdogs, pinata, lollies, dancing, balloons, and presents.  One of my favourite parts was that the party was being held across the road from my house, so super-convenience in that factor!  We had planned a small sleepover for afterwards, so once the last party-goers has been picked up, we packed up, stole back to my house with the helium balloons and fetched my gear for the sleepover (sleeping bag, pajamas, DVDs, toothbrush etcetera).  Then we drove to the birthday girl's house and until midnight, we sucked up the air from the helium balloons and sang songs while giggling hysterically.  We followed that up with a movie which went until two in the morning, and by that time we were painfully tired.  Funnily enough, our faces also hurt from smiling too much.  Strange are the effects of great happiness.

Friday, October 21

A Tempest in the School Teapot

Now for my great idea!  Here we go!  The deep breath before the plunge.

I have a drama assignment which is due unnervingly soon.  For it, I am requiring to whip up, out of nothing, a script that reflects issues, values and ideals that I believe "encompass" Australian identity from a heritage or contemporary perspective.  Which basically means that I can do anything as long as it has something distinctly Australian in it somewhere.

With this incredibly broad guideline, I fiddled and flirted with ideas for a week or so, but even after discussing how I could play with and further these ideas with my teacher, I still felt as though I was getting no where. 

Then, right out of the blue, one of my close friends gave me this simple but profound suggestion.  Why don't I use a short story that I've written as a framework for my play?  For a couple of seconds, this was flatly swilling around my mind, and then I remembered, all of a sudden and sizzling with brilliance, a short story that I wrote earlier this year and with which you are familiar. 

Do you remember my Extraordinarily Ordinary challenge?   I challenged you to write a paragraph or more that either made something ordinary extraordinary or made something extraordinary ordinary.  My response to the challenge was this: 


When the ceiling began to leak, they used every cup, bowl, pot, pan, jug and vase they could find to catch the drips in. That is, every cup, bowl, pot, pan, jug, and vase they could find except for grandma's white and blue bone china teacup.

There was certainly something sacred about her teacup. There was never any discussion. Even when everything else was used up, nobody considered for a moment using that particular teacup. There was an unspoken agreement, heavy like an ancient and venerated charm in the air. Grandma has always taken tea in that cup.

To use Grandma's teacup would have been much the same as eating out of her majesty, the Queen's own crown. It needed no discussion. They knew without speaking, nearly without thinking, that it was wrong. Just the same as respecting royalty, Grandma's white and blue bone china teacup was sacred. So the drips continue to tinkle hour after hour like fairy chimes into every last cup, bowl, pot, pan, jug, and vase they could find.
I then thought deeply about the phrase "a storm in a teacup".  I would imagine you know what it means but I'll still outline it.  It pretty well means, to use a similar cliche, "to make mountains out of molehills", or to make a big deal of something that is unimportant.

Hence a lovely connected to the story itself.  I was making the teacup more important than it would normally be. There is also, of course, the more literal sense of the storm actually dripping into the teacup through the leaky roof.

Before I go any further, I would just like to explain that we can also use multi-media conventions in our play as well, which might take the form of a video or audio clip or a powerpoint. 
OK. So I was thinking the play will start with two minutes of unbroken rain sounds on a backing track.  It will continue on during the play, but will be very soft in the background while there is dialogue.  This is a sample of the track, and it does pretty well exactly the same thing for exactly half an hour, which is going to be very appropriate for my designs. 

Picture the scene: two sisters, one older, one quite young, will be sitting in the middle of the stage on a black drama block, surrounded by pots, pans, cups etcetera, scattered about on the floor.   Behind them and to the left will be a cabinent, in which will sit the grandmother's china teacup, alone. 
There is still one leak and this drips on the younger girl's head. She asks if they can put a cup under it, but the elder replies that there is none left but grandma's china teacup, and then that gets them talking about why they mustn't use that one. The elder girl tells the younger sister the story of the teacup.

Their grandmother's house was washed away in the '74 floods, and she lost everything except that particular teacup. Because she was rich, some people thought that the house wouldn't matter - that she had plenty of money to rebuild and furniture a brand new home and shouldn't be weighed down by that old one, ('a storm in a teacup'), but it was much much more to her than just a home. It was her childhood memories and everything she had ever done was based in that home. She had a deep emotional connection with that house, with that plot of land. The teacup was the only memory that had been saved from complete destruction.

Now, there is a dramatic convention that we can use that will be handy here.  While a character is telling a story, actors an be out the front, acting the story out as she tells it, like her imagination's visualisation. I was thinking that while she is telling this story, the whole thing will be acted out on the front of the stage before them, so you're constantly watching something.  And I would love to act out the flood itself, and have actors in complete drama blacks so they're invisible against the black background, supporting the grandmother on a raft as if she is floating.  Her teacup can thus float past and the whole scene will have a sense of magic about it. 

Right at the end, they'll stop talking after making a really good, metaphorical point, (yes, still working on it), and then they will sit in silence with the rain sounds in the background for two minutes before the blackout.

I am amazingly excited about it, because I not only have something solid and tangible to work with, but I am exceedingly happy with it.  It is probably one of the only times I've been able to use all of my very own material and ideas for a big assignment like this.  And I think that the result could prove to be very wonderful indeed.  I swear to share it as soon as it's written!

(Points for anyone who recognised the post title as one of the chapter titles from Anne of Green Gables.)

Thursday, October 20

A Puttering Post

Wow.  I officially feel very very loved.  I have had not one, not two, not three, but four absolutely gorgeous comments from two beautiful people.  Two from Tangled up in blue and two from Nanny S-A.  Both of you made me giggle and blush in a sincerely girly way today, and there is nothing I like better.  So thankyou for the sweet-heartedness of your compliments and encouragments, and I will keep puttering through my assignments with the happy knowledge that I am appreciated.  So are you!

I do have a lot to say tonight, but I might leave the bulk of it for tomorrow because otherwise I will never finish my math assignment.  I'm very excited to tell you though, so expect to hear some good news from me tomorrow (hopefully).  I will, however, whet your appetite sufficiently... it involves a short story I've written, 'A Storm in a Teacup'...  Very excited! 

Anyway, what I wanted to say tonight, is that after rendering James Herriot pretty well my staple diet for the last week, I am happy, as well as disenchanted, to inform you that my rejuvenating and invigorating vacation with him is drawing to a close.  And the next book on my list, in case you haven't happened to check, is Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.  Now, I'm aware that this will tickle the fancy of a Many Colours of Happiness at least, because she has often hinted to me at how much she enjoys this book.  So I'm very excited about getting underway with that one, and similarly looking forward to being able to share in an experience and having your thoughts on it too.  Anyway, good fun, and on to putter on my math assignment.