Down time & Mr. Rochester

After a few very busy weeks since our summer holiday, I finally feel like I have a moment to breathe again, sort of like my kids in this picture from a few weeks ago in England:

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Here is the list of what’s been occupying me (and I didn’t even put the news or Digital Theatre on it! Still haven’t heard from them, by the way, need to send a reminder e-mail…):

  • Attention has been focussed on my kids who both started new schools. They have both made very good starts and I can’t even begin to express how relieved I am about that! The relief is especially big in my daughter’s case, as she’s had it so tough last year. She has been coming home from school happy and I haven’t seen that in her in a long, long time. My son was a bit overwhelmed with the world of his new hotel management school at first, but even he is coming home happy. Yes, a good start and when the kids seem happy it does a lot for a mama’s happiness as well.
  • The house was in disarray for a few weeks due to some projects but that’s under control now.
  • The Dutch class I teach for a very small group of foreigners will be starting up again next week but some things in the organization have changed, so there have been meetings and e-mails and such.
  • Work has been busy for us but especially so for me. Yesterday I had to train a group of colleagues (it was a pilot) with an afternoon programme that I had completely set up and prepared. It was one of the reasons why I was hired, so the pressure was really on for it to be good. Luckily, it was! It will need a few small tweaks here and there (it’s not a pilot for nothing), but overall it went really well. Another great relief!

I have been working so much this past week that I was able to take this afternoon off and do some clothes shopping. I finally found a coat for the autumn that I like and for the right price too! Back home again and right now, my daughter is upstairs in her room chatting on her phone with friends, my son is at a friend’s house, Mr Esther is preparing his delicious signature lasagna dish for dinner and I’m on the couch at my laptop. I keep on thinking I need to jump up and DO something but no, I don’t need to do anything! I can just be! It feels a little unreal…

So, I just had to use this down time to blog again, but as I don’t know what about (and no, I can’t do news right now, it’s a bit overwhelming with all the horrible floods in Texas and South East Asia), this is the post you get. 🙂 I can now more fully focus my attention on the more trivial things in life. For example, I am excited for season 5 of A Place To Call Home to begin, the first trailer is looking lovely and dramatic…

It’ll be another month before it airs but it’s really something to look forward to!

I also just stumbled on this picture of Richard Armitage again while my screen saver was running earlier and it made my heart skip a beat again…

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And finally, I hope that this weekend I will find the peace of mind to write-up my impressions of the Jane Eyre play I saw in Leeds a few weeks ago. I’m still very much in Jane Eyre world as I am reading Mr Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker right now, which tells the story from Mr. Rochester’s point of view. The largest part of the book covers the time before he meets Jane and (almost surprisingly) I am flying through this and am finding it a great read!

This fan fiction (which this or any other re-telling basically is) is, I think, the best I’ve ever read! And hey, doesn’t the profile on the cover remind you of someone? Maybe (besides Shakespeare in the theatre in London at the end of next year – yay!), having Richard Armitage cast as Mr Rochester for a film adaptation of this book would be a good idea? A girl can dream, right?

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It’s amazing…

…. how after only 4 months in my new job I already feel like there is so much to do that it almost feels overwhelming! I really need to make lists, prioritize and plan. And yet, even with how busy it is, I am truly enjoying it! I have a lot of autonomy, people seem to be enthusiastic that I’m there and the organization is a very interesting one to work for. My 6 month contract that was going to end mid-september has already been extended for another year and my boss is also giving me a pay rise. It feels good to be needed, to be appreciated and to feel like you are making a small difference already. But, I am tired. It’s been a stressful few weeks, with work and with some issues at home that are now finding some resolution. I am glad I only have 3 more days of work left before my 3.5 week summer vacation starts! I am already looking forward to the down time with my family.

With all that’s been going on, what is also amazing is that I have finally been able to make time (and space in my head) to watch Pilgrimage and also Castlevania. I watched Castlevania over the weekend and Pilgrimage on Wednesday evening with my husband.  I won’t go into long reviews here, I’m a little too tired to  write a nice coherent review of both shows. I’ll just stick to impressions.

So, first off, Pilgrimage, a story about 13th century Irish monks who must escort a relic across the land, challenged by danger and menace. Richard Armitage is the baddie…

Pilgrimage

From what I had read beforehand I was expecting a lot of gross violence and I was dreading watching it. In the end, while it really was grossly violent at times, it wasn’t as bad as I had expected and I felt the violence just fit with the movie. I guess, after watching Inglorious Basterds (which I truly loved, despite the gore!), I know I can stomach it. I really only turned away during 2 or 3 scenes and even those weren’t focussed on too long, I felt. By the time you realized what was really happening, the scene was already moving on. I found Hannibal to be far more disturbing than Pilgrimage.

I thought Richard was really good in his role of Sir Raymond de Merville. The character was somewhat two-dimensional, but even so, he gave it real intensity and presence. When he came up riding in his armour (alas, not a knight in shining armour), just by how he was bearing himself on his horse, I recognized him.

His French mostly sounded good to me and I really liked that original languages were used in this movie. Richard was scowling and very intense, he does intense so well!

He even looked good with a scar…

Richard Armitage - Pilgrimage (5)

The acting by all the actors was very good, the landscapes were so beautifully captured on screen and I liked the gritty look and feel. I did enjoy the movie, yet it could somehow never truly capture me. I guess, I didn’t quite see the importance in moving this relic and when the movie ended in a Shakespearean way, I was left wondering what the message was that this movie had tried to convey. Was it just the coming of age of a young man? Maybe it was aimed to show that in the end violence is pointless? It could even be interpreted that fighting for something you truly believe in is pointless. Or that religion and relics are pointless. I guess I just missed a good ending to this. In the end, I didn’t hate it or love it, it just sat as a medium-rated movie with me. I’m sure I’ll watch it again, more often than I ever plan on re-watching Hannibal. I’ll watch again for Richard and to try and make more sense of it all, but it’s not my all-time fave medieval movie.

And then there’s Castlevania, an adaptation of a video game in animation form where Richard Armitage voices the hero. A short synopsis from Netflix: “A vampire hunter fights to save a besieged city from an army of otherworldly creatures controlled by Dracula.” I’ve seen pretty much everyone raving about it from day one, so I was getting quite excited about it!

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Before I say anything else, you should know that I don’t do Dracula stories very well. While I have in the past enjoyed an occasional vampires/mythical creatures/magicians or even zombies movie, mostly I just get impatient with them. It’s just not my genre. Nonetheless, I was looking forward to this because of all the positivity out there. If I could enjoy a movie like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, there was a good chance I could enjoy Castlevania as well. So, last Sunday I got around to watching it and, oh dear, dare I say it? I was a little underwhelmed…

I really wanted this to be the best vampire thing I had ever seen but it really wasn’t… I even nodded off here and there… Maybe I was just too tired to watch? That would be highly plausible. In any case, the story couldn’t grip me, this whole vampire alternative universe just can’t interest me. Also, the style of animation isn’t flowing enough for me and in some places the story was really slow, I felt. However… I did wake up every time Richard’s character, Trevor Belmont, was on screen. Not so much for how he looked (although he really is quite handsome, just like the real man behind the voice is), I woke up because Richard Armitage really did do a stellar job voicing the character!

He does world-weary sarcasm so extremely well! It also sounded like he was having a blast acting his lines, some of them made me grin widely. It almost made me think that maybe I should actually try one of his audiobooks after all. Almost. (Regular readers here might already know that I really don’t do audiobooks).

So, while I don’t really like this whole vampire-story thing at all, I am curious enough to see what happens next with Trevor. And with Sypha, I really liked her (and her people) too!

Castlevania season one feels like a teaser series, so season two is welcome (I hear it is already planned)! Maybe I will like that more? I’m sure that at the very least I will really enjoy Richard in it.

OK, yeah, so I’m not 100% in love with these two projects but they do show me yet again why Richard Armitage really is and truly remains my favourite actor! His portrayals have real presence, intensity, depth and soul, and in the case of Trevor, humour as well,  and I just love that. Richard Armitage is amazing.

Jobs and fangirling…

Good news first: I finally found a job! Due to budget cuts my last job ended at the end of last summer. I have been doing little bits of freelance stuff for my former employer here and there since, but nothing close to what could constitute a real and steady job. I’ve sent many applications and have had quite a few job interviews and finally that has paid off! I had a second interview at an organization I really liked yesterday for a job that will be challenging but I think also fun. They were going to let me know on Thursday but an hour after I left the office I was called and already offered the job! Next week I go in for a 3rd interview to discuss actual salary, working hours, etc. but that shouldn’t be a problem… I still have a few freelance things lined up from my former employer so I hope to start in my actual new job by mid March. Eeek! 🙂

The good thing about being out of work for a while is that I have had more time than ever to fangirl. Hence the time I had to binge-watch 5 seasons of Syfy Channel’s Haven with my new crush Lucas Bryant. Hence the time to make video clips and, yes, today even finish an actual Haven fan video (with plenty of touching and kissing in it, because the only touch Nathan can feel is Audrey’s)…

Laid back life will be over soon… I’ll be back to working 30-32 hours (which I haven’t done in a long time, my former job was 24 hours a week), I’ll continue teaching Dutch 2 hours a week to my Polish and Italian students, I might be doing some more occasional freelance stuff for my former employer, not to mention carving out time for family! I have a fear my fangirling will start to suffer somewhat… Sad in a way (because I really love fangirling!), but I do admit to being happy that I will finally have a steady work-purpose again soon! Not to mention the fact that the extra income will be very welcome again… Yes, times they are a-changing…

Muse & Richard

So, this totally made my day on ‘Armitage Day’ two days ago (posting a screencap, in case the tweet gets deleted in the future):

RA and Muse

Richard referenced my absolute fave band! I love Muse, I’ve been to three of their concerts (very briefly wrote about that here and here), which were truly awesome, and I’d go to even more if I could afford it.

I first really dicovered Muse some 4 or so years ago while watching one of the Twilight movies. Movies were OK (first one was the best one, I thought) but I loved the music in the movies. I especially liked Muse (adored their Supermassive Black Hole song), got two of their albums, but it was one of the many things I really liked. Then, in the fall of 2012, a friend of mine said she was going to a Muse concert with some friends and would I like to go as well. Sure I wanted to go, we got tickets, and on December 17th, 2012 I went to my first Muse concert in Amsterdam. It was my absolute best concert experience ever and if I didn’t already love Muse I would have fallen in love with them right there! The concert inspired me to listen to even more Muse songs, I got the rest of their albums, and BAM I was hooked!

Muse

I was going through a very tough period at work at the time. There were reorganisations and layoffs, which I could understand, but I could not deal with the callous, unjust and dishonest way in which our director handled it all. During those months  I threw what might best be described as a temper tantrum at work for the first and only time ever! I am quite calm and level-headed and not much really pisses me off to that extent but our director did. I called her out on it during a whole company meeting, then stormed off in anger slamming doors. I was the talk of the workplace – if something could set ME off like that, then it wasn’t good. I was warned by kind colleagues to tone it down, it could be my job next, but I didn’t give a shit. The director was being totally dishonest and unfair to my ex-team of 13 people (they ALL got sacked on bullshit grounds) and although I hadn’t been their boss for a year, I couldn’t just soundlessly let her do what she was doing to them.  Those who warned me turned out to be right, a few months later I was ‘downsized’ myself on faux-legitimate grounds. The funny thing is that I was far angrier at my ex-team being sacked than at me being sacked. The organisation I worked for had become something of a family, I had loved working there, but with this director I was actually relieved to be gone… I milked what I could from her and left.

Why am I rehashing all this? Because only with Muse on my MP3 player, was I able to survive it all! Through them I could channel my frustration and anger, they were my perfect outlet. Muse was pretty much all I listened to for at least 6 months, if not a year… This, maybe not surprisingly, was one of my favourite songs at the time:

Their music makes me feel justified in my frustrations but it also makes me feel totally elated. When I listen to them, it’s like my heart opens up and all emotions are let out. Their music is a release to me and I love most of their songs. I love their energy, the melodies and the beat, the guitars I always call ‘singing guitars’ – they are like voices in their own right. Speaking of voices, Matt Bellamy’s voice is very melodic and steady with a great vocal range. Some artists only sound good on their albums, Matt Bellamy sounds terrific live as well. There’s a symphonic quality to Muse’s music and their lyrics are revolutionary and sometimes anarchistic but they also occasionally have more gentle songs which touch me, like this one:

They go against the grain and I love that, probably because I don’t do enough of that myself.

So, to have my fave actor Richard Armitage reference the band that means so much to me – yep, I was stoked! How could I not be when two of my loves come together like that? It makes me wonder whether Richard listens to more Muse, or was this just a one-time thing he came across in his Spotify playlist? I recommend that Richard goes to see Muse live, although that may be tough right now as they have just finished touring. Or, better yet, come to my house and let me show you Muse Live in Rome on BluRay! It’s absolutely fabulous stuff! I even play it when I have to do chores in the house and break up my cleaning by jumping around to the music every once in a while. Perfect way to make something drab, like household chores, fun. Here’s a video from that BluRay, they sang Starlight at that concert, that should be a selling point. 🙂