24 June, 2010

Mere Christianity

Hard to choose a quote from a book so infinitely quotable.

"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."

C.S. Lewis is the probably the best writer (particularly theological or philosophical) I have ever read.  I don't like when writers feel they have to dumb-down ideas when they try to explain them, and I dislike even more when they show off their superior intellect by needlessly complicating things with weird sentence structure or words that sound learned.  C.S. Lewis gives the full picture in stunningly simple terms (he makes writing clearly seem so effortless!), and yet you feel the full force of his intelligence behind it. Even in the Narnia books, it never feels like he's trying too hard.  
Now that I think about it, seeming effortlessness is my favorite literary style.  Bill Bryson writes "choke-on-your-coffee funny" books, but it never seems like he's trying too hard.  And then when I try to write something in the same style I realize how ridiculously difficult it actually is.  And then I say what the heck, toss down my pencil, pick up I'm a Stranger Here Myself and vow to leave writing to people who can actually do it.

23 June, 2010

And on we march through the reading list.  Finished The Hobbit today. I wish it had taken longer.
As all things come to an end, even this story, a day came at last when they were in sight of the country where Bilbo had been born and bred, where the shapes of the land and of the trees were as well known to him as his hands and toes. Coming to a rise he could see his own Hill in the distance, and he stopped suddenly and said:

Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon.

Roads go ever ever on
Under cloud and under star,
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green
And trees and hills they long have known. 

Gandalf looked at him. 'My dear Bilbo!' he said, 'Something is the matter with you! You are not the hobbit that you were.

It's late, I'm sleep-deprived and I'm so nervous I'm loopy. Isn't life grand?

GAAAAAAA! As Dilbert would say.
Okay, I'm sort of freaking out at the moment.
Here's the story, blog.  Or, at least, as much of the story as I'm willing to tell.
There's a certain book I adore.  I never thought I could ever, ever pin down a favorite book, but this book is it.  I love it.  It's the only book that makes me cry every time I read it - and I never cry in books.
I found out recently that this book is being made into a movie.

Now, for your consideration, a run-down of the feelings this discovery created:

"NOOOOO! I was going to make it!  ME ME ME!  POOR POOR ME!"
Bitter curiosity:
"Well who the heck are these people anyways?  Why do they get to do it?"
Grudging respect:
"Well, I guess they have money.  It might actually be made someday. And the screenwriter made disparaging remarks about Thomas Kinkade on her blog, so I guess she's okay."
Sudden panic:
Fearful victory when I found the screenwriter's email address:
"YES! Now I can send a begging email!  Er... oh dear. Now I have to send a begging email or I'll regret it forever."
"kill me."

So, basically, I'm terrified.  I've written two drafts of my begging letter, neither of them very good, and after showing it to my mum tomorrow - I'm going to send it.
Oh help.
Probably nothing will come of it, blog.  Don't get your hopes up, blog.  Be proud of me for sending the darn thing at all, because such an act of boldness is entirely out of character for me, blog.

So, that's all I have to say at the moment.
If, you (imaginary reader/dear void/blog) are the praying sort, I wouldn't mind a little "and help Kelsey to find the Chill Pills so her heart doesn't explode before she's twenty-one" prayer, if you'd be kind enough to pray it.

I wish I had someone to send a bouquet of sharpened pencils to, even though it would be out of season. But I need the someone before I can send them, and fall is just around the corner.  Goodbye, blog.  I'm off to find someone.  I've gone round the bend!  Hooray! I'd know him anywhere!

28 June:
Okay, it's been days since I said I was going to email the lady, but two minutes ago I officially did it.
I can't believe it.  I'm very proud of myself.  Usually, I'm an absolute chicken about... well, everything.  I hesitate to comment on people's blogs - think how much will it took for me to do this, blog.  Absurdly shy people of the world unite!

Okay, is it slightly strange that I actually address my thoughts to my blog?  I guess no weirder than saying "dear diary".

21 June, 2010

Okay, slightly embarrassing...

Once upon a time, during a sleepover with a friend - gosh, ages ago now - we were chatting about crushes.  Well, actually, her crushes.  I said I didn't have any, which I realize now was entirely untrue.  I was too narrow, I thought having a "crush" meant actually liking a real person.  My dear friend, I deceived you.  I've had a crush on at least one person per year since the age of ten.  And, as penance, I will list them now.

10: Robin Hood

Why: Good tempered, funny, amazing archery skills, cool hat, and he's Robin Hood

11: Donald O'Conner (in Singin' In the Rain)

Why: The man is hilarious.  And he can run up a wall and do a backflip.  And can he dance.

12: Gene Kelly (also in Singin' in the Rain)

Why: He can dance (which feels like the understatement of the century, and probably is) and sing.

13: Prince Philip

Why: There are so many reasons. He dances, he sings, he rides an awesome horse, he has a sense of humor and the best hat ever, he actually does something scary and difficult to save dumb Beauty (he fights a dragon, for heaven's sake!) and he lives in a world where the bushes are squared.  I love him the best of all. 

14: Cary Elwes (In The Princess Bride)

Why: Because he's funny, can sword fight, has a mustache and puts up with stupid buttercup so nicely.

15: Mr. Darcy - Matthew Mcfadyen (in Pride and Prejudice) like every other teenage girl on earth

Why: He has an incredible speaking voice.  Like, amazing.  Plus, he looked decidedly tall in that movie. (Who knows how tall he is in real life.  Thankfully, I seldom deal with real life.)  And around that time I'd suddenly grown about six inches, so it was convenient.

16: Morhange (Les Choristes)

Why: Can the kid sing. Plus he's French, which is cool.  And still living, which is a bonus. A little troubled, which worried me, but at the time  I didn't care.  I'm sorry to say this attachment was somewhat short-lived.  Because:

17: Gregory Peck (In Roman Holiday) came along.

Why:  Just because.  He really needs no explanation.  Probably learning that he pretended to have his hand chopped off during the mouth of truth scene to spook Audrey Hepburn started it.  Any guy who would do that is cool. 

18: Peter O'Toole (in How to Steal a Million and real life)

 Why: He's unny, funny, funny. Gorgeous, smart in real life, won't mind if you accidentally shoot him, will help you burglarize museums. 

19: Cary Grant (in everything)

Why: sense of humor, for a short period of life worked as an acrobat in the circus, accent, general wonderfulness.

And who knows what my twenties will bring.

So there you are, friend of long ago.  The truth at last.

(P.S.  I do have crushes on regular people who are alive.  I just don't advertise them.  And I always know in my heart that Philip is ten million times better than any of them, so I never like them that much anyways. No point getting silly about people when I know I'm not ready to be silly forever, is there? And besides that, they're all shorter than me.  Which is a no-no.)

23 June:
Okay, I officially figured out who the crush of my twentieth year of life will be:

Jimmy Stewart.  Yep.
That's all I have to say.

17 June, 2010

From Atonement, by Ian McEwan. Some freakishly good writing, in my opinion.

"Was everyone else really as alive as she was?  For example, did her sister really matter to herself, was valuable to herself the way Briony was?  Was being Cecilia just as vivid an affair as being Briony?  Did her sister also have a real self concealed behind a breaking wave, and did she spend time thinking about it... Did everybody, including her father, Betty, Hardman?  If the answer was yes, then the social world, was unbearably complicated, with two billion voices, and everyone's thoughts striving in equal importance and everyone else's claim on life as intense, and everyone thinking they were unique, when no one was.  One could drown in irrelevance.  But if the answer was no, then Briony was surrounded by machines, intelligent and pleasant enough on the outside, but lacking the bright and private inside feeling she had.  This was sinister and lonely, as well as unlikely.  For, though it offended her sense of order, she knew it was overwhelmingly probable that everyone else had thoughts like hers.  She knew this, but only in a rather arid way; she didn't really feel it."

From "Nine Notes on Book Covers" by Orhan Pamuk

I'm reading Other Colors at the moment, and it's definitely one of the best books I've ever encountered.  It just sucks you in.  But, anyways, here are some truths I enjoyed this morning:

  • If a novelist can finish a book without dreaming of its cover, he is wise, well-rounded, and a fully formed adult, but he's also lost the innocence that made him a novelist in the first place
  • Detailed depictions of heroes on book covers insult not just the author's imagination but also his readers'. 
  •  When designers decide that The Red and the Black deserves a red and black jacket, or when they decorate books entitled Blue House or Chateaux with illustrations of blue houses or chateaux, they do not leave us thinking they've been faithful to the text but wondering if they've even read it.
  •  If, years after reading a book, we catch a glimpse of its cover, we are returned at once to that long-ago day when we curled up in a corner with that book to enter the world hidden inside. 

16 June, 2010

From the Guardian Books Blog

By Tom Edge - Does size matter?

It occurs to me that the simple definition of novel versus novella could usefully be updated to account for ultra-sized works of fiction, those titanically-proportioned books so often taken to be the defining criterion for admission into the Serious Novelists Club.
Ulysses, The Corrections, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell: All are books wide enough to carry the author's name horizontally across the spine when shelved.
HP and the Order of the Phoenix, Infinite Jest, Moby Dick: These are the kind of books that furniture removal men hate, but which can also be used as furniture (small stools, door stops and so on).
At present we have the short story (small), novella (larger, but still small) and then the novel. Perhaps we need a new word for the type of 600 pages-plus book that will concuss a Chihuahua if knocked from the kitchen table...
Like comedies at the Oscars, short works often seem overlooked in the canon of Great Novels, physically dwarfed on the bookshelf and struggling to compete for critical attention. We seem impressed by marathon efforts. Short stories, on the other hand, get relatively short shrift.
The organisers of NaNoWriMo say "we don't use the word "novella" because it doesn't seem to impress people the way "novel" does." They're right. Which is a shame, as there are some wonderful writers out there who rarely, if ever, overstep the 300 page mark.

"When someone tells you there is no such thing as truth, they are asking you not to believe them.  So don’t."
Michael Ramsden

The Eagle has landed

The earth rise.

Exploring the Sea of Tranquility.  What a name.  The Sea of Tranquility.

Gosh, can you imagine? 
Is it slightly geeky that I keep these pictures - and many more space-related ones - on my laptop?  That the pic above is my desktop photo?  Yes.  But I don't care.

At the Back of the North Wind.

When he knew he was coming awake, he would sometimes try hard to keep hold of the words of what seemed a new song, one he had not heard before—a song in which the words and the music somehow appeared to be all one; but even when he thought he had got them well fixed in his mind, ever as he came awaker—as he would say—one line faded away out of it, and then another, and then another, till at last there was nothing left but some lovely picture of water or grass or daisies, or something else very common, but with all the commonness polished off it, and the lovely soul of it, which people so seldom see, and, alas! yet seldomer believe in, shining out.

"Could it be all dreaming, do you think, sir?" he asked anxiously.
"I daren't say, Diamond," I answered. "But at least there is one thing you may be sure of, that there is a still better love than that of the wonderful being you call North Wind. Even if she be a dream, the dream of such a beautiful creature could not come to you by chance."
Care to read it yourself? Project Gutenberg is so nice.

12 June, 2010

This is terrible drivel. Almost unreadable, really.

Guess what, blog? We've moved.  I only cried once, after leaving my bestie's house after a night of mad partying (in my life, mad partying = Oggi's pizza and Mimi's desert in the same night.  Woo hoo!).  I try to tell myself that the misery of crying alone (while driving, I might add) is so reserved and stiff upper lip and British of me, but, unfortunately, stiff upper lip isn't really such a huge thing in the UK anymore. Now it's just pathetic.
(Parentheses happy tonight are we Kelsey?)
I'm very tired, but who isn't in this whiny world?

May I say,
Have I said that before?
It's true though.  And tonight it struck me that besides being true it's also sad.  Why do I feel like I'm actually being myself only when no one is watching?  Did that sentence make one iota of sense?  I hope so, because I really want to figure this out.
Being an individual in private doesn't make much sense, does it?
Okay, let's talk about ME for a minute.  Because I never write completely narcissistic posts on this blog, ever.  (On a side note, I wonder how many people actually know where the word "narcissistic" comes from.  I wonder also if I think I'm much cleverer than I actually am for knowing.  Ah, well. Take any victories you imagine you have, Kels.)
I've always had an eager to please personality, and, in general, I've very few complaints about being so.  I avoid arguments with surprising ease.  I can manage grouchy people.  The idea of waitressing doesn't appall me.  It's mostly good.
The main problem though, is when "eager to please" becomes "eager to repress any symptoms of personality or original thought in some misguided and largely unconscious attempt to make people like you".  And, unfortunately, for me it frequently does.  I don't know why.  It's not as if I think my opinion about this or taste for that is less legitimate than that of the person I'm talking to (unless, um, it is).  And I do have opinions.  I do!
Here's my theory:  I am, at heart, a self-conscious and rather shy person.  When I'm chatting with people outside a small group (family and besties), I'm in a continual fluster.  I don't think when I'm talking, I just bleat out whatever I can manage.  I figure that I just don't think about what I'm saying or what I'm agreeing with, I'm just hoping to get through a conversation without making an absolute fool of myself.

And now, after much wandering, I believe we have finally come to the heart of the matter.
I care too much.  I worry about what people think to a degree bordering on paranoia.
So, blah.  I suppose the next thing to do is figure out how to not-care quite so much.  If I ever want to quit feeling like the best friend and become the leading lady of my own life (see? the movies are good for you) I will have to exert myself.  Not be pushy or domineering or obnoxious - just say what I actually think.  be me.  And heck, myself may very well be pushy, domineering and obnoxious.  I have no idea.  Which is sort of sad, isn't it blog? Somebody please call the waaaaambulance.

About three hours later, and entirely unrelated:
Since we're being entirely self-centered this evening, I have another question to ask.  Can a person have too low an opinion of himself?  Or, in this case, herself?  I've read in C.S. Lewis somewhere (oo, sudden twinge at the thought of how vastly inferior my writing is to his) that it's silly for a man who knows he has built the best cathedral in the world to try to tell others and himself that it's really quite ordinary and not at all special.  He ought to be able to take pride in his achievement without becoming a proud person.  Now, I can think of plenty of things I can't do and not many I can, but that's not quite the same issue I'm trying to figure out.  So why I mentioned it at all is a question worth asking.
 What I really mean is this: how can knowing that you're not good at this or not the best at that be a problem?  I'm aware that I'm not a terribly great writer or singer or any of those sorts of things - and I don't see how it's wrong to know it.   I'm revolted by confidence without a base of skill or superiority, and the whole "believe it and you can achieve it thing" disgusts me almost as much.  And, gosh, excessive confidence in general is pretty unappealing as well.  I mean, don't you just shake your head when people declare themselves the best of the best - whether they 
are the best or not?  Don't we call them big conceited dorks?  Aren't the people who can accept a compliment with grace - and without adding more praise to it - the people we like the best?
 Can a person's opinion of themself - without dipping down into, like, inferiority complex territory - be too low?  Can they be proud of what they produce, like a killer English paper or a good poem or a beautiful cathedral, without being proud of their ability to produce it in the first place?  Does this make any sense?  Am I a nutcase who needs to get off the computer and go read a book or something?
Finally! A question we 
can answer! YES!

07 June, 2010

I think I need a sunrise.  Good bye California.  It's been fun. Weep, weep, let's be all soppy. I reserve the right to still feel smug when I hear "California Girls" no matter how far away I move. 

04 June, 2010

So, guess what blog?  I move on Saturday.  How weird is that?
I suppose, in the grand scheme of things, or when my life is put into context (as in, there are like 55 billion zillion other people out there and you are pretty insignificant - that kind of context) this move is not a big deal nor should I be all wound up about it. For the record, I'm not really wound up at all.  I haven't cried or moped or been grouchy, as far as I know.  I've laughed ridiculously at things that aren't really very funny, which is a definite symptom of stress and/or exhaustion, but other than that I feel fine.  I'm exceedingly sorry to leave people, and I know I will  cry over it at some point.  But that point has yet to come.
Yes, I have a heart of stone.
But, gosh, for me moving is a big deal.  I've moved six or seven times in California, but never out of state.  And, man, we're going to Arkansas.  Of all places! Arkansas!  Not, like, Oregon or Ohio (which, who nows why, seem more reasonable destinations) - but ARKANSAS.

And, another strange thing: I have no reason, except the fun of being with my family, to think moving and living there will be in any way enjoyable.  I have no friends waiting for me out there (whereas my mum, dad, and sister have best friends), unpleasant college prospects and life in a teensy apartment to look forward to.  It's a step in the wrong direction from a trying-to-get-into-the-work-I'd-like perspective.  Besides staying with my family (who, by the way - though I know it isn't hip to admit -I love very much), I have no reason to go.
I'm sorry I'm so whiny, blog. But I'm trying not to think about this stuff, and I want to talk about it even less. This is an outlet, I suppose.

Ugh, drama, drama, drama, Kelsey. It's really the end of the world, your life, and happy existence as you know it.
Kelsey, you think Arkansas is beautiful.  You love the trees and the ponds and the complete absence of billboards shouting "San Diego's Loosest Slots!"  You love the manners.  You love that your parents will be able to retire before they're 100 years old.  You appreciate what financial freedom really means.  You love your family. Heck, Kelsey, I've often heard you say that the friends you're moving to are basically your second family.  I've also heard your idling dreams - afternoons spent reading by lakes and walking through woods - all of which were set in Arkansas in your head.  I've heard you moan over California traffic and wish you were in Little Rock where rush hour consists of five cars.  I've heard you mutter sadly about quality of life in the soul-destroying suburbs of SD.  I know you think "the great mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation" every time you drive through certain parts of El Cajon, and that's not a happy thing, Kelsey.
You will be sad to leave your friends, but you're going to good, Kelsey.  Good life.  And why should everything be easy for you?  If you want something, you have to fight for it.  Prove yourself, Kelsey.  You feel inferior, but you probably have more fighting spirit than you know, kid.
Loose the gloomy outlook. There's a great, big, beautiful tomorrow coming. Be kind, be brave, and have a little trust, kid. That's all I have to say.