Tag Archives: Paris

Sylvia Plath

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“Great wits are sure to madness near allied, And thin partitions do their bounds divide…” -John Dryden

A fine example of this is found in the poet, Sylvia Plath. Her life was scarred from the beginning by the death of her father. He died from complications relating to the amputation of his leg. Plath blamed her father for his own death, claiming that his carelessness about his health was the same thing as suicide. Upon first receiving news of his demise, young Sylvia proclaimed “I’ll never speak to God again” Interestingly, one of her most famous works was entitled “Daddy”.

As she grew up, she used writing as a way to express her emotions, mostly through journaling. It wasn’t until college that Plath began to find her voice. During this time, Plath found moderate success publishing her work in magazines and newspapers.  A series of incidents including a rejection letter from a writing program, severe insomnia, relationships with abusive men, and a panic attack all led to a severe case of depression. She was treated with electroconvulsive therapy, which only made things worse. She attempted to kill herself, but was thwarted. She spent several months in a mental health facility. This pattern of feverous spurts of writing followed by severe bouts of maniac depression was one that followed her throughout her entire life. Prior to her death, Plath had written about 40 poems in 4 months, often writing 2 a day. She killed herself at the age of 30.

Speaking of suicide, Plath said “If you have no past or no future, which, after all, is all that the present is made of, why then you may as well dispose of the empty shell of present and commit suicide. But the cold reasoning mass of gray entrail in my cranium which parrots, ‘I think, therefore I am,’ whispers that there is always the turning, the upgrade, the new slant. And so I wait.”

Now, obliviously I disagree with Plath on…well, most fundamental issues. However, she truly was a brilliant writer. Here are some of my favorite quotes from her poetry as well as from her book, The Bell Jar:

“I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in life. And I am horribly limited.”

“Some things are hard to write about. After something happens to you, you go to write it down, and either you over dramatize it, or underplay it, exaggerate the wrong parts or ignore the important ones. At any rate, you never write it quite the way you want to.”

“I must be lean & write & make worlds beside this to live in.”

“Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences.”

“Can you understand? Someone, somewhere, can you understand me a little, love me a little? For all my despair, for all my ideals, for all that – I love life. But it is hard, and I have so much – so very much to learn.”

“There is something demoralizing about watching two people get more and more crazy about each other, especially when you are the only extra person in the room. It’s like watching Paris from an express caboose heading in the opposite direction–every second the city gets smaller and smaller, only you feel it’s really you getting smaller and smaller and lonelier and lonelier, rushing away from all those lights and excitement at about a million miles an hour.”

“That’s one of the reasons I never wanted to get married. The last thing I wanted was infinite security and to be the place an arrow shoots off from. I wanted change and excitement and to shoot off in all directions myself, like the colored arrows from a Fourth of July rocket.”

“I want to be important. By being different. And these girls are all the same.”

“I knew chemistry would be worse, because I’d seen a big card of the ninety-odd elements hung up in the chemistry lab, and all the perfectly good words like gold and silver and cobalt and aluminum were shortened to ugly abbreviations with different decimal numbers after them.”

“I have done, this year, what I said I would: overcome my fear of facing a blank page day after day, acknowledging myself, in my deepest emotions, a writer, come what may.”

“Living with him is like being told a perpetual story: his mind is the biggest, most imaginative I have ever met. I could live in its growing countries forever.”

“There is a certain unique and strange delight about walking down an empty street alone. There is an off-focus light cast by the moon, and the streetlights are part of the spotlight apparatus on a bare stage set up for you to walk through. You get a feeling of being listened to, so you talk aloud, softly, to see how it sounds.”

“Now I know what loneliness is, I think. Momentary loneliness, anyway. It comes from a vague core of the self – – like a disease of the blood, dispersed throughout the body so that one cannot locate the matrix, the spot of contagion.”

“…we shall board our imagined ship and wildly sail among sacred islands of the mad till death shatters the fabulous stars and makes us real.”

“I want to write because I have the urge to excel in one medium of translation and expression of life. I can’t be satisfied with the colossal job of merely living. Oh, no, I must order life in sonnets and sestinas and provide a verbal reflector for my 60-watt lighted head. Love is an illusion, but I would willingly fall for it if I could believe in it. Now everything seems either far and sad and cold, like a piece of shale at the bottom of a canyon – or warm and near and unthinking, like the pink dogwood.”

“I love him to hell and back and heaven and back, and have and do and will”

“I want to talk to everybody I can as deeply as I can. I want to be able to sleep in an open field, to travel west, to walk freely at night.”

“With me, the present is forever, and forever is always shifting, flowing, melting. This second is life. And when it is gone it is dead. But you can’t start over with each new second. You have to judge by what is dead. It’s like quicksand … hopeless from the start. A story, a picture, can renew sensation a little, but not enough, not enough. Nothing is real except the present, and already, I feel the weight of centuries smothering me. Some girl a hundred years ago once lived as I do. And she is dead. I am the present, but I know I, too, will pass. The high moment, the burning flash, come and are gone, continuous quicksand. And I don’t want to die.”

 

 

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Anna and the French Kiss

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“So what do I wish for? Something I’m not sure I want? Someone I’m not sure I need? Or someone I know I can’t have?”

You may remember that I promised you a review of “Anna and the French Kiss” a long time ago.  Here it is. Sorry!

Boy meets Girl. Boy and Girl fall in love. And, despite everything thrown in their way, Boy and Girl are able to be together in the end. This is the typical plot of a young adult romance book. It’s predictable and more than a little clichéd. So, it can be a bit of a challenge for a writer to take this concept and breathe new life into it.

Stephanie Perkins manages this challenge quite well. Anna and the French Kiss is a story about a girl transplanted from Atlanta, Georgia to Paris, France for her senior year of high school. Her parents are divorced, and her wealthy novelist father has decided that a year at a boarding school is just what Anna needs before heading off to college. Anna isn’t so sure. After being befriended by an eclectic group of boarding school veterans, though, Anna feels like she may have found a place to belong. And where she belongs is with St. Clair, a “English French American Boy Masterpiece.”

Of course there’s a problem. Although St. Clair and Anna are friends, he has a girlfriend and she has a boy she’s sort of interested in at home. But as things become more complicated between the two of them, Anna is forced to question what she really wants.

The book was good but did border on cheesy at times. However,  as much as I loved the romance,  my favorite part was Anna. She was a narrator that I felt connected to. Her experiences were raw, real, and poignant.  Another thing that made this book special was the way the author wrote about Paris. It was real Paris, not the way it looks in guidebooks, but it still retained its magic.

So that’s that.

10 Things I Love: Summer Edition

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Yeah, it’s really not different from any other 10 Things I Love, but whatever! 😉

1. Watching the extended editions of LoTR with actors commentary is a really fun experience. It sounds boring, but no. It’s hilarious! I laugh every time I watch this. My friends so would do this!

2. My hair is really long. I plan to get a pixie cut, but before I do, I have to try this! It’s so adorable. It reminds me of being 5 years old.

3.

4. I really want to see this! It looks really fun.  And I feel bad, because I’ve never seen a Woody Allen flick. It’s weird. I’m rarely interested in “romantic” movies.

5. I recently saw Source Code. It was much, much better than I was expecting. I’m still sorting out my opinions on it, but when I get a handle on it, I’ll post a review.

6. This.

7. The poetry of Elizabeth Barret Browning. The woman was a genius! She is so inspiring. Along with Emily Dickinson, Basho, and Walt Whitman, she is probably my favorite poet. Here’s a sampling:

“Experience, like a pale musician, holds
A dulcimer of patience in his hand,
Whence harmonies, we cannot understand,
Of God; will in his worlds, the strain unfolds
In sad-perplexed minors: deathly colds
Fall on us while we hear, and countermand
Our sanguine heart back from the fancyland
With nightingales in visionary wolds.
We murmur ‘Where is any certain tune
Or measured music in such notes as these ?
But angels, leaning from the golden seat,
Are not so minded their fine ear hath won
The issue of completed cadences,
And, smiling down the stars, they whisper –
Sweet.”

“When I attain to utter forth in verse
Some inward thought, my soul throbs audibly
Along my pulses, yearning to be free”

“Each creature holds an insular point in space;
Yet what man stirs a finger, breathes a sound,
But all the multitudinous beings round
In all the countless worlds, with time and place
For their conditions, down to the central base,
Thrill, haply, in vibration and rebound,
Life answering life across the vast profound,
In full antiphony, by a common grace!”

8. This is nowhere close to my favorite Regina Spektor song, and it’s nowhere close to the most summer-y, but it’s the one that’s stuck in my head. Ne me quitte pas! ( meaning, “Don’t leave me”, for all the non-French-speaking readers!)

9. I’m really into hugs right now. It’s such a simple thing, but it can mean so much.

10.  Straight No Chaser. Amazing. Listen for yourself

Things I don’t like:

  1. Colds. It’s summer after all!
  2. World history.

On that note, have a Happy Father’s Day! I’ll see you soon!

 

10 Things I Liked This Week

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1.

2. “Don’t date a girl who reads because girls who read are the storytellers. You with the Joyce, you with the Nabokov, you with the Woolf. You there in the library, on the platform of the metro, you in the corner of the café, you in the window of your room. You, who make my life so god damned difficult. The girl who reads has spun out the account of her life and it is bursting with meaning. She insists that her narratives are rich, her supporting cast colorful, and her typeface bold. You, the girl who reads, make me want to be everything that I am not. But I am weak and I will fail you, because you have dreamed, properly, of someone who is better than I am. You will not accept the life that I told of at the beginning of this piece. You will accept nothing less than passion, and perfection, and a life worthy of being storied. So out with you, girl who reads. Take the next southbound train and take your Hemingway with you. I hate you. I really, really, really hate you.”

You Should Date An Illiterate Girl (There’s a little bit of language, but it made me think and appreciate the fact that I am well-read.)

3.

4. I am going to read this book. It looks incredible!

5. And there’s the behind the scenes for that video:

6. “When I placed my head upon my pillow, I did not sleep, nor could I be said to think. . . . I saw — with shut eyes, but acute mental vision — I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half-vital motion. Frightful must it be; for supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavor to mock the stupendous Creator of the world. “–Mary Shelley

I am so glad to be done with Frankenstein!!! Finishing my final project for it as we speak…

7. Hunger Games moment of the week: Epic? I think so!

8.  I’m excited for “Brave” a new Pixar film about a Scottish princess named Merida. It will be the first Pixar film with a female lead. Plus it’s all about Scotland.  (more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1217209/)

9. They’re so hipster/poseur-ish, but I love these glasses. I bought them for my performance as Elphaba and I would wear them all the time if I could!

10.  I reread Anna and the French Kiss…again.  This makes it about the sixth time! But it has brilliant lines like:

“I mean, really. Who sends their kid to boarding school? It’s so Hogwarts. Only mine doesn’t have cute boy wizards or magic candy or flying lessons.”

“I wish friends held hands more often, like the children I see on the streets sometimes. I’m not sure why we have to grow up and get embarrassed about it.”

“Why is it that the right people never wind up together? Why are people so afraid to leave a relationship, even if they know it’s a bad one?”

“So what do I wish for? Something I’m not sure I want? Someone I’m not sure I need? Or someone I know I can’t have?”

“Soap?”
“School of America in Paris” he explains. “SOAP”.
Nice. My father sent me here to be cleansed.”

“I don’t want to feel this way around him. I want things to be normal. I want to be his friend, not another stupid girl holding out for something that will never happen.”

“Har. Bloody. Har.”
He smiles. “Oh, I see. Known me less than a day and teasing me about my accent. What’s next? Care to discuss the state of my hair? My height? My trousers?”
Trousers. Honestly.”

“Oof,” he says.
“Hey, there’s a bed there.”
“Thanks for the warning.”
“No problem.”

“Why?” His voice is suspicious. “Are you two going out now?”
“Yeah, we set up our first date right after he asked me to marry him. Please. We’re just friends.”

“You must think I’m a complete idiot right? That I’m just some doormat who’ll wait for you on the sidelines forever? That you can keep running back to her every time things get difficult and I’ll just be okay with it?!”

“Beautiful. He called me beautiful! But wait. I don’t like Dave. Do I like Dave?”

And those are my likes for this past week.

10 Places I Want to Go Before I Die

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Usually, I’d say top 10, but there are far more than ten places I want to go. These are just off of the top of my head. Some of the places on the list are specific, and others are much more generalized.

1. New Zealand- I want to watch rugby. I want to visit the sites where LoTR were filmed. I want to try zorbing.  This country is absolutely stunning. New Zealand is a country that I  have to visit!

2. Paris, France- I have a whole itinerary for Paris! I want to see the famous sites like the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, the Louvre, and the Pantheon. Visiting cafes, strolling the streets, and visiting Shakespeare and Company (!) are also on my list.

3. The British Isles-England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland have been on my list since I was 7. I want to see the history, visit the sites, absorb the culture, and of course, watch Doctor Who! I’m a little concerned about this stop, because it’s the one I have the most preconceived notions about.

4. Israel – I haven’t really mentioned it on this blog, but I am Jewish. I mean, I not wholly Jewish, but it is a large chunk of my heritage. I would rather see Israel than any other place on this list.

5. The Smithsonian- Ok, so maybe I should have said D.C. The one place in D.C. that I’m dying to see is the Smithsonian, though. That seems a little sad in retrospect…

6. Burma/Myanmar- This may seem a bit out of place, but I spent a year studying, researching, and praying for this country and it holds a piece of my heart. Many people don’t realize the kind of oppression this country is under. I don’t know what I would be able to do to help, but I’d like the opportunity to do something.

7.  Austria- I want to go because I’m very Austrian (and German…but Austria is cooler!). I actually have family in Austria that I’ve never met.

8. Italy-Food, sites, history, guys with accents…okay, I was kidding abut that last part, but I’m serious about wanting to visit this country. Although, the Italian language is very strange and I’m not sure how quickly I could pick it up.

9. Newcastle- Technically, this is covered in the category of the British Isles, but it’s one city that I particularly want to see. I watched a series of movies based in Newcastle, and I fell in love.

10. Pretty much anywhere I’ve read about in a book- Even though the majority aren’t  real, if I could, I would visit all the countries where I spent my childhood…through reading!

And those are some of the places I want to visit. That was fun! To keep the fun going, you should tell some of the places you’d want to go. Please? Thank you! (you could have said no, but since I have no way of knowing, I’ve decided to assume that you are a kindhearted person who wants to make my day! 😛 )