Au revoir Maman!

Mum left for Avignon this morning, which meant we were up and out of the apartment by 7.30, to make our way to Gare de Lyon to see her off! We found her train and platform with no trouble and she shouted us hot drinks which tasted wonderful. We stood on the platform to wave her off and I felt like a proud parent, which is an odd way to feel about your mother. Afterwards, Marnie and I took the metro to Saint-Lazare and bought tickets to Vernon, to see Monet’s garden. We will probably use them on Tuesday, but I wanted to make sure we had them organised. I tried out my French (the ticket people spoke great English anyway, but I like trying) and success! Then we headed back to the apartment.

I have an assignment I need to complete before I leave Paris, because it is due the day after I arrive home, and the very last thing I will be capable of while jetlagged is cramming an assignment. It’s not ideal, but it is what it is. So today and tomorrow are assignment writing days. Now, I’m not just going to sit in the middle of beautiful Montmartre staring at my computer screen, so we broke up the rest of the day with walks. We went to Rue Lepic again to get a couple more groceries, some souvenirs, and a fresh baguette. Then at home we assembled amazing lunches and I sat and did my assignment while I ate and listened to the sounds of Montmartre floating through the window. It’s a warm and sunny day today, so we went for another walk a couple of hours later and headed for Sacre Coeur Basilica. The crowds were enormous. I think it was a combination of Easter church-goers, Sunday afternoon Parisians and market enthusiasts, people visiting the city for the long weekend, and the nice weather. Anyway, we couldn’t even get close to the basilica, so we walked a sort of scenic route out of the crowds and down through the tiny streets. I bought important essentials, like macarons, and then home again! Now I’m procrastinating and Marnie is reading her book. Lovely day, and I even got a bit of work done (I’ve really got to knuckle down tomorrow though).

Hauteville House

I did not leave the B&B today until 12.30, which is some kind of record. 90 mins of my morning was spent Skyping with Alfie and Cara, which was fantastic, and then I knuckled down to attempt some serious homework. And I got somewhere. But the lure of the sun and warmth was too strong, and I packed up and left for a long walk, a leisurely lunch in a cafe, and a spot of shopping before meeting Mum and Marnie at 2pm. We walked to Hauteville House, Victor Hugo’s home on Guernsey and killed time in the beautiful gardens there until 3pm when we were booked in for an English tour through the house. Hugo lived in the house for 14 or so years, during his exile from France, and wrote a large body of work there. He designed all the house’s decoration himself and my goodness, it is bizarre. The rooms are quite dark, because he used very dark wood from different chests and antiques as panels, and hung many tapestries from the ceiling. He has used a wide variety of fabric and tiles on the walls as well. It is four storeys high, with absolutely breathtaking views of St Peter Port and the other Channel Islands, particularly from his attic study and bedroom. (Rumour has it that he installed his mistress down the street purely so he could work naked and flash her from his attic rooms). He has his main library located in his hallway because he didn’t like how little library rooms were visited. If the library was located on your way to somewhere else, you were more likely to pick up a book. I’ve decided to adopt this practice at home and in the future (take note, Sean). There’s lots of symbolism and different artwork throughout the place, and in the dining room there is a special chair for ancestors and those who are no longer around (Hugo was probably thinking particularly of his deceased daughter, Leopoldine). Our guide was French, and worked really hard to get the translation to English perfect. She was wonderful, and I would highly recommend anyone interested in Hugo’s work to see the house. It really highlights his eccentricities. I can see how influential the house could be on an artist’s work.

Hugo’s bed

 

View from attic bedroom

 

Drawing room (one of a few)

 

Hauteville House gardens

 

House entrance

 

Attic

 

Drawing room (one of a few)
We walked back to the main town and had ice-cream and coffee, then wandered up to the lovely, peaceful Candie Gardens (including a statue of Hugo, man of the hour). Again, absolutely brilliant views of the port, and some very expensive real estate in this part of town. Then it was home time. We’re watching Poirot on television and eating. Perfection.
Statue of Victor Hugo

 

Candie Gardens

 

Candie Gardens

On a precipice

Okay, so my last entry involved me crowing preemptively about how I’d managed to blog at least once a month for all of 2013. I then promptly forgot to blog in December. My bad. Oh well, it’s the last day of January, so maybe 2014 will be my year!

It’s been a long couple of months. Christmas feels like a century ago, though it was a pleasant, peaceful time that I felt blessed to experience. I had no work for about a month, so I had to spread out my money and try not to burn through my savings. I am pretty proud of myself for my efforts (it involved lots of tv watching, lots of walking and meticulous budgeting). I also have pretty much completed another subject of my Masters over the Christmas break. I hand in my last assignment tomorrow. So that was a nice distraction from the lure of spending money, but also quite draining.

Despite my thrifty summer, I have still managed to see several movies – The Hobbit (which I’m seeing again tonight at the Moonlight Cinema and I am seriously excited for it), Frozen (with Mum, New Year’s Day morning, which made for a lovely start to the year), Austenland (an absolutely massive disappointment, despite it’s comic moments), The Book Thief  (again, a little disappointed, but ultimately thrilled with casting and script. I went to a Q&A screening with Geoffrey Rush and it made it a little more special) and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (put me on a plane to Iceland. Now.)

That being said, awards season means there’s about a hundred movies I want to see and haven’t got around to yet, including Philomena, Saving Mr Banks, August Osage County and The Railway Man. Maybe I’ll have a DVD binge later in the year.

Seanus was away for a month, roadtripping around the US. This helped with my hermit-like need to stay in and conserve money, but it was so cool to hear about his adventures and it’s made me really excited for my 2014 travel, whatever it turns out to be.

I feel like I’m standing on a bit of a precipice at the moment. After I hand in my assignment tomorrow, I have a month’s break and then begin what will probably be my last year of study for the near future. I want to complete my Masters, but I want to exit early with the Grad. Dip at the end of this year and then just have a bit of a breather before I go back for the final subjects in a few years. That means I need an industry job as soon as possible, and I’ve begun my applications in earnest. I also need to fit in placement this year, which will hopefully not hinder my job prospects.

I still haven’t heard back from the literary agency that requested my full manuscript back in October 2012. I’m tired of waiting, and I feel like I haven’t looked at the book in so long that I could do another re-edit. So that is my plan for February while I have my between-semester break and I’m already feeling nervous about it. Which is stupid, because I’m not accountable to anyone at the moment, and I should not let myself lose the joy of writing in the face of what might happen. I want to try and get another piece of short fiction published this year in another journal (preferably a paying one, but at this stage of my fledgling career I can’t afford to be too choosy).

I’m also knee-deep in research and a first draft of a new manuscript, something which I have high hopes for. It’s very different to my contemporary upper YA that I have just written about – my new project is more literary, more adult and set during the English Reformation. The sheer volume of research required is nearly overwhelming, but I am loving my free days spent in the State Library of Victoria, poring over books and luxuriating in words.

So even though we’re nearly 1/12th through 2014, I feel like my year is beginning now (with China). I am intimidated and exhilarated at the thought of the year’s potential. And maybe amongst all my writing, researching, studying, applying for jobs and traveling, I’ll find time to blog still.

Until then.

On the eve….

So here we are, pretty much a year to the day since I started this blog and a lot has changed, and a lot really hasn’t. I kept going with the blog! Ha! New Years Resolution 2012 TICK TICK TICK. It doesn’t matter that the posts were shamefully few and far between since I got back from overseas, I think I averaged about one a month or something so it COUNTS.

And overseas! The best trip of my life. Health concerns not counted of course, but I have to thank God for not letting such concerns ruin my trip. I saw some of the most amazing places in the world and I have an absolute swagload of memories to share with my friends and my boyfriend, who (BEWARE: MUSH) I have grown to love properly and more than I thought possible. Not that I didn’t love him before. But I now realise that love needs to be challenged in order to appreciate the strength of it correctly. We have been together for over three years now and its only recently that we experienced our first real speedbumps and I’m pretty happy that we did. Because our relationship didn’t fall in a heap at the first sign of trouble. My parents have been married a few years short of three decades and I have only now woken up to the fact that all relationships take work, and no relationship – none, NIL – is always trouble-free. That’s life, peeps. Okay, relationship rant is over now, but seriously, yay my boyfriend. I love him. ❤

I finished a book! (I actually finished two, but one of them was so completely and utterly woeful that I stuck it in a drawer and haven’t touched it since). And I sent the first bit of the decent book to an agency and they requested the whole thing!! And I’m still waiting to hear from them sooooo….*crosses fingers, toes, all manner of appendages*

I continued with my Masters and have reached the conclusion that I probably won’t finish it and perhaps it is not for me. An unfortunate decision to reach after the time and money spent on it so far, but again, LIFE! No matter.

I’ve started a new job which I already know will not be a full-time career prospect, and it has presented its own set of challenges, but I am committed to it for as long as 2013 goes the way of suiting it in my life. I am feeling a bit crazy, as though I’m standing on the ledge over the rest of my life and I need to make some kind of important career decision before I jump into it, but there are so many things floating around my head that I can’t decide which option to snatch out the air. (Hopefully) time will tell.

SO: 2013.

I don’t like making huge sweeping numbers of resolutions (I used to not do resolutions purely because I didn’t want the pressure of sticking to them) but I have just a couple of bits for the coming year.

1. Cook more (this I am probably least optimistic about, but dammit, it’s going on the list)

2. Lose all my cortisone/holiday weight (I have the exact number in my head and a loose plan, but that’s my business *sticks out tongue*)

3. Write a novel, or at least a manuscript, that I can show my grandmother/elderly friends without blushing and wishing they wouldn’t read it.

4. Keep blogging, but more frequently.

And to you all, people I love and hold near and dear, people I don’t know too well, those I don’t much like at all, and to anyone I have not yet met, I wish only the best and brightest things for you in 2013. Have a great year. xoxo

Macfadyen VS Firth

Okay…okay…I’m just going to come out and say it because there is no easy way to build up to this.

I believe Matthew Macfadyen (henceforth to be known as MM) was a better Darcy than Colin Firth.

*shields self from inevitable barrage of pointy objects*

Look, I’ve had this argument many a time with fellow P & P enthusiasts whose line of Firth defense is more or less to stick their fingers in their ears and go ‘LA LA LA LA LA LA’ very loudly until I stop poisoning the air with my crazy talk.

The more articulate amongst them are blinded by the brilliance of the 1995 adaptation in which Mr Firth so brilliantly starred. Notice I said brilliantly? He was brilliant. There is no question about it – Colin Firth is an excellent Darcy.

However.

MM’s portrayal was mired in the less successful 2005 adaptation and it seems his performance is tainted by association (at least, in the eyes of many Firthians).

While the 1995 miniseries clocked in at nearly six hours, Joe Wright attempted to squash the story into barely 120 minutes. Things were going to be altered, excluded, changed, as is the case with pretty much any film adaptation of a text of its size. No one complains nearly as vocally about Emma Thompson’s Sense and Sensibility and this is because there was no miniseries of the 1995 P&P calibre to compare it to. Poor MM never stood a chance. No one was able to appreciate his performance because they were too busy comparing the production as a whole to the vastly more detailed 1995 one.

There is no question that Colin Firth was an inspired choice for the portrayal of Jane Austen’s most famous gentleman character.

Exhibit A

 

But here are my main three reasons for thinking MM did it better:
1. He is closer in age to the character as he was written.
Boom. Colin Firth was in the longer adaptation and could speak more of the dialogue, but MM was THE RIGHT AGE. And as for attractiveness, well that’s perhaps the most subjective factor of all. I think both men were aesthetically appropriate for the romantic lead in a Regency era film. They are both tall, dark and handsome and to say one is better-looking than the other is a wee bit too shallow for me to endeavour.
2. He is vulnerable, and you can see it.
Upon beginning the text, one would be forgiven for thinking Mr Darcy was a stuffy, snobby douchebag with a pole up his arse. As the story unravels, we witness his shyness, and the fact that he is somewhat socially inept becomes endearing. What Elizabeth perceives as his ‘pride’ comes less from self-absorption and more from self-preservation. His arrogance is a mask, and one he uses to protect what he is feeling from anyone who may not be suitably intimidated. I like MM’s depiction of this because he let’s the audience glimpse it, just momentarily, before the mask comes back up and he goes on the defensive. This is probably best displayed in the proposal scene in the rain (and YES, I know they took poetic license with the rain, I’ll talk about that in a sec).

3. The scene at Pemberley with Georgiana.

I think when Elizabeth observes him with Georgiana, and the effect she has on him, this is the moment her feelings change for real. I know it’s hard to argue with the lake scene from 1995 (and THAT is why you cannot complain about the rain scene in the 2005 version), but MM at Pemberley showed Lizzie his most human side, even after she had rejected him. And that, more than anything, proves to her that she was wrong about his pride.

From the way I’ve been describing him, it sort of sounds like MM has been dropping his guard all over the joint, but rest assured this is not the case. He is still quintessentially Darcy, using his moments of vulnerability to provide the audience with a glimpse into his psyche, in an adaptation that isn’t long enough to include telling lines of his appreciation for ‘fine eyes’. The whole world is perfectly at liberty to prefer Colin Firth, but these are the iron clad reasons for my own opinion.

Isn’t it amazing that I procrastinate SO HARD on my assignments and manage to come up with this instead of doing any work? I really need to get a life.

Oh. And, um…

PS. Another reason to hush up about the rain scene…

So there.

Whelp…

It’s been so long since my last blog post. I think I’m averaging about one a month. But hey, at least I’ve continued with it…somewhat…

I got a job! Yay, finally! Through a lovely set of friends of mine, I am now an accounts assistant for a small business fairly close to my house. It’s not really like any type of job I’ve had before, but the people are lovely and are really good at teaching me. It’s just nice to be establishing a little bit of routine.

I finished my manuscript and sent it to a literary agent, as you may or may not already know, and have now finished my latest assignment, so I plan to slowly send it out to more agents in the hope that I will get a response. Even if it is to say ‘no thanks’, I’d just like them to say why not. I know they are busy people and the last thing I want to do is come across as an amateur. So here’s hoping I can look a bit spesh!

I have become a bit of a library hermit. I know this doesn’t make sense, but I’ve never really used libraries for leisure before. Just study. I don’t know why I used to break my bank so regularly, buying stacks of books I couldn’t afford and then not even reading them. Until I get a bit more earnings behind me (yay for new job!) I will just stick to the library as I work through my LONG AND EXPANDING list of stuff to read.

Also, my show is nearly over! Three more performances, then an apparent break. I auditioned for a very funny play, but wasn’t successful. Ah well, next time. In the meantime, I am just enjoying doing a show with a big bunch of friends.

And tea. I like it, and I bought lots of it. Mmmm camomile.

xxx

Masters

To study, or not to study? I found out about this brilliant sounding Masters of Creative Writing, Editing and Publishing at Melbourne Uni on the weekend and got uber excited about applying. Only thing is, I’M ALREADY DOING A MASTERS AND WHHHHYYYYY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO ADD MORE WORK TO THEIR LIFE? My current Masters is pretty much a librarianship and is quite boring at times. Working in editing and publishing sounds a lot more fun. But it would be a two year full time course, on campus. Whereas my current course is two years part time and off campus. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do. Sigh. Well, there is one thing I could do, and that is stop thinking about it. Yay!! So here’s more stuff that’s happening in my life that is fun. I’m earning a bit of money (always good) and I’ve been on a massive Jane Austen bender over the last few weeks. I’m looking forward to someone doing Pride and Prejudice (provided I get cast as a Bennett sister), so all you amateur theatre companies in Melbourne – get on it! I’ve also been reading the Peter and the Starcatchers series which is quite cute and enjoyable. It doesn’t hold a candle to the original, but it isn’t trying to, and that endears it further to me. I have finished Offspring, getting through True Blood s05 and about to start Breaking Bad s05. Lots to fill up my time. Should I study? Probably. But what??? SIGH.