Dumbledore’s Army: Year of Darkness…?

So I originally opened this post to gush over just how much I loved thanfiction’s Dumbledore’s Army: Year of Darkness. I just got around to reading it, and it filled a hole in my fandom heart that’s been open for quite a while now. Obviously with my distaste for the actual Deathly Hallows, I’ve always felt a better and more interesting story could have been told through Neville’s perspective of that year, but had never found a suitable canon-compliant interpretation of it until I was recommended this fic by a fellow writer. I was elated. I spread the word to all my IRL friends who still read Harry Potter fanfiction. I dragged my ass back here to write a more in-depth review of it. And of course, like most things that provoke a strong reaction in me, I googled it to see what other fans had to say about it.

That’s when I discovered the massive fandom-wank surrounding the author. We’re not talking about a few words thrown here and there against other people on a LJ account, or plagiarism accusations. We’re talking serious con-artistry, charity defrauding, multiple changing identities, and involvement in a suicide-murder. Talk about a major buzz kill.

Got-dangit! I knew something was fishy when I read thanfiction’s profile, but I chalked it up to the fact that most of us in the online fan community tend to be a little strange anyway. The first thing that didn’t seem quite true was the fact that he states about DAYD, “Believe it or not, that was my first fanfic, starting out as a little 4,000 word one-shot…” (source, ff.net profile). Lolwut? I verrrrryyyyy highly doubt that anyone’s “first fanfic” starts out at 4k unless they have been prolifically writing in some other form for a bit (professional, other fandoms, whatever), and it seems misleading to me to not mention that. But okay, whatever. Also, the fact that he had wrote numerous spin-offs within his own fic universe and just about nothing else struck me as a little egomaniacal, but again, relatively harmless.  Then there was this sort of odd dedication at the end of the fic, where he takes time to explain how “[DAYD]’s dedicated to the real life soldiers who gave their time and effort in helping me understand the psychology of war.” And I know this sounds terrible to say because really, shouldn’t we be pleased with any kind of positive support towards our military? But the generality of it left me cold and felt more like pandering than anything else. The dedication, while touching on the surface, just didn’t seem to me like he was actually close to anyone who has been involved with a combat deployment. Entirely subjective on my part, but just an overall “off” feeling.

But now that I’ve read several links confirming multiple identities and harrowing accounts of manipulating lonely/vulnerable people, I’m kind of at a moral crisis as to even continue to support the fic. I mean, it’s not exactly the same boat as Roman Polanski/Woody Allen, but I feel like the dilemma is similar. At what point can you no longer separate the artist from their moral transgressions in their real life?

I guess in the scheme of things this whole DAYD thing is not a big deal but I’m worked up about it because the fic was good. I invested two days in reading it. I cried over Ernie MacMillan for Pete’s sake! I shed more tears reading about the DA’s losses in this version of the final battle than I did reading the actual Deathly Hallows. And it’s just frightening to me that someone who’s good at fabricating a fanfic and wringing emotions out of readers (which is well and good) is also doing the same thing in real life to unsuspecting individuals.

Anyway for anyone interested in reading what I have, here’s a good compilation of links on the subject.

Hair and Identity

Well, we have been in Japan for about a week and a half now. 

In some ways, I have been waiting my whole life for this.

Since I was about 10 years old I have had a life goal of living in Japan. To see and understand better the place Obaachan came from. I know better now, than when I was a teen, to wonder if I might fit in better here than where I grew up. I am American, and even if I look hafu, I will always be gaijin. Which leads me to my first dilemma; should I play up my American (white) heritage or try to blend in?

For years I wore my hair with straight bangs in the States. Most people assumed I was mixed right away when they met me. When I moved to California, I let my bangs grow out and ombred my dark hair. I figured the look fit more with the constant sunny lifestyle. Now it’s winter and I want to go back to my bangs and dark hair… but I’m in Japan.

My Japanese language and literacy is very rudimentary… I’m wondering if I could be mistaken for a hafu by changing my hair, and if this would create awkward expectations (knowing the right manners, speaking fluently, etc.)?

I suppose I’m over thinking this too. Probably, I will cut and color my hair back to it’s natural dark with bangs, and figure it out from there. Have any other mixed Japanese Americans experienced mismatched identity expectations in Japan?

We Ruin Our Kids

The other night I counted back and realized my period is significantly late. I’m usually like a clock about these things, so the fact that I’m about two weeks late had me nervous.

“What if I’m pregnant?” I fretted to my husband while we laid in bed, listing off all the things that had to be done before the move.

“Are you kidding? I’d be so excited!” he enthused. I rolled my eyes in the dark and ticked off all the reasons why getting pregnant right now would be highly inconvenient.

But the truth is the inconvenience of the matter is a small thing to how terrified I am of being a mother. My anxiety about motherhood has reached a point to where I’m not sure if I can really morally justify bringing children into the world. How can people justify creating new lives to ruin when there are children out there who need homes? Probably I’d ruin an adopted kid’s life too, but at least I can live with myself knowing I lifted someone out of a bad situation and tried to improve their lot.

I know where my anxiety comes from. My own upbringing was about as toxic as you could imagine and still escape alive. At 19 I was diagnosed with PTSD. Yeah, like who gets PTSD from their own freaking parent? Me, apparently. This is the irony; my husband with two combat deployments doesn’t have it, but I do. 

My mother is a black hole–a dementor, if you will. I feel physically ill being in the same room as her. She had four of us, despite a fantastically failing marriage and would have tried for more had she not been older when she started. She frequently talked about wanting to be pregnant and have more kids. Why? Who in their right mind thinks to themselves, “Yeah my marriage is in the toilet and I lock myself in my room all day so I don’t have to take care of the three kids I already have–but you know what would improve this situation? ANOTHER BABY!”

My aunt theorizes that maybe pregnancies helped balance her hormones, but I think my mother was constantly looking for a new distraction. She “outgrew” her other children as soon as we started to display individual personalities and question her erratic behavior. She needed someone new to control.

I ended up mainly raising my youngest brother (nearly 10 years younger than me), and it was a hellish experience. He was born sensitive to begin with, and by 4 years old he was already displaying signs of depression. I’ve been there with the diaper changing, the potty training, the night time screaming, the tantrums, the sullen behavior, dressing him, washing him, making sure he gets to school, arranging hanging out with my friends over whether or not my dad would be home to watch him, packing him lunch, making sure he does his homework, etc, etc. 

I love my brother dearly. It is truly a miracle he isn’t some juvenile delinquent by now given all he’s been through. He has a heart of gold and is one of the most sincere teenage boys you will ever meet. But he struggles in school, and he struggles to make friends, and I can’t help but feel guilty about that to an extent. Part of his shortcomings are surely related to my parenting deficiencies.  

I feel like I’ve done the mother thing. I’m over it. It’s highly overrated. People think it’s like, this great amazing thing–so many women glorify the idea of physically having their own kid, then get depressed and angry and emotionally drained when it turns out they can’t conceive, and it makes me angry. What is the point? Listen friends, I’m sorry you don’t get what you want in life. I’m not saying this with snark. I am truly moved by how upset you are and wish I could ease your sorrow. This is true. But another side of me says, I’m so sorry you can’t birth out a human that doesn’t need to be here in the first place, just so you can harm your child and be estranged as adults. This is what I also want to say to them. But of course I don’t, because it isn’t polite and infertility is supposed to be this big deal. If I’m infertile, it will be sad for my husband because he wants his own kids. But after a moment of reflection, I will be relieved of the burden of admitting to my blood that I fucked them up, and I can’t say I’ll weep over it. 

My thought is this; how can someone like my mother look us in the eye and admit that we were unnecessary to bring forth, and she did so purely to torture us for her own selfish wants? If I were adopted, at least I could close that chapter of my life behind me and focus on finding my birth parents. I imagine it would be a relief to know that I’m not related to the person who tortured me for my entire childhood and teenage years. I reason if people truly want children for the right motivations, they’ll adopt. Seriously, just give them the gift of getting out of foster homes, and opting out of your fucked up family as adults. 

My husband tries to use the argument that “you’re not your mother” and “break the family cycle” and all that, and he means well, but isn’t that just what we tell ourselves to make ourselves feel better? This is my fear. My mother was the product of a broken home, but I’m sure she smugly thought the same thing at first. It’s not clear to me that my Obachan ever really wanted kids, although she raised three. I can only speculate how bad Obachan’s home life must have been to escape to another country where she didn’t speak the language, and never have contact with her family again except for one sister. Breaking the cycle, huh? A few generations stacked against me it looks like. 

In the morning I took a pregnancy test. It was negative. I chalked up my late period to the multiple coast-to-coast trips we’ve been making in the last 6 weeks. I took a deep breath, grateful for the reprieve. This gives me time. More time to sort out my emotions about all this. I truly, truly want to be happy about having a baby when the time comes. Maybe, I should even hope that I’m sad if I can’t. 

 

Skipping Christmas…Again :(

So it’s been a minute since I posted last. I’m going to give you a quick rundown on No Christmas, OSC Drama, and Iwakuni Questions. The Mr. came home safely from Afghanistan about six weeks ago, and since then it’s been a non-stop whirlwind of travel and PCS prep. Did I mention we are moving to Iwakuni very soon? Well, we are and I’m looking forward to it. What I’m not looking forward to is a disgustingly long plane ride (travel total is some 24 hours with a 12 hour flight just from west coast to Tokyo) and skipping Christmas again. 

Last year we missed Christmas because we moved and went to Hawaii for our honeymoon. This year we’re also moving. Sigh. I love Christmastime! I always pictured in my mind that when I got married I would do up Christmas really big every year. Womp-womp! I’m embarrassed about the fact that we’ve never even had a tree to decorate! I did however, finally convinced hubs to let us host a Christmas SLASH Goodbye party, so I guess that will have to do.

Moving onto OSC drama… I’ve kept my nose out of it ever since I found out the president and vice were keeping a FILE of slanderous/negative behavior against them to “take to the general’s wife if need be”. The EFF?? Did these people never graduate high school? Granted, the “opposition” is just as childish–women twice my age posting facebook status’ throwing shade at former and existing spouses. This is what happens when the olds get their hands on technology and didn’t have the chance to grow out of their “posting selfies, inspirational quotes, and cryptic-but-not-really statuses” in college phase. Anyway, crazy thing is the president’s spouse got orders from the get-go so she stepped down early. And then the vice’s spouse also got orders so she’s leaving too! Kinda weird how that worked out. If there’s one thing I’ve taken away from all this it’s that I think when I go to Iwakuni I’m just going to be a casual member and join a club–but no more of this “involved” bullshit. Yikes!

Speaking of Iwakuni… so around the time of the government sequestration and shut down, we were receiving information that all families were required to live on base. I was disappointed because I had always wanted to live in Japan proper, but I talked myself into all the benefits and hassle-free parts of base living, and I was okay again. Then, about a week ago, we got an email saying that due to extensive renovations the average wait time for base housing was 12 months. Is this like 12 months for real, or Twentynine Palms 12 months (more like 3-4)?

There are a couple things I’m concerned about living in town now. One is the feeling of isolation. I felt isolated living out in Twentynine and I speak the same language as everyone else (mostly… still not fluent in meth-head), so I can only imagine how it will be magnified in Japan and once we decide to have a baby. Also, it’s virtually impossible to find a place that is pet friendly from what I hear, and getting a cat was high on my priority list. I’m less concerned with the drafty apartments as I can pretty much get along anywhere, but that still won’t be any fun.

On the other hand, if I find a place near restaurants and grocery shopping, I’d be excited about that. So much is up in the air right now that I really can’t speculate I guess. Just have to wait and see when I get there. Well, this may be my last post this year. The movers come in two weeks, and after that the adventure begins!  

 

Best of Severus Snape/Hermione Granger Fanfiction

Very few fics make it into my favorites list. It’s harder still to find truly good ones about Snape and Hermione. Let me save you the trouble of wallowing through the tired cliches, sickeningly sweet Snapes, and painfully dull Hermione Sues; read these instead.

1. Self-Slain Gods on Strange Altars by ScumBlackEntropy

What it’s about: The series as told from Hermione’s perspective beginning with OotP and delving into the harsh aftermath of Deathly Hallows that Rowling conveniently skimmed over. And oh yeah–there’s this little thing with Snape thrown into the mix.

Who should read it: Fans of modernist poetry. Fans of angst and fans of Severus Snape just as he is; unattractive, insecure, cruel and all too human. Fans of Imogene Heap’s “Hide and Seek”. Fans of fiction reaching literary caliber. Fans of deliciously decadent unresolved sexual tension. Fans of Epilogue? What Epilogue? Fans of feeling like their emotions went through a wringer, washing machine, raked over hot coals, and who would turn around and read it all over again because it’s THAT GOOD.

Comments: I probably should have saved the best for last, but I am such a huge admirer of this fic that I wanted to bring it up right away instead of taking the chance that you might not read the rest of this post and miss it. Hands down, this is the most plausible portrayal of a SSHG relationship I have ever read. The fact that it’s canon compliant for a stretch of the three longest books is also an achievement. It’s so emotionally compelling, I’ve basically given up ever trying to write an SSHG fic because THIS is the story I would tell. No need to reinvent the wheel!

Although the prose can border on purple, it still manages to reveal all kinds of gut wrenching truths not merely limited to Snape and Hermione’s relationship. It’s safe to say this fic requires a bit of heartbreak experience to fully appreciate. I don’t know if I would have even liked it had I come across it in my early twenties. Sprinkled throughout to temper the harrowing emotions are moments of friendship and existential insights between the characters that would not be amiss in actual canon. The author also bears the distinction of having written the most realistic-yet-scorchingly-hot sex scene I have ever read. I dare you to read the first chapter of this fic and not get sucked in.

It was a distraction. That’s all it was. She was stressed. She gave in because she is young, and the thrill of being wanted was new and heady and made her feel like…

Like…

Like something burning. And alive. And just… it was wonderful.

And he did it because she understands him to be one of those people who cannot sacrifice irresolutely, or sin half-heartedly, or do anything without throwing the whole of himself under the weight of it. He is the type of man to make Unbreakable Vows, and there is an autonomy to his tragedy that tugs on some buried part of her.

She wonders if she can just let this thing die without ever having felt his hands on her body, and then she tells herself that there is nothing to let die, because it’s been dead weeks ago.

 

2. Killing Time by Lariope

Who should read it: Anyone curious to see the virgin!Hermione and sexgod!Snape cliches totally turned on their head in a very successful way. Fans of reformed!Draco, fans of post-Hogwarts material

What it’s about: In the aftermath of destruction wrought from the war, Harry opens Grimmauld Place to those in his circle needing a home. Though he survives Nagini’s attack and is exonerated for his crimes, Snape is left destitute with the destruction of Spinner’s End, and forced to consider Harry’s offer. This is a story of Snape putting together the broken pieces of his stunted life and finally living for himself.

Comments: I was impressed by the strong writing and decent characterization from the get-go; It’s a cleanly executed story for fanfiction. The technical proficiency on top of completely reinterpreting popular notions of what an SSHG relationship can look like is by far it’s most successful point, and you’ll find yourself thinking about its unique perspective long after you’ve put the fic aside.

It was while he was working the lather through his hair that he heard her door shut. At first he told himself that it was impossible to hear anything of the kind when surrounded by the pounding of water against tile, but then he heard the scrape of drawers opening and footsteps.

She had never been home while he had showered before. Suddenly, he knew why she cast those Silencing Charms. It was…well, it was mortifying to stand here naked with Granger only on the other side of a flimsy wall. She could hear him! She knew what he was doing. She might even picture him naked. That idea made him flush painfully. He had certainly never pictured her naked–she had no right! And yet now that he’d thought of it, he knew he would not be able to unthink it, and the next time he heard the thunder of the water starting up, there she’d be in his mind, taking off her… He shut off the water.

3. The Problem with Spitting by RussianDestruction

Who should read it: Anyone looking for a quick fix, who loves rough and (mostly) unapologetic power play in their erotica. Or maybe just in their Severus Snape.

Comments: Ever get to the part in the story where there’s a sex scene and you’re like “Oh goody!” and then one paragraph in you realize you’re just skimming to get to the end because the author somehow managed to make sex sound like Courtney Stodden’s twitter feed? Yeah, that’s not this story. This BDSM themed romp is shocking mainly because the author actually appears to be knowledgeable about kink. It’s quick and dirty and laced with a bit of humor. Bonus points for being written by a former milspouse!

He sneered down at her, slim nostrils flared, pale face livid with anger. Slowly and deliberately, holding her gaze, he passed the cuff of his robes over his face, removing the traces of her loss of control.

Hermione knew she should probably start groveling right about now. She didn’t think that even Dumbledore would find a way to excuse this, and as the enormity of what she had done sunk in, she knew she deserved whatever punishment Snape felt inclined to mete out. A contrary part of her rejoiced in her small act of retaliation, feeling that the injustices of the last six and a half years had been at least partially redressed, but even through this weak sense of accomplishment, she had to suppress a rather violent shudder. What was he going to do to her?

Honorable Mention

Getting the Hang of Thursdays by Hayseed: Snape and Hermione are having the worst day of their lives… over and over, and over again. Based off of Stephen Hawking’s time travel paradox. Clever and different!

If you read one of these, let me know what you think. I’m kind of starved for fanfic discussion. Also, what are your favorite SSHG fics?

Workout Fail!

I’ve never owned a scale and weigh myself infrequently. To me, the numbers can be subjective. I’m not going to lie though, when I went into the Navy hospital to initiate paperwork for my OCONUS PCS physical and they had me step on the scale, I was in mild shock as the numbers “128.5” blinked back at me. Over 128? Apparently since the last time I was weighed (112 almost 2 years ago) I zipped past the teens and dove straight for the 30s. Damn!

I shouldn’t really be that surprised; I’ve slothed my way through this deployment and gone up almost 2 pant sizes. How did I not think that was going to register on the scale? With the pressure of looking good for the Mr.’s homecoming in two months looming over my head, I went home and tried to figure out a way to trim down noticeably but reasonably.

I headed over to bodybuilding.com and got motivated. I looked at some beginner workout plans and took nutrition notes and thought to myself, I can do this! Armed with inspiration and a slip of paper with some easy weight routines, I went to the West Gym repeating my mantra in my head, I can do this!

I had never been to the West Gym before or seriously lifted, but so what? Gotta start somewhere! I signed in, took a look around, and as my eyes adjusted I felt panic rising in my throat. The West Gym, apparently, is solely an iron pumping love fest. No ellipticals or treadmills with perky women bouncing around, no TVs, no nothing. Just you and the sharp rubber smell of floor mats, the clank of metal, and the grunting of sweaty men–which could be hot in a 50 Shades kind of way, but I’m not here to get freaky like that.

I took a gulp and forced myself to walk to the middle of the room and at least pretend to check out the equipment. One of the drils required use of the bench-press contraption but you kind of use it as a poor man’s pullup.  All of the bench-presses had their benches underneath them but the video showed them with the benches removed. This means I’d have to attempt to move the bench. What if I couldn’t move it because it was too heavy? What if I tried moving it but the bench was actually bolted to the ground? I’d look like such an idiot! And what if one of them tries to help me out? I would feel so stupid and lame that I sucked so bad that someone had to come over and take pity on me. But on the other hand if I was struggling and no one offered to give me some direction, I would take it as some kind of West Gym cold shoulder.

I spotted the dumbell rack. Okay I needed those for the lunges. I took note of the dudes grunting in front of the mirror and started to freak out again. Yeah right, me and my 2 lbs weights are going to grunt alongside with them! Suddenly a woman rushed past me–the only one I saw since I stepped in the–oh shit she looks like a little gremlin!

I hightailed it out of there. I knew as soon as I jumped in my car that this was a new kind of rock bottom. But where do I go from here?

Fortunately when I got home and checked the mail some of my workout DVDs I ordered came in (I bought these just before I got the bright idea to start lifting). I’ll try them out so at least I’m doing something. I think my problem is I need a partner; someone who is semi-serious about being in the gym and can show me the ropes. The problem is that the amount of women who can do that and aren’t also weighed down by BABIES is pretty tough to find around here. 

Any of you ladies go from zero to lifting and how did you make that transition?

 

How I Accidentally Landed in a Viper’s Nest

“Join the board,” they said. “You’d be great!” they said.

There I was, an innocent little baby-wife minding my own business when some of the more senior wives zeroed in on me and suggested I sit on the newly formed board for our Spouse’s Club. Sure, why not? I don’t have anything better to do and I was a little flattered besides. Of course if I were a of a suspicious mind, it almost seems obvious in retrospect; recruit the new and impressionable one with no social capital or ties of loyalty to challenge those in charge. Thank goodness the real reason I was nominated is because I’m such a charming and witty individual who brings so much to the table.

I don’t know how the situation is with all Spouse’s Clubs, but here at least it seems like jumping into a pit of viperidae is part of the job description of joining the board. Not even officially eased into the role and already I’ve been cornered with a round of phone calls from various people wanting to speak with me and clear the air and so many hurt feelings! Good lord, I haven’t been subjected to this much so-and-so-said since high school–and that was only hearing it second-hand from the popular girls who seemed incapable of airing their grievances in any other place besides public hallways (apparently I was never cool enough to have friends back-stab me first-handedly).

Maybe having missed all of this in high school and college with my own female relationships, I’m socially under equipped for navigating the adult world of inter-wifery-politics. At any rate, it makes me a bit uncomfortable as I attempt to find a safe path to plant my feet without squashing a viper or getting bit myself in the process. To make matters worse, I already bungled myself right off the bat when a mildly-lewd (but topical!) joke I made during a meeting was deemed Not Funny by a Very Senior Wife. Apologies for making you uncomfortable, Very Senior Wife, but I’m still going to chuckle at my own joke (hey everyone else laughed!).

It could be that I am simply “hyper aware” as my former therapist once put it, but growing up with a Borderline Personality Disorder mother tends to give one a crazy-radar as a consolation prize, and let me tell you, mine is starting to ping. Not full blown stage-5 blaring, but you know, a warning ping.

Here’s hoping I’m just “reading into things” (as my sister would say)!

Wait a Minute–I’m Married!

When I was younger I couldn’t fathom how someone could possibly cheat on their spouse. I held no sympathy and no forgiveness for such an act. Now that I’m married myself however, I can see how such a transgression can come about in more of a slippery slope fashion and less from cut and dry purposefulness. Admittedly it’s been difficult for me to shake the feeling of singleness so far, and this bothers me.

It’s easy enough to see why this is; not only have we been married for only eight months, but he has been deployed for four of those months. By the time he returns, we will have spent the majority of our marriage, literally half a world away. Prior to our wedding we weren’t even living on the same coast. Hell, we weren’t really even in a relationship. He and I dated seriously for two years, then broke up and spent the following two years in touch, but going our separate ways. After a few life changing events, we decided to skip the whole “let’s try being in a relationship again” stage and take the plunge. Basically, we went from broken up to engaged.

Do I regret this? Absolutely not. However, by the time we were engaged we were past the initial stages of infatuation that most couples haven’t quite left when the question is usually popped. We had all of that the first time around, but we were older and wiser when we decided to make our commitment and give it a second try. For me this was almost necessary because I could truly evaluate him as a person without getting caught up in the feelings of lust and infatuation one typically associates with love (new love in particular). I felt secure knowing that when the infatuation fades (and it will), I would likely not see him in a dramatically altered way.

When we had the chance to live together before his deployment, I felt married. My days revolved around him and we did things together. But then he left, and I felt a bit like when you date or you’re talking to a guy for four months and things just fall apart for whatever reason, and you carry on with your life. I guess too, being single was just part of my identity. I mean, I had practically perfected the art. I’m the chick who hosted annual “Cupid Castration” parties on Valentine’s Day and couldn’t get a prom date to save her life in high school. Even eventually moving to such a large place like NYC didn’t put finding new interested parties in my favor.

And with feeling somewhat like yet another potential relationship has dissolved, I find myself falling back into old single patterns of thought. Scoping out guys, feeling a pang of possibility when that guy I thought I had chemistry with ages ago sends me a casual message and–HOLY SHIT I’M MARRIED! RED LIGHT!

It’s like crazyville in my head. Maybe it’s because I clearly haven’t gotten laid in four months. Or maybe I’m just noticing all this because I’m ovulating. But I’m starting to realize just how much modern dating culture has infiltrated my brain and how difficult it is for me to deprogram. You always hear those horror stories about wives who cheat when their husbands are deployed, which somehow seems doubly wrong than regular cheating. It’s no wonder I’ve spent most of the deployment holed up in my house; I’m terrified of putting a foot out the door where there is easy access to a cornucopia of hot, single Marines!

And this is the stupidest part of it; where would all of that lead me anyway even assuming I was single? Nowhere, exactly as it has in the past. I would just end up repeating the cycle of briefly interesting someone for a month or less and having it fizzle away. This is why I got married in the first place; I finally had a really stand-up guy who I am attracted to decide that I was pretty much the best, and I would never have to endure that casual dating merry-go-round ever again.

Let me be clear, there is not anyone with whom I am “starting anything” or thinking about specifically or any of that. It’s just the awareness I’ve gained about “feeling single” and that I’m kind of scared about what that could entail followed to its logical conclusion. Your whole life you’re kind of conditioned to constantly be on the lookout for “that person”. But now I have to un-learn behavior patterns that have become automatic, because I found him and we made a commitment. Now what? How do I move forward in our relationship when he isn’t here for me to move forward with? I haven’t heard any of the other wives bring this up so maybe I’m the only one–but I can’t be, right?

Pride and Prejudice Thoughts: Part 2

Speaking of Charlotte, another version that I think has handled her role really well is the youtube series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. I rolled my eyes at first thinking it was going to be some weak imitation in the way that “Carrie Diaries” is to SATC , but I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed it. A big plus for me; a multi-ethnic cast! Yes, my little personal “yay thing” is seeing more Asian Americans and mixed people on American visual media; this mini-show has both! Yay! Charlotte’s falling out scene with Lizzie (Elizabeth) was particularly well done;

Some people complained that marriage is not the same thing as deciding to accept a job,  therefore, this scene lacks the dramatic ramifications of the original. But I disagree. I think in today’s developed countries, marriage is looked at much like having a career outside the home used to be; nice if you can have it, but it certainly shouldn’t take priority over what’s Really Important (now a career, back then marriage). Modern upper middle class women are expected to focus their goals and life on a career; marriage is like a hobby. No self respecting woman actually makes marriage her focus (yes, I’m giving myself SIDE EYE). So yes, I think it’s comparable in terms of personal meaning.

Also, keep in mind that for Charlotte to take this job she has to move away and quit grad school. That right there is pretty big. I like the emphasis that Lizzie puts on “selling out”; I think that’s a huge Under 30 concept that creatives toss around. It’s used partially out of genuine disregard for insincerity, but also as a slur against anyone who evaluates their material needs to be greater than “their art”.

But I actually got misty eyed a few episodes later when Jane comes clean about her feelings for Bing and their breakup;

Never thought a youtube video could elicit that reaction from me! Really phenomenal; I too wanted to reach out and put my arms around Jane as she broke down.

So far I’m really enjoying this adaptation. I’m over halfway finished and just started catching up on Lydia’s diaries. I love how they really turned Lydia into a sympathetic and almost tragic (but still annoying!) character. And I love the twist they put on Mary and Kitty’s characters! Very clever! If you’re a fan of Pride and Prejudice but haven’t seen these webisodes, you need to check it out.

I didn’t think this classic story could get any better–and then they dropped in LotR and Game of Thrones jokes and I realized–yes it could!

Pride and Prejudice Thoughts: Part 1

When I first read Jane Austen’s iconic romance, I believe I was in the 7th or 8th grade. Although I finished the book and comprehended the basic plot, I thought it was dull; you know, one of those pretentious books that educators make you read simply because it’s “old”. Fast forward a few years later; I was a 15 year old sophomore in high school and had just re-read A Tale of Two Cities for an English assignment. I was surprised at how I found myself in tears by the end of it–I mean, it wasn’t like I hadn’t read it before! I was reminded of Pride and Prejudice since both had come together in a set (I think it was some Costco special), and wondered if it too deserved a re-read.

I found it neglected among old school texts and hunkered down to give it an earnest second shot. And I was hooked. Floored, to be more precise. As I reintroduced myself to Elizabeth and her family and friends, I was startled to find myself completely reeled in and relating to them in a way that made me go, “How in the world did I miss this the first time around?”. I guess a lot of growing up happens between 12 and 15.

The book is one of those reliable pieces that I can always pick up and come away from feeling refreshed. No matter how many times I read it, something new will jump out at me from the pages, or I laugh, realizing that the same thing that made me smile on that second reading is still making me smile at the seventieth. One of the best things about Pride and Prejudice is that it is so multidimensional. Meaning, no matter what medium it’s translated into or what spin on the story you take, it almost always manages to remain satisfying, if not profound. So naturally I’m a fan of investigating its many reincarnations, but film in particular.

In late high school I became a huge fan of Bridget Jones’ Diary; modern and irreverent, it still managed to feel emotionally substantial despite being a loose and comical adaptation. It’s a great movie to watch with my girls. The ironic thing is, once I became sexually active I viewed Bridget’s predicaments with a lot more sympathy and realized just how painful and sad certain parts of her life were–despite the fact that the movie is supposed to be funny.

My first semester of college I sat down and watched all of the BBC episodes (also with Colin Firth) for the first time, with one of my best friends. The lovely thing about that one is A. It’s a million years long so, more time to spend with P&P, and B. It’s pretty historically accurate and faithful to the book. Quite a stickler for details. Great when you really want to see more of the nitty gritty parts of the story.

And then came the 2005 rendition with Kiera Knightley. Oh lordy! That film reaches down into your soul–grabs it–lifts it out of you–and drags it along for a journey that leaves you too breathless to wonder about such mundane and logical details like, “Why is Elizabeth going to the Bingley’s house/in public with her hair unpinned and no hat?”  The dreamlike cinematography–SIGH! The sweeping piano score–SWOON! It’s a stream that turns into a river, pulling you along a narrative so compelling and aesthetically beautiful that I can almost (almost) forgive the very horrible last thirty seconds of the film.

It being a movie and not a miniseries, some details are left out and obviously condensed. However, I feel like it’s very true to the spirit of the book, and that’s arguably the most important part. One of my very favorite scenes and what makes this version especially memorable, actually has nothing to do with Darcy. It’s about the relationship between Elizabeth and Charlotte. Charlotte prior to this, I had always kind of glossed over. The spinster side-kick with no self esteem, you know. But this clip–

Charlotte announces her engagement

GAH! Charlotte!! I’M SO SORRY I JUDGED YOU! I didn’t understand! Wow–it really made me feel for her in a “that could have been me!” way, had I lived back then. And I really love how they included that interpretation in the movie. A breath of reality, humanizing a marginalized and not super popular character. In the next post I’m going to talk about another interpretation of Charlotte I really like in “The Lizzie Diaries”.

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