Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Teaching Character

With a score of 87 points out of 100, here's to my graduation of a four week course in "teaching character", developed by Relay, a New York school of education with innovative programs designed for effective and successful teachers :)
I decided to take this course out of curiosity and it was quite a surprise to discover new sides of a subject ignored in the Romanian educational system. I learned about the micro-moment triangle involving character behaviour language, constructive responding and a growth mindset; I completed quizzes, gave constructive responses and found out that, at the end of the lesson, besides the knowledge we so eagerly want to transmit, there is always something else to be learned from each of the two sides involved in the teaching - learning process.
And this was not all. There was also a final project that required creating a macro - structure that implicitly (or explicitly) teaches character as well, and literature was once more my "salvation", constructing such a structure with the help of literary characters that also teach students about gratitude and good deeds. I definitely feel I am a better teacher! :)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

World Book Day 2014

Literary Quizzes, Book presentations and Reading Trees, all happening now at my school! :) 
More HERE. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Getting better and better...

Let's make this biblical
And hang from our invisible cords...

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

I Won't Let Go of My Dreams!

Life is about accomplishing your dreams and desires, no matter how foolish or daring they may seem for those around you...

What a fantastic experience Venice in February was, with so many places discovered for the first time, with others bringing up beautiful memories. Venice is more than words could describe and the moment I left, I wanted to go back and soak into its mist, touristy atmosphere, fun and mystery.

Here are a few glimpses of my time in Venice, wishing for more trips in the near or far away future :)

Friday, February 7, 2014

My Venice in February

 If you read this then know I am in the land of too much beauty, mystery and everything fairy tale-like. This year I have taken my Reading Challenge, Venice in February, a little bit further, actually, 1,000 km away, so I will not only be reading about Venice but I will also experience it through its famous museums and landmarks, wintery strolls,  and hot chocolates :) Bookwise, my first Donna Leon will be enjoyed, mainly while expecting for the flight to take off/land, and when I get back, the mystery surrounding Venice will still be present through  Delalande's "The Dante Trap".

If time allows it, I will be indulging in finishing "When God Was a Rabbit" for the reading club I coordinate at school and some personal thoughts written down by the Romanian actor, musician and creative mind, Tudor Chirila.

Follow your dreams!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sunday, January 5, 2014

My Reading Challenges - January 2014

Apparently, I always start the New Year in full swing, with lots of reading time, but then, school starts and I am back to struggling to find some reading time... For this month, I am planning to read Murakami's latest novel, "Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage" for the January in Japan Challenge, and also to celebrate his birthday, on the 12th of January :); Sarah Dunant's latest book about the Borgias, "Blood and Beauty", mainly because I love her previous historical novels and I am quite interested in the story of this famous family; Yehuda Berg's book "Satan - An Autobiography" on the Opponent and fighting the good fight; Jane Hawking's (yes, Stephen Hawking's former wife) "My Life with Stephen" because I have recently seen two documentaries and one BBC adaptation of the scientist's life and I am quite intrigued about the man behind the famous mind; last but not least, "an international sensation" which seems to be the story from "The Rosie Project", about a professor of genetics who embarks upon The Wife Project, hoping that there is someone out there for everyone...

Let the page turning begin! :)

Friday, December 27, 2013

A New Year, a New Challenge

This seemed like the natural thing to do, tackle a new reading challenge that is really up my alley: books written by women. Since I read 23 books written by female authors last year and most of them were quite revelatory, I decided to go for level 2 of the challenge, GIRLS POWER, and read between 6 and 15 books. It is quite doable, don't you think? Click on the image on the right side to find out more about the challenge. Do you tend to read books by female authors? 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas with Jeanette

It is turning quite into a habit, Jeanette posting a few words on Christmas Eve, and this time, she has written a Christmas ghost story... and it somehow reminds me of Susan Hill's "Woman in Black".

You can read it by visiting The Guardian site here, or you can read about her thoughts on celebrating Christmas here.

Merry Christmas! :)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Finding Company for Your Soul

Love (III) - George Herbert
Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey'd Love, observing me grow slack,
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
If I lack'd anything.

 It is quite uplifting to discover new writers, even if they were born centuries ago, and new music, even if it may not be the ordinary music you listen to, and all this thanks to your favorite writer, in my case, Jeanette Winterson.
On the 11th of November Jeanette spoke on BBC Radio 4 about George Herbert's poetry and Sir John Tavener's elating music. Herbert's poems attract a new audience mainly because his message states that love must come before God, which seems quite controversial for a 17th century poet.

Taverner, who unfortunately died last month at the age of 69, is famous for his mystical music and the liturgical traditions that influenced his major works. How the two can mix is described in the podcast. You can listen to it here, for more insight on how the two creative minds can be related, but simply listening to "The Protecting Veil" can give you the feeling of having been touched by the wings of an angel :)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Morgan Sparkles

Another week, another creative task for "The Future of Storytelling" course. This time, we have been asked to create our own character, attributing as many features to him/her as we can imagine. In my case, I have always admired Villanelle from Jeanette Winterson's "Passion", so Morgan is somehow related to her, a step sister, let's say, whose passion is to murder her lovers with a dagger and throw them into the dark waters of Venice.

She lives in a palazzo, but no one knows where exactly, she remains a mystery for everyone around. She loves playing cards and gambling her assets and her own life, mainly because she knows there is no chance she could lose. Why? Because long time ago she was cursed to live until she would find Sublime Love, which doesn't seem to be found easily... but something tells her that there might be a chance for that in a narrow street in Venice, simply because she dreamed about meeting Sublime Love while sailing on the Venetian canals.
I also have to mention that she was born in the year of the Fire Rabbit, one day in February, a long, long time ago...

Thursday, November 7, 2013

An Unforgettable Character

The Good Wife

Here's me doing my homework, and that is writing another creative task for "The Future of Storytelling" course, and this time I have to write about a character from a TV series that I find interesting, to say the least :)
So, I could not help but choose Alicia Florrick, played by the beautiful Julianna Margulies, the supposedly good wife of the series with the same name. She is such a powerful woman, driven by the desire to succeed on her own, after many years devoted to taking care of her two kids, Zack and Grace,  supporting her unfaithful husband by playing the part of the "political wife" and playing hide and seek in the bedroom with Will Gardner, one of the partners at the law firm where she is working, "Lockhart and Gardner" (update: where she used to work).
Alicia loves a good challenge, and I can still remember the episodes in which she stood against the cunning Louis Canning, played by Michael J. Fox or the infatuated Mike Kresteva played by Matthew Perry.

What I like most about Alicia is that fact that she continues to surprise me with every episode. She is daring, she can forgive but not forget, she can go beyond gossip and people's opinion and what her marriage should be and she wants to prove herself without making too many compromises. I admire the way she knew how to make friends with Cary Agos, who seemed to be against her and her husband at first, how she was one step ahead her opponent lawyers and managed to win difficult trials, and how she can still have fun and act as a "merry go round" wife with her husband, now the state governor. Last but not least, I find her friendship with Kalinda during the two seasons quite intriguing.

She may be seen as mysterious and cold, but she can be very attached to her cases, or her gay brother. She enjoys a glass of wine and a good trick played on those who stand against her.
Now that the 5th season has started, I can say that getting back with Peter after the huge scandal was the most important event of her life, and I am quite sure, seeing how supportive he can be in return for her forgiveness, she was most influenced by his life and straying in her decisions. The famous saying "What does not kill you makes you stronger" is the perfect quote to define Alicia Florrick.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Story of All Stories

 “A love story is not about those who lost their heart but about those who find that sullen inhabitant who, when it is stumbled upon, means the body can fool no one, can fool nothing—not the wisdom of sleep or the habit of social graces. It is a consuming of oneself and the past.”

I have been taking a creative course on "The Future of Storytelling", which seems quite interesting after its first week, and my first assignment is to write about the story that has impressed me the most. My first thought, and the one which stayed with me the past few days was to talk about "The English Patient", since this is the story that impressed me the most, it is one of those stories that gets engrained in your heart forever.
I still remember having seen the movie for the first time at the cinema close to my place, back in 1997, and the emotions that kept on gathering during its showing. I remember how beautiful and tragic everything seemed, how every glimpse that the two characters shared felt like everlasting love. I liked Hana more that Katharine at first, maybe because she felt more down to earth, but after seeing the film for more than 6 times, I can say that I do understand Katharine better now.

I am sure that everyone will really like to experience such a life altering love story, that goes beyond being alive and present, but of course, without its tragic end.

I also remember looking for the soundtrack, that perfect music that rendered the movie even more enchanting. At that time CDs were not very popular in my country but I luckily found an American volunteer who I was working with in the summer of 2001 and she kindly recorded a tape for me. Needless to say I still have it.

But my journey towards the most beautiful story ever told did not stop there. A Romanian publishing house decided to print the book in Romanian and I can still recall the excitement with which I started reading the book, absorbing its every word. Then, in 2007, while in Northern Germany, I found "The English Patient" in its original English version in a small bookshop. What a happy encounter that was! And in 2010 I wanted to own a different, "improved" English edition, which I now do. While my passion grew bigger each day, I started following Ralph Fiennes's and Kristin Scott Thomas' careers and I can truly say they are incredible actors, never disappointing me with the parts they played. Oh, I also managed two years ago to get Michael Ondaatje's autograph on his newest release, "The Cat's Table". Lucky me, I guess.

As for the story developing in "The English Patient", if you have seen the movie or read the book, there is no point in telling you about its beauty and if you haven't read or seen the book, then you have to see for yourself as I do not plan on spoiling everything for you...

“Her life with others no longer interests him. He wants only her stalking beauty, her theatre of expressions. He wants the minute secret reflection between them, the depth of field minimal, their foreignness intimate like two pages of a closed book.”

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I'm only Happy when it Rains...

If you don't like the rain, then you will love it after you read Martin Page's book "About the Rain". 

Martin Page is a young French writer born in 1975 and who debuted at 25 with his book "How I Became Stupid". The essay - and my first book written by him - "About the Rain" was written in French back in 2007 and so far it has been translated only into Romanian, Greek and Korean. It wonderfully describes the role of the rain in eroticism, music or sacred matters. It represents a beautiful praise, both poetical and philosophical and I found myself wanting to write down every other line so I could remember it later on. However, I stopped at the following lines, mainly because they may be the most mesmerizing ever written about my favorite place in Paris, the Sacre Coeur cathedral and the simple yet miraculous rain.

 "Under the rain I am effervescent from my entire being. I am just like the Sacre Coeur cathedral in Montmartre, built from Chateau - Landon stone, which oozes a white substance when it rains. A chemical process is set off. Like a tablet of aspirin I foam and I quiver. It is not at all unpleasant to mix with the air. Disappearing, my body gains a presence. I am tightly connected with Nature. The drops fall on my skin and, just as on the surface of a swamp, they trace wavy, passing circles that reach my heart."

You can pay Martin Page a visit here.  
P.S. Thank you, Alle, for lending me the book :) 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Night at the Opera

While some of you may be busy with Dewey's Read-a-thon, which I couldn't join because of too much work and a lack in reading time, I did find some moments to escape the crazy routine and go see a wonderful show, staged by The National Opera in Cluj Napoca. I am talking about Puccini's mesmerizing "Il Trittico", which premiered last month when the new opera season started.

The three one act operas were directed by the Hungarian director K. Gyorgy and conducted by the Italian conductor David Crescenzi. The operas were sung in Italian, with Romanian translations available and they swayed from tragic love (Il Tabarro) to a tormented soul (Suor Angelica) climaxing with roars of laughter during "Gianni Schicchi". It was incredible to see such a complex performance and also one of my former students in a supporting role during the last act and I am definitely looking forward to seeing "Madame Butterfly" in the next few months.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Friday, September 6, 2013

Kate Atkinson - Life after Life: New Moon, New Life

"In the space between chaos and shape, there was another chance." (Jeanette Winterson)

The more you live, and read - in some cases - the more you realize that you've been harder on yourself than anyone else in your life. It was you who kept the windows dirty and did not let the sun in, fearing whatever was unknown. It was you who believed for too long  in something not worth believing. We delude ourselves with mere words when actions should speak for themselves. However, more often than not we should give up on people, not because we don't care, but because they don't care.

In "Life after Life" Kate Atkinson optimistically (or obsessively, it depends how you look at it) states: “What if we had a chance to do it again and again, until we finally did get it right? Wouldn’t that be wonderful?” What if there were second chances? Or third chances? Would we still want to do things differently? Would we still want to try?

We are the stories we tell ourselves...and inbetween hypertext and metaphysics, "time is a construct, in reality everything flows, no past or present, only the now." The author retells the story of one's life in different times and from different perspectives and we find ourselves asking if novel and real life are alike, being able to do things once more, or life events are singular and final?

"Life after Life" has been praised by prestigious magazines and Kate Atkinson was shortlisted for The Women's prize for Fiction 2013.