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Comfort (non)food

A while back Sapphire wrote about watching Disney movies when she felt sick or down. I’ve known for a while now that I turn to FRIENDS when I’m feeling down or in need of comfort. But for the past few weeks I’ve been craving Harry Potter too. This is new for me, but it got me thinking about what we crave when we are feeling blue.

What is it about FRIENDS and Harry Potter that draw me in and cheer me up? Is it the comfort in the story, since I already know what is going to happen? Is it because it’s fiction and things end up happy (for the most part)? Yeah, some of our favorite characters died and their families are definitely hurting, but Harry and Ron and Hermione and Hagrid are all OK and Voldemort is gone, so that’s positive. In the grand scheme of things, the story ended on a positive note.

With FRIENDS, I’m pretty sure I know the reason I turn to the series over and over again. It’s realistic–breakups, job losses, arguments, family issues etc–but in the end, again, it all turns out OK. Rachel and Ross decide to try to make it work (although I suppose it could be argued that they will crash and burn after the cameras stop rolling), Chandler and Monica become parents and Phoebe finds her match.

Sometimes I wish my life worked out that way. We all know in a sitcom that the ending will be happy, despite the hijinks that occur during the episode or season or entire series, but life is a big question mark. Will our decisions ultimately end in happiness? Or will we make major mistakes that will affect the rest of our lives, in a negative way? Someone I know always says “the ONLY thing standing between you and happiness is yourself,” and that’s an attitude I’m trying to adopt. But if my life were like FRIENDS I wouldn’t have to worry about that. But, I guess that’s the beauty of life–you never really know what is going to happen–although it’s also absolutely terrifying.

I’m sorry, I know this post is probably super confusing and poorly written, but I’m watching FRIENDS right now -my fish I got for our on year anniversary* last March died today and I already had a rough morning with this whole relationship/non-relationship thing. I suppose if my life were a book or movie there would be symbolism in that, so maybe I don’t want my life to be a work of fiction…

Which brings me to my second point, or question. Does my dependence on shows or books like FRIENDS and Harry Potter give me unrealistic expectations about love, life and happiness? What are your thoughts? Do you have any shows or books or movies that bring you comfort in times of trouble?

*corrected the date.

Updates

Obviously, this whole blogging thing does not come naturally to me. I only wrote posts when it’s something that weighs on my mind and I feel that I need to get it “out there.” And generally, I’m much more likely to write or vent or whatever you may call this, when I’m angry, sad or upset. You don’t see many “hey! I’m so incredibly happy, look at me!” posts. Maybe it’s my Midwestern upbringing. It’s uncouth to brag about your own a accomplishments or your own happiness. Who knows. But the whole point of this is to update you all on my most recent posts.

I tried really hard to make my “Breaking Up is Hard to Do” post about myself and my actions. However, in order to fully understand the emotions and the blog post you needed background, and I was angry. Really angry. So, unfortunately, I’m afraid my intentions did not match my actions. It was not fair of me to put something so personal on the Internet. I don’t mind, but I didn’t take into consideration his feelings.

He’s not a bad person (he might actually be too good a person). I am no longer mad (although it was a lot easier when I was) and I don’t want you, reader, to be mad or think badly of him. We’ve talked and it boils down to us both being confused by this weighty emotion. Admittedly, I am much more confused than he is when it comes to love (I don’t love easily), but we’re in this limbo or purgatory period in our relationship. Do we jump right in and try to move on in order to not become lost “in the thought of us” or do we shove all our emotional baggage into the back of our minds and turn our focus to new things, like spin classes and scrapbooking and holiday parties? Should we even forget the idea of us at all–is that idea really lost forever?

So, that’s what this is. An apology to everyone for involving you in our emotional drama and especially to him, for not taking his feelings into consideration when clicking “publish.” I hope you all have a wonderful new year and I hope 2014 brings you love, joy and happiness.

The Meaning of Christmas

This holiday season has been a bit “meh” for me. Perhaps it’s because we’re missing a week between Thanksgiving and Christmas and it all seems too rushed, perhaps it’s due to recent events in my personal life, perhaps it’s because earning only a living stipend makes buying Christmas gifts and goodies difficult, perhaps it’s due to the increased amount of driving I’ve done on icy and snowy roads with road ragey fellow drivers (true story, my car slipped on some ice right as a lady whipped around a corner. She yelled and flipped me off, looked like she was going to let me go since I was in the middle of the road due to the ice slip, then continued to pull forward; yell, curse and flip me off some more. I had my first big ugly cry in several weeks. Think snot, gasping tears and hiccups, which are not conducive to good driving so I got lost and then managed to make my GPS speak Dutch, which is ironic, because I know someone who can speak Dutch, but I can’t ask him to fix it for me*).

However, despite these not so cheery holiday feelings, I’ve spent a lot more time with my family, and I have thought a lot about the meaning of the holiday season. I will not restate the “true story of Christmas” because I think we are all familiar with the birth of Baby Jesus. I’m talking about enjoying the company of family and friends, being thankful for those who love and support us.

This holiday season actually reminds me a lot of one of my favorite books– Little WomenThe book opens with “‘Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,’ grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.” That pretty much sums up my feelings on that aspect of Christmas. Just about everybody in my family (immediate and extended) is strapped for cash. There are about 5 of us participating in the annual Christmas draw (we all draw names and buy presents for the person whose name we drew) and I’m already worried about finding a good present for my aunt. I’d love to buy my friends and family a trinket or two, but as it is, I’m not sure that is possible. I’m also hosting a holiday party (not sure why I thought that was a good idea), so a lot of my funds are going towards food and drink for that extravaganza.

However, Beth, sweet and innocent Beth, reminds us of what is important. “‘We’ve got Father and Mother, and each other’, said Beth contentedly from her corner.” Of course, the March family patriarch is actually serving in the Civil War, so they don’t technically have him (which Jo is quick to point out). But despite their lack of money, their lack of a father and lack of general holiday spirit, the March girls pull themselves together and celebrate Christmas the right way. They pool their money to buy Marmee gifts, they donate much of the food they do have to the poor German family down the street and they put aside their differences and celebrate the holiday and enjoy each other’s company.

While I’ve spent far more time in my car, stuck in traffic, than I’d like, at least those car rides are taking me to family. This past weekend my mom and I were supposed to make cookies and then go see White Christmas at a refurbished 1920s theater. However, her oven chose this weekend to die. So I went off to volunteer with my University’s local alumni group and my mom went to her sister’s to bake. After realizing that I  a) had the wrong date or b) not enough people were interested in volunteering so it was cancelled, I joined my mom and my aunt. When I arrived two of my first cousin’s once removed were already there, helping my mom cut out cookies, i.e. sneaking lots of “little tastes.”  A few hours later, my cousin, her step daughter and her youngest son arrived. I enjoyed playing with the kids and visiting with my cousin before they left. A few hours after that, another cousin and his wife arrived with their two boys. We played, drank some wine and then went out for dinner.

Additionally, I shouldn’t be stressing about the money for my holiday party. I should just enjoy the fact that my friends are coming into town from far corners of the United States and want to gather together and celebrate the season.

We should take Beth’s message to heart, at least we have ______ (insert name of friend, family member, coworker, pet etc). We, or I suppose I should say I, need to take comfort in the small things. And for me, that is what this holiday season is about–appreciating what I have.

So, while my musical tastes now lean more towards Eminem (seriously his song with Rihanna is my jam right now) instead of Bing Crosby, I’m celebrating this holiday season right.

———————————————

* I managed to fix my GPS, thank goodness! It speaks English again now. Yay.

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Sorry guys. I took this post down earlier because links and things were looking pretty funky on my end (guess you should update your stuff when apple tells you to…). It appears that everything is working now. So again, read on, but be warned that this post is personal, full of parenthesis and is written by someone running off very little sleep.

So… it’s been a while since I’ve posted. Sorry guys! Many things have been going on since I last posted. I’ll give you a very rough outline of my life for the past year-ish.

1) Move to Louisiana for a job

2) Meet boy online

3) Start dating boy

4) Fall in love with boy

5) Boy moves in

6) Celebrate 1 year anniversary

7) Get a job back home

8) Boy gets a job in same area

9) Move home

10) Break up

11) Spend month of August miserable and barely eating

12) Get back together with boy

13) 3 months later, break up with boy again

Number 13 brings us to last Sunday. Not Sunday, December 1, but Sunday, November 24, when I broke up with my first serious boyfriend, for the second time. I felt that in the past few months we tried to make things work and it just wasn’t working. I swear, I tried — I wanted to make it work, since there were so many wonderful things about him (although right now those are hard to remember, but I’ll get to that). This time, he also knew we tried to make the relationship work (at least I think he knows). No breakup is fun, but this time it seemed to go ok. Both of us seemed tired of crying and tired of fighting, although I suppose I can’t speak for another person. Personally, I maintained an appetite and could get through full sentences without breaking down in tears, which I took as a sign that it was the right thing to do (side note, I never, ever thought I’d be the kind of person who would be in a stressful situation which caused me to lose my appetite. I’ve always been the “eat your feelings” kind of person. Not so when we first broke up- I was so emotionally stressed and strung out that I don’t think I ate a full meal for at least 2 weeks.)

Now… most of this is my fault. I am weak-willed and technology is there, just waiting for me to use it for nefarious purposes. I’ve written about facebook, twitter and instagram before, and how they lead to comparison and general unhappiness. Now, the boy in question had already unfriended me on facebook and unfollowed me on twitter, but… unlike facebook, you can unfollow someone on twitter and the other person can still follow you. It took me a while to unfollow (because I hate breaking those connections) and even when I actually did unfollow, I could still look him up (this is both the blessing and curse of those who don’t feel the need to make their internet presence private).

Given that this morning was the day he returned from a family Thanksgiving, the nosy part of me had to see if there were any posts. I am completely aware that this is unhealthy behavior on my part. I should be strong-willed. But I’m not. It still kills me that we spent over 1.5 years together and all contact is gone. Yes, I know that it’s probably for the best for the moving on process, but he became my best friend. It’s hard not having that person to turn to or even to know what he is up to. I know what all my other friends are up to, at least in a general sense. Hell, I know what people who I don’t even know personally are up to, via blogs and twitter and instagram. But aside from what is shared on his twitter, I don’t know what he is doing. I hate that. I bet this wasn’t even a problem 15 years back. We didn’t have constant access to our peers and we didn’t feel the need to share all our thoughts with the world (and yes, I do see the irony here). For a nosy person, social media is a virtual enabler. Before the advent of this technology I’d have to get a friend to scope out the situation, and quite honestly, I’m embarrassed enough that I’m writing this. I can’t imagine asking a friend to ask a friend to find out what an ex is doing or how he is faring with the breakup.

Anyway, back to the pseudo point of this post (granted there really is no point, more of a place to rant. I could write in my journal, but lets face it, that’s not gonna happen. I haven’t kept a journal since freshman year of college).

I logged into twitter this morning to cyber stalk my ex boyfriend of a week and guess what I saw? HE’S ASKING GIRLS OUT! Seriously?!  This is something I saw on early Monday morning, which means he’d have to have met the girl sometime last week. Only days after we broke up. Now, I could be completely misreading the tweet, but the reactivation of the online dating profile tells me I’m right. (full disclosure here: I saw that he is back online while going online to delete my profile for good). It really makes me wonder: Am I so easily replaced? Was our relationship really that meaningless?

I know that I’m the one who broke up with him. But, he’s the one who pushed the relationship saying things like “we can be a great team” and “we have a great future ahead of us.” Was all of that crap? How can he say that and turn around a week later and ask out another girl? Take some time to grieve. To consider what you want out of a relationship. To get your emotions under control before involving other people.

I suppose it could be all a part of the moving on process, and not a reflection on his attitude toward our past relationship. I downloaded a dating app on my phone and I have gotten matches. It is a definite ego boost, but I am by no means ready to actually talk to any of these guys. But even if it is a part of the moving on process, how can a person be ready to move on after ONE WEEK (not even a week,  depending on the time of the dating profile reactivation)?  Or is this just another sign if our society’s need to be connected? A physical manifestation of the part of us that needs to tweet and Instagram and facebook? Can some people not handle being alone? I know that I’m struggling with that issue, more than ever. My phone is a constant companion, despite being close to family and friends.

Anyway, seeing these things and thinking these things definitely hurts and it seriously tarnishes the way I view him. I think I hate that most of all. I so wanted to keep everything in relatively happy box in my mind. Now that image is changed and it’s all due to my inability to stay away from his twitter feed. So, here’s a lesson to you all: don’t cyber stalk an ex, you’ll only get hurt. Although, I suppose I should be thankful in some ways. Seeing the post this morning brought me to the anger phase of grief, which is one step closer to the end result–acceptance and moving on.

Inferno by Dan Brown; page count 480

Dan Brown has produced another fast-paced book about conspiracies with trails of historical clues. I’m not going write too much about this book. If you like Brown’s work, you’ll pick this book up anyway. If you have already written him off as a no-talent hack, then you wouldn’t dream of reading this title anyway.

As for me, I appreciate that he writes history-riddled action books with intriguing ideas. I certainly think there are better writers in the world, but his books are usually fun reads. If it helps, this one was a lot better than his last offering, The Lost Symbol.

If I can make a suggestion, I recommend borrowing this from your public library. They are bound to have a copy or two. I read it in two days and I’m not even a very fast reader. I am unconvinced this is worth the cover price of $29.95.

Archer Action

Agincourt by Bernard Cornwell; page count 451

I just breezed through this book, but then it was exactly what I wanted to read, exactly when I wanted to read it. I had just seen Olivier’s Henry V on DVD (talk about melodramatic!) and I wanted to read an action-centered historical fiction. So this title really hit the mark. (hehehe! I just had to indulge in some archer humor somewhere in this post.)

The story follows a young man, Nicolas Hook, as he goes from beloved bastard to outlaw and then archer. He ends up taking part in one of the most famous battles in Britain’s history.

Even though I really liked this book, I’m not going to pretend it is spectacular literature or without flaws. Cornwell for no discernible reason has a pair of saints talk to and warn Hook away from danger sporadically  throughout his adventures. I found this to be unnecessary and distracting. He writes the final battle sequence from several characters’ viewpoints, but he has up until that point only really followed Hook. It would have been better if the other characters were followed prior to Agincourt.

Generally, I did enjoy the book. I would certainly recommend it to anyone who wanted more action in historical fiction. Although, fair warning, some of the writing did get a bit bloody. I may even in future pick up another of Cornwell’s books.

So-so Steampunk

A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwarz; page count 338

This is the first steampunk novel I’ve read. I read some short stories and seen a few movies, but this is my first actual novel. Admittedly, I am not entirely sure if a steampunk work fits within the scope of our usual historical fiction blog here. I take the chance because surely there will be some overlap of readers, and it is a new book released this March.

Schwarz ConspiracyThis is the first in a series, Chronicles of Light and Shadow, with two more guaranteed to follow and talks of more to come. The book follows the plight of dirigible pilot Eleanor “Elle” Chance. Chance is asked to hold and ship a box from Paris back to London. However, shortly after taking the box she is beset and dangerous, world-changing events are set in motion. Almost immediately we meet a fairy (whose narration is jarringly in first person unlike the rest of the book) and the love interest, handsome and mysterious Mr. Marsh.

The story moved at a good clip, and there was enough intrigue to keep me reading. However, I’m fairly certain this will be my only foray into the series. I found Eleanor Chance to be lacking as a heroine. She seems contrived. There are too many inconsistencies in her character that could have been easily hammered out. For example, she wears jodhpurs and flies to Paris by herself, but blushes at the slightest look from Marsh and was only brought to flying by a man, despite being surrounded by machines and brought up by her father. *SPOILER ALERT* I also am not fond of how Schwarz handles Chance’s powers. Surely, even an untrained oracle should have some premonitions or gut feelings that are accurate. *SPOILER OVER* Honestly, a couple of tweaks by a slightly better writer could have solved most of my issues with her character and the book in general

Even though Schwarz has not converted me to one of her followers, she did succeed in making me more curious about other steampunk writing. I generally like the steam aesthetic anyway, and now I may pick up another steampunk novel if I happen across one.

If you are a devoted steampunker (I’m sure there’s a word for that I am not aware of) then you should probably give this book a try. It’s certainly being pushed by the publisher, and may go a long way to convince The Man that steampunk is worth the investment. Otherwise, I’d be fairly hesitant to recommend this title.

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