I think I just rambled, Life

tales from a past icicle: layers. lots of layers

In keeping with the theme of the season (the theme? It’s cold. The season? Winter.) here is a little something I wrote whilst living in the wilds of Canada …

As much as I very much wish I was an early bird, I think I’ve come to the hard conclusion that I am not one.

I wake at 5:00 am, four alarms later and I’m stumbling out of bed and into the bathroom. Cleaning, teeth brushing, make up applying follow in very. slow. order. (In this, I can safely say that I will never be accused of being too fast) and then I’m dressed and downstairs at 5:35 am for breakfast.

And then I have to apply more layers than rock layers in geology for venturing forth to catch my bus – which leads me to a Very Important Issue that I will a-dress (ba-dump) here:

ON WEARING A JOLLY BIG AMOUNT OF LAYERS

by A BITTER ENGLISHWOMAN

I used to think that I had to cover up (oh! the irony!) the amount of layers I wear. That I should be ashamed of wearing more clothing than a charity shop possesses. That I should tough it out and be a brazen:

‘Is it minus forty? HaHA! Gee! I didn’t notice. This t-shirt and coat is making me feel a bit overheated actually.’

(A breezy laugh ending with an accidental snort accompanies this announcement.)

WELL NO MORE!!!

I am finished with this self-imposed shame. I am no stranger to the damp winter cold of England, but the deep, deep depths of cold here in Montreal? No. I am not used to it. But, I’m adjusting to it. Slowly.

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(And I’m very proud of myself when I don’t have to wear gloves and it’s minus ten and pfft? What is this? A mere chill breeze, mortals!)

(I was wearing a heck of a lot of layers at the time. And the sun was shining.)

(So it probably doesn’t count.)

Things I’m used to:

  • Watching the rain
  • Living with the rain
  • Dodging puddles of rain water
  • Discussing the rain
  • Singing in the rain
  • Scurrying in from the rain

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Things I’m not used to:

  • Snow
  • Ice
  • Freezing rain
  • VERY VERY COLD COLDNESS

A little part of me wistfully longs to wear a beautiful coat with shape, elegance, and style, but right now? I wear a gazillion amount of clothing when I bus to work. It’s cold. I want to be warm. Being a human icicle is not a life goal.

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I will always be a tiny weeny bit embarrassed. It’s hard not to be. (COME ON, I’m wearing one coat, one hoodie, one fleece, one top and one vest – and that’s just for my top half.) But, I’m not going to apologise.

Nope.

Because yes, I’m wearing snow pants when literally no one else is … but if the wind blows sharply or the heavens sends its sparkling dandruff down … I shall be prepared.

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Books, I think I just rambled, Life

elephant thieves, adventures in grammar, and taps.

img_20181001_020627_033I’m living in Eastern Europe at the moment, TEFL-ing my heart out. English Grammar is an intriguing beast and I am wrestling with it on a daily basis. The upside is that grammar is logical. The downside is that though my brain is extremely fond of logic, it isn’t always very quick to grasp it. It’s fast in a sort of … ‘cold molasses gently oozing down an indecisive hill’ kind of way.

Thankfully, I don’t think my students are being too badly damaged, and dare I say it – are perhaps learning things as well.

Though I’ve never thought of my accent in a negative light – not really – right now I am having a crisis; I have a sort of not-posh posh British accent and it seems that learners find it easier to listen to and understand American English. (Something about the ‘r’s.)

My accent isn’t good enough.

Benefits of Living In Different Places: you find new ways to be humbled.

BOOKS I’VE READ

I mean, fanfiction doesn’t count, right? (WHAT?? YOU READ FANFICTION? Yes. Yes, I do #noragrets) Look. It’s free and it’s fun and sometimes it is written really well. What’s not to like?

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Appointment In Jerusalem

I only brought two physical books with me – this one and Holiness by J.C Ryle (I think?) Appointment in Jerusalem has been an encouragement and I shall probably reread it a few times while I am here.

Lydia left her comforts and the Known and traveled to where she believed God had called her. And if that isn’t courage, I don’t know what is.

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Elephant Thief by Lia Patterson

I have always liked Lia’s writing in the fanfiction realm. She’s also written two books and this one is my favourite.

She writes good characters and weaves enjoyable plots with a great dollop of adventure.

What’s not to love?

Also, she needs to write more books ASAP.

WRITING … WHY AREN’T YOU DOING IT?

To say I’ve gotten rusty with my writing skills is to say that the earth is round – both are facts and both should never be debated. [But one day I want to go to a flat earth conference … because imagine how interesting it would be? I have so many questions. 1) …  just … how … wut … *much spluttering* 2) BUT SCIENCE-! HISTORY! FACTS! EVIDENCE! 3) Tell me about everything you believe and why and can I write this down and how do you feel about being inserted into a book?]

Ah-hem.

What I mean to say is – I need to get back to writing a little more than lesson plans. But this will come with time, I think. And that time isn’t right now. Next week, I shall be teaching an extra two classes twice a week.

I am bracing myself.

APPARENTLY, I AM AN IDIOT

… and I have evidence to support this theory. My new apartment, you see, has taps. Running water. That sort of thing.

For perhaps a week, I believed that we didn’t have hot water. It’s the poorest country in Eastern Europe, I thought. You can’t have everything. Turns out … actually, you can. IF YOU TURN THE TAP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION.

… yes. That sound you are hearing?

It’s me.

Face palming.

Benefits of Living In Different Places: you find new ways to be EXTREMELY humbled.

I think I just rambled, Life

things that didn’t happen on my adventure

I think I did something wrong on my last adventure. According to my extensive research, I should have, at the very least, stumbled across a puzzle which would have led to a treasure map which would, in turn, have led me to El Dorado. This … did not happen.

THERE WERE NO DEAD BODIES

I’m not really going to complain about this, though my readings in the world of Elizabeth Peters, Agatha Christie, and Dorothy L Sayers led me to conclude that it was an inevitable fact of life:

  • Gravity: what goes up must come down.
  • Life: you live, you find a dead body, you solve a murder mystery.

Nope. Didn’t happen.

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I saw a dead groundhog though. It was on a road. The poor thing was squished. The butler probably did it.

THERE WAS NO WHISKING OFF INTO ANOTHER DIMENSION

There was no Narnia hidden in a wardrobe. Or even a kitchen cupboard. To be honest, Canada had quite enough snow to make you think ‘oh my gosh someone kill the evil witch already IT’S SO COLD’ but alas, there were no furniture gateways into other worlds.

This would probably be a good thing. In stories, what you’re supposed to do sort of falls into your lap. In actual reality, you’d probably end up working as a maid in a tavern while the prince you were supposed to save was slain by the evil tyrant you were supposed to defeat.

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THERE WAS NO ROMANTIC SUB-PLOT

There was no pirate, lumberjack, detective, prince, villain-waiting-to-be-saved-by-the-love-of-a-good-woman, tormented artist, time traveler, or dinosaur trainer to sweep me off my feet.

I know.

Life is tough.

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I started to develop the sneaking suspicion that book heroes (*cough* clichés *cough*) don’t actually translate well to real life. For a bookworm, this is a hard – nay, DEVASTATING –  truth to face. This could mean that there are no Radcliff Emersons, Heyer leads, or Mr. Rochesters about.

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But … that’s okay. It’s all okay – I didn’t solve a murder mystery. I didn’t fall into another world. I didn’t get swept off my feet by a brooding hero.

Some adventures are full to the bursting with startling events, and quick things that trip over themselves in their haste to happen (if it doesn’t rain, it pours).

… but some adventures are quiet, where no big earth-shattering events occur, but where subtle little things steal in unannounced, one after the other, building up and up and up until you look back and think yes, what an adventure that was.

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I think I just rambled, Life

dinosaur thieves playing tag [movies i’ve watched]

So. I’ve been going to the cinema a lot recently. I’ll spare you my rant on the insane cost of popcorn (Seriously. It costs about an arm, a leg, and an ovary AND I’M NOT EVEN EXAGGERATING [much]) and my opinions on how IMAX is amazing and AV-whatever-the-other-letter-is is a WASTE OF SPACE, TIME, AND MONEY, and cut to the chase – I’ve been watching movies, and I’ve decided to write about them.

Just for this post, mind.

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WAHOO!! FEMALES CAN STEAL TOO!!!

[OCEAN’S 8]

Replace this cast with males and this movie would have been as interesting as waterlogged toast; the plot is a touch too simplistic and needed just a little bit more conflict. But because it had an all-female cast!! it works.

And it looks good doing it. (Them dresses though!)

Now, I’m not going to go into in-detailed rants about Hollywood and female leads and the Bechdel Test etc etc etc because quite frankly, my stomach is pleasantly full of root beer, fries, and a teen burger (and that’s it’s name and it’s not made from the body of a teenager. geez, people) and I’m tired and when I was writing essays for my English exam, my Dad looked at my work and said ‘yes, daughter, I think you’re more suited to writing fiction’ (translated: DON’T TRY TO WRITE LOGICALLY. I THINK THE LOGIC SKIPPED YOU AND WENT TO YOUR BROTHERS) (I’m paraphrasing) and so … I’m not going to do that here.

But this movie did pass the Bechdel Test. It was enjoyable, and it made me think: wow, is this what it’s like to be a boy and see Ocean’s 11 and have ROLE MODEL THIEVES OF THE SAME GENDER AS YOU?!!!

It’s a nice feeling. But don’t worry, I’m not going to become a thief. I tried to do an escape room bank robbery once and it did not go well; they actually radioed in and asked if I needed a hint.

three and a half stars. out of five. not ten. the plot isn’t that simplistic.

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WHAAAATTT DINOSAURS ARE ENDANGERED? AGAIN?!!

[Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom]

‘The movie was good,’ I told my friend. ‘But it needed more carnage.’ (I told her this four times. She’s a patient friend.)

(Actually, it was more like six.)

I liked Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom; it has an interesting concept and looks really good. There’s some oh no! the dinosaur is going to kill us fo sure better run OH MY GOSH WE’REGONNADIE moments, your run-of-the-mill villain, a moral question that is solved in an interesting way (you’ll know the moment and REALLY. THINK OF THE DEATH TOLL HUH?!! WHY DON’T YOU!!!! ugh) and some fun humour amusement moments. (What, I totally didn’t consult my favourite dinosaur THE THESAURUS.)

But … there were moments in which I just wished the movie would hurry up. Maybe I’m getting old, or am used to skimming tedious parts when reading, but sometimes movies just need to get a move on already.

So, I liked the movie because: Chris Pratt, dinosaurs, and umm dinosaurs. BUT IT NEEDED MORE CARNAGE.

probably three and three-quarter stars out of maybe five because it needed more carnage (did i mention that?) or maybe it needs more stars. i don’t know how i feel. i am having a crisis right now.

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PETER PAN: THE SEQUEL. WITH SWEARING

[TAG]

Remember when I said that sometimes movies need to get a move on already? This movie snatches your attention, taunts you with it, and then legs it. It doesn’t give it back until the credits finish.

I kid you not.

This movie is fun. There’s not a dull moment and the cast are having a blast, and so therefore do we.

I laughed a heck of a lot, and not once – not ONCE – did I think: how much longer is there?!

It’s refreshing – there’s so many movies where EVERYTHING IS AT STAKE AND THE ONE I LOVE IS IN DANGER or just thinks I’m the worst AND DEATH IS HURLING DOWN LIKE HAIL STONES IF HAIL STONES WERE MADE OF CGI AND FAKE BLOOD! But this? It’s literally about a group of friends playing tag.

The world isn’t threatened, there aren’t dead bodies here, there, and everywhere, no CGI monsters … it’s not perfect, but it’s like a nice glass of cool root beer. Refreshing.

Or whatever your beverage of choice is, it’s that. (Unless your beverage of choice is green tea. And then, I’m sorry – but no. Just no.)

(but bear in mind, this movie is rated ‘R’ and there are definitely reasons for that rating.)

three point eight six three out of five

(Also, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom was a good movie, butitneededmorecarnage.)

… no one is going to hire me to write film reviews, are they?

I think I just rambled

the test: a cinematic masterpiece

I love so-bad-they’re-good movies. It’s fun to yell at the screen, give a loud, dramatic gasp when oh my gosh I never saw THAT coming! or rant at the characters for making stupid decisions.

p10609906_p_v8_aaI enjoy it. With a bad movie, there is no pretence. It’s just plain old bad. It’s like a form of catharsis. But then, a friend of mine introduced me to the The Test. And, in The Test, I met my match.

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The Test is the story of Nathan who puts his fiancée, Julia, through a series of increasingly bizarre ‘stress tests’ in order to see if she is worthy of marrying him.

There are five steps that a movie viewer goes through when watching The Test. I am here to guide you through them. You are welcome.

DENIAL

When you start watching The Test the feeling is akin to that of being slapped in the face with a decaying fish. You look at a scene with disbelief:

He’s not actually hired an actor to test her fidelity, has he? you ask in horror. He’s not peering through the glass of the restaurant to spy on her responses, is he?

Yes. Yes, he is.

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Can you see him? CLUE: he’s the one with the phone up to his face, filming the whole thing. To be reviewed later with his friends.

ANGER

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This second stage is the worst, and I’d suggest getting over it as quickly as possibly. Nathan pretends he’s been fired from his job due to accusations of insider trading.

“You’re lying to her now, to see if she’ll believe you when you do tell the truth to her about not being dishonest?”

Exactly!

(Logic. It’s a beautiful thing.)

Yes, he does arrange for his fiancée to be fake fired from her job (If she is completely desolate will she still love him?). But you know what? To quote the movie:

It’s not crazy. It’s love.

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Ah, love.

For reasons only apparent to the script-writer, Julia still believes his innocence and is willing to be homeless on a Hawaiian beach with him.

BUT DON’T WORRY! He ‘gets his job back’ and it doesn’t matter about her job (which she still has, but doesn’t know she has) because “she’ll be his wife”.

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Despite the fact that we’ve no evidence as to why they love each other (and therefore, no evidence for why they shouldn’t love each other) Julia is prepared to stand by him. BUT THEN TWIST. SHE HAS HER JOB BACK!!

HOOORAYYYY!!

Honestly, that Nathan! Such a catch!

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BARGAINING

Okay. So he’s a bit … emotionally unintelligent and a touch dim and he is definitely narcissistic, you say. But, like, it can’t get any worse. Surely. 

By this time, Nathan is enjoying the experiment. ‘Would she die for me?’ he asks with pathos that surely belong to Hamlet.

“I’d take the bullet for her.”

“That’s very chivalrous.”

“I’m just that kind of guy.”

It’s important to know if your partner would die for you. Dreadfully so. In fact, I’m almost certain that it is probably included in any number of pre-marriage counselling sessions.

Nathan knows this. But pre-marriage counselling sessions are beneath him. He is so dedicated to the cause of proving Julia is worthy of him that he arranges a home invasion.

What a guy!

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“Aren’t you going to try to take the bullet?”

It takes some nagging but Julia declares:

“Okay. I’m willing to die for you. Now will you just DROP IT!!!”

For some reason, Nathan doesn’t feel that her response is good enough, and that she wouldn’t be prepared to die for him.

DEPRESSION

The first time, I watched this movie the whole way through. The second time, I had to stop the movie. It was too hard to go on. Life had lost its meaning. I would have cheerfully stomped barefoot in a room full of Legos or – as one review puts it ‘licked a brick wall’ rather than to have continued.

But one must push through.

… which Nathan does too! He thinks that Julia’s ‘B-‘ is a bit rubbish. He won’t settle for anything less than an ‘A’. He needs one.

So he comes up with the genius plan of faking a coma.

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It’s not crazy. It’s love.

Now, I did have some screenshots to share with you. But my computer decided to make them all grey and as:

  1. I refuse to spend money on this movie for the third time
  2. Nope. It’s just that. I. Refuse.

Please imagine Nathan on a hospital bed, faking a coma whilst his hysterical fiancée is mourning him for reasons that completely escape me at this point.

And then of course, he ‘wakes up’ (after his buddy threatens ‘I’m pulling the plug. No pun intended’ thereby ruining all puns for me forever more. You monster) and pretends to have amnesia.

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Don’t worry! He ‘remembers’ Julia – just in the nick of time too! It’s a scene with emotion – similar to one from a Shakespearean play or a Nicholas Spark movie, in that all three have people saying lines.

ACCEPTANCE

At this point, you are beyond outrage. Beyond everything. This movie exists and you are watching it. Watching as Julia discovers Nathan’s ‘stress tests’ on her wedding day. Watching as she calls him out. Watching as Nathan does the adult thing and blames his friend. Watching as … as… Watching as the truly spectacularly hysterical and completely beyond any rhyme or reason ending happens.

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I laughed so hard I was crying. The first time.

In the end, we have no idea why Nathan and Julia are in love. They tell us they are. The movie says they are. And, so they must be.

This movie transcends all such things as ‘acting’ ‘comedy’ ‘writing’ ‘cinematography’ ‘production’ ‘screenplay’ ‘character growth’ ‘chemistry between actors’ ‘editing’ etc. One must look past these mortal coils and peer far, far, far, far, far beyond them – to where the movie’s heart lies.

And at its heart – deep, deep, deep, deep, deep, deep, deep down – are the ambiguous messages of trust, fidelity, commitment and above all, love.

It’s true: the movie handles them with the skill of a dizzy toddler performing open heart surgery, the gentle subtlety of a sledgehammer, and the clarity of muddied stream brimming with dead rodents … but I think, to finish this guide to The Test, I will leave you with a quote from Nathan, that is in no way, shape, or form, an excuse for doing terrible things to the person you love:

Love makes you crazy

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(As will this movie if you attempt to watch it and review it. You will regret everything. EVERYTHING!!!!) (ALSO I’M SORRY BUT THIS MOVIE RUINS PUNS!!! HOW CAN A MOVIE RUIN PUNS YOU ASK?!! IT SIMPLY DOES AND I’M BOGGLED) (Also, Nathan’s friends keep on saying how brilliant these tests are. like they’ve discovered the secret to the fountain of douche or something. WELL GUESS WHAT THESE TESTS ARE NOT BRILLIANT YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT BRILLIANT MEANS. CLEARLY.)