Monday, 26 February 2018

Watching A Classic - Forrest Gump (1994)

It created a lot of hype when released and went on to gain Tom Hanks his back-to-back Oscars in 1995, a feat no other actor has managed since. The film itself beat Four Weddings and a Funeral to the Best Picture Oscar and gained 45 awards in all, from Golden Globes to a BAFTA, a Screen Actors Guild Award to an Amanda Award from Norway.

Despite being a classic and one that outdid my fave of the year Four Weddings and a Funeral to the Best Picture Academy Award, I had none the less got through my years since without so much as a peak at this positively-reviewed drama (if you may call it that?)

It all changed this week when, on someone's recommendation, I watched it for a first time. I started out expectant, lost interest at its long-winded narrative and then ended in buckets of tears as Forrest and Jenny's star-crossed lovers plot reminded me very much of my biggest love story. Which is to say, at the end of it, the film was a success in my books.

It has been defined as satire, suggested to be a story through the eyes of innocence in the form of a simple man and even described as a walk through of the USA's historical events and fads of Gump's and Jenny's lifetime. I believe that above everything else, I would call it a character study that incorporates life's possibilities, probabilities and hinderances in an experiment to see what Hank's Forrest would do with them all.

SPOILERS ALERT - I mentioned earlier Forrest and Jenny's romance, if it could be so called as long as it was one-sided. From their initial bonding over being different to their prayer in the field as they hide from Jenny's dad, from Forrest's protectiveness towards his sweetheart to his naming the whole fleet of shrimping boats 'Jenny', this was one love affair that was sure to succeed at the end. Even as Jenny sank further and further into a life she felt made her unworthy of her childhood friend's unconditional love, an invisible string seemed to keep them coming back to each other to cross paths again, at times coincidentally and at others out of their own sheer will. Even from the beginning, as Hanks sat on the outdoor bench relating his character's story through the eyes of one with an IQ of 75, that box of chocolates sitting in his lap attracted my attention time and again, not for his borrowed phrase that life is much like a chocolate box, with a surprise taste with each choice you make, but rather because it had to signify something.

True enough, he was on the way to Jenny's even as he related the tale. I never expected Gump to be her son's dad, especially since the film only hinted at and never revealed did Jenny and Forrest sleep together on that last night before she disappeared from his life again. Which leads me to what was for me one of the most moving moments in the film. When Forrest finds himself alone again after that special night with Jenny in his arms, he is unable to take the normality of his life any more and so he runs; maybe not runs away exactly, but runs without direction nonetheless. Truly, any of us who have lost the love of someone that meant much to them would know how directionless and haphazard our life becomes after that.

I mentioned that this is satire, a story about innocence, a character study, and a historical walk of events. Above all else, in my opinion, I would class it as a love story that will remain relevant through the years. Gump might serve in Vietnam, win at ping-pong and run across multiple States of the USA, but it is all done through his love of Jenny and for his love of Jenny; the one meaning in the chaos of life. Could that be why he bulldozes Jenny's father's house at the end? More than to destroy that place which had caused Jenny not only pain but a life of regret, maybe he destroyed it to remove that one thing that had led her astray from his arms for so long.

I would above all else, call this the eternal romance of innocence and experience intertwined. After all, that is why it probably resonates with viewers to the point of being still remembered twenty-three and a half years later as soon as I mention it by name. Forrest Gump will never die in film-goers' hearts.


Tuesday, 20 February 2018

More Tips to a Confident You

A few weeks ago I posted a link to my article 'A Resolution to Look and Feel Better Every Day' and today I will be linking another article that also talks about simple tips that will make a huge difference to a girl's confidence. So here it is, my Part 2:

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Alone on Valentine’s Day

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It’s a day for chocolates and roses, cards and gifts. Or for those of us who are Minimalists at least a romantic day set up beforehand to make more time and give more attention to our better half - a reminder really - of something we should strive for daily anyway.

All the above however count only for the couples, and not me for the first time since 1999. So this is going to be one dedicated to singletons rather.

I used to be a smug married, as Bridget Jones would say. Jokes apart, I have to admit, I really was! Somehow, for good or bad, being married meant having another half with whom to share it all. Now I am on the other side of the table and the phrase that comes to mind is from The Wedding Singer (1998) where Adam Sandler’s character, newly dumped at the altar, sings ‘Love Stinks’. Oh how it does!

When it goes wrong, it stinks worse than cigarettes and onion breath rolled into one and dumped on a Maltese bus seat amid the sweat and stink of socks. Because it leaves you all alone, regretting or craving it, maybe even both all at once.

Yes I am single but I am here writing on behalf of all those going through the five stages of grief following a breakup (or even two!)

All the happy photos of couples that I scroll through on my Facebook make me want to make a mental note to avoid mindlessly hitting the app icon for the day. Probably even Google will have to be avoided if their illustrator comes up with something soppy enough for the main page of the search engine.

Bitter? I ain’t, not really. I am trying hard to get comfortable in my own skin after almost two decades of sharing it with someone and wearing their own skin on mine. I am also trying to be objective about the most irrationally subjective topic in life:

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LOVE. Is it only a four-letter word? Or is there more to it? As they say in my language, the dog that’s already been scalded will think all water is boiling hot. Or a more apt way to put it would be to use the English equivalent of ‘Once bitten, twice shy’.


Will I find love again? After all, what is love really at the end of it? Some think of it as companionship, stability, trust. I am more passionate than that and I mean this character-wise, for passion is not always about sex. I need something more than to just settle. I need to look into someone’s eyes and ‘know’ it will work, or at least can work, if we both want it to.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Books Worth Your Money

For the first ever time on my blog, I am actually selling something. I currently have quite a few books to sell as I slowly pack up all my stuff from our current matrimonial home and start my new life as a single mum, temporarily at mum's with very little space to put my things. However, as some of you who follow me might know by now, it is very usual for me to part with books once I am done with them, simply for the reason that I always live lightly and have no need for books that will sit on my shelves unless I plan on reading or re-reading them. I have to admit sometimes I part with books before even finishing them because one of my rules is to never waste time on anything that I do not believe to be useful or interesting. Unfortunately sometimes it is also the case that despite actually being interested in the book, I might anyway not have time to go through it as I struggle to get caught up with other books that I might need to read to a deadline or that I need to re-read as research before writing some article. You might wonder why I don't keep such books to the side to read some day and my answer to that is very simple. I very much agree with Marie Kondo's remark that unless you read a book soon after it reaches your home, you likely never will. Unread books tend to blend in the background yet still constantly send us warning signs that we are yet to give them the attention they deserve, causing unnecessary clutter in our minds despite not being important enough for us to have given them more attention.

That is not to say that I am only selling unread books right now, as I tend to read most books only once and rarely do I feel any of them deserve a place in my Hall of Fame, ie a shelf/cupboard space in my home. As I said, I feel better when I live lightly and in order to do that, I must let things go. It also helps that the less books are on the shelves the less tiring it is to dust both the shelving and my book collection. So here are a few of the books I am currently looking to part with. I am not in a position to ship abroad due to ridiculously high postage costs so this offer is only for people living in Malta, pick-up only. Here goes:

goodbye, things (Fumio Sasaki)
I have read this one through and would suggest it to a budding Minimalist though as I once mentioned in another post, this is not one for those who've been on the journey to living with less for a long time already.
Selling for EUR5

The Productivity Project (Chris Bailey)
I looked up and bought this book after being inspired by the author's TEDx Talk. However, a TEDx Talk is only 17 minutes whilst his book is one long read with a heavy subject so I unfortunately had to leave it on the back burner for so long it lost its allure. I can confirm however that what little I read of it was quite interesting and never left my mind.
Selling for EUR5

Bridget Jones's Baby - The Diaries (Helen Fielding)
I reviewed this one on EVE a while ago, giving it a positive review (which you may read here: http://www.eve.com.mt/2017/03/10/bridget-jones-baby-a-book-review/). I may be selling this one, but not exactly parting with it! The one reason this is on my to-sell list is because the copy I own does not match the other three books I have in the series so I would like to sell this hardbound copy to replace it with the paperback version.
Selling for EUR9


Send me an email on giseles84@gmail.com if you would like me to reserve any of the above-mentioned books. However pick-up needs to happen by end of February latest.

Meanwhile, since we are on the topic of books, here is a link to my ever-growing page on Facebook about totally anything book-related: https://www.facebook.com/TheBookRetreat/

Thursday, 1 February 2018

A Cash-Only Month

One tip I have read about over and over that helps save money is to ‘pay by cash not card’.

I live in a country where the use of debit rather than credit cards is still widespread and so it must seem that this tip might not exactly apply to Malta. After all, credit allowance in Malta is very limited as I learnt just by trying to get another credit card from a different bank, whereupon I was asked for proof that I lowered my limit on another bank’s card just to be allowed to apply to get a credit equivalent only to that amount!

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Truly, I don’t even use my credit card for its intended purpose much, preferring to own one solely for ease of online buying. However, there are always pitfalls to buying by card, be it debit or credit, should you be trying to save rather than spend.

To start with, a credit card WILL let you use more money than you have, whether you’d like it or not. And with that in mind, it is easy to buy something ‘this month’ rather than the next, knowing you can pay it later,  even at no interest if you are diligent with paying on time. Which leaves only the problem of having already spent some of NEXT month’s pay, right?!

When it comes to using a debit card, there is less danger of overspending as you are required to actually have money in the account to make a transaction. Still, this method of payment does not hold us accountable like good old cash does, simply because signing on the dotted line else putting in that password is much easier than counting out the money.

I have to admit that when the cashier asks me for the money, I barely register the amount he is asking for when I am paying by card. When I do pay in cash, however, I need to count out the money and even check do I have enough in my purse! Using a debit card will easily allow me access to money put aside for something other than the purchase I am making, as the purpose of the bank account is actually to keep our money safe and put aside.

I am not one to carry much cash and I would not prefer to withdraw more instead of using my debit card at EPOS for bigger purchases. Meanwhile it is not always possible to use a debit instead of a credit card online either.

Even with these limits in mind, I decided to give this ‘buy cash only’ idea a try, making allowances for cards in two instances only:
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I will still pay by card at the supermarket when the bill is big, ensuring to reduce my groceries budget from my spreadsheet workings as soon as I am home on the same day. This will ensure that I do not overspend anyway in the one given area, for the month.

My second concession will be to allow myself the use of a credit card should I finally find to buy online a copy (new or second-hand) of the film tie-in edition of the book Any Human Heart. This because I have been on the lookout for it for long months now and it is very difficult to come by.

With these two exceptions in mind, I hope to try this experiment for a whole month, starting today. I am skeptical as to the extent of a difference it will make and will keep notes too, giving my feedback on here once the month is over. So keep tuned, till next time.