grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
For Valentine's Day yesterday, I bought some Ghirardelli chocolates and went out to the movies with my sister and a friend. We were going to see Dead Pool. Perfect Valentine's Day movie, right?

I must admit, I didn't expect to like it. But I did. There was blood and violence everywhere, sexual jokes up the wazoo, and I still liked it.

The action was great, the romantic dynamic was perfect (they were perfect for each other - relationship goals), the main female character was both likable and interesting. The humor was genuinely funny. I think it was mostly in the delivery. Ryan Reynolds has always been funny, but here he really capitalized on that for the first time and that was fun to see.

I also liked the ending. For lots of reasons, but also because I liked how Dead Pool treated the main bad guy. I'm not going to spoil for anybody, but that was very satisfying.

I can definitely understand why it was rated R, though. Don't take your kids to see this movie. Don't be that douchebag who takes your kid to an R rated film, gets offended, and then ruins a potential sequel for everybody else.

I would watch a sequel. I would even buy this movie on DVD. I really liked it.

A lot of people are complaining that Dead Pool wasn't popular before this movie, but I kind of thought your favorite character becoming more popular was a good thing? Doesn't that lead to more movies, comics, and merchandise? My sister was always a huge Dead Pool fan, but I didn't really know much about him before watching the movie and now I'm a fan. Isn't that... a good thing?

I'm lost???

Anyway, I guess a lot of people are bothered by not having a date on Valentine's Day, but I'm not really one of those people. Relationships take effort, man, and I'm busy. I honestly had more fun with my friends than I probably would have on a date. Dates are nerve wracking and have expectations built into them. My ultimate dream is to find a guy funny and laid-back enough that I don't feel like he's putting expectations on me and like dates are a chore, but so far I have not found that guy yet.

Until then, my Valentine's Days are a friend zone. And I am happy that way.
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
I finished a 500-and-some-odd page book in two and a half weeks of winter break, and I'm here to write a review. The book is "The Paying Guests" by Sarah Waters.

Ahoy, matie. There be spoilers below.

"The Paying Guests" is really about the evolution of a relationship -- a lesbian relationship set in London in the 1920's. Frances Wray and her aging mother used to be very wealthy, but have fallen on hard times and have to take in boarders. Their boarders turn out to be a handsome young couple who on the outside seem to have the perfect life.

But looks can be deceiving. Both sides are hiding things. Frances's father squandered the family fortune, her brothers died in World War I, and she's had brushes with the law in the past at pacifist and feminist protest rallies and has had to turn away from a previous lesbian relationship to take care of her mother. Meanwhile, the young couple, the Barbers, have a crumbling marriage based on lies, adultery, and lost babies. (After miscarrying the first time, Mrs Barber actually gets an illegal abortion at two different points because she doesn't want her husband's baby, and one of the abortions is described in rather brutal terms.) Neither Miss Frances Wray nor Mrs Lilian Barber seem to have a happy life.

But they find happiness in each other. They begin a secret relationship, which is evolved slowly, and rather than this being idealized and romanticized, it's quickly shown that this falls apart. First, it's made quite explicit that carrying on any sort of homosexual relationship is insanely hard in this time period. But there's more. Mr Leonard Barber finds out about his wife's adultery, and -- quite hypocritically, since he's committed adultery himself -- he tries to strangle Frances. Lilian responds by killing him from behind. The ensuing scandal as they try to cover up the truth of the death from the police nearly tears the two apart as they begin criticizing and second-guessing each other's motives, the strain and stress of their crime weighing on each of them. (One interesting point: Lilian claims the death was accidental and she just wanted to hurt her husband, but she also got a great deal of money and newfound freedom out of his death, so Frances isn't sure whether or not to believe her. Since it's all from Frances's point of view, we never really know what to think of Lilian either. This is never quite resolved. Lilian's motives remain mysterious, perhaps even to herself.)

A few thoughts on the book:

You can't help but dislike Frances and Lilian for the last third of the book. You don't feel like you're on their side anymore. A young boy is about to be convicted for their covered-up crime, but they're going to wait until he's committed to the gallows before admitting their guilt. When he's set free by the court, they never admit what they did at all. It's a triumph for the characters -- they get to be together and at least somewhat patch up their relationship at the end -- but it's also a moral failure, and the characters seem very aware of that. Basically, they get away with at least involuntary manslaughter in order to be together. That the death was in self-defense is only part of the puzzle.

I didn't really like Lilian and Frances's relationship -- until the very end. When after it all, they have that quiet moment together when they sit in alcove on the bridge and watch the passersby, close together, and a completely silent understanding passes between them. Paradoxically, even though you've stopped liking the characters, you like the relationship. It carries a heaviness and subtext that the previous, somewhat childish relationship lacked. I liked the relationship better that way -- I'm not sure what that says about me.

The pacing was a bit odd. It was slow, of course, I've said that, but for most of the book it worked. For that last third, though... it just dragged on and on and on. I'm not sure if that was intentional, to get us into the characters' trapped mindset, or if it's just a failure on the part of the author. But either way, that last section involving the murder trial and investigation centered on the young boy was torturous and agonizing in its slowness.

Also, shoutout to the deliciously complex relationship Frances has with her mother. I really liked that part. Mrs Wray in herself is a bit boring, your typical friendly and gullible little old lady used to being wealthy and Churchgoing and doing charities, but put her together with her newfound lack of money and her rebellious yet responsible and duty-bound daughter Frances... oh, and interesting things happen.

Overall, it was a good book, as you can see by the fact that I read it in less than three weeks. I would recommend it to others.

Breakup

Jan. 2nd, 2016 12:38 pm
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
I broke up with Cowboy Bebop Dude today. It was really for a multitude of reasons:

- I didn't really trust him. I never felt like I could trust him with any personal details of my life. I don't know why, it's not like that with all guys, but I just never felt like I could trust this guy in particular.

- I never felt supported by him. I would tell him about bad things that were going on in my life, and he never really supported me, or even said anything against me -- he never really said anything.

- He was pushy. In a nice, subtle way, but still pushy. I told him I was not comfortable being physically intimate with him yet, but he would do things like move closer to me on dates, ask me for a time-frame for when we could be physically intimate, and invite me over to his place for the night after dinner dates.

- He wasn't big on family. This was a down side for me, because I'm HUGE on family, and unless your family mistreats you (which his didn't) I'm not impressed if you don't seem to enjoy spending time with them.

- He sometimes struck me as a bit whiny and dramatic. I canceled plans with him once during finals week, and he gave me a phone call -- right after he knew I'd had a huge, stressful final -- complaining in kind of a whiny voice that I never had any time for him. Sorry, dude, school comes first.

- And that brings me to my last reason: I might just be too damn busy with school to successfully carry on a relationship. At the very least, I need someone who understands that school comes first, like me. Maybe I'm just not ready for a serious relationship yet? Because this one very quickly began to feel like a burden on my time and energies.

Basically, he was attractive -- in an aesthetic sort of way, at least -- but problematic. Whereas my last boyfriend was blissful but physically unattractive.

My best friend and my sister didn't like him, either. My friend (the married one) gave the assessment that he seemed "clingy and immature, and only cares about being physically intimate." Not the first time I've attracted a clingy guy, funny enough.

My sister also never liked him, and she has good instincts. She thinks that might be why he was a boy in the feminist club in the first place -- and why he talks about how important women’s studies classes are to him so much -- to get sex. Well he won’t be getting any from me!

I waited until the holidays were over -- breaking up with someone over the holidays is a shitty thing to do -- and then I called him over the phone (he gets this really sad, pathetic face on when he gets upset, and I thought if I had to look at it I might not be able to go through with the breakup) and said this:

"I’ve realized something. I’ve been telling you that I’m not comfortable being physically intimate with someone I don’t know well, and I’ve also been too busy to have much time to get to know you better, and I’ve realized that’s not fair. That’s not fair to you. Or to me. We both deserve a better relationship than that. But I don’t have anything better I can offer at this time. I think the time is just not right for me to be in a relationship right now. I also think we seem to be looking for somewhat different things in a relationship. I’ve tried to tell you what I need, but I think our pacing in a relationship just seems too different for it to really work out. It’s not that I don’t like you, or aren’t attracted to you, or anything like that. It’s just that I feel this relationship isn’t healthy for either of us. So I’m breaking up with you.

"And I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be rude, but there’s really no negotiating on this. I’ve made up my mind."

I’ll give him this one, he took it better than I anticipated. He said, “I don’t agree that we should break up, but it sounds like you’ve made up your mind, so.” And then it got really awkward. We hung up soon after.

Honestly, I just feel so relieved. This huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. It's a good start to the year, not a bad one. Breakups have never really bothered me. I'm not a big cryer. I have a pretty huge "life goes on" attitude when it comes to losing people -- through death or through separation. It takes a really close person being torn from my life for me to get really emotional about it. I guess it helps that I'm usually the dumper -- not the dumpee. I've been called a heartbreaker -- jokingly, but still. I guess you could say I don't handle bullshit well and I have pretty high standards.

My Mom put it the best: "You, more than anyone else I have ever met, need to find an intellectual equal. Like Jane and Mr Rochester. And finding Mr Rochester is going to be hard."

In any case, what's done is done. We all have to just keep going and not look back, don't we? I'll quote Reba McEntire: "I'm pretty sure it's not the end of the world tonight."
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
Dear Teenage Self,

I’m not quite sure how to begin. There’s so much I want to tell you; so much has changed. Most of it for the better.

First, I know being a teenager is hard. It seems like people are always trying to under-rate the problems of being a teenager. But I remember: being a teenager is insanely difficult. Just know that things will get better, if you give them time.

I know you think you’re ugly. I know those bullying girls in middle school make you feel like you’re ugly. And I remember what you look like in middle school: long frizzy hair, braces, snobbish little gold-rimmed cat’s-eye glasses, tomboyish clothes. I remember that you cried the first time you heard “I’m Not That Girl” from Wicked. You pretended you were smarter and more arrogant than everybody else to hide the truth -- that you never felt like you fit in, that you doubted you’d ever find a boyfriend or fall in love.

Well, guess what? All those bullying girls in middle school? They’ll lose interest in you in high school. Your braces will come off. One day you’ll just decide to cut off all your hair, and it will feel incredibly liberating. You’ll get some new square plastic black-framed glasses. You’ll learn to make your tomboyish look work for you, with band T shirts and checkered open sweaters and long wool coats and skintight jeans.

And guess what else? Guys will call you pretty. So will girls. You’ll be asked out on dates. You’ll make new friends. College will free you from the confines of teenage hierarchy -- yes, you have to wait till college, and it will frustrate you because it seems like everyone else has it all figured out in high school. (They don’t. Trust me.) In fact, you’ll go to prom stag with a bunch of your girlfriends instead of with some immature teenage boy, and you’ll have the time of your life. You’ll rent a white limo and put on a lavender ball gown, and you’ll giggle and silly dance on top of a ship overlooking the sea sparkling in the night. And then, eventually, a year or two later in college, you’ll have the courage to ask somebody out and romance will happen for you.

But you’ll also learn not to let your beauty define you. I know you can’t even conceive of this right now, but you’ll get into a relationship, realize this guy’s not right for you, and you’ll have the courage to tell him “no.” He will validate this idea of the beauty you never thought you had, but he will not be the right person for you, and you will realize that it is okay. It is okay for him not to be the right person for you. You don’t owe anyone anything just because they called you pretty.

And it is okay not to have a boyfriend. Especially in high school. Ya got time, girl! Go easy on yourself!

Also know this: you still haven’t completely fallen in love. I think you’re probably one of those people who falls in love really intensely, but only once or twice a lifetime. And you’ve realized that’s okay too. You’ve kissed boys, held hands with them, even made out with them, but you have never given your virginity away to a guy who hasn’t earned it. And your inexperience? That doesn’t bother you as much as it used to. In fact, you’re a little proud of it. You go slow, and that’s okay -- your relationship experiences will be more rewarding that way. It’s okay to wait until the time is right.

You will try to force it. There will be a point in college when you try to force relationships that aren’t there, out of some misguided idea that you’re supposed to. And guess what? You’ll get over that, too. It’s a phase. You’ll grow out of it.

Don’t get me wrong. You’re not always the paragon of self confidence or anything. You still have your self conscious moments, but you’ve learned that those are okay. Progress can be imperfect and still be progress.

I know you have a lot of celebrity and book crushes right now. You’ll grow out of those, too. Don’t get me wrong, admiring sexy guys is awesome and so are idle daydreams, but the intense crushes on people you’ve never met? I’ve found those usually fade as you get older as well.

I also remember that those bullying girls used to call you a freak. Behind your back, which is worse. Even now, you still haven’t forgotten that girl who cheerfully told you, “I know everyone says you’re a freak, but I think you’re really nice! Oh, wait. You did know people call you a freak, right?”

You hadn’t.

Yeah. Ow.

That one still hurts a little.

But overall, you’ve come far. Time heals most wounds, and all those times you were socially humiliated in middle school? Those times don’t seem so important anymore. You can look back now and see those bullies for exactly who they really were: immature airheads. You can remember the memory, and be exasperated by it, and not feel pain.

And you know what? You ARE a freak. And you should be damn proud of that! The freaks are the best! They’re the originals, the daring ones, the ones who will change the whole fuckin’ world! Dare to be different! Live it up! Don’t let those assholes weigh you down!

And don’t give up on your childhood dreams. Remember when you wanted to be a novelist, a poet, a musician, an actress, but everyone told you that would be too hard and so you gave up? Don’t give up! You’ll get to a place where you’ll feel brave enough to start dreaming those things again.

You’ll also get better at talking in front of people. You don’t just babble incoherently and shake like a leaf in a high wind when you get up in front of people anymore. You’ve learned to deal with crowds, parties, and yes, school presentations -- at least to a certain extent. They can even be kind of fun!

Don’t start drinking. Stick to your principles and instincts and don’t get caught up in that addictive cycle. It may separate you from your peers now, but you’ll be so grateful for it later. For the ability to have an occasional beer or glass of wine without feeling the need to get drunk.

Yes, you WILL find jobs. You'll volunteer at the local library for a year in your senior of high school, edit someone's book for publication for a fee, and you'll have a really cool virtual internship doing business writing for an environmental company. (Your major right now is Creative Writing, with a minor in Marketing -- this may surprise you because I know you were thinking Psychology. But really, budding young writer, is it such a surprise?)

Also, you know that girl you’re best friends with? The daring, original one who loves goth stuff and who you walk home with every afternoon so she can show you her anime collection? The one you really admire and envy for her sheer comfort in being different? The one who takes you to the cool rock concerts? The one you wear bandanas with because you want so badly to be her? Yeah, you’re not really friends with her anymore. Not because you had a big falling-out or anything, but just because you both went off to different colleges and she turned out not to be the kind of friend who wanted to keep in contact with people she didn’t see every day -- even though you DID turn out to be that kind of friend.

I’m not going to lie to you and say that won’t hurt. It will. It’ll hurt like hell. It’ll feel like a betrayal. But eventually, you’ll come to the realization of this: that girl you admired and envied? You ARE that girl now. You’re comfortable being yourself, and being different.

And maybe you’re not different in the same way she is. Maybe you don’t wear dark eye makeup and dye your hair twenty different colors. But that doesn’t make you any less special and unique. Guess what? She’ll admit to you one day that SHE always really admired YOU -- for your dedication to your creative endeavors, especially to your writing, a dedication and creativity she’s found she can’t quite match.

Another compliment you’ll get, from a completely different girl, at the end of high school? That you’re “mysterious” but “passionate about your music.” And here was you always thinking people don’t talk to you because you’re a dorky loser. They may actually have been intimidated by you!

Speaking of that girl you’re friends with, you actually did want to go to the same college she did. She got in. You didn’t. And guess what? She was fucking miserable there. You cried when you didn’t get in, and she didn’t even like the goddamn place. So you moved far away, to a college in a different state right in the downtown area of a big city. You explored different kinds of cuisine. You tried online dating. You got interested in politics. You became addicted to coffee. You found out that snotty private school kids can be cold, bitchy, judgmental, and mean.

What I’m saying is -- first, you’ll get into college. Don’t worry about that. But second, the college you first went to? That wasn’t even your final destination. You ended up transferring to a totally different college, a public one in a small, rural town, and meeting some absolutely incredible people there. You’ll move out on your own, share an apartment with your college-age sister. The two of you will become incredibly close. You will successfully become independent.

Somewhere in between the first college and the second, you’ll be diagnosed with bipolar disorder. That’s right, all your online research proved you right. And I know that right now you’re trying to convince other people that how you’re feeling is an illness, and they’re grownups so they’re trying to tell you it’s really just because you’re not doing THAT and THIS and THAT OTHER THING.

So I just wanted to validate you. You were right. And finally getting that diagnosis and starting on the path to recovery? It’ll feel like a huge relief.

That brings me to my central point. I know you’re feeling suicidal. I know your parents are angry with you because you withdraw and hide in your computer so much, but you’re just trying to get good grades in class (you feel a lot of pressure there) and ignore the feelings welling up inside you. And I’m not going to sugarcoat it for you -- it’ll get worse before it gets better. There are times when you’ll sob and scream. There are times when you’ll just want to fucking die. There are times when you’ll feel broken. You will lose people. You will be bullied and abused. You will act fucking insane. Horrible things will happen to you.

But I’ll let you in on a little secret: It. Gets. Better.

You will go see a psychiatrist and a therapist. You will find a medication regimen that works for you, and learn self management techniques to keep bad thoughts from controlling your life. You will also start being healthy -- going out walking regularly, eating more frequently and healthier, sleeping more (but not too much), and you’ll travel and find tons of new hobbies! (You’ll even feel brave enough to take night classes in swing dancing downtown above a really sketchy bar.) These might all sound cheesy in isolation, but put them together and you’ve got a great recovery strategy.

Recovering from depression and suicidal thoughts is the most incredible feeling on the planet. All of a sudden, you’re grateful for everything -- you’re so much wiser, and you take a whole new lease on life. Life is an incredible journey, and you’ll want every part of it.

And the realization will come to you, over and over and over again: That you made it. You survived. You’re a survivor. And that realization never stops coming. It’s the gift that never stops giving. You will feel that triumph again, and again, and again. Every time you learn something, every time something good happens to you or you get reflective, you will feel that triumph again.

Like today.

So congratulations, kid. You’ve hit your twenties. You made it.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
Merry Christmas everyone!

Here's a list of the gifts I gave to other people:

- My boyfriend got a Cowboy Bebop coffee mug

- My best friend got Hunger Games jewelry and pins, and a 25-dollar Amazon gift card for her birthday

- Her husband got a basket of Russian and Ukrainian chocolates

- My mother, when she comes up for New Years, will get a winter vest and a stuffed elephant

- My father, when he comes up for New Years, will get some new gadgets for his iPhone and a funny little vampire bat Minion figurine

- My sister got a video game T shirt (she likes Comic Sans from Undertale)

And here's a list of the gifts I got from other people:

- Shitloads of new music (Adele’s “25”, Cage the Elephant’s “Tell Me I’m Pretty”, Mindless Self Indulgence’s “Pink” -- plus 65 more currently unused dollars in iTunes gift cards)

- a giant bottle of hazelnut syrup to put in my coffee

- a Harry Potter themed Hot Topic gift card (which I used to buy a new “I Solemnly Swear That I Am Up to No Good” Marauder’s Map Harry Potter backpack, and a big brown coffee mug that says “Coffee Makes Me Poop”)

- new clothes

- 150 dollars for clothes shopping

- 2 books: The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters, This Raging Light by Estelle Laure

- a black MCR (My Chemical Romance) sweater

- lots of Christmas cards from my Mom’s side of the family

On Christmas Eve, I Skype called my boyfriend, who was off visiting family in the Bay Area. He said we should get together and go out to dinner after he gets back -- and I agreed that sounds great, and said we could even go to a movie -- and then he said, "And maybe after the date we could go back to my place, and -- I mean, I've seen your place but you've never seen mine --"

We all know what "let's go back to my place after our date" means.

"Yes, I have seen your place," I said. "I saw it once when we went inside to get helmets and go out on your scooter."

"Yeah, but not for very long," he said hopefully. "Just -- can't we --?" He saw my face. "Okay, never mind," he muttered.

I was in a good mood, so I said, "Let's just go on the date, wait, and see how we do."

It's been a little over a month and he already wants me hanging out and spending the night at his place? This guy is so pushy. And he's so nice while he's doing it, but he's still so pushy. It's weird, that he considers himself a feminist.

Anyway, after that my sister and I got a giant pizza from the local deli and had pie with hot cocoa. I had warm milk. We turned off all the lights and watched A Christmas Carol with George C Scott, enjoying the lights and ornaments shining on our tiny little single apartment-sized Christmas tree.

We stayed up till midnight, just so we could stay up until Christmas hit.

Then on Christmas Day, we slept in and had a pajama day. Immediately upon waking, I texted my parents, best friend, and boyfriend a Merry Christmas.

My sister and I exchanged gifts, sitting around the tree and ripping off the wrapping paper and finding what we had gotten each other underneath. We were both so happy with our gifts. We hugged and said Merry Christmas. We joked that my wrapping job looked like a blind T Rex had done it.

Later, we're going to make a fancy dinner together -- home-made burgers, starting from scratch with a pound of ground beef, with salts and spices and portobello mushrooms. Yum!

What are you doing with your family and friends for Christmas? In any case, I hope you have a very Merry Christmas. May your cup always be full and your presents always be satisfying!

With Love,

Grimrose Eilwynn

In the spirit of the holiday season, here's a TED talk on the connection between happiness and gratefulness:

http://www.ted.com/talks/david_steindl_rast_want_to_be_happy_be_grateful?utm_campaign=&utm_medium=on.ted.com-static&utm_content=awesm-publisher&awesm=on.ted.com_gratefulness&utm_source=t.co
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
So I decided to see the guy I'm dating (kendo/Cowboy Bebop Dude) at least one last time before he left to see his family for Christmas Break.

I had it all settled. I put a time aside for him in between all my finals studying. He came over to my place, I gave him his Christmas present, I sat him down in an armchair before the TV with a mug of warm apple cider, and I let him pick any movie out of all the movies I owned for us to watch. I made plenty of commentary throughout the movie, though always in between important scenes, and I made sure there were lots of opinions so he could jump into the conversation and offer his own thoughts.

I had it all perfect.

Three things:

1) When I went to Google search something about the movie, he looked at my computer screen and commented on it. Which is creepy.

2) He moved a remote from the arm of my chair so he could leave his arm there, very suggestively and deliberately.

3) At the end of the date, he asked if there was a specific time frame for when we could be physically intimate again.

What the hell was he expecting me to say? "Yes, in three months, two days, and eleven hours I will feel comfortable with you and trust you." And you know what? I'll NEVER feel comfortable with him and trust him if he keeps pushing this!

AARRGGHH!
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
So, I've always been uncomfortable coming into physical contact with people I don't know very well.

When I was little, the only people I enjoyed touching me or hugging me were my parents. Later, my sister was let into the group, as were my two closest friends. And they're about it. I have never liked to be touched by anybody else, out of all the people I have known in my life. It sets me on edge, and makes me nervous and uncomfortable.

This is a problem with dating. I have never known how to tell guys that I need them to wait on the whole physical intimacy thing for a while -- perhaps for a long time -- without it coming across like I'm trying to insult or control them. Additionally, I have always had some issues with this part of myself, because society tells you that you have to kiss on the first or second date and be having sex by the fifth or sixth. That is way too soon for me.

For this reason, I am still a virgin, and in fact I'm perfectly happy with that because I have NEVER known a guy well enough to even want to do that with him.

So I was talking with a good friend of mine the other day -- the married one, who I met through fiction class -- and she told me to just tell the guy I'm dating (the kendo guy) that I'm not ready for things like kissing and making out yet. She empowered me by saying some people are just like that and it's a perfectly valid way to feel. She goes slowly in relationships herself, and she found someone -- her husband -- who was willing to wait for her. She agreed that me and kendo/Cowboy Bebop guy already making out is way too soon. We've known each other less than a month -- feminist club aside, and we barely even talked in feminist club.

We've been on a couple more dates. One to dinner at a Mexican restaurant. But I always feel really nervous and uncomfortable on our dates, because I dread the kissing or making out at the end. It's not comfortable for me, I don't know him that well yet.

So I told Cowboy Bebop guy this -- face to face -- trying to phrase it in as polite and positive terms as possible. I told him he would see me a lot more often and I would feel a lot more comfortable, and thus the relationship would progress better, if we took physical intimacy off the table for a while (not forever).

He pretended to be okay with it, but I could tell he was not happy. Yet he still wanted to see me again, and we're hanging out on Sunday. So I'm not sure how to feel. Should I be angry that he seemed upset and appeared to take it personally, despite me saying I'd always been like this and it was nothing in particular against him? Should I be upset that he didn't understand me not wanting to make out with a relative stranger unless I didn't find said stranger attractive?

Because that's how I feel, sitting here thinking about it. I feel annoyed. Angry. Not understood. Even if maybe that's not so rational.

This guy's not very supportive, either, which is another count against him. I tell him about problems that are going on in my life, and he listens willingly enough but he always cops out and never supports me and never says much of anything with any emotional undertone to it. He doesn't even argue with me or tell me how I'm feeling isn't valid. He just... doesn't say anything. And so I don't feel supported when something upsetting happens.

I just... I don't know about this. He's sweet. Funny. Smart. Cute. I do like him. I just... I'm trying to tell myself not to expect perfection.
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
I went on a date today!

Not with the guy I mentioned in a previous post -- the one from American Lit class who seemed kind of like he was flirting with me? Yeah, it wasn't with him. It turns out he:

(A) Has a girlfriend

and

(B) Is a bit of an asshole, so I don't really envy her

No, this guy I met through feminist club. He's sweet, kind, and funny, with glasses and a long coat. He studied kendo (Japanese sword fighting) for several years. He studies business and environmental science. He has a learning disability but still manages to get As, and is currently interning as a Study Abroad Counselor after having spent some time himself in Thailand. He asked me out, and he also paid for our first date -- though politically liberal, he's pretty socially conservative. His Dad was a Mormon and his Mom was a Catholic.

We just went to a cafe downtown and had a casual coffee/lunch together. We wore fancy jackets and tried to look nice, but we also both just wore jeans. It was the perfect blend of "nice" and "casual."

We talked anime, because it turns out we're both really into that. (He shall henceforth be known as Cowboy Bebop Dude.) We also talked politics, religion, and family and life experiences. It was a really nicely intellectual and deep conversation. We even made future plans: to watch Cowboy Bebop together (I've never seen the whole thing) and to take swing dancing lessons in 2016.

We went to a bookshop afterward, and then we went back to his apartment briefly. It's a really nice apartment right in the middle of downtown. His roommate is a funny guy who drinks a lot and talks to his plants. We got helmets from his apartment and then he drove me home on his scooter/motorbike! I was nervous getting on, but it was so much fun!

We hugged and kissed briefly at my door, and then I went to go back inside. If I were a less awkward person, this would be the moment when I threw him a sly smile over my shoulder and walked smoothly in the door. As it is, it took me a full minute to find my keys and another two minutes to force my way in through the door. He thought it was kind of funny. He applauded when I finally managed to get in.

Just me being my usual, awkward self.

I called my Mom and dished with her over the phone after the date was all over. I also made sure to emphasize to said boy that I had a great time, we should do this again, and he should text me. I even texted him to let him know I had a good time.

So now soon I guess I'll know one way or the other if he was really into me. But either way, it was just nice -- to meet someone through normal social avenues (instead of online) and have a sweet, casual date with him.

Happy Days

Sep. 20th, 2015 02:08 pm
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I've been feeling better and getting the hang of things at college lately. I've become accustomed to all the bugs -- they don't freak me out as much as they used to, out here in the country -- and I've fallen into a nice little routine of classes, homework, chores, bus rides, and grocery store trips. I'm starting to feel more like I'm treading water instead of drowning in it.

I've also been making new friends!

I'm now friends with several people from my feminist club on Facebook. I have one girl's number and she has a car, so she's agreed to drive me to and from meetings so I don't have to walk all the way back to campus every Wednesday night. She seems pretty cool; she goes to drag shows and is just as private and determined to abstain from alcohol as I am.

There's a guy I've befriended in American Lit class as well. I have mixed feelings about him. On one hand, he's attractive, funny, charming, and seems very interested in me whenever we meet up with each other -- kind of flirtatious, you know? On the other hand, when we're not together he almost completely ignores me. He has a rather cruel sense of humor and there are some days when he just doesn't show up to class at all, or doesn't show up prepared. However, we also have each other's numbers -- I suggested we trade numbers, because come on, he's a hot guy, what if something happens? -- and we text each other sometimes.

Finally, there's a girl I've befriended from my fiction writing class. She already has her bachelor's degree and is married to a man about ten years older than her -- they met on a bus, she sat down next to him because he was reading and she wanted to know about what he was reading, isn't that adorable? -- but she's taking this class because she wants to become a novelist. (Her husband's a professor, so she can handle the unsteady income.) We hung out at the mall and had lunch the other day, and she seemed really cool: non judgmental, easygoing, and just as big a fan of casual clothes and casual, intimate hangouts as I am. We share the same dread of parties. I helped her pick out some hand lotions as a gift for her sister in law, being more versed in smelly stuff than her.

My sister is also making friends and she just went to a football game with a few of them the other day.

All in all, good stuff is starting to happen!
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I am fascinated by the different forms relationships can take.

For example, you can be in love with someone and not want to consider them your exclusive boyfriend or girlfriend. You can like someone and think they're attractive without being in love with them. You can be in love with someone, or love someone, and not be attracted to them. Well, similarly, you can go on a date with someone and not be thinking about sex.

In Japan, they have these things called host clubs. In a host club, you pay someone to go on a date with you, essentially. But they're not prostitutes. There is no sex at the end. You just pay to be with an attractive person who's friendly to you and has interesting conversation for an hour. Geisha operate under the same principle, which is why there are so many things historically wrong with Arthur Golden's admitted amazing book Memoirs of a Geisha. (He adds in the sex and makes them high-class prostitutes. I'm an American and sometimes I hate Americans.)

I find the host club, the geisha, to be so fascinating as a concept, because it's something we don't really have in the United States. In the US, sex has to be involved. You have to kiss on the first date and be fucking by a few dates in. Or else there's really no point to the dating. There is even doubt as to whether a man and a woman can be friends without wanting to fuck each other. We never pay for dates, either. We pay for SEX and call that paying for dates.

And I just find that so sad, because it allows for such a narrow range of human experience. I've been on plenty of perfectly nice dates with no touching involved, dates full of laughter and conversation, but no touching, simply because neither party felt like going there. But for so long, I was caught up in this delusion that the only good dates were the ones with touching involved. Friends would ask "if he'd kissed me goodnight", and I would feel there was something wrong with me because he hadn't. And guess what? In a lot of those instances, I actually got second dates.

We just didn't feel like touching, that's all. That didn't mean it wasn't a date.

And I know the old argument, that that's just "hanging out", and you know what? It's not. Because on a date, you dress nice and go to a nice place and make a real effort to get to know each other, and that's just so refreshing. And all those things are missing from "just hanging out."

Dates can be with friends. You don't have to want to fuck someone to go on a date with them.

Right now, I'm writing a story, and in it there's a teenage girl. She goes on a "date" with her teacher, and another "date" with a little brother figure. There's no physical attraction involved. No innuendo. Nothing. They're just nice and go out somewhere and treat each other well.

And I think I feel compelled to write that because that acknowledgement of the breadth and depth of human experience and relationship experience is just so sadly absent from our current, modern American society. My first relationship was with a boy I wasn't physically attracted to. Did I miss the sex? Yeah. But guess what? I enjoyed the relationship anyway.

Read that again: I enjoyed the relationship anyway. He was a great friend. And because we went on "dates", I got to know that friend better than any of my others.

I am not a very sexual person. Sex has its place, and it's enjoyable -- I'm not asexual, I've felt attraction for people -- but I'm not really a very sexual person essentially. And I just feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of uncomfortable sex in American society. What's wrong with a nice conversation, a well meant gesture, a gift or a nice dinner? Why does there always have to be something extra attached at the end?

Wind Chime

Aug. 29th, 2015 06:19 pm
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
"She goes out to hang the wind chime

in her nightie and her work boots.

It's six-thirty in the morning

and she's standing on the plastic ice chest

tiptoe to reach the crossbeam of the porch,


"wind chime in her left hand,

hammer in her right, the nail

gripped tight between her teeth --

but nothing happens next because

she's trying to figure out

how to switch #1 with #3.


"She must have been standing in the kitchen,

coffee in her hand, asleep,

when she heard it -- the wind blowing

through the sound the wind chime

wasn't making

because it wasn't there.


"No one, including me, especially anymore believes

till death do us part,

but I can see what I would miss in leaving --

the way her ankles go into the work boots

as she stands upon the ice chest;

the problem scrunched into her forehead;

the little kissable mouth

with the nail in it."

- Tony Hoagland
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
"What shall I do? My man compares me

To a wild red flower.

When I have withered in his hands,

He will leave me."

- Aztec Native American poem
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"In the sky, a moon;

On your face, a mouth.

In the sky, many stars;

On your face, only two eyes."

- Otomi Native American poem
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I went out with my family today. It was the last time I was going to see certain extended relatives -- the aunt I went to the lavender fields with and my Papa -- before it was time for me to move away.

We drove down in heavy traffic to the seaport to walk around there for a while. There were homeless in the streets, and street artists set up by the water. Me and my sister got some cookies at the home-made cookie shack.

We went out to dinner at a seafood grill with a seaside view. There were beautiful paintings all along the walls. It was a really expensive joint. I ate something I didn't even know how to pronounce, picked all the shrimp and scallops out of it, and then I got to sample from the dessert tray.

There was a really hot waiter there serving us. He kept calling me "miss", which was pretty cool. He was kinda into me and my sister. He seemed to be checking us out, and later my Mom said he was "friendlier than he needed to be." He kept talking directly at us and smiling and complimenting us. It felt nice. It's not like he was the first guy ever to notice me or anything -- a friend of my friend's at Comic Con once gets that honor -- but it was nice. Sometimes it's just nice to be noticed.

Papa paid over two hundred dollars to take us there. My God.

My aunt was kind of a dork, but that's as usual. She kept asking me if I was going to see any of my "past flings" before I left for a different state. I think my aunt overestimates my love life. She was really popular in high school -- sometimes I think she imprints herself over onto us.

It was dark by the time we left, but there were lanterns and fairy lights lit up along the water. We went shopping, and got some Nightmare Before Christmas mugs.
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I watched The Fault in Our Stars, the movie based off the John Green novel, last night. Here's my review.

(I think this goes without saying, but SPOILERS.)

First off, I have to say, this is the most heart rending thing I've read or watched since reading The Bartimaeus Trilogy in middle school. (That was my introduction to falling in love with dying characters. I had a huge crush on Nathaniel, and when he died at the end of the series I was depressed for days. "What's wrong?" my Mom asked. "A character died," I said flatly. Oh the problems of a book lover.) The Fault in Our Stars is about two teenagers with cancer falling in love, and how their love has meaning even though neither of them will live very long or do amazing things.

I love Hazel. She's easily one of my favorite female characters. She's not a tough fighter girl, she's not a bitch, she's not even particularly physically strong -- the cancer has gotten into her lungs and she has trouble climbing stairs and has to carry a little oxygen tank with her everywhere. Yet Hazel is still a strong girl. She's funny (especially in tandem with Augustus; they play off of each other really well) and intelligent. She's an introvert, and that is not a problem, which is nice to see in literature. She knows she's never going to do great things or have many friends, but she's okay with having her own little life and having deep connections with a select few people. She's a survivor and insists on doing anything anyone else could do.

And then there's Augustus, with his metaphors and his existentially fraught free throws and his zombie video games. Augustus is also endearing in his own way. My favorite moments, at least in the book, are when he stops trying to act cool and intellectual and really lets his little-kid, teenage-boy side through. That other side to him is really what makes the character for me. The two sides complete each other.

The book/movie has lots of cool quotes. "Pain demands to be felt," is my personal favorite, just because it's so damn true, and important to remember for our own personal health.

I really like Hazel's family. Her parents are really caring, strong people, and I love the complex relationship she has with her Mom. The conversation where they talk about her Mom's social working classes is great. The scene with Isaac and the eggs is also great, and I like that they included him at the end of the movie.

The scenes in Amsterdam, especially at the beautiful restaurant, were spectacular in the movie -- easily one of the best parts of watching the book on film. The scenery was just so damn detailed and beautiful. I love the fairy lights in the restaurant, and the scenes of the Amsterdam river with the boat houses.

Van Houten is an interesting character. I think he likes Hazel and Augustus for being willing to stand up to him, and that moment when he shows up to Augustus's funeral is a pretty great moment. I like that they included his daughter dying of cancer in the movie, because I think it goes a long way toward explaining just why he's such a raging asshole.

The ending is brutal, of course. I didn't cry at the end of the book; I teared up at the end of the movie. Just watching it all on screen makes it all worse (and better). So the movie did that really well -- talk about being punched in the emotional gut.

What are my criticisms of the movie? One thing I will say is that Hazel and Augustus don't really look how I pictured them. That's not to say the actors weren't good -- they were -- but movie Hazel and Augustus clash with book Hazel and Augustus in my mind, in mannerisms and appearance. I also didn't feel like the two sides to Augustus -- endearingly dorky little kid and cool, intellectual teenager -- were really completely captured in the movie. This is probably a purely personal thing, but it's just a little something that always bothers me whenever I watch the movie.

So anyway -- one of my favorite books, one of my favorite movies. Makes me happy every time I sit through it.
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I've got a confession: I hate perfect people.

They're simpering. They're annoying. They make me want to smack someone and strangle people. I hate people with perfect photoshopped bodies and perfect straightened hair and way too much makeup -- I think they're terrifying and hideous. I find people who never make mistakes and never fuck up to be utterly boring. And worse than that -- they're typically hypocritical and judgmental.

I have another confession: I'm not perfect.

I'm not. I'm an antisocial, too-smart-for-my-own-good, eccentric, don't-touch-me FREAK. I don't like people but I do like people but I really only like people in abstract. I'm horrible at expressing my feelings. I don't really like hugs. I'm not very playful. My boobs are too small. I think I'm smarter than everybody else. I'm stubborn and prone to getting obsessive over things that I want. I get random anxiety attacks that make me unable to interact with the normal human population. I hate parties and public speaking. My sense of humor is flat, dry, and sarcastic.

I'm not perfect.

Now here's something revolutionary: I don't want to be.

I like my hair messy! I like that I only ever wear jeans! I like that there's cat and dog hair all over my clothes! I like my tiny boobs and my obsessive-anxious-passive-aggressive-antisocial personality!

Imperfection is human. It's natural. And more than that -- we can learn to love it. Mistakes make for great stories and help us learn to laugh at ourselves! Screwups can sometimes end up being the most precious moments of our lives!

I spent so long being told by bullies growing up that there was something wrong with being imperfect. I was supposed to want to fuck boys and go to parties every weekend and look like this and dress like that! And I wasn't! The horror!

I used to be ashamed of myself for not fitting into the social norm. But you know what? I've grown up. And now it's time for me to celebrate it. I propose a celebration of imperfection.

So, on that note, here are my three favorite songs about imperfection:

1."Girl Next Door" by Saving Jane

It's not about the prom queen. It's not about the celebrity. It's not about the princess. It's about the girl next door to the celebrity/princess/prom queen that no one ever notices. It's about her and how much she feels ignored and how much she HATES the seemingly perfect girl next door to her, who always gets the boys and always looks pretty and never acts like a bitch. This is basically my song.

Favorite lyrics:

"Maybe I'll admit it:

I'm a little bitter.

Everybody loves her,

BUT I JUST WANT TO HIT HER!

She is the prom queen,

I'm in the marching band,

She is a cheerleader,

I'm sitting in the stands,

I get a little bit,

She gets a little more!

She's Miss America, yeah,

She's Miss America, and I'm just the girl next door."

2."Little Moments" by Brad Paisley

It's about all the mistakes his wife makes throughout a typical day, how funny he finds all of them, and how those moments are when he truly realizes how much he loves her. Need I say more?

Favorite lyrics:

"I know she's not perfect,

But she tries so hard for me,

And I thank God that she isn't,

'Cuz how boring would that be?

It's the little imperfections,

It's a sudden change in plans

When she misreads the directions

And we're lost but holding hands.

Yeah, I live for

Little moments

Like that."

3. "Secrets" by Mary Lambert

It's all about a bipolar overweight girl with a screwed-up family who defiantly doesn't care WHO knows her secrets. She's tired of pretending to be someone she's not!

Favorite lyrics:

"I've got bipolar disorder,

My shit's not in order,

I'm overweight,

I'm always late,

I've got too many things to say.

I rock mom jeans, cat earrings,

Extrapolate my feelings.

My family is dysfunctional,

But we have a good time killing each other!

They tell us from the time we're young

To hide the things that we don't like about ourselves,

Inside ourselves.

I know I'm not the only one

Who spent so long attempting to be someone else.

Well I'm over it."

In conclusion...

"No one likes perfect people! Perfect people are boring!"

- Two Weeks Notice
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
I'm going to talk a little bit today about my main astrological signs and what they mean for me.

Let's start with my Sun Sign first. I'm a Sagittarius on the cusp of Scorpio. The Sun Sign represents the main core of one's personality.

Sagittarius

Sagittarians are freedom-loving people. What they want foremost in life is independence; they also love travel. They are wandering souls and are quite happy with that. They wander mentally as well. They can be quite philosophical, and in fact run the risk of thinking they're more intelligent than everyone else. They jump from activity to activity, never staying in one place. They are good for taking in the realism of a situation, and then turning it into a positive message. Sagittarians are sunny optimists who never stay down for long. However, one characteristic thing they need is freedom; they will not stay for long in any place where they feel constrained or trapped, not even for the ones they love.

Scorpio

Scorpios are the sign of hidden depth. They don't express much, but this is all a facade, for they feel very deeply -- their emotions are much more tumultuous, deep, and chaotic than the average person's. They can be moody. They can also be jealous and vindictive. However, they are extremely intelligent and investigative, plumbing the depths of any topic they can get their hands on. They are attracted to the darkness in human psychology, perhaps because of the dark places their emotions can go themselves. They love just as passionately as they hate, and are very sensual, sexual people. They tend to be quite ambitious.

My Rising Sign is Aquarius. The Rising Sign reflects how one interacts with one's outer environment.

Aquarians are very detached people. They make friends better than loves or lovers; everyone, even their lover, is simply their best friend. They can come across as dispassionate. They are attracted to the unusual, unique, and avant garde; they can be very progressive, even well into old age. However, Aquarians possess a stubborn streak, and can have trouble seeing or accepting viewpoints other than their own.

My Moon sign is Aries. The Moon Sign reflects one's emotional reactions to events and people.

Aries people are impatient and full of energy. They can be extremely stubborn, but they also do well under stress. They can be charming and funny under difficult events that would be awful to anyone else. They are very blunt. Aries falls under the sign of a Ram, and this describes them well; think of a horned Ram bulldozing its way through a problem. This very accurately describes anyone with an Aries Moon Sign.

INFJ-INTJ

Jul. 22nd, 2015 07:25 pm
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
In personality psychology terms, I'm an INFJ bordering on INTJ. I can't find any really good articles about either type, so I'm writing one. Let's break the terms down into letters:

I

This means I am an introvert. What is an introvert? An introvert is a person who expends energy on socializing, rather than gaining energy from socializing. From this simple difference springs a whole host of others. Introverts are more likely to enjoy spending time alone, can be seen as homebodies, prefer small gatherings, and would often rather listen than talk.

N

This means I am an Intuitive. Intuitives are often caught up in their own heads. This is in contrast to Sensory types, who are better at outward actions and observations. Sensory types live in the world outside of them. Intuitives, however, prefer to live in the world within them. They are excellent at philosophizing, moralizing, daydreaming, and idea-generation. They are attracted to visionaries and aspire to be such themselves.

T-F

This is where I'm caught between two types. F types are Feeling types -- they are moved by emotional pleas, follow their heart rather than their head, and interact with others in a sensitive way. T types are Thinking types -- they are moved by rational arguments, follow their head rather than their heart, and tend to be rather tough-skinned, stick-to-the-facts sorts of people. I am on a cusp between these two areas, head and heart.

J

J types are the organized types. This also means that they do not do well with spontaneity and sudden changes in plans. They prefer things planned to the letter, their calendars filled out neatly, and they tend to be very organized.

-

Since INFJs and INTJs are considered separate areas of personality, it's worth noting some salient traits for each of them.

INFJs, having the F to soften their introverted, head-based, highly organized personality, can be very likable. They are romantic, daydreamy, sensitive both to criticism and in their interactions with others; they try hard to get along with absolutely everybody. They tend to be very good writers with an excellent penchant for imagery, and often express themselves better through writing (poetry, for example) than in conversation. It tends to take them awhile to make both friends and lovers, since they're reserved and prize depth in relationships and conversation. They are called The Counselors, having an instinctive sense of what is going on both inside other people and within themselves. They can attempt to repress their feelings, however, until an impending explosion is inevitable. INFJs are more likely than any other type to experience prescient dreams, strange emotional connections, visions, and other unexplainable phenomena.

INTJs, by contrast, have no F to soften their introverted, head-based, highly organized personality. Instead, they have a hard T -- a head-based, to-the-facts sort of person. As a result, INTJs can be disliked and easily misunderstood. They are not good at expressing their emotions, and do not try to be polite, be agreeable, and mince their words the way others do. INTJs can be witheringly blunt, and they drive others almost as hard as they drive themselves. However, INTJs have feelings, a need for friends, and even a romantic side just as much as others do -- even if they don't particularly like admitting it. INTJs aspire to be magicians of sorts, to be able to create things out of thin air -- only, through science or a craft or business rather than through magic or religion. They make good leaders, being natural strategists, but do not aspire to leadership positions except when they feel it's necessary. INTJs, being introverts, prefer to work behind the scenes -- and because of this, they are known as Masterminds.

-

Because I have both types inside me, a lot of things about me make more sense. For example, I am studying both Creative Writing and Marketing. Each calling fulfills one of the aspects of my personality. INFJs are natural Creative Writers, while INTJs are excellent business strategists who enjoy the process of idea creation.

Or take my romantic life, for example. I have a strong desire for romance, but I also have trouble making close friends and expressing myself. It's a double-edged sword.

All I know is that I do struggle with the T-F part of myself. Every time I follow my heart, my head protests, and vice versa. Having two such strong personality types can be problematic.
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I'm here today to journal about my sordid romantic history. Oh the horror.

In high school, I regarded the immature boys and equally immature relationships I witnessed with a combination of distaste, bewilderment, and horror. All the people I was in love with existed only in books and on stages. I had no desire to be in a relationship and things pretty much stayed that way all through my being a teenager. I was that pale, sarcastic little girl with square dark glasses sitting in the corner, being all hipster and "EWW."

By the time I got to college, however, rigor mortis had set in, the death knolls of my rationality tolling along with it.

I began to get lonely and self conscious. Everyone else met cute boys and engaged in happy relationships with them, I thought. Why not me?

Most of my friends are girls, however, and I'm not a big partier. Deciding I needed to try to meet some people, I engaged in online dating. I started out on OkCupid, at my first college. Reckless and desperate for attention, I spent a lot of time flirting with older men online, talking sex, philosophy, and everything in between.

I went on dates with several boys, but there was never that magic click. Always, always, either I didn't like them or they didn't like me. There was also no... spark, no romance, with any of them. I'm a daydreamer at heart, and I had expected things like kissing, hand holding, cuddling, and joking around with each other. Instead, I got a lot of guys who awkwardly treated me like I was a very good friend.

Not that I never got any attention. I went on a first date with one boy. I decided I didn't like him and didn't want a second date. I told him this, politely, trying not to hurt his feelings. He immediately started enacting the dramatic teenager and talking about how we were "drifting away from each other." He began following me around everywhere online, and became obsessed with a person he thought I was via the Internet.

The more I heard from him, the more alarmed I became. He lived in a shelter, heard voices in his head, and talked about violence a lot. He also seemed somewhat depressed, misogynistic, and frankly just bizarre.

I told him I was not comfortable with being around him virtually anymore, and asked if he could please give me some space and leave me alone. He refused, and kept following me around everywhere online. I became very afraid and decided that -- since I'd taken a year off from school and was thousands of miles away by this point -- I needed to break his perfect image of me by being as cruel to him as possible. I called him a stalker, told him I hated him, and demanded that he leave me alone.

He left and it all went silent, but not before he threatened me and told me he hoped I "suffered." I put all my Facebook settings on privacy, shut down all my old other accounts and put up new ones under different pseudonyms, quit OkCupid, and tried to move on with my life. I never went back to my old school and I haven't heard from him in over a year.

When I went back to college at a new school in a different area of the country, I decided tentatively to try online dating again. This time, I tried eHarmony. I actually really liked the experience. I have found that on eHarmony, you feel safer and more secure -- perhaps because everyone pays money to use their account and thus has to have a job or family support and be fairly serious -- and you also get less weird sexual and drug comments and less questions on odd topics. While eHarmony has a reputation for being stodgy and Christian, I have found young people, unreligious people, and atheists all on eHarmony.

I met a boy and invited him to a local coffeehouse/pub downtown that played live music on weekends. (I almost always do the asking and think of the kissing first. I swear to God, I'd have made a spectacular boy.) I tried (on the recommendation of a therapist) to be more upfront this time -- I wanted to hold hands, etc. It seemed to work. Me and this boy, we went on a couple of dates, and then one night after a date I asked him shyly for a kiss. He kissed me just outside my dorm room after he'd walked me to my door, and that's how I got my first kiss. A couple of dates later, we were watching a movie on the couch in his apartment and I asked if we were boyfriend and girlfriend. He admitted he'd wanted to ask me the same thing, but had been too shy!

And with that, I was in a relationship.

I didn't exactly get my happy ending, though, is the thing. I pretty quickly figured out this was not what a relationship was supposed to feel like. I wasn't attracted to him at all, and had no chemistry with him! I'd walked into the relationship naively, thinking attraction and love were just supposed to magically happen at some point. I'd been so desperate to meet a nice boy, I'd ignored all the signs, hoping for the best.

But the attraction never happened. He was nice and sensible and he treated me well, but there was still no... spark. We never argued about anything, or did anything especially passionate. I never felt swept away. I never went through that phase where we had to do everything together. Making physical contact with him was actually desperately uncomfortable. I realized I'd made a great friend -- but not a great boyfriend. This was really frustrating to me. He was so nice to me and it would make it so much easier if I liked him that way! I felt cursed, or asexual, like something was wrong with me.

In the end, we spent our first Valentine's Day making a fancy dinner together at his place. We exchanged gifts -- I'd gotten him a shirt and a figurine from his favorite comic at Hot Topic, he'd made me Chocolate Frogs from Harry Potter because he knew I liked Harry Potter -- and then as we were watching a movie, he got very physically affectionate. He was pushing a little, you know. He was tired of waiting. Supposedly, everything was perfect.

Except I was desperately bored and uncomfortable, and I wished I wasn't, which strangely just made it worse.

I'd had no experience in this. I became increasingly panicked. How did one ask a boy to stop touching them? I tried everything -- leaning physically away from him, distracting him with some topic of conversation. He didn't even notice. What was I to do?

At last, at the end of the night, I blurted out how uncomfortable this had all made me. I told him it was all my problem, not his. I told him I thought he was a great guy. He asked me if I was attracted to him or in love with him, and I admitted I wasn't. I also admitted I didn't know what to do about that.

A couple of days later, I gave him a phone call and broke up with him. He seemed perfectly fine with it, and seemed puzzled, like he didn't understand why I hadn't just texted him -- which even in retrospect seems like a weird reaction. Was he acting? Did he not like me either? He was still weirdly pleasant right through the end.

In the end, he became one of my closest friends. Which is great, I guess. I have a guy friend. The only problem is, I'd wanted a boyfriend.

So, now I guess I've hit the "it's complicated" phase of my twenties.

Jane Eyre

Jul. 7th, 2015 09:59 pm
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
My favorite classical novel is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I'm here to talk today about the reasons why I like it, and why it's a book worth reading.

(THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS. DO NOT READ IF YOU ARE PLANNING ON READING THE NOVEL AND WANT TO BE SURPRISED.)

Jane Eyre starts out as a poor young orphan girl living at the charity of her rich aunt. Her aunt despises her, and her spoiled cousins treat her terribly, particularly her very fat male cousin. Interestingly, the only person at Gateshead House who treats Jane well is a poor woman, a servant, her nurse Bessie. This is a common theme throughout the novel. Rich people are often portrayed as entitled, snotty, and spoiled. Jane herself, the heroine, comes from poor, religious parents, and works for a living for much of her life herself.

This leads me to what ends up happening to Jane. She is sent by her aunt to a religious, charitable institution, where she is trained to be a schoolteacher or governess. This institution, Lowood School, and its headmaster and chief benefactor are both criticized rather heavily. Bronte portrays the head of Lowood School as overly strict, needlessly harsh, and hypocritical -- he keeps his students destitute while living richly himself. This seems to be Bronte putting a critical light on certain members of the Church and of religious institutions.

All negative characters get their comeuppance throughout Jane Eyre. Her cousin loses all his money gambling and commits suicide. This leads her aunt Mrs Reed, who always spoiled him at Jane's expense, to have a stroke and die. Meanwhile, the head of Lowood School is fired from his position and the school is reformed.

Yet, Bronte seems to be saying, not all religious people themselves are bad. Jane herself believes in God and has a strong sense of right and wrong. Her friend at Lowood, Helen Burns, is quite possibly the most kind, gentle, and genuinely Christian character throughout the entire book. Interestingly, Helen is treated badly by all the heads of the Lowood institution, and dies from disease brought on by maltreatment.

At the same time, Jane Eyre teaches forgiveness. Jane forgives Mrs Reed at one point for making her childhood miserable. Helen forgives the teachers at Lowood for treating her badly. "Life's too short to be nursing animosity," says Helen. Far from being naive, Helen and Jane seem to forgive their attackers for their own health -- it makes them feel better, even if the people they're forgiving don't deserve it.

On an additional side note, women are often portrayed as being educated in Jane Eyre. Girls are taught at Lowood, and at two different points Jane is a governess for a little girl and a schoolteacher at an all girls school. Education for women is put in a positive light.

Just as bad deeds are punished, good deeds are rewarded in Jane Eyre. At one point, a family called the Rivers takes Jane in at a time of great desperation, out of the goodness of their hearts. They are later rewarded by becoming fabulously wealthy because of Jane.

Jane Eyre passes the Bechdel test splendidly. The Bechdel test is a test to see if a novel or film is feminist. The theory goes that feminist female characters do not have to be particularly brave, strong, or career oriented. All they have to be is complex, three-dimensional, and interesting, with a life outside male characters. The Bechdel tests asks if, at any point in the story, two female characters talk to each other about something that is not a male. That's it. That's all it is, but it's amazing how many movies even in modern day don't pass it -- movies with supposedly "strong" female characters.

Jane Eyre passes. Jane talks to Helen about things that aren't a man, and later she talks with a housekeeper named Mrs Fairfax and a female student named Adele Varens.

That leads me to what happens next in Jane's story. Jane grows up at Lowood. She becomes an adult, and seeks work as a governess. She finds a post teaching a ward named Adele Varens at a wealthy manor house out in the moors called Thornfield Hall, kept together by the formidable Mrs Fairfax and owned by the mysterious Mr Edward Fairfax Rochester.

Jane meets Mr Rochester, and it doesn't take long at all for them to become interested in each other. This relationship as it is written is a masterpiece in and of itself.

Jane and Mr Rochester are intellectual equals, and Mr Rochester admits this at one point in the story. Jane stands up to Mr Rochester, and at one point she saves his life from death by fire -- not the other way around. They are presented as soul mates -- twin spirits -- it is not a physical, superficial relationship. They are snarky and teasing to each other. She understands that he is not a perfect person, but loves him anyway. Jane is good for Mr Rochester -- she is a moral, virtuous person, is not afraid of his acerbic wit or his mood swings, and "has no wish to talk nonsense." She refuses to compromise her morals to be with him, and will not do anything with someone she is not married to. Mr Rochester, who is rich and promiscuous and used to being pleased, resorts to many things to try to get her to change her mind. When she doesn't, he agrees to marry her to have her. Meanwhile, Mr Rochester opens the reserved Jane up, he is the first person in her life to appreciate and recognize her, and he gives her a happier life than she has thus far lived.

Mr Rochester and Jane are even hinted to have a psychic connection. Once, he calls out to her in desperation and despair; she hears him from hundreds of miles away.

At last, Mr Rochester has asked Jane to marry him. Preparations for the wedding are taking place, but Jane is troubled. "I will be Jane Eyre no longer," she reflects in disappointment. Just as he is afraid of the restrictions placed upon him by marriage, so is she. Jane has an independent spirit and dislikes the idea of "belonging" to anyone.

One interesting side note is that neither Jane nor Edward is attractive. They are both plain and rather ugly, thus proving that main characters don't have to be beautiful to be romantic or interesting, something even our modern entertainment industry does not seem to grasp. In addition, though both Jane and Edward have a chance to marry a beautiful person, they refuse because they are not in love with that person -- they are in love with each other. To turn the stereotypes even more on their head, there is a wide age gap between Edward and Jane. Jane is nineteen and Edward is in his mid-thirties.

Throughout all this, a mystery has been taking place in Jane Eyre. Mr Rochester keeps speaking of a "blow" fate dealt to him many years ago, and of a "capital error" he drags through life. In addition, people keep turning up attacked and nearly murdered. Jane suspects a servant, but this woman turns out to be a red herring.

At last, the truth comes to light. Shortly before her wedding, Jane finds out Mr Rochester is secretly married. He married a woman many years ago for her money, and later discovered her to be deeply insane. He keeps her locked up under watch in his attic.

Enter Bertha Mason.

Bertha Mason is a remarkable character. Not only is she an example of mental illness being addressed all the way back in the 1800s, her mental illness is not portrayed romantically. This woman is a danger to herself and others, and has problems with delusions, suicidal thoughts, addiction and self medicating. Yet she is not put in an asylum, which are criticized as horrific and inhumane institutions. Part of Bertha's realism may come from the fact that she is based on a real woman Bronte had heard of, who was kept locked up in her attic because she had many of the more mentally ill symptoms of epilepsy.

Bertha's portrayal is not perfect -- not much is gotten from her perspective, and it's easy to dismiss her as a villainous character. Still, one can't help feeling sorry for her, and for its time this was remarkably progressive.

Jane now has a problem. She knows Mr Rochester will never voluntarily let her leave, but she also knows that it is against her convictions to marry someone who is already married and commit polygamy. So Jane does a very brave thing -- she runs away and becomes a beggar woman, because she would rather die than compromise her principles. Whether we share those principles is not the point. The point is that Jane refuses to be swayed from what she feels is right.

Jane is found and taken in by the Rivers family, and given a job as a local schoolteacher. She later discovers the Rivers are her cousins. When a wealthy uncle of hers dies and leaves her all his money, she shares that money freely with her cousins. (Jane is repeatedly shown as modest and unconcerned with wealth and status. When Rochester offers her all his jewels upon their engagement, she refuses them, saying she is plain and that is how she shall remain.)

In the end, Jane returns to Mr Rochester to find his wife burned Thornfield to the ground and committed suicide. Crippled and blinded by the fire, he now lives in a hunting lodge, tended to by servants. Still in love with Rochester, she marries him, despite his protests that he is too old and crippled to make a worthwhile husband to a rich young lady. Just as he was willing to marry her when she was a poor, plain governess.

In addition to all the other virtues of Jane Eyre, she herself is a wonderful character. Jane is honest, blunt, and passionate. She is intelligent, moral, and well educated. She is humble and wishes only to work and be independent. Though young, she is experienced at what she does for a living. She’s a tough survivor who braves cruelty silently and has struggles independent of Mr Rochester. She does not want to be a victim -- she claims her tale is not one of woe, and when she is depressed she tries her best to hide it and carry on as normal. She is also brave -- even when Bertha’s brother and Mr Rochester are attacked, she shows no fear.

She’s small, quiet, serious, plain, shy, and unafraid of solitude -- so an unconventional heroine, going against the western Extrovert Ideal. She is once described as “unfeminine.” She is described as fairy-like and distant, with “rather a look of another world about you.” She has visions and futuristic dreams. She "imagines things she is powerless to execute" -- she paints and draws and is quite creative. She struggles with depression, which is remarkable in a centuries-old heroine. She is kind, is described as “gentle”, and takes care of the people who are kind to her -- Adele, Mr Rochester, and the Rivers family.

Here are some of my favorite Jane quotes:

“I would do anything for you, sir -- anything that was right.”

“You’d dare condemnation for my sake?” “For the sake of any friend who deserved it.”

“Look to God and yourself.”

“Who would you offend by living with me? Who would care?” “I would... I must respect myself.”

To the rich and high-class Mr Rochester: “Am I a machine without feelings? Do you think that because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, that I am soulless and heartless? I have as much soul as you and full as much heart! And if God had blessed me with beauty and wealth, I could make it as hard for you to leave me as it is for I to leave you. I’m not speaking to you through mortal flesh. It is my spirit that addresses your spirit, as if we’d passed through life and stood at God’s feet, equal -- as we are.”

To a man (again Mr Rochester): “I am a free human being with an independent will which I now exert to leave you.”

And here is my favorite quote, just before she meets Mr Rochester:

“I wish a woman could have action in her life, like a man. It agitates me to pain that the skyline over there is ever our limit. I long sometimes for a power of vision that would overpass it. If I could behold all I imagine... I’ve never seen a city. I’ve never spoken with men, and sometimes I fear my whole life will pass...”

I think this can appeal to the women in all of us, the women who want more, who dream big, and who fear they will never fall in love or meet The One. I know it stirs something instinctive inside me.

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