commonpeople1: (Avatar)

Future Bible Heroes, Partygoing, 2013

The new Magnetic Fields Future Bible Heroes album feels to me like a return to form for Stephin Merritt. The idea behind this ongoing side project is that all songs must be synthesiser disco-pop - essentially the Magnetic Fields camped up on Erasure and Yazoo beats. Lyrics are typical Merritt and mostly sung by Claudia Gonson (who is also part of the Magnetic Fields): barbed miseries and ditties that are smart, ironic, and always far from a happy end.

The album opens with Claudia sharing how a drink is just the thing to light her mind when she's feeling low. She's followed by a narrator who lives in a cave surrounded by books, records and dolls, and who clarifies that "I never said I wasn’t crazy / I know I’m a loon / I’m crazy for you darling, and that’s / sadder than the moon." The parents in "Lets Go To Sleep (And Never Come Back)" buy some crack and make a suicide pact because they can't afford their rent or children anymore. Later, though, the best plan for a another set of parents is to "Keep Your Children In A Coma" as that saves the family a load of grief (no priests will abuse them, no bullying beasts will catch them in school).  There's a lot of dreaming too: of "A New Kind Of Town", the kind that "doesn’t hate you /
wear a new kind of gown / And they’ll queue to date you;" or the ones brought about from "Living, Loving, Partygoing" - partying with John Waters and attending Mink Stole's birthday bash; then sleeping for three days after falling on your head.

The only wrong step in the album for me is "Drink Nothing But Champagne" - a song that sounds more like a musical number, with "David Bowie" and Aleister Crowley voices taking turn trying to convince us that champagne is better than water. Another strange thing is that some of the songs break away from the traditional pop structure, with no second verse and chorus - going straight into a short "middle" after the first verse and chorus.  It leaves you hanging and wanting more.


Heroes

Apr. 27th, 2012 11:21 am
commonpeople1: (Default)


You can tell they're gonna go home to some hot, hot sex.
commonpeople1: (Default)


Lady Gaga, Born This Way, 2011
I've been wondering for a while when the first Big Summer Album of 2011 was going to land.  Well, this is it.  It's going to be hard to find a better pop album this year.  It's exhilarating as watching Flash Dance for the first time; or seeing Cher live during her "If I Could Turn Back Time" period.  Sometimes you hear Madonna in the background, screaming for help from the Berlin sex club Gaga keeps her prisoner, but it doesn't last long - Lady Gaga thumps her shut with vocals that Madge could only dream of hitting.  Plus, she has infinitely more self-deprecation and humor than good ol' Madge, though she's just as obsessed with Catholic imagery. ("Bloody Mary", "Black Jesus", "Electric Chapel", H.I.M...)  On Twitter, there's this absurd rivalry between her fans and Britney's, which is silly because dead-behind-the-eyes Britney is now completely out of her league: everything about Gaga in this album screams hard work.

My favourite tracks: "Born This Way" (which I still maintain is nothing like "Express Yourself" - just listen to them side-by-side), "Marry The Night", "Highway Unicorn (Road to Love)" and "Heavy Metal Lover".  I detested "Judas" when I first heard it but it's one of those annoyingly catchy songs that just grow and grow in your head.

My neighbours are going to hate me in no time.
commonpeople1: (Jump)


With the divine powers granted on me I command you, Livejournal, to rise from the dead. Rise, rise and live again!

And you, Russian cyberpunks - I foresake you. I cast you into the wild pigs that roam Siberia. I curse you to roam the land and roll in mud for the next thousand years.  Begone! Out of my sight! Leave our beloved Livejournal alone!
commonpeople1: (Bookclub)
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible, 1998
Kingsolver's novels are like symphonies that keep playing in your head long after they are finished.  Say whatever you want about her style (which can be overly poetic sometimes), there's no denying the rigorous research she puts behind her stories and the life she blows so easily into her characters. She has an axe to grind with the way politics and religion (specially the ones originated in the U.S.) smash human life, and she's not afraid to put her characters through hell and brimstone for the sake of exposing the 20th Century's forgotten crimes in Africa. (If she's not careful though, Glenn Beck will be calling her a commie bastard very soon.)

A family of white American missionaries descend on the Congo in 1960 for a year of Bible thumping, ignorant of the culture they are entering and the dangerous politics that's shifting power from Belgium's colonialist rule to a chaotic independence.  The narrative moves between the four daughters, who range between 16 and 6 years of age, and the mother years later, back in Georgia, U.S.  They struggle to adapt to this new culture as well as bear the ignorance and fanatism of the family's father, who believes he can bring salvation to all those African heathens.  We know early on from the mother's narrative that one of the daughters eventually dies, but we don't know which and for what reason, and it's partly this suspense that drives the story forward.  Village life slowly gets harder and the mysteries of the Congo swallow the family whole, and the reader. 

Some of this novel's pleasures: Kingsolver's ironies, ranging from the book's title down to the way the sections are divided; the way this Southern family's differing points of views build an image of the Congo and the 60s (like Faulkner transposed to Africa, actually); the rich Bible symbolism turned on its head; and the beautiful and redeeming love story at its core.

The Judges

Jan. 24th, 2011 08:25 pm
commonpeople1: (March of the Dead)

Village kids
Originally uploaded by daveblume
Thoughts and questions on Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible.

The Judges )
commonpeople1: (Bookclub)

Genesis - Bible
Originally uploaded by S.A.L.
I'm currently reading Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible with [livejournal.com profile] verybadhorse . We read one section, stop and comment before moving on. I just finished "Genesis" and I'm now halfway through the second-part, "The Revelation". Some thoughts under the tag on...

Genesis )

Lite Spam

Jul. 22nd, 2010 10:47 am
commonpeople1: (Log Lady)

spam cake
Originally uploaded by debbiedoescakes
My mom asked me to send an e-mail to people who previously stayed at her guesthouse in Brasil (just over 200 e-mails) - an invitation to the local town's annual celebration of Jesus starting next week.

Yahoo wasn't too happy with me - they prevented the email from going out. So I tried with a Google account and got shut down.

Can any of you recommend an e-mail system which will allow me to send out this massive, friendly, Bcc invitation? I was hoping to get some kind of periodical marketing newsletter going for her...

Note: I don't have my own hosted site.

Merci in advance!
commonpeople1: (Jehovah's Witness)
Mandragora

Mandragora, 1997, Dir. Wiktor Grodecki
This must be a favourite of Catholic priests and the Pope Nazi Pedobear who currently sits in the Vatican.  It's the story of a 15-year-old small town boy who runs away from home and gets trapped in a world of prostitution with older men, drug addiction, crime and disease.  It makes Christiane F and My Own Private Idaho look like Disney productions.  Some of the scenes, involving children below the age of 11, are so uncomfortable that I'm sure the version I watched doesn't survive intact in many countries.  It's long - two hours - and unrelenting in its depiction of how boys are tricked into selling their bodies and losing their souls.  It's graphic, it's grim and there's less hope available than in a Cormac McCarthy novel.  It captures Prague's underbelly in all its gray misery and Communist residues, without a single shred of sympathy towards its gay community.
commonpeople1: (Default)
Stephen King's Under the Dome

Stephen King, Under the Dome, 2009
King's latest novel is an allegory on global warming and the rise of the religious right in America. Bless. I say allegory in the loosest, most charitable way since King hammers his point home so forcefully that there's even a photo of Sarah Palin in the office of the main bad guy - a corrupt religious bigot called Big Jim Rennie who will stop at nothing to take control of a little town in Maine when the citizens get cut off from the rest of the planet by a mysterious dome. And although some air is capable of getting through the dome, it gets increasingly hot, animals die and plants wilt while the Maine countryside beyond the force field grows cooler with autumn. With the threat of resources going scarce, one (uneducated, evangelical, evil) group moves to take control of the city, leaving another (liberal, humanist, good) to fight for freedom and their own lives.

The idea came to King in the 70s but got shelved after 80 pages or so. Perhaps the rise of Fox News and alarming stories on climate change made him fish it out again. Like the air inside the dome, there's a staleness to the novel. Ideas from his previous work are re-used with diminishing results: the epic battle between two groups of people (The Stand), alien technology that has a particular effect on people (The Tommyknockers), insane cops (Desperation), and so on. There are, however, some striking scenes which are a reminder that beneath the plodding plot lies genuine imagination and inventiveness. I also noticed for the first time how similar King is to Joyce Carol Oates: apart from their productivity, they share a fascination with the mundane and the kitsch in American life which is sometimes more interesting than the forced, high-schoolish gore - in King's case - that is wheeled out every 50 pages or so to guarantee his place in bookstores' horror sections.
commonpeople1: (Jorge)
I've got an idea for a new American TV drama. It centres around Muslim teenagers in the U.S. and it has Kim Wilde's "Kids in America" as its theme song. And yes, it's set in the 80s.

I also want to know why there are no hauntings or poltergeists in EastEnders seeing that so many corpses litter its history? (Even going so far, as [livejournal.com profile] margotmetroland pointed out, of having one open the show's first episode?) I want to write for EastEnders and have the recently murdered Archie haunt the Queen Vic. Mirrors cracked from side to side. People thrown down stairs. Heads spinning. Projectile vomitings. Just another Christmas Special. I'd get those ratings through the roof.

When [livejournal.com profile] wink_martindale and I first moved to London, we lived with some crazy lesbians in Stoke Newington. Two of them were big EastEnders fans and they immediately set about unraveling for us the show's Gordian Knot. Somebody gave birth without knowing they were pregnant in the first place? Someone discovered their sister was actually their mom? Sounded like your typical brasilian soap!

My favourite character was Janine, a sort of village punchbag who couldn't help being malicious and starting trouble wherever she went. Her high point came when she "accidentally" killed off her husband Barry after enduring a descent into homelessness and prostitution. But elsewhere, the characters and storylines didn't grab me. Where were the qualities that I loved in brasilian soaps? The magic realism? The werewolves? It was all a bit miserable to the sound of the wrong soundtrack. (Characters listening to Lloyd Cole and the Commotions' "Perfect Skin" while eating their toast at the local caf would have kept me hooked.)

I gave up on EastEnders and went on my merry way downloading brasilian soaps and the great American series of this past decade.

Then a few months ago, I took a writing workshop for a Pakistani soap opera... and I loved it! Why couldn't I get paid to do this every day? Create a whole universe of characters then put them through the grill? Having so many years of LJ Drama under my belt, it all came very easily to me. Coincidentally, my brasilian friend Vini Bambini alerted me at the time to EastEnders introducing a gay romance involving a British Muslim, with flagrant kisses before the watershed thrown into the mix. At the start of these holidays I finally caught an episode and was hooked. Would the two unbelievably good looking men elope to Barcelona? Or would the young Muslim continue to live a lie for the sake of his family and get married to a woman? And to complicate matters, a major murder plot was introduced making nearly every character in the show a suspect.

Now I've got [livejournal.com profile] wink_martindale moaning at me because I'm not only hooked on A Favorita but now I need to know who killed Archie in EastEnders and if Janine is going to have a bad end (as my gut seems to tell me.) What I really should be doing is working on my CV and applying for jobs.

2010? Script Writing for TV courses here I come!

King Leer

Sep. 24th, 2009 03:39 pm
commonpeople1: (Jane)
King James VI of Scotland, I of England by Antonia Fraser

Antonia Fraser, King James VI of Scotland, I of England, 1974
The man who commissioned the translation of the Bible now popularly known as the King James Version was also a voracious gayer who fell passionately in love with boys from the age of 13 until his death at 58. Take a minute to savour that sweet irony. Antonia Fraser certainly didn't since, when she wrote this introduction to the man in 1974, she blamed his tendencies on his brutal separation from his mother, Queen Mary, and a harsh upbringing in Scotland. In many ways, James had a lucky reign: the power generated under Queen Elizabeth's rule came into its own under him, beginning Britain's expansion as a world power; he survived the Gunpowder Plot; knew Shakespeare (and perhaps even saw some of his plays performed for the very first time); and generally enjoyed a peaceful reign and various close relationships with pretty male courtiers. This book is a good introduction for anyone who doesn't know his story, especially because of the large amount of illustrations included. Sadly, though, the famous painting of him salivating over one of his favourites didn't make the cut.
commonpeople1: (Rachel)

St James' Piccadilly
Originally uploaded by efsb
Margaret Atwood is in town promoting her latest sci-fi speculative novel, The Year of the Flood. Last night, Kevin and I went to St James' church, Piccadilly, and sat through a performance of selected passages from the novel which included a choir singing hymns and five actors playing characters from the story. Atwood herself sat on a chair slightly to the side, in the role of the narrator.

Our seats overlooked the ground floor but didn't face the whole stage. They weren't kidding when they said restricted-view tickets. Still, I could see when the choir took their place, and when the actors wandered in with Atwood down the main aisle, dancing gently to the introductory hymn while blue balls glowed in their cupped hands (the kind of balls you get offered by deaf mutes in Cretan cocktail bars). We also saw, a few minutes earlier, when Miranda Richardson arrived late with a friend and, failing to find a good seat, had the luck to have a press officer gently move a couple from the front pews so they could have preferential seats...

Afterwards, I lined up dutifully with many others for an autograph. I donated £10 to RSPB, one of the many not-for-profit orgs that Atwood is supporting during this book tour - they fight to preserve the habitat of wild birds, especially birds of prey which are being hunted into extinction.

When she took my book to sign, I thanked her for the evening. "I hope you were able to hear well," she asked. I replied that yes, I had heard fine the whole performance. She smiled and handed me the book back. "Best of luck with the rest of the tour," I said. "Thank you, thank you very much!" She seemed a little... taken aback by me speaking to her? Other people just handed their books, got their autograph and left. Maybe I broke protocol? Or - more likely - this is an aspect of the tour she doesn't enjoy so much (I don't see how it could ever be not weird to have a huge line of people waiting for your autograph).

And that was it - we were very quickly out in the cold rain, rushing home with a brand new hardcover novel to read tucked inside a hemp-like carrier bag with the book's title stamped on it (now destined to be my grocery store/fashion bag.)
commonpeople1: (Peta)

All Saints Church Chelmsford
Originally uploaded by LIGHT_
Kevin's sister got married this weekend in Chelmsford, Essex. I used to think the whole of Essex was as unappealing as Romford but I was wrong: Chelmsford has a nice little downtown centre, a canal teeming with fish and canoes, outdoor tables that nearly transport you to continental Europe and a very affordable Travelodge (£20 a night!) with the friendliest of staff. The ceremony itself was very traditional (and beautiful), performed in All Saints Church, which looked and felt distinguishedly old (Restoration period, with newer bits attached to it?)

I was asked to be one of the ushers, a red rose pinned to my brand new H&M black suit's lapel by the mother-in-law's sister a few minutes before the ceremony. I stood by the pews with Kevin and the groom's ten-year-old nephew, handing out programmes and directing people to either the right (groom's family) or the left (Sissy Jen's fam).

Amidst the small group of formally attired family members, I noticed a mother and daughter dressed somewhat casually. They took programmes from me and sat with the groom's family. I didn't think much of it until the ceremony was over and I saw them walking away. I pointed this out to Kevin and he wondered if they might re-join us for the party after the dinner. They didn't. I now wonder if they are "wedding crashers" - taking an hour of their Saturdays to sit through any ceremony that will offer them choir songs, beautiful dresses, some tears, some tangential magic. Wedding Spotters.

I was worried about meeting Kevin's family from Canada and Ireland, an older generation of Catholics born and raised in small towns who travelled to Chelmsford especially for the occasion and who had never been in the same room together. They couldn't have been warmer and friendlier. By yesterday, when we were saying our goodbyes, we received invitations to visit and stay with some of them. It made me feel how lucky we are to have such open and understanding families - people who are fully aware how long Kevin and I have been together, and who are happy for us, and who want to get to know us better. Last night, it felt like a come down to have our apartment empty of Kevin's mom and sister, the expectation and tension of the past two weeks finally over.

Some people asked us when we are getting married. Weddings are such terrifying things, I can't even think about it for a second without freaking out. I don't know if it's the thing for us... we have been together now for nearly 11 years - why change? But, at the same time, it was so lovely to see these families meet, share a day, stagger away happily drunk from too much food and drinking.

I'll need to attend a few more weddings (for research purposes) before I make up my mind.

On Art

Jun. 14th, 2009 11:02 am
commonpeople1: (Nick)
"The calling of art is to extract us from our daily reality, to bring us to a hidden truth that's difficult to access - to a level that's not material but spiritual. That's what poetry and music do, and that was the first calling of religion. Religion works on some people but not on everyone, because it says, stop thinking and accept what I tell you. That's not valid for people who want to think and reflect. Art is a better way of achieving that, though the aim is the same."

From an interview with Abbas Kiarostami published yesterday.
commonpeople1: (Dionne)


Angels and Demons, Dir. Ron Howard, 2009
Forrest Gump grew up and turned into an arrogant American academic who thinks he can teach Europeans their own history. When Supernanny, who now works on the Hadron Collider, notifies the police that a capsule of anti-matter has been stolen (enough to blow up a whole city), Forrest Gump suspects that this crime might be linked to the disappearance of four cardinals from the Vatican, as reported by Obi-Wan Kenobi (who is temporarily serving the Catholic Church as spokesman for the Pope). To the soundtrack of Enigma, this trio run around Rome trying to figure out how to stop hundreds of thousands of Christians from being blown up. I nearly fell asleep through this - a first! Thankfully, I had my film club ([livejournal.com profile] sushidog, Babs and the delectable [livejournal.com profile] blu_bear) to keep me awake with their guffaws at the inane dialogue and silly plot holes.
commonpeople1: (Pietr)
Dear Mr Carvalho,
Thanks for your early mail, i want you to know that meeting with mr Igor will not be a problem, i will be happy to welcome him with my hands open.
Regarding the guards of the duplex i told you about, they are tall strong and phisically fit they can guild any where in the world, but before my Igor can come here i will want him to pay some certain amount of money so that i can prepare some government papers and pay for some government revenue tax here in west africa.
So Mr carvalho the total amount of money that you will have to pay is $3,800 so that i can start to proccess the land document before i can meet with mr Igor. if you know you are ready to pay for the documents kindly send me a mail so that i can send you the westrn union information that you will use in sending the money.
Regards
Adams Lawrence

This is the land certificate:

Mr Lennon's Land Certificate
Mr Lennon's land certificate


Dr Mr Lawrence,

Thank you for your e-mail and for explaining so succinctly what I need to do next. Igor, as well as being my P.A., manages my finances. I ordered him to find $3,800 in my coffers so I could pay for your government tax and papers, but he came back and told me we only had gold coins and that he would need to have them converted into paper money. He then proceeded to take some of the coins to the port and look for sailors interested in buying them. He was gone for a long time (which is why I haven't replied earlier to you - I was so worried he'd been captured by those men who seek to destroy me that I couldn't bare to visit our local internet cafe.) When he came back, he told me crazed tales of sailors and ships no longer existing at the port, of people laughing at him when he showed them the gold coins and calling him a fool.

You might wonder Mr Lawrence what I did next. Well, I gave Igor a beating! How dare he tell me these lies? Does he take me for a naive babe? I know the world we live in; I know that my gold coins are still valuable and can open any doors I wish to enter.

Finally, after skulking around the crypt for a while, Igor suggested hiding the coins inside statues of the Virgin and taking them to Africa with him. He will be stowing away inside the next boat that departs England and after a few weeks at sea, will arrive at your country and give you the coins. I'm sure you will be able to sell the coins and get the money needed to secure the land for me.

Please let me know if this plan seems a good one to you. If you are happy with it, I shall send you a photo of Igor so you can recognise him when he arrives.

With warm regards,

Mr Carvalho

End Mile

Apr. 11th, 2009 02:47 pm
commonpeople1: (Bobby)

Mile End.
Originally uploaded by tommygunatkins
Our tower block is below the airplane routes from London City Airport and Heathrow. Sometimes, when I'm washing dishes and looking at Canary Wharf, I can see planes slamming into one of the financial skyscrappers. I think about my digital camera and whether I can reach it in time, if it has enough battery, if my photos will end up on a broadsheet front page. Or I imagine those planes heading for me as soapy water drips down my hands. Or Kevin, alone in the apartment as I watch the disaster from Victoria Park. Most of the time, though, I'm very proud of our view. We can see the changing seasons in London so beautifully. We've bought some hardy plants to populate our varanda and keep us busy this summer.

Sissy Jen is spending the weekend with us. We went to the Rich Mix yesterday and saw Religulous. It was an atheist's call-to-arms through humour, which is always the best sort. Afterwards, I asked myself if Bill Maher (who goes around interviewing religious figures and generally bursting their arguments) was guilty of entrapment, ala Borat. I don't think he was. His approach was open and friendly - intelligent - when interviewing people from all faiths, across the world. He gave them a chance to explain their beliefs. Some of them had never met in their life a person willing to challenge their views, and that's the film's ultimate success. Sure, there was some choppy editing for cheap laughs, and the film is more TV special than cinema material, but it's far less belligerent then anything by Michael Moore or Sacha Baron Cohen. So yeah, go see it.

I've also bought the Yeah Yeah Yeah's new brilliant album, "It's a Blitz!", and the Pet Shop Boys' best of compilation "PopArt". It's party time chez Ollie.
commonpeople1: (Tom)
Dear Friend,

I am James Barry, 1st Marine Division, 7th Marine Regiment, 3rd Battalion 4th Marines, Fallujah-Bagdad, Iraq. I am an army contractor attached to the US Military for the sole purpose of reconstruction work in Fullajah-Bagdad, Iraq.

On the 27th August 2008, I and my men discovered some metal boxes (4 in number) piled on top one another, each with a sign written on them, one filled with hard drugs (heroine), two filled with bullets and the other one to my amazement contained U.S. hundred dollar bills which we counted and discovered that the money in that box total to $5.2Million. We hide the box containing the money in untraceable location, I am now in desperate need of a reliable and Trustworthy person who would receive and secure this box of money containing the US Dollars until my assignment elapses.

We cannot afford to leave the box of money here in Iraq for any reason since Iraq is getting unsafe and dangerous every day. I am fully aware of what your thoughts would be next, but on receipt of your response, I will send my picture as well as my Identity, for you to know whom you are dealing with. I assure and promise to give you 15% of this fund, please assure me of your keeping this deal a topmost secret. Send your reply to my private E-mailing address; jamesbarry2008@yabbadabba.com

My Sincere Regards,
James Barry.


Yo James,

That's fucking awesome. James Carvalho here, 1st Marine Division, 5th Marine Regiment, 2nd Battalion, currently back in the U.S. of A., stationed in Camp Horno. Yes, i promise to keep our dealings a topmost secret. You can have my word on that, and as any guy from my regiment will tell you, my word is the law when it comes to secrecy. And maybe you heard too, if my reputation got as far as you, there's some heavy shit i had to keep to myself when i got back from Iraq and, hey, i'm no stranger to having questions asked of me but keeping quiet in order to maintain the peace? Easy. Know what i mean?

Ok, your e-mail really interested me. i have no clue how you fucking found me but i'm assuming it was through one of our acquaintances. Whatever. i was kinda expecting some shit to blow my way, but i was thinking more along the lines of scoring some heroin. Now, you gotta tell me what you did with the other boxes. i'm not so curious about the bullets, but what did you do with the heroin box? See, in my view that's where the money is. Trust me JB, that box of US dough is fake. Kiddy money to keep the peace with the locals. Worth nothing. Burn a couple if you don't believe me. i know the heroin is the real deal though. Seen it used in some heavy duty negotiations, if you know what i mean.

i've got an aunt called Sister Jasmine (she's a nun) who's going to be in Iraq in a couple of days, doing some missionary work. i could arrange for you to meet her. And if you gave her a statue of the Virgin with the heroin in side it, she could fly it back to the States. But she can't know there's junk in the statue! i'll check the merchandise when it gets here and we can see how to get the rest over.

Now here's a photo of myself. Please send me a picture of yourself, with i.d., so i know that you ain't some time waster.

Catch you later,

James Carvalho

Marine James Carvalho
commonpeople1: (Katie)
Anna

Hi Dear !!!
How are you today? I really hope that all good for you.
My name is Anna. I'm from Russia, the city is Saint-Petersburg.
I'm 24 years old a single woman. Never married and have no children.
I really hope that you will read my letter with interest.
I want to develop our relations with You. I hope that you will answer to my
letter and we will have good time together. Please, answer to me as soon as you can.

My personal e-mail address: *********@gmail.com

Yours new friend Anna

P.S. I sent my photo. I hope that you like it. Please, answer to me with
your photo too. Bye....

Dear Anna,

Blessed be the Virgin! I am so very glad you wrote. I was just telling one of the sisters the other day that posting ads in the newspapers wasn't going to get many replies - well, look at us now, I said, we haven't had a single reply yet from a young lady interested in becoming a nun! And our Holy Father in the Vatican just a few weeks from visiting us, so much preparing needing to be done, and us being completely overwhelmed with preparations for his visit, without any help from an able body under the age of 50. If you saw the size of the tables that we'll have to move, you would understand! So thank you my dear Anna. Thank you very much for writing and showing an interest in joining the Convent of the Carmelitas.

Everyone knows me as Sister Jasmine. I will be in charge of sending you more information on the proceedures of joining the convent, the papers needed to be completed before you leave Saint Petersburg (VISAs, passports and so forth - I do hope you have a passport?) I have to confess I'm glad to know you are not married and don't have any children; it's always easier to adapt to our life here at the convent when we are not too attached to family members. And thank you for sending me your photo - I like it very much! I showed it to Sister Deloris, who runs our little choir, and she said you looked like a natural born singer. Was she right? Would you enjoy joining the choir when you arrive here? I have to say that you look very pretty in that photo; you remind me very much of Sister Magdalene, who sadly is no longer with us - she eloped with one of the local lads! But I'll tell you more about that when you get here. She was a naughty girl.

Please find attached a photo of myself with the Virgin - full of grace! We keep her in the refectory. I find the expression on her face so calming. I look to her when I feel overwhelmed with all the preparations for the Holy Father's visit.

Anyway, I'm sorry if I babbled a little in this first e-mail. The Mother Superior keeps telling me to watch my mouth because I talk too much... that's probably 100 Hail Marys I'll do tonight, kneeling on the cobcorns, before I go to bed.

I really look forward to meeting you! Please write me AS SOON AS POSSIBLE letting me know which dates you are available to fly so I can start arranging your flight tickets.

God bless, full of grace,

Sister Jasmine Carvalho

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