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.