Wednesday, 26 January 2011

monkey faces

Quite ironically, after my last post, my period of rest has come to an abrupt end. For now, at least. I have been offered some more work at the hospital, which means I will actually get paid something at the end of February and hopefully March now. Holla!

I met up with my pal Ruth for lunch today; we went to old Nando's, my favourite place in the whole wide world. Because I was actually wearing something other than jeans and three layers of cardigans and sweaters, I took a photo before I set off.

I haven't worn this much colour since about 2001. The dress is a cheap one I got before my travels last summer and the cardigan is from River Island. My parents took me shopping as part of my christmas present, and this is one of the things that I got. It isn't something I would normally choose, but the pattern looks like monkey faces! And while I hate all monkeys with a fearful passion, these make me chuckle every time I wear it. Simple minds, and all that. The boots are from a charity shop and the bag is vintage (I just found it in my room the other day after completely forgetting I had it. I rejoiced).

Check out my hallway, very swish.

Also, I just realised you cannot see the monkey faces at all on my cardigan. How embarrassing that I told a whole story about them.

Monday, 24 January 2011

people are strange when you're a stranger

Being unemployed is making me incredibly lazy. Lectures have not yet started again at university and I should really be working on my dissertation, but not having to get out of bed to go to work and not having any imminent deadlines is turning me into the kind of student that only a month ago I would have looked upon with a curled lip and a raised eyebrow. I sleep till noon. I watch Gilmore Girls one both E4 and then E4+1 (Jesse is in it at the moment, so I'm all RAIAHIHIAAARR when he comes on screen). I actually eat microwave meals for my lunch. Urgh.

It's really not as bad as I am making out. Aside from this unshakable indolence and the fact that I won't get a paycheck at the end of February, I am actually really enjoying having a rest. For the past year it has been all yawning, bus rides and 6am alarms. To be able to stay up watching films all night and not be destroyed the next day is smashing. I have been luxuriating in the fact that I have nothing to do (that is urgent), and I have been catching up on everything that I have been too tired to do.

First of all, I have been reading some of the books that I have had stacked next to my bed, untouched since purchasing because I haven't had time to read them. I haven't really been able to stop thinking about
With the Old Breed - a book that I mentioned I was reading recently - since I finished it. It changed the way I think about so many things and affected me on such a deep level. I can't really explain it; it has really blown me away and sort of broken my heart, too. But in an amazing way. I am now reading China Marine, which is Eugene Sledge's second book. This one is about after the war finished and the marines who served in China (obviously), sorting things out there before going back to America and try to live their normal lives again. I'll let you know how I fare with this one, but I've already cried twice.Eugene Sledges and Joe Mazzello, who portrays him in The Pacific.

I also just read the delicious James Franco's first book, Palo Alto. It's very Bret Easton Ellis-ish, so of course I adored it. It is about a group of teenagers growing up in - where else? - Palo Alto, and they just seem like a normal bunch of kids (unlike Bret's books where they're all rich and privileged) until you realise that they're all alcoholics or drug addicts or sex slaves, or any of the other normal teenage things that go on day in day out in suburban America. It's like Skins, or something. But the characters are incredible; there's this one lad, Teddy, who is an amazing artist and he really seems to actually care about things in the chapters that he narrates, but when he appears in chapters narrated by others they don't notice anything about him apart from the fact that he is an alcoholic. It's fabulous. And it only took me about two hours to read, so if you're looking for some light (and by light I mean intense) reading, then definitely pick this up.
On Saturday I went to the cinema to see the much-discussed Black Swan. I know a lot of people have already posted about this (and most of them loved it) so I will try and keep my comments brief.I wanted to love this this film. I expected to love it, actually. And there were parts of it that I did truly love - the dance scenes, for example, were absolutely beautiful. And it is undeniable that Natalie Portman was incredible, if terribly annoying in all her patheticness (I did love crazy/evil Natalie). Like, why doesn't she just go and get a bacon sandwich and get over herself? But most of the time I was just utterly bemused. What is going on here, I kept thinking. Is this scene entirely necessary? It is a very touching and thought-provoking portrayal of mental illness though, which I think is something that should definitely be focused on more in films. Thinking back on it now, I did really enjoy it, and while I wouldn't necessarily go and see it again, I would probably recommend it to someone else if only just because it was so weird. And because of the ending. Oh my God. The ending almost rivalled Inception in its epic-ness. That really made the film for me.

The only other thing that I have been doing is charity shop shopping (lots of floaty sundresses and long nineties skirts ala Julia Stiles in 10 things I hate about you), and dancing around my house listening to The Doors at full volume. I have recently become absolutely obsessed with a single song by The Doors (video below). I was listening to their Best of... album, and this song came on and completely blew me away. I just sat down and listened to it repeatedly for about an hour. The lyrics are perfect and his voice just makes you melt.

There's a stunning passage in Patti Smith's Just Kids where she visits Morrison's grave in Paris. It's incredibly moving and made me think about all the musicians and poets that I adore and that have affected my life, including Jim Morrison. You realise in that moment that everyone is inspired by someone, even people as talented as Patti Smith.

Well this has turned into an unintentionally long post. I apologise. To finish, I'll leave you with this picute of the sky over York as I was driving (being driven) home the other night. Lovely.

The creature is regenerating itself.

“People say, ‘I’m going to sleep now,’ as if it were nothing. But it’s really a bizarre activity. ‘For the next several hours, while the sun is gone, I’m going to become unconscious, temporarily losing command over everything I know and understand. When the sun returns, I will resume my life.’

If you didn’t know what sleep was, and you had only seen it in a science fiction movie, you would think it was weird and tell all your friends about the movie you’d seen.

They had these people, you know? And they would walk around all day and be OK? And then, once a day, usually after dark, they would lie down on these special platforms and become unconscious. They would stop functioning almost completely, except deep in their minds they would have adventures and experiences that were completely impossible in real life. As they lay there, completely vulnerable to their enemies, their only movements were to occasionally shift from one position to another; or, if one of the ‘mind adventures’ got too real, they would sit up and scream and be glad they weren’t unconscious anymore. Then they would drink a lot of coffee.’

So, next time you see someone sleeping, make believe you’re in a science fiction movie. And whisper, ‘The creature is regenerating itself”

George Carlin

Sunday, 23 January 2011

i must have some sun

I have been dreaming about holidays and sunshine. Waking up in a little villa next to a silent beach, with the sea right outside my window so I can lie in bed and watch the waves. England is cold and falling apart. I may leave. I will move to a country where they don't speak English so that I don't have to socially interact with anyone, ever.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

127 Hours

I'm stuck in a bit of a rut at the moment, not really doing much. I don't have a job and I'm trying to save money (but somehow have managed to spend a lot recently on books that I don't need). I have spent a lot of time sleeping now that my imminent essay deadlines are over, so nothing much to report. I did, however, go to York today and I saw 127 Hours at the cinema. What can I say? James Franco really does deserve an oscar for it. How incredible. Sickening, stressful, almost physically painful to watch, but absolutely brilliant. I can't really say much about it that hasn't already been said - that's the trouble with 'hype' films - but I was blown away. It isn't often that I really, desperately, intensely need to see a film, but I felt that way about 127 Hours, and I was not disapppinted.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

I am living in squalor

I must stop buying books.

What I imagine I will see when I walk in my bedroom:
What I actually see:
I am in imminent danger of being crushed under an avalanche of literature. Someone please come and dig me out if that occurs.

Sadly the latter photograph isn't my room either. These are from Google.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

yes yes yesv ye syevsdygduhbj YES

I finally heard back about my application to do a PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate of Education in primary teaching) next year. CHECK IT.

I had almost given up hope because they were supposed to be in touch within 28 days of the application closing date (1st December) but I only heard back from them a couple of days ago, which is about six weeks after I applied. But whatever. I have an interview.

Now I just have to not screw that up. ARGH.

Friday, 14 January 2011

the social network

It's 2:08am and I have just finished watching The Social Network. I missed it when it came out at the cinema, but I saw it in a, cough, totally legal way on the internet (never fear, internet people, I will definitely buy the DVD when its released). I loved it. For a film that is 99.8% super-fast talking and 0.02% minimal action (a bed gets set on fire...of course), it was astonishingly captivating. Maybe it was Jesse Eisenberg's killer condescension (I took notes - Eisenberg, you astound me). Maybe it was because I was waiting for those tiny glimpses of Joe Mazzello in every fifth scene (yeah, he has a ridiculous nose, but I find him adorable and his performance in The Pacific makes me want to cry whenever I think about it it was so good). Maybe it was because I was hoping to see Justin Timberlake get a good smack. Whatever it was, I was hooked. Completely amazing, actually quite fascinating, and enough Andrew Garfield to give me hectic dreams for a couple of nights. Everything I need in a film, really.
And er, yeah, so Andrew Garfield is the new Spiderman. I knew that. What I didn't know was that he was going to look like this: WOAH.

Monday, 10 January 2011

"But he commanded our individual destinies under the most trying conditions with the utmost compassion."

I mentioned in my last post that I had become engrossed in The Pacific series. It was made by the same people who did Band of Brothers, which I also truly love, but while Band of Brothers was based on an entire company of men in WW2, The Pacific focuses on three individual soldiers and their stories: Sgt John Basilone, who won the medal of honor, and two first class privates, Eugene B. Sledge and Robert Leckie, both who wrote books about their experiences in the war which were used as material for The Pacific series.I cannot really explain what it is about the series that I love so much. It is the same with Band of Brothers; it is so intense, so important and so heart-breaking, but the fact that all this horror is shown through the eyes of such a small group of people completely fascinates me. I am currently reading Sledge's book With the Old Breed (I also have Leckie's ready to be read when I've finished this) and it really, really helps you understand the series. You can watch so many films and tv programmes, but you're still seperate from it, still an observer. But when I'm reading this book I feel as though I am a part of it; you start to really see and hear and feel the things that he is describing. It is such an education and personally I believe that books and shows like The Pacific should be shown as part of history courses in high school, because it is the highest of all anti-war campaigns. Eugene Sledge writies in such an honest, open way, and his observations on humanity are astonishingly astute.
You know the young lad in Jurassic Park? Yeah, he's grown up now.

If you are not a big reader, like I am, then skip the books for now and watch the series. It is only ten episodes, and it is such as life-changing - but also life-affirming - experience. It was for me, at least. It is brutal, horrific, blood-thirsty and shocking, but if you desire to try and understand the human soul, it is second to none. It is a story of true heroes.

Speaking of heroes, I found out this morning that Major Richard D. Winters (who is portrayed in Band of Brothers by Damian Lewis) died on 2nd January 2011. If you have seen Band of Brothers then you will know what a loss this is and what a great man he was. Thank you, and Rest In Peace.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Inspire #22 - Robert Mapplethorpe

I am in a three-way timeline-mix-up head warp at the moment, flitting between eras like a bee between flowers. I really must start reading one book at a time instead of several. A part of me is still lounging on sofas, reading Keats and daydreaming of meadows and nightingales. A very large part of me is in the American wartime forties. I have been engrossed in The Pacific since my dad got the series for Christmas, watching it repeatedly, fascinated by each individual storyline. I've also been reading Eugene Sledge's book and it is breaking my heart, but that merits a post of its own sometime soon.

I am also completely obsessed with the dream time, the late sixties and seventies. I am reading Patti Smith's autobiography Just Kids, and have fallen completely in love with Robert Mapplethorpe. I know he was gay and everything, but I would have done cheeky things with that man if he'd have let me. His photographs fill me with a mixed sense of awe and inadequacy...I find myself wondering why I cannot see such pure beauty in such simple things the way he obviously did. Often highly explicit and controversial, it is his simpler works that I am more enamoured by, particularly his self-portraits and his portraits of Smith. Just Kids is really my perfect book: music, art, New York and fashion (lots of love beads, sheepskin waistcoats and floaty dresses that I have been trawling the charity shops for), but it is Mapplethorpe's beauty, sensitivty and artistic vision that makes it so special. He died from complications arising from AIDS when he was only 42 years old, so no doubt I will be in tears by the end of the book. I still highly recommend it to you all.

Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith, by Norman Seeff.
I'm not sure who took this one...