Hi… again.

Hi everyone.

First things first, I’m sorry for not having written for, well, four years. I went off to college, grew up a bit, and now I’m having another crack at this blogging thing.

I’ve started up a new blog just for book reviews over here at: https://thetsundokist.wordpress.com/

Please feel free to come over and say hello. Hope you are all well.

~Anna

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I’ll do it tomorrow…

I’ll do it tomorrow. Unfortunately, this has become my mantra and I need to do something about it. Maybe tomorrow… 

Procrastination is, and has been, a problem of mine for a very long time now and I am just now realising how bad it is. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a lazy person. In fact, I am quite the opposite – I never stay in my pajamas all day, I don’t watch much TV, waking up past 6.30 in the morning is sleeping in for me, and I actually like working. However, I exhibit a consistent failure to complete everyday tasks, errands and projects in any way that could be considered timely. Almost everything must reach some sort of “scary, panicky point” before I finally move on to it. Let’s just say I suffer from what I like to call a “productivity lag”. 

Yesterday, while I was putting off writing my speech for English, I found a quote which I found almost frighteningly relatable and I thought that I would share it with you today. 

“It turns out procrastination is not typically a function of laziness, apathy or work ethic as it is often regarded to be. It’s a neurotic self-defense behaviour that develops to protect a person’s sense of self-worth.

You see, procrastinators tend to be people who have, for whatever reason, developed to perceive an unusually strong association between their performance and their value as a person. This makes failure or criticism disproportionately painful, which leads naturally to hesitancy when it comes to the prospect of doing anything that reflects their ability — which is pretty much everything.

But in real life, you can’t avoid doing things. We have to earn a living, do our taxes, have difficult conversations sometimes. Human life requires confronting uncertainty and risk, so pressure mounts. Procrastination gives a person a temporary hit of relief from this pressure of “having to do” things, which is a self-rewarding behavior. So it continues and becomes the normal way to respond to these pressures.

Particularly prone to serious procrastination problems are children who grew up with unusually high expectations placed on them. Their older siblings may have been high achievers, leaving big shoes to fill, or their parents may have had neurotic and inhuman expectations of their own, or else they exhibited exceptional talents early on, and thereafter “average” performances were met with concern and suspicion from parents and teachers.”

—David Cain, “Procrastination Is Not Laziness”

What is your opinion on procrastination?

~Anna 

Liebster Award (x2)

Bonjour tout le monde!

Today is another glorious day as I have been nominated for not just one, but – wait for it – TWO Liebster Blogger Awards by the lovely Mandarox and also, by the wonderful yawriterinthemaking! Seriously, if you have a moment to spare, please check out these fantastic blogs from fantastic people!

Okay, I’m just going to assume that you all know what the Liebster Award is and if not – well, then you can just google it.

Now, for the questions. Wow, I have a lot of questions to answer now… Well, here goes!

Questions from Mandarox:

1. If you could choose between knowing every language fluently or being able to play every instrument perfectly, which would you choose?

Gee, that’s a really tough one. Can I have both? I think I’d probably prefer to play every instrument perfectly because I’m a musician and that would be pretty awesome. But then again, being able to speak fluent French would also be amazing. THIS DECISION IS TOO HARD!

2. What’s the best book you’ve ever read? Alternately, if you don’t read, what’s the best movie you’ve ever seen? Or answer both, if you want.

Are you deliberately choosing the most difficult questions? I have far too many favourite books. Um, I think it’s a toss up between Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith and East of Eden by John Steinbeck. Oh, and The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde.

3. What animal would you say you’re most like?

I wish I could say something cool like a dolphin or a leopard or an eagle, but unfortunately I’m not that awesome. I don’t know, maybe some type of small bird? A sparrow or a nightingale maybe.

4. What type of music do you listen to? Rock, orchestral, pop? And who’s your favourite band/composer/singer?

I am a huge music geek. I listen to absolutely everything ranging from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony to Florence + the Machine. My favourite band will always be The Beatles – yes, I suppose it’s a little cliched, but their music is simply incredible and they contributed so much to the world of popular music. They literally changed the world. Oh, and my two favourite composers are John Williams and Dmitri Shostakovich.

5. What’s your favourite thing about yourself?

Oh no, not another tough question. Um, I would like to think that I have a good sense of humour. I mean, it’s about as lame as it gets, but I can make my friends laugh which is a good thing. I’d rather not spend too much time thinking about whether they’re laughing with me or at me. My guess is the latter considering my incredibly lame jokes, but oh well!

6. Do you have any pets? If so, what are they? If not, do you want any?

Unfortunately I don’t have any pets because we travel too much. But I have always wanted a dog for some reason.

7. What would you prefer; money or love? 

Love, definitely love. I think a life without love would be a very lonely one and I don’t think loneliness can be solved with money. But then again, money can buy nutella…

8. What’s your favourite quote? 

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish on it’s ability to climb a tree, it will live it’s whole life believing that it is stupid.”

-Albert Einstein

9. What is/was your favourite and least favourite subject at school? Why?

My favourite subject at school is music because it is my passion and I have the most wonderful teacher. My least favourite subject is math because so much of it seems so pointless. When am I ever going to need to use calculus? I don’t really mind math all that much – I like the fact that it is so black and white, but I do sometimes find myself wondering why it is necessary to memorise a thousand formulas which I am never going to remember, let alone actually use.

Questions from Yawriterinthemaking: 

1. Do you like answering random questions?

Yeah, I do actually. The interesting ones at least.

2. If you could meet anyone, who would it be? 

It’s a toss up between Paul McCartney and John Williams so I could congratulate them on their amazing music and ask for tips. And so that I could get their autograph…

3. If you could change your talent for another talent, what would it be? 

I wouldn’t trade music-making for anything in the world. But I wouldn’t really mind parting with my mathematical skills if it meant being able to speak French fluently.

4. Do you listen to more than one genre of music? 

Yes, I do. See question 4 from Mandarox above.

5. What is your favourite junk food? 

I have to admit, chocolate is my guilty pleasure. I would gladly trade my left kidney for Lindt chocolate. Well, actually I probably wouldn’t go that far…

6. Do you watch TV? 

I do watch a bit, but not much compared to other people. Mostly just the news and geeky sci-fi shows!

7. How do you feel about Valentine’s Day?

Roses are red,

Violets are blue,

Vodka costs less,

Than dinner for two!

8. What is your favourite movie genre?

My tastes are pretty diverse, but I would have to say that my favourite genre is probably crime/thriller.

9. What is your favourite season?

Autumn, definitely autumn. I just love the colours and the chill in the air and the fact that it marks the beginning of the soup season.

10. Do you find it hard to create and answer random questions?

Depends on the question. Sometimes I do find it difficult to answer questions, but I do enjoy it.

11. How is your week going?

Spiffing! Thank you for asking!

11 Random Facts About Me:

Theoretically, I should write 22 random facts about myself, but I’m just a tad lazy so you’ll have to make do with only 11.

1. I hate cats. I really don’t understand why people love them so much.

2. I have read each Harry Potter book nine times.

3. I have no orientation skills. At all. Which makes driving a car a bit of a concern.

4. As much as I hate to admit it, I really do enjoy watching The Vampire Diaries. Embarrassing, I know.

5. I wish I could speak French. You probably know that already though…

6. I still have this completely unrealistic dream of singing on Broadway.

7. I think Star Wars is awesome.

8. I love snow.

9. I have an uncanny obsession with the number nine.

10. I still can’t decide who my favourite Beatle is. It’s definitely between John and George.

11. One day, I am going to live in Berlin.

My 11 nominees: 

1. Organizedscenery 

2. Jennykellerford

3. Blogs-Of-A-Bookaholic

4. Stationdeva

5. Thehandwrittenlife 

6. Riverscribbles 

7. Streetlightreader

8. Ourconsciousness

9. Alundeberg 

10. My Thought Exactly… 

11. Cricketmuse 

My Questions: 

1. What is one album you couldn’t live without? 

2. What was your childhood dream? 

3. If you could choose between knowing every language fluently or being able to play every instrument perfectly, which would you choose?

4. What is your opinion of Valentine’s day? 

5. Which band/artist would you most like to see in concert? 

6. What is the kindest thing anybody has ever done for you? 

7. What is your earliest memory?

8. What was your favourite subject in high school and why? 

9. If you could choose to speak any language fluently, which one would you choose and why?

10. Do you have a favourite film soundtrack? If so, what is it? 

11. Name three books that you couldn’t live without. 

Congratulations to all nominees and thank you again for nominating me for this lovely award! :)

~Anna

The Lost Thing: A Book That Will Break Your Heart

First things first, I’ll have you know that I very rarely cry while reading books. Yes, they can make me extremely sad or angry or ecstatic or confused, but it is very rare for me to come across a book that makes me shed a tear or two. Except for Bridge to Terabithia. God, that book makes me gush like a little girl. And of course, the final Harry Potter book for obvious reasons. With the exception of those two books, I have never cried while reading. Until yesterday. As I was sifting through my enormous pile of children’s books which I really should get rid of, but can’t bear to part with, I came across a very special and peculiar book – The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan.

Set in a bleak dystopian near-future, the story follows a strange, lonely boy who discovers a “lost thing” while collecting bottles on the beach – a large, freakish creature which looks like a cross between a huge pot-bellied stove and a giant squid. Having guessed that it is lost, the boy tries to find out who owns it or where it belongs, but the problem is met with indifference by everyone else, who barely notice it’s presence. Each is unhelpful in their own way; strangers, friends, parents are all unwilling to entertain this uninvited interruption to day-to-day life. In spite of his better judgement, the boy feels sorry for this hapless creature, and attempts to find out where it belongs.

For some reason, as I was sitting next to my bookshelf flicking though the beautifully-illustrated pages of this book, I found myself crying uncontrollably. Perhaps it was the idea of a world drained of colour and life; a joyless Orwellian future of uniform houses and faceless figures. Perhaps it was the idea of not belonging anywhere, of being treated with indifference. Or perhaps it was simply the idea of not noticing anymore.

In short, this book is everything a good book should be – sad, whimsical and poignant and I strongly encourage all of you to take a look at it. If you are interested at all, here is a link to the short film based on the book and narrated by Tim Minchin. Enjoy and let me know what you think about this wonderful work!

 

 

I wish my life was a musical…

A few days ago, I decided to go for a run for the first time in two months. Ugh, bad idea. Anyway, back to my point – as I was running  crawling up the hill, it occurred to me how much more bearable exercise in 30-degree heat would be if the people around me would just spontaneously start singing some motivational power ballad and erupt into perfectly-choreographed dance. Yes, there are times when I wish my life was a musical. Jazz hands and all.

Just to clarify, I’m not a fan of High School Musical, nor am I a closet Gleek; however, I sometimes catch myself wishing that my life had a soundtrack. Or even better, that my life was just one big, brassy, show-stopping musical. Not that my life is anywhere near as exciting as Velma Kelly’s or Jean Valjean’s.

I just wish that I could randomly burst into song at any given moment and would be instantly accompanied by an 80-piece orchestra and a chorus of insane vocal harmonies. I wish that I could deal with all of my issues just by singing about them. I wish that the Von Trapp children would miraculously drop out of the trees dressed in curtain-clothes singing ‘Do-Re-Mi’ and nobody would raise an eyebrow. I wish that I could solve a problem like Maria.

Unfortunately though, we don’t live in a world where happy endings, fairytale romance and Bollywood dance numbers are inevitable. Our world is much crueler and certainly not as fabulous. I don’t live on Avenue Q, nor am I the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. I don’t drive around in a Cadillac singing ‘Grease Lighting’ and Billy Flynn is not my lawyer. My best friends are not Timon and Pumba and Mufassa certainly isn’t my father. But it is fun to dream… I must resist the temptation to quote ‘I Dreamed A Dream from Les Miserables. 

I am a terrible, terrible person…

I am a terrible person…

I am a terrible person…

I am a terrible person…

I am a terrible person…

For almost the entire duration of my two-month long trip to Europe, this was the thought running through my head every time I even thought about my blog. I know I said that I would keep you updated on my adventures, but that turned out to be a BIG lie. In fact, I failed to provide even a single update for two months. TWO MONTHS. Not even one measly comment.

The funny thing is, I don’t know why I resisted writing for so long. Maybe it was because I wanted to get away from everything. I suppose for two months, I didn’t want to care what people thought of me. And even worse, I didn’t want to write. Not once did I feel the desire to write anything. No blog posts, journal entries, stories, poems, song lyrics… Nothing. Also, I didn’t speak a word of English for the entire trip which made it somewhat difficult to think in English, let alone write in it.

It is only now that I am back at home in Australia that I have come to realise how much I miss writing. So, to anybody reading this post, I’m really truly sorry for having disappointed you and this year, I want to make every effort to post regularly. Last year was very hectic and I fear that this year won’t be much better with regards to my school-workload; however, I have come to the conclusion that writing is something that one should always make time for. And that, my friends, is my New Years resolution. To write more. 

Once again, I apologise profusely for having failed to keep my promise and it won’t happen again! Now, on the brighter side, I had the most incredible trip of my life. Over the course of two months, I flew around the world and back again. I learnt how to say more than “je ne comprends pas, je suis anglais, YA HEY!’ in French, which I am ecstatic about. I ate fresh croissants in Montmartre and watched the sun rise over Paris. I climbed to the top of the Eiffel Tower for the first time in my life. Well, I didn’t really climb it – I took the elevator. Shhh! I sang at the top of my lungs in a church in Nuremberg, which I have wanted to do since I was five. I went sledding, made the world’s most hideous snowman and had the world’s greatest snowball fight all in one day. I went ice skating on a frozen lake. I experienced Berlin over New Years at the Brandenburg Gate with over a million people from all over the world. I saw the Cologne Chamber Orchestra play Albinoni’s Adagio in G Minor in Muenster. I went on a bike ride in the Black Forest. I flew all the way from Australia to Germany alone (my very first international trip on my own!). I listened to the entire Harry Potter soundtrack from the first three movies on the train to Paris because I felt like I was going to Hogwarts. I ate the spiciest food of my life in Bangkok. I went kayaking in Ko Chang – a very beautiful, remote island in Thailand. Oh, and I almost conquered my enormous to-read list. So… yeah. That is a very brief summary of my trip. Doesn’t make up for my big, fat failed promise, but at least you know what I have been up to. Not that you really care.

Adieu!

Bon voyage, Anna!

Hello there.

I’m sorry for my irregular blogging habits at the moment – a family matter has come up which I would rather not discuss over the internet and I have not had very much time for blogging at all. But that will soon change, I promise. Tomorrow I am heading off to Europe for two months to visit family and friends. I am a little nervous as this is the first international trip that I have done entirely on my own, but I am super-excited as well! Anyway, I hope to document my adventures on this blog, so you will (hopefully) hear quite a bit from me over the next couple of weeks. This is just going to be a short post because I really need to finish packing, but I just wanted to let you know that I do still exist and haven’t mysteriously vanished off the face of the planet.

Okay, now onto packing…

…Ooh, cat videos!…

…Seriously, you need to pack now, Anna…

 

East of Eden Review (John Steinbeck)

“I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one. . . . Humans are caught—in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too—in a net of good and evil. . . . There is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well—or ill?”

-John Steinbeck (East of Eden)

Where do I begin about this book? I would certainly be lying if I didn’t tell you outright that John Steinbeck is one of my absolute favourite writers, and East of Eden is easily his best work. Set in the rich farmland of California’s Salinas Valley, this sprawling and often brutal novel follows the intertwined destinies of two families – the Trasks and the Hamiltons – whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel. In this novel, Steinbeck created some of his most memorable characters and explored some of the most enduring themes: the mystery of identity, the definition of good and evil, the the inexplicability of love, and the murderous consequences of love’s absence.

The book is often referred to as a “symbolic recreation of the biblical story of Cain and Abel”; however, this description is far too simplistic and does not even begin to express what this novel is about. Steinbeck takes the story of Cain and Abel and constructs Cain, in the form of Cal Trask, as the sympathetic character. Rather than acting destructively for the sake of destruction, Cal claws desperately for approval from his father, Adam, who favours Cal’s twin brother, Aaron. However, the characters of Cal and Aron are not introduced until the final section of the novel, which is over 600 pages long. So, to say that the book is a mere re-telling of the story of Cain and Abel is hardly fair at all and is an extreme over-simplification of the novel. Rather than portraying good and evil as polar opposites, the main theme of the book is the desire withen everyone for love, and how this desire can lead people to destructive behaviour.

This book has been criticised for being far too verbose and meandering; however, that’s Steinbeck for you. Yes, it is verbose and meandering, but it gives a complete picture of the Salinas Valley and the vivid, lengthy descriptions and insights make the characters so much more complex and interesting. The characters felt real. Their homes felt real. While reading the book, I felt like I was living in the Salinas Valley and was completely immersed in the epic family saga. Also, East of Eden has been criticised for being inconsistently paced, however I have to disagree. If anything, Steinbeck’s constant off-tangent sidebars give the reader a break in pace, making the more important parts of the novel feel as though they flow more smoothly.

Also, I must add, the character of Cathy Ames, later known as Kate, is by far the most twisted female character I have ever come across, with the exception of Bellatrix Lestrange. Parasitic and manipulative, Cathy is the embodiment of evil in the novel and the most static of the main characters. Her evil seems to be innate and all-consuming, as she exhibits murderous and sexually perverse tendencies from a very early age. A figure of infertility and destruction who kills her parents and attempts to kill her unborn children, Cathy is a debased version of the biblical Eve, who is viewed as the mother of all humankind by the Christian tradition. Whilst reading the novel, I was deeply intrigued by Cathy’s completely pessimistic view of life and her innate wickedness. In contrast to Cal Trask, whose destructive behaviour is caused by his deep-seated desire for affection, Cathy symbolises the persistence of evil in the world and adds great depth and dimension to the notions of good and evil.

All in all, this book is absolutely mind-blowing and its strong points certainly compensate for the few shortcomings. In fact, Steinbeck is such a tremendous writer that his shortcomings become strengths in their own right. If you haven’t already done so, get off your computer this instant and make your way to the nearest bookstore. Oh, and let your friends know that they won’t be seeing much of you for the next couple of days!

Goodbye sleep, goodbye social life, hello caffeine!

Oh God. What have I done?

In a moment of temporary insanity, I signed up for NaNoWriMo last night. Again. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it is effectively thirty days and nights of literary abandon. You do not sleep. You do not socialise. You only leave the house when absolutely necessary. If your house is burning down, you remain seated at your desk until the sentence is finished. You replace oxygen with caffeine for the month of November. And somehow, you write a novel.

Did you hear that? One novel in one month. That’s 50, 000 words in case you didn’t know. And on top of that, I have absolutely no idea what to write about. Do you think I could get by rewriting the dictionary?

If you have ANY suggestions at all, please let me know! November 1st is fast approaching and I need to get my ideas in check! I’m thinking crime/mystery/psychological thriller, but I am completely open to anything that will get me to the 50K mark and give me some sense of accomplishment and creative euphoria. Unless it involves sparkling vampires.

Oh, I almost forgot – for those of you who are as crazy as I am and would like to check out the program, the link to the NaNoWriMo website can be found here:

http://www.nanowrimo.org/

It’s definitely worth having a look into. Even if you don’t make it to the 50K, it will definitely get you back into the habit of writing! And it is great fun! In a very twisted, borderline masochistic way…

Thank you very much! I’ll keep you posted on my progress, or the lack thereof as the case may be. And good luck to all fellow novelists – I wish you all the best in your literary endeavours! :)

~Anna

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scale of Internet Awesomeness

Hello all.

First of all, I would like to sincerely apologise to my faithful followers for my very long absence from the blogosphere. It is simply inexcusable and I feel terrible for having dropped off the edge of the cyber-world without any notice, but I have been very busy with schoolwork, family and all that jazz.

Well, to make up for my absence, I am going to have to deliver a super-special-awesome post. Yes, I know – this lies outside my capabilities as a blogger, but I’ll try my best.

Miaow. I’ve come to the conclusion that any internet publication about, containing, or relating to cats immediately gains one hundred bonus points for entertainment value. So yes, my miaow is a feeble attempt to salvage this post. I’m doing fabulously at writing a super-special-awesome post, aren’t I? (Insert sarcastic facial expression here)

To compensate for this shocking writing, the lack of read-worthy content in this post, and my very abnormal animal noises, here is a cutesy cat photo for you.

Ahem, where are my hundred bonus points? That brings the quality of this post to a grand total of 0 on a scale of 1 – 100.

Chuck Norris. Well, according to the laws of internet awesomeness, the quality of this blog post just went up fifty points for mentioning the name of the omnipresent, omnipotent and omnidirectional internet God. Woop woop! Okay, so I’m at 50/100 now.

Now if I chuck in a Darth Vader reference, a Will Ferrell quote, a Batman meme or two, and some vague reference to pirates, ninjas and/or other awesome beings, then in the tradition of internet lore, this post should theoretically be rated 100/100.

(Insert witty Darth Vader reference here. I am lazy and cannot be bothered to comb the web for some incredibly hilarious Star Wars meme, nor do I have the creativity or drive to come up with my own at present.)

(Insert Will Ferrell quote)

(Insert Batman meme)

(Insert vague reference to pirates, ninjas and/or other awesome beings)

Oh, and if I include a Nick Cage joke/picture, then the quality of this post must be off the charts. Now, do you understand why the scale of internet awesomeness is flawed? Are there no points awarded for individuality and creativity?

(Insert Nick Cage joke/picture)

~Anna