Melina Gunnett

August 28, 2012

Review – Inanimate Objects

Filed under: Review — Tags: , , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 12:16 AM

This has been on my reading pile for a while. I bought it because I like the author, as a person, and hoped that her writing was as interesting and she was.

Inanimate Objects begins as a series of seemingly unrelated vignettes. When I picked the book up to read, I was hoping for a story. I probably would have sent it back to my “to be read” pile 30 or pages in, but each little scenario was well written and captivating, even if I couldn’t see any connection between them.

I am glad I hung in. The characters continued to captivate me and, as I read on, began to connect up. Eventually the pieces came together, like a mosaic, each beautifully crafted tidbit fitting in among the others to create full picture.

A muse has found the young street artist, Leonidas Bondi, or has he found her? Matilda, the muse, lives her life vicariously through her patrons, molding and shaping them to fit her own vision. Leo has his own ideas and the magic that is his artwork. Then there is her son Elisha, immortal, bored and disillusioned with life. Elisha has his own obsession, but is still drawn to the beautiful, pragmatic Helena Bondi.

While the characters are what make the book, what completes the book is the way Saunders ties all of their stories together, slowly revealing an unexpected narrative. To say more is give away too much and this is a book worth reading for yourself.

August 27, 2012

The End

Filed under: Odd Thoughts — Tags: , , , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 10:28 PM

It was Oscar Wilde who famously said “Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life”. For the last few weeks my art – my writing – has been doing its best to be the exception that proves the rule. By now anyone who has been following me knows that I have been having difficulty finishing up tasks. My book, it seems, was having the same problem.

I had originally wanted to have it completed before my move. I worked on it and had the story done, but in desperate need of editing. The life struck with a vengeance. I’ve been pecking away at the editing and, with the help of a few beta readers, managed to get it mostly done by the end of July.

I had hoped, even with the move, tot get it out the door to the publisher by the 1st of August. I almost made it, there were still a few things I felt needed re-working and I needed one last chapter to wrap things up a bit.

The editing I was able to finish up, the last chapter… let’s just say, it was definitely the most difficult chapter in the book. The rest of the story just flowed. I knew what I wanted to happen, I had a time line that it needed to fit and characters. I didn’t get the whole story sent to me in a dream or everything, but what needed to happen next was always, well, what needed to happen next. It worked.

The last chapter didn’t need to happen next. I wasn’t even sure it needed to happen at all and the harder I tried to make something fit, the more I wondered if I should just leave things as they were. I probably would have given up, but I trust the people I had beta reading for me.

It took me almost two weeks to find a thread in the story that had been left hanging. Actually there are a couple, but I deliberately left them hanging – literary fringe that I will use to weave the sequel, which is already half written in my mind. Even once I had my thread I still struggled. I wanted to make the chapter a wrap up, not a new adventure.

In the end, finish up the book came down to the same thing it did in my real life, sitting my but in the chair and doing it. It took a couple of days of false starts and re-writes, but eventually the words landed on the page in an order I could live with. Best ending ever? Doubtful, but it was an ending and the book finally went into the (e)mail to the publisher.

I missed all my other self-fabricated deadlines, but I made my final firm dead line. The book had to be finished by my birthday or put on the shelf. I managed to send it off the day before, leaving me the chance to relax and enjoy the day guilt free.

Now I should have time to move on to the other projects that have cluttering up my desktop and start hacking down my “to be read” pile. I suppose it is time for another ‘to-do’ list, as I am sure there are things I have been letting slip while I worked on this. Hopefully Mr. Wilde will prove correct and I can find a way to tie up the loose ends in my life and get them finished as I did with the book.

August 14, 2012

Procrastination – It’s Making Me Wait.

Filed under: Odd Thoughts — Tags: , , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 9:03 PM

Sometimes my ability to procrastinate even amazes me. I can understand wanting to to put off things I don’t really want to do. Even if I know the task won’t go a way, there is always the chance something might happen that will make it irrelevant. Maybe a stray asteroid will hit the planet or something. It happens all the time in the movies.

What really amazes me is my ability to put off doing things I enjoy. These would be things like watching a movie, hanging out with friends, or reading a book. You know, the types of things I want to do before that hypothetical asteroid hits.

Instead I have been filling my days with things that are neither important nor all that fun. It really is possible to kill an entire afternoon playing Facebook games, I don’t recommend it, but it does make time pass. With the amount of time I have wasted over the last week I could have easily finished 3 or 4 of the books in my to be read pile.

I’ve been blaming other things of course; first my back and then the heat (this week has been a scorcher and we don’t have air-conditioning). It is easy to find excuses. Some of them are even legitimate, but not the real truth.

I’ve been trying to get down to the real truth, the real reason why I have been procrastinating on so many things. I suspect it will take many years of therapy before I figure it all out, but there are a few clues I’ve put together.

Penny jarI know that I have trouble finishing things. It doesn’t matter what the thing is, let’s say today’s task is counting pennies in a jar. Some of the tasks I have been putting off really aren’t much more difficult to do and probably wouldn’t take much more time. Sow why do I have so much trouble getting those pennies counted?

It feels good to finish something. To be able to look at that jar of pennies and say “I know there are 274 pennies in there because I counted them!” There is always a moment of elation at finishing a task, but with the elations comes a bit of guilt. Why, who knows? I’m not even sure it matters, because the elation doesn’t stay around all that long before fear starts to sink in.

Why does fear set in after a task? It doesn’t always. Sometimes I can just check it off and call it good, but not always. Sometimes the questions start up first: Did I do it right? Is there really 274 pennies or did I miscount? What if one of the was Canadian? I am sure that fear of failure has something to do with my procrastination.

The other side of that coin is fear of Success. That small feeling of elation, do I really deserve it? I mean, anyone could have done it and probably even done it more efficiently. Now that I have counted the pennies, are people going to expect me to keep track of them forever? If I did do it well are they now going to expect me to keep track of the nickels, dimes and quarters too? How do I manage expectations, including my own?

All of this means I have probably spent too much time contemplating why I procrastinate so much. As I said, I could keep a therapist busy for years sorting out the reasons behind my idiosyncrasies. The main reason I have been trying to figure out why I procrastinate is so that I can get over it and just get things done so I can enjoy life. So far that hasn’t helped much.

The only thing that I have found that works for me is to make a list of the things I need to do and not let myself go to bed until I cross at least one thing off that list. Sometimes this cuts into my sleep a bit, but slowly things have been getting done. The next step is to convince myself to cross one of those items off my list as the FIRST thing I do every day. That way I can start doing the things I enjoy without feeling guilty.

It really doesn’t take more effort to do things in the morning than it does at night, just more will power.

Moonrise Kingdom – Review

Filed under: Review — Tags: , , , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 5:37 AM

Moonrise Kingdom movie poster

Quirky is the best way I can descrbe Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom.

 This movie is full of almosts; the writing is almost bad, the acting is almost overdone, the costumes are almost silly. Almsot is the word, because while it tiptoes on the border of all these things and could have easily been a disaster, it never falls over the edge. Somehow it all works.

 Books are a continuous theme throughout the movie. Suzy, one of the main characters is an avid reader. She loves books, hauling a suitcase of them on her journey and sharing them with others along the way. The director takes this theme and uses is as part of his stylistic aproach to the movie. He manages to capture the feel of a children’s story being lived out in ‘real life’.

The world (set in 1960’s America) is created as though it is all viewed through the eyes of a child. It story begins with a scene introducing us to Suzies family, all viewed as though we are looking a living dolls in a giant doll house. This type of perspective continuse thought the story through the climax that ends in a scene that could have been an illustration directly from a book.

Everything that happens has an exaggerated, larger than life feel, as though we are seeing the story as it has been recalled from a child’s memories. The tree house is set 40 feet high, the 12 mile island is a vast forest that takes days to transverse, and the adults are all well meaning, but clueless.

The basic story is of that of Suzy and Sam, two preteen misfits that meet at a play and form a pen pal love relationship. They hatch a plan to meet up again and run away together, sending the entire island (where Suzy lives and Sam is staying at a ‘Khaki Scout’ camp) on a hysterical search.

If you ever felt out of place and misunderstood this film will resonate with you. Wes Anderson did a brillant job caputring the intensity, honesty and absurity that comes with the transition from childhood to adulthood.


 

August 2, 2012

This Week has been a Pain in the Back.

Filed under: Odd Thoughts — Tags: , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 10:51 PM

I am sitting here at my desk listening to NPR discuss the benefits of procrastination in the background. An interesting discussion, but not one I agree with. I tend to procrastinate enough naturally, deliberate procrastination on my part would just be bad. I would never get anything done.

Surprisingly, procrastination isn’t the reason why I am writing a blog post on Thursday instead of Monday this week. I was actually having a pretty good week last week. Completing one item on my to-do list each day instead of being overwhelmed by the list seems to be the way to go. After having competed my item for the day, I often managed to tick of two or three more just because I was already up and doing things.

This worked well throughout the week until Thursday when I pulled an item off the list bigger than I could handle by myself. unfortunately I mean that literally. I moved the livingroom furniture around by myself and hurt my back.

This isn’t the first time I have hurt my back and I doubt it will be the last. It did leave me flat on my back Friday, unable to do anything. Saturday was more of the same. It should have been better by then, at least enough for me to get up and move around a bit. By Sunday I knew I was in trouble.

My roommate had been trying to get me to go to the chiropractor since Friday, at this point I caved. I was not convinced the chiropractor was the best choice, but I needed to do something. I couldn’t even sit up, let alone work at my desk. I promised that come Monday morning, unless I was magically healed, I would go.

I guess I wasn’t a good little girl because the back fairy didn’t show up and sprinkle star-dust on my back making in better. I had to go to the chiropractor. Before I could do that, I had to first get down to the car. Two flights of stairs later, I was pretty much in tears.

Normally climbing into a car is just something one does, you don’t really think about how you do it. I certainly never really thought about how much bending and twisting is involved. Let’s just say it was a challenge, as I rather shed the memory the and leave the pain behind like the slough of a snake.

I made it the chiropractor not once, but twice that day. My roommate bribed me with a chunky monkey shake to hang in for the second trip. The results of the x-rays were pretty persuasive too. I had twisted one of my disks far enough out of alignment that even I could see the problem.

He tried to adjust my back, but it wasn’t going. I had another appointment on Tuesday morning and he tried again without much luck. Each visit he hooked me up to a different contraption, all of which were supposed to loosen up my back and allow for adjustment, but that magic *pop* back into place never came.   I was starting to do feel better by Wednesday, even without that magic *pop*, but I was still a long way from mobile. I suspect switching to ice instead of hot showers had more to do with my improvement than anything else. (For the record, I HATE putting ice on injuries. Ice is cold. I do not like cold.) Either way I made it to the chiropractor on Wednesday with hardly a whimper or moan.

My roommate really should be eligible for sainthood after this week. I normally have a fairly high tolerance for background pain. Once I get past that tolerance, all bets are off. The overall pain had been overwhelming for days and when I made any sudden movements – just Yowie! I spent most of the week hiding in bed away from everyone. She was the poor stooge that got sent in to lure me out. It probably would have been safer to just put police tape across my room until I either healed up or passed away.
Wednesday was the turn around. The first thing he did when I went in was strap me into a harness. You know, the kind you see on TV when the hook somebody up to fly across the stage or do acrobatics. Once I was securely in and my weight lifted off of my back the put me on a treadmill and had me walk. If I hadn’t been hurting, it would have been fun.

Once I had walked what felt like a marathon, but was actually only a quarter of a mile, the took me off and sent me back downstairs and laid me out on a table. Then came the part I hated the most. The part where he tries to twist my spine back into its orignal shape. This time, instead of just a shot of instant pain searing through me, I heard a pop. That amazing pop I had been waiting for.

All the pain didn’t magically vanish, but I could move again.

So today I start over on my list. First off, is this entry, now four days overdue. I can still only sit up a half hour or so at a time, but at least I can sit at my desk and type. Tomorrow I have a follow-up with the chiropractor to make sure everything stayed where it belonged. I’m still not sure that a regular doctor, which would have come with pain meds and muscle relaxants, would not have been a better choice, but that is something I can think on between now and next time I have a back problem.

On the up side, with all that down time, I did finally get a chance to read a couple of the books that had been on the top of my pile. Maybe tomorrow I’ll see about writing up a review or two. I can afford to add a few more things on to my to-do list now that I can start working my way down it again.

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