Sunday, July 22

"Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it."

~ from 'Sometimes' by Mary Oliver

I stumbled across those words, quite by accident, and had to pass them on ...because they resonate. And because I love the word (and connotations of) 'astonishment'.

(The pictures are of my writing space the other day: my bed. I do keep trying to tidy all my books away, trying to sort them neatly into bookshelves and arrange them nicely on my bedside cabinet. But they are not very obedient. They have a little habit of sneaking out to come and sit beside me. I do try, but it's hard to stay annoyed at them for too long.)

p.s. listen to: this. (It's a cover of The Sound of Silence by Kina Grannis.) I also stumbled upon this by accident... in a BBC advert of all places. I love her voice.)

words, words, words

Saturday, July 14

I have been reading The Great Gatsby (notice the very beautiful cover) and like it very much so far. While I was reading it the other day, I came across this (very long) word:

I’d never come across it before! Apparently it means: ‘to walk or perform another act while asleep or in a sleep-like condition’. I love coming across interesting words in books (even if I can't quite pronounce them)!
I love scenes in books/films that start with rain
In first year English at university, we had to keep a reading diary. I wrote one of my entries on a children’s book (‘The Magician’s Elephant’) by Kate DiCamillo and remember there being a number of words in there that I thought were unusual choices for a children’s book (words like ‘exorbitant’, ‘cataclysm’, ‘edification’, ‘verbatim’, and ‘equivocated’, to name a few).
The words suited the sentences DiCamillo was writing though ...and I think the best way to learn new words is through stumbling upon them in a book. I hate when people talk down to children (mostly because I remember hating being talked down to). I think the only way children (or any reader) can learn is if they are challenged (...within reason).
On another (unrelated to the lovely DiCamillo) note... as much as I love interesting words, I do have a bit of a thing about writers using overly complex words just for the sake of it. It seems a bit self-indulgent and alienating to the readers. More about showing off the writer’s cleverness than honouring the idea they are trying to express.
Good writers, I think (or the ones that I would like to be like) choose their words very carefully, turning them over, tapping them, tasting them, trying to pick the right words for the idea. Sometimes that means dipping into the ‘lovely long word box’, but sometimes it just means using a simpler word! (I think my writing often verges on being a bit too simple. I'd like to find more of a balance.)
All the word-pictures (after the rain sentence) come from this book (that one up there). I bought it because the title made me laugh... and the descriptions are quite funny.
(Oh, and p.s. I got an iPhone on my birthday so I've gone a bit Instagram crazy.)

birthday noticings

Wednesday, July 11

A few things I spotted on my (twenty-first) birthday last week:

[one.] Stars and candles on the breakfast table. (Birthday breakfasts are always a big thing in my family. Menu this year: orange juice, granola with vanilla yoghurt and berries, roll and sausage with or without brown sauce, numerous cups of tea ...or coffee, if you so desired.)

[two.] A flower box in Glasgow's west end. If I ever live in France (somewhat unlikely as I don't speak the language, but who knows! I might just marry a French man and learn it) then I will have a window box of red geraniums. If I never get round to living in France, I'd still quite like the window box.

[three.] A photograph at the Oran Mor (where we went for 'A Play, a Pie, and a Pint') with this underneath. I was taught by Louise Welsh in first year. She marked my very first official short story (a somewhat melodramatic - but lovely to write - tale about a circus elephant and true love).

[four.] Another house spotted just outside the Botanic Gardens (I'd like to have lots of potted plants leading up to my door at some point in my life, as well as the window box... maybe even in the same house. I just need to get over my bee-phobia).

[five.] A self-help book in the Oxfam bookshop with Smiles as the author (very suitable sir name). Unfortunately I was too busy taking a picture of 'Smiles' that I didn't notice the book of essays by C.S. Lewis sitting beside him until I got home and looked at this picture. Drat!

[six.] A devilish looking Ford sign (I'm learning how to drive in a Ford by the way. It took me four lessons to learn this information myself. Turns out when you start driving lessons everyone likes to ask: 'So what kind of car does your instructor have?' Not the kind of information I pay attention to. 'Em... a blue one?')

[seven.] You know your 'little' brother, is not so 'little' anymore when he is quite a bit taller than your mother. 

[eight.] These daisies were in my Gran's garden. I agree with Kathleen Kelly in You've Got Mail that daisies are the friendliest flower.

[nine.] Possibly the largest apple pie I have ever seen in my life.

words fail me.

Sunday, July 1

Over the past few days in work I’ve noticed: a lady with a necklace made out of toy cars (like this one... quite unusual), a baby with yellow and black stripy socks on (like bumblebees), and rain-soaked mothers and primary school children pouring into the cafe for ice-cream (yesterday was the last day of school, i.e. the official beginning of the summer holidays). 

I also was reminded of how important and useful it is to try and think about what you’re going to say before you speak (unlike earlier on today, when I had a slightly awkward mind-blank moment:


INT. Cafe kitchen – afternoon
Very noisy (plates clattering, fish fryers bubbling, chefs shouting). Gruff looking MAN enters wearing a black t-shirt and a tool-belt. MAN approaches ME.
    MAN: I’m here to fix the cold room.
    ME: (pause) What was that, sorry?
    MAN: The cold room. I’m here to fix the cold room.
    ME: (slightly confused) The cold room?
    MAN: (slightly irritated) Aye. The cold room.
    ME: Oh! (walking to the walk-in fridge and opening the door) Do you mean the fridge?
MAN looks at me blankly.

    ME: (turning to the walk-in freezer and opening that door... it’s cold. It could technically be called a ‘room’.) Or the freezer?
    MAN: (narrowing his eyes) I was called about the cold room. I’m here to fix it.
    ME: (pause) I’ll go get my manager.
INT. Cafe floor
A minute later. Very noisy (babies crying, saxophonist playing, coffee grinder ...grinding)
    ME: (standing on my tiptoes, because I’m short and my voice doesn’t carry very far) There’s a man here --- something about ‘the cold room’ --- he’s in the kitchen --- he wants to see you.
    MANAGER: (can't hear because of the noise) What’s that?
    ME: (louder) A man --- in the kitchen --- to see you---?
    MANAGER: What sort of man?
    ME: (walking and talking over my shoulder) He’s a --- um, a man with tools (walking towards the kitchen) --- he’s a --- he’s a fixer.
    MANAGER: (following me through doors to kitchen) a fixer?
INT. Kitchen
    ME: Yes. Um --- he’s --- a fixer --- a fixer of freezers --- or fridges --- a fixer.
    MANAGER: (not understanding) A ‘fixer’?
    ME: (getting a bit flustered because I've forgotten the word) A --- he’s a freezer fixer or something ---you know? He’s here to fix the cold room --- he’s a fixer... person.
    MANAGR: What ---?
    ME: A fixer --- he’s a ---
We arrive back where MAN is standing.
    ME: (relief) Oh! He’s over there.
I leave them to it and hurry away to avoid further word-fails.)

The word I was looking for (which I didn’t come across until about half an hour later, and only with the help of another waitress) was handyman. Handyman! Not ‘fixer’ (!) Ah dear...

(Pictures from: Yelena Bryksenkova. Beautiful pictures... which are, again, unrelated to the actaul content of the post!)
by mlekoshi