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.

Life

i’m not dead

Time flies by, pretty quick, huh? One moment, you’re looking at the snow (IN APRIL) and really wishing winter would hurry up and leave already – the next you are nursing a nice sunburn. (This probably has more to do with my natural deathly milk white paleness English Rose complexion.)

NOOONNNN

I’ve been living in Canada for the better part of a year now, and boy oh boy, do I miss my books. (Oh. And my family. Them too.)

MY GOSH YOU’VE BEEN POSTING SO MUCH RECENTLY /s

Okay. Fine. I haven’t. I’ve drafted lots and lots of blog posts (probably five. or four. or three) – rants and ravings about winter and loathing coats and wonderful things like that, but – much like my ability to sprout wings and fly and boil eggs and that sort of thing – they never happened.

I am alive though. Even though I seem to try very hard not to be; I still sometimes look the wrong way when crossing the road. Bad idea. Very bad idea.

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PROOF OF LIVENESS. (Is it even me though?)

SO WHAT *HAVE* YOU BEEN UP TO?

This year has been like one giant working holiday. (With emphasis on the working.) I work pretty much full-time, harass colleagues with Very Bad And Punny Jokes, harass everyone with Very Bad And Punny Jokes, have a weekend adventure or two, sing, go for long romantic side-walk walks for one, visit the library, hang out with friends, speak Very Bad French, spend money wisely, and occasionally put my big girl socks on and write.

Okay. So the walk has happened twice, one of my friends deserted me for England, and I don’t visit the library all the time. Pfft. (I just get a shelf load of books out and stare at them lovingly.)

I do think that buying an expensive top which pictures a cat riding a unicorn to be a good investment. Think about it; the top is clothing. Clothing stops you from being naked. BOOM. It’s vital.

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recent weekend adventure: A tulip festival

SO YOU HAVE SOME PRETTY BIG NEWS?

Yes!!!! I do. I do.

(But, not in a marriage sense.)

I – she of the pen name Ness Kingsley – am going to a gym tomorrow. Yes. I know. WHAAAATTTT?!!!!!! How exciting. And very, very all-the-world-does-it-or-has-a-membership-they-don’t-use of you. I’ve never set a toe in a proper one before. I fully expect to develop abs on my thighs by mere osmosis. It’ll totally happen!

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WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED TO YOUR EYES?!!!

Okay. Gather round, friends – time for a quick life lesson in the form of two quotes from me:

Gee! Let me use this used make-up with its used make-up brushes! Why golly gosh! Nothing bad will happen!

me – tuesday evening

Oh. Bother.

me – wednesday morning

Infection. That’s what happens. (Infection or an allergic reaction, but probably most likely an infection.)

Infection and red, red demon eyes that look like you’ve:

  • just murdered someone
  • been strangled
  • cried buckets and buckets of soul tears because of Infinity Wars

Don’t be me, kids. Don’t use used make-up brushes or make-up. Yes, the war face you made was EPIC, but was it worth it? Was it really worth it?

No … well, probably not.

(The war face was pretty epic.)

Books, Recountings

recountings: ten thousand thorns

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TEN THOUSAND THORNS 

by Suzannah Rowntree

Princess Morning Light meditates in a hidden temple surrounded by ten thousand thorns. Guardian of a long-lost sword skill, the princess is destined to wake after a hundred years to return justice to the world.

Or so legend says.

As the Vastly Martial Emperor extends his brutal domination, rebel leader Clouded Sky flees the capital for the safety of his martial sect at Wudang Mountain. Meanwhile, a renegade martial artist seeks a hero to awaken Morning Light. As bounty hunters and imperial guards close in, Clouded Sky must determine who he can trust – and who may be planning to betray him.

An action-packed retelling of Sleeping Beauty in the style of a Chinese martial arts epic!

Ah, I really enjoyed this one.

THE WRITING

The writing is clear and crisp, and it truly draws you in; almost as if you are watching a movie – seeing the shadows, hearing the clash of weapons, and watching the cast interact.

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Some of the descriptions were quite perfect:

‘she moved as lightly as a dandelion seed blowing on the wind’

THE CAST

The characters are delightful, Iron Maiden in particular. Sometimes heroines can really get on my nerves (you know what I mean … ‘I AM A STRONG, POWERFUL WOMAN WHO CAN FIGHT BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE. I ALSO HAVE AS MUCH CHARACTER AS A CARDBOARD CUTOUT. NO! LESS!) but thankfully, such was not the case in this book.

What really was nice, was the way that Rowntree wrote her – skilled, but not flaunting it. Feminine, but more than capable of handling herself in a fight. The balance was right, and so I was really able to enjoy reading about her.

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Everyone was saying Very Wise And Poetic Sayings, which gives me life goals because I would very much like to drift around and say things like ‘truly, one happiness scatters a thousand sorrows’ (…and then crack out some ‘Awkward-Octopus-Strikes-Thrice-And-Falls’ martial arts move, afterwards, of course.)

THE PLOT

At first, I was a little overwhelmed (gee, doesn’t that make me like a swooning heroine!) with the amount of names, details etc there were – but that could be because my brain has the retention skills of a colander.

But once I caught the gist of the story and memorised names and who was who and what was what … it was clear sailing.

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There were some PLOT TWIST! moments that I enjoyed, and I found the way that the fairy tale was retold to be unique and quite clever.

TO SUM UP …

Altogether, I found this story to be an action filled martial arts adventure, garnished with the perfect touch of swashbuckling charm.

And also, my word, it felt like Rowntree had throughly researched the setting for her book – so hats off and kudos to her for that.

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DISCLAIMER: I received this book free of charge in return for an honest review. I would have happily written a review in return for a dragon, but I wasn’t offered any.

I think I just rambled, Life, Story Time

hair dyeing adventures [Story Time]

*warning: excessively long post ahead. before + after pictures that are in no way professional and display a love of bathrooms/mirrors/ipads. moulting hair fears. bad humour*

THE BACKGROUND

When I was a little girl, I wanted to have black hair – as black as Aquila’s sister in The Lantern Bearers, which was so black she could almost comb sparks from it. (Or that’s how I remember the description going. I can’t look it up because my beloved books are an ocean away right now.)

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But I’ve never yet had black hair, always brown. I loved the stories where the heroine had plain brown hair. I could sympathise. I thought my hair was … a nothing. A sort of bland, brown, and boring mixture that simply existed.

It took me many years to appreciate my hair for what it was: beautiful. When the sun shone, different strands looked like spun gold. In the summer, it would lighten – if I went outside, of course. Which didn’t always happen. I am a bookworm after all.

But I’ve pondered dyeing my hair (mostly blue because it’s so THERE and shockingly so) for years now. Not because I didn’t like it, but because … I could. And suddenly, quite by chance and entirely by impulse – I had a hair appointment booked.

… and still no idea what kind of colour I wanted it.

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THE ELIMINATION PROCESS:

  • Blonde was ruled out because I couldn’t envision myself as a blonde. Like, the image didn’t compute in my mind.
  • Black was discarded because I couldn’t quite picture anything that didn’t look terrible on me (I’m still saving this for another day … dun dun dunnn.)
  • Blue was thrust aside because a) I’d only feel like having blue hair on Thursdays and not every day is a Thursday and b) I’m a bit quirky but I don’t think I could live up to having blue hair all. the. time.
  • Highlights were tossed because I wanted a CHANGE OF COLOUR dang it! And a big one.

So I was left with either a dark brown (NOOOOO!!!!) or red. I went with the red.

THE ACTUAL DYEING THING-Y

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I bussed, and arrived five minutes late (I accidentally went past my stop and had to ride the bus until it came back. Yes. You may laugh.) I’d call the saloon I went to ‘boho chic’. It was actually in the hair dresser’s home and it. was. fabulous.

Was I nervous? Not really. I was excited because I was going to be a red-head. 

The colour was mixed and applied. It felt a little odd at first, but I really liked the smell. (Wut? It smelled like change and adventure.)

And then it was cut.

And then I couldn’t stop looking at myself in the mirror.

AFTERMATH

I have a semi-permanent red dye in my hair – which means that slowly the colour has been fading (I quite like that about it; new shades of the same colour), the first few showers looked like a blood bath and my towel looked very disturbing.

It’s been four weeks now, and my roots are beginning to peek through – but I quite like the effect.

Do I like my hair? Heck yeah! It’s awesome. I look back on my brunette pictures and I don’t have a smidgen of regret.

A WARNING

At work, some colleagues thought I was a new recruit. So, if you’ve committed a heinous crime of say – putting the milk in first before adding the boiling water to a cup of tea, you could dye your hair afterwards and no one would know you! 

(But I would. You utter heathen.)

ALSO: Don’t go into this red hair business expecting to develop either the bare rudiments of Gaelic or a Scottish accent because guess what? It doesn’t work.

I am, of course, immensely disappointed.

ALSO: Maybe don’t go about telling people that you’ve dyed your hair in the blood of your enemies. You’ll get some strange looks.

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PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

I know, I know – I’m being hysterical and dramatic but I’ve just showered and my hair literally MOULTS after a shower. It’s been doing this before I dyed it so I can’t create a clickbait horror story (‘I dyed my hair and what happened next is horrific!’). But it could be because:

  • my diet has changed
  • I am more stressed than I think I am (I am?)
  • TWIST! My hair always sheds like this and I’m only noticing it now because the house has wood/laminated floors.

If it’s my imagination, I’m going to sue it and tweet angrily about it. And if it’s my reality, I am going to rock some killer wigs. (I’m thinking pastels. ALL THE PASTELS!)

Thank you. I just wanted to get that off my chest and out of my hair … literally. (Too much?)

… and thus is the transformation of my hair completed. On the left – me, in the beginning, before I paid someone to lop my hair off. On the right – me, after I paid someone to soak my hair in blood!! Muhahaha! 

Have you dyed your hair? Did you like it? Do you have difficulty with died/dyed because THE STRUGGLE IS REAL MY FRIEND!

Life, On Writing

jobs, batman, and public transport

I’m dividing my attention between writing this and watching Batman: Under The Red Hood. This is my reward, because today … today I started a new job.

Yes, it is at another supermarket. Yes, it isn’t the most flashy of jobs. But it’s a job. It’s not a bad one and – apart from the French which I’m frantically scrambling to learn (!!!) – it’s a job that I’m mostly familiar with.

Mostly‘ because I’m now on a different continent and not everything is the same. Heck, even the traffic lights are different.

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Which I discovered. To my cost. And pride. But I refuse to go over that particular story yet again.

WRITING

I haven’t done much, I’m afraid. I’ve been consumed with …

  1. realising that my French is incredibly rusty and also: terrible
  2. panicking
  3. trying to relearn and learn French
  4. panicking
  5. realising that French in Québec? Yeah. It sounds different to Metropolitan French.
  6. panicking
  7. immersing myself in French
  8. panicking some more
  9. Saying ‘to heck with that’

But the panic is over now (OR IS IT?!!!) and my pen shall be put to paper once more.

THE LIBRARY

One short bus ride away from me (I know! I’m using public transport. My faithful Rusty is at home. In a different country. On a different continent. So.) is a glorious, glorious library.

I just feel like I should put that here.

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Unfortunately, it isn’t this library (via Pinterest)

LIFE, IN GENERAL

(I had to give up writing this post until I’d finished the Batman movie. My poor old heart-strings. *heavy sigh*)

  • I still don’t have a Canadian mobile number
  • it’s been unusually warm (TMI translation: I have sweated)
  • there have been butterflies everywhere
  • it started raining this afternoon
  • I can understand … something … of the sermons on Sunday

Whilst lately, Montreal has been full of blue skies and butterflies, I can’t ignore the often ominous warnings of …

just you wait ’til winter

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me, in the future