Relationship Theory

Every time I search the “relationship theory” tag on this blog I’m surprised I haven’t published this yet. It’s literally been years since I first wrote most of this. So, finally, as Amanda and I sit around watching Studio 60 again for the [embarrassingly high number] time and mostly written three-ish years ago, is my Relationship Theory. Get ready for a lot of convoluted Taylor Swift and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip references:

I love about pop culture –  watching tv, picking apart plots and dialogue and finding out that some actors are just as hilarious (if not more so) off screen than on. But every once in a while, I realize that pop culture is slowly killing me. Somehow, this vicious media frenzy is making me too idealistic.

I’m rarely idealistic. I’m more the pragmatic sort who wishes she had more of a devil-may-care snark-tastic attitude. Anyway, I tend to be a realist, if not an outright pessimist. Which is why becoming fixated on heart-wrenching moments during scripted television shows kind of kills me. But, at the exact same time, it gives me hope than I can write great stories, great plots that can make other people hopeful, too. I don’t want to be all doom and gloom. I’ll never be bright and shiny, but I’m not dark and twisty, either.

The one line that get’s me – every goddamn time – is courtesy of Logan Echolls towards the second season finale of the unjustifiably short-lived Veronica Mars. Logan, a little tipsy and a lot heartbroken, pours his soul out to his ex, Veronica. He tells her, “I thought our story was epic, you know? Spanning years and continents. Lives ruined, bloodshed. Epic.”

Be still, my heart. I wish that I could put him on my Amazon wish list. I just… I want epic. I don’t need romance, I don’t even want it. All I ask for is something pure, real, scary, and bigger than myself. Well, okay, maybe that’s a pretty big wish, but a girl’s gotta dream.

It all goes back to the Relationship Theory, based off of Taylor Swift (stay with me). My friends and I usually apply it to Studio 60, though it works for many other fictional stories.

My freshman year of college, Taylor Swift was kind of a big deal. [Hahaha, she’s only gotten so much more popular. This is weird. Then again, that was 2009.] Her music, though juvenile, was catchy, poppy, and fun to sing along to. Anyway, one of the bigger hits at the time was “The Way I Loved You.” It’s a fairly simple song, but it ignited a major schism to form between my roommates and myself: which boy each of us would prefer?

I thought it was obvious – you choose the ex-boyfriend. You know that you’ll (probably) get hurt, and it won’t be easy, but you’ll be consumed by passion, completely in love. Love wouldn’t be very spectacular, let alone epic, if you didn’t have to fight for it.

Amanda, however, reasoned that she wanted the current boyfriend for exactly those reasons. She wanted to be sure of her relationship and be comforted by the warm feeling it instills in you. She wanted something she could trust.

But, for those unfamiliar with the song, let me give you examples of the two different options.

Ex-boyfriend: [Taylor was constantly] screaming and fighting and kissing in the rain, it would be 2am and she’d be cursing his name, so in love that she acted insane… Breaking down and coming undone it was a roller coaster kind of rush and she never knew she could feel that much, but that’s the way she loved him. He was wild and crazy, just so frustrating, intoxicating, complicated, and got away by some mistake.

Current boyfriend: Is sensible and so incredible and makes all of T-Swift’s single friends jealous. He says everything that she need to hear and it’s like she couldn’t ask for anything better.  He opens up her door and she get into his car and he says, “you look beautiful tonight,” and she feels perfectly fine. He can’t see the smile she’s faking and her heart’s not breaking ‘cause she’s not feeling anything at all.  He respects her space and never makes her wait and he calls exactly when he says he will. He’s close to her mother, talks business with her father, he’s charming and endearing and she’s comfortable.

So there you have it. Two boys, exactly the opposite of one another. Amanda championed the line where the new bf, “talks business with my father.” She thought that was, quite possibly, the most endearing thing a guy could do. She wants someone who will call when he says, pick her up, make every other girl wonder how you got so lucky.

Okay, so I understand where that is the ideal, you know? Practical and dependable. I get it. But come on. Wouldn’t you prefer wild and crazy, frustrating, intoxicating, and, most importantly, kissing in the rain? Listen, I relish in a good fight. I like being challenged. It’s fun for me. (To a point, obviously. I can handle yelling, I can be wrong, but there’s obviously that line in fighting where emotional well-being comes into question and then you have to take a step back. So, healthy fighting, I guess.)

To me, being challenged is a necessary part of a relationship; I don’t want to sit stagnant, I’d be bored out of my skull. I don’t understand how anyone could be happy with someone who always respects your space; the biggest thrills occur when someone invades your personal space and drags you out of your doldrums, kicking and screaming. (Not all the time. Obviously. Sometimes I just want to sit around in my jammies and watch Netflix and have you just accept it.)

Back to TSwift: the thing that kills me, every time, is that her ex got away by some mistake. And, even worse, her new boyfriend clearly doesn’t know her very well at all. Even if you disregard the fact that the replacement can’t tell when she plasters on a fake smile, he fails to make her feel. When she’s with him, she never get’s past “fine” and “comfortable”. He’s reliable. And yet, he doesn’t make her feel “anything at all.”

All of my favorite (fictional) relationships rest on this theory. That the guy you should be with, 9 times out of 10, is the one who makes you come alive, even if that means you want to crawl out of your skin because you’re so angry you can’t see straight. Which is where the whole Matt / Harriet thing comes into play.

If  you’ve ever sen Studio 60, you will know that there are two primary relationships. The on-again off-again Matt & Harriet and the “slow” burn Danny & Jordan. While Danny and Jordan have a turbulent love story of their own, I will always strive for the Matt/Harriet relationship. They, like literary idols Elizabeth and Darcy, are epic. Their relationship spanned millennia (technically)! I guess this will require a little bit of an explanation.

Studio 60 is one of my favorite shows of all time (haters to the left). It was one of those things that really brought Amanda and I together as friends, but once again we found ourselves divided when it came down to the relationships. There are two couples to follow throughout the course of the one-season series. On the one hand, you have Danny and Jordan who perfectly exemplify the relationship of Taylor Swift and the new boyfriend. Comfortable, reliable, endearingly sweet. And then there are Matt and Harriet who can’t get over each other. They’ve gotten together and broken up more than any of the other characters can count. They’re constantly fighting, but they also have unwavering support in the other. That is what I find enviable; they never lose faith in each other.

I’m fairly certain that Jane Austen would have known exactly what I’m talking about. She, too, understood that the best relationships are not the simple ones, but the ones filled with conflict, strife, and challenges. Deeply passionate love makes you examine every fiber of your being. There’s a reason that Elizabeth and Darcy are the heroes of Pride and Prejudice and not Jane and Bingley. It’s the same reason that Emma and Mr. Knightley are the couple of interest and not Harriet Smith and that poor farm boy. (Consequently, it’s why Sense and Sensibility is my least favorite Austen book, though I know it cover to cover.)

I constantly struggle with this little theory of mine. Because, although my heart wants epic, my mind tells me I want comfortable – that I will eventually just settle down with a best-friend type.

Now obviously the relationships we choose to idealize and covet in fiction are not always well-suited for reality. How many of the epic bonds and love stories from the page and screen are contingent on war or crazy murderers or whatever? In reality, Logan Echolls would probably not make a great boyfriend. Very few of my fictional boyfriends would probably make good real world boyfriends (here’s to you, Seth Cohen and Stiles Stilinski!). But these ‘bad boy’ characters, I like them (and the shows, to an extent) because they are escapist, they let me live vicariously through the characters.

I think it’s important to realize that there is some overlap. I’m interested in the fictional relationships that I am because I find at least some part of them interesting and appealing. The heroes, protagonists, and antagonists that I fall for, again and again, might not be great people. But they’re great characters. And I guess, as long as you or I understand the distinction, everything is copacetic. This Relationship Theory is obviously an extreme reaction to tropes and archetypes perpetuated by fiction, but there’s some truth to it. Rory chose Jess over Dean, she chose Logan over Marty, she chose action and adventure and passion over comfort and familiarity and movie nights with Lorelai. She used those relationships to help her figure out who she was and what she wanted out of life. And maybe that’s their most important function, after all.

Can We Talk About the Lizzie Bennet Diaries?

Subtitle, courtesy of @onlymystory, “If This is the Kind of Single Man in Want of a Wife…GIVE ME THE DAMN RING.”

I have a confession. So here’s the thing. The thing is: I am hopelessly addicted to The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. And you should be too.

As you may know, Monday was the 200th anniversary of the publishing of my beloved Pride and Prejudice. Okay, I guess I can’t say ‘my’ beloved. It’s not like I wrote it. If only. But still. As one of my favorite books and my absolute favorite movie, you are getting a post dedicated to Pride and Prejudice. Because, duh.

But wait, there’s a twist! I’m not going to wax poetic about the book (though I could) and I’m not going to fawn over the movie (even though I did watch it Sunday for approximately the 200th time). Instead, I am going to shout excitedly about the most recent interpretation: The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

First things first: What is it?

Good question! The one-line answer: Modern day P&P done as a vlog.

In this retelling, Lizzie Bennet is a 24 year-old grad student studying Mass Communications. She has two sisters – the elder, Jane, and the younger, Lydia. For fun, and as part of her thesis, Lizzie decides to make a vlog about her life and the matchmaking attempts of her mother.

The characters are, for the most part, the same. Their names and appearances? Not so much. For instance, Kitty has been relegated to the role of Lydia’s cat; Mary is a cousin. Don’t question it – it works. Also, all three sisters have gorgeous red hair. I’m having some serious hair-envy, y’all.

Charlotte Lucas is still Lizzie’s best and truest friend but she is now Asian and named Charlotte Lu. Charles Bingly is now Bing Lee. (Yes, he’s Asian. And yes, he looks like the Asian Tyler Hoechlin. Trust me? Oh, you don’t. Okay then:

Exhibit A: faces

H2d

Exhibit B: deuces

deuces2 deuces1

Exhibit C: abs

Bing Leeaaabs

Or maybe it’s just that ‘there’s something pleasant about his mouth when he speaks’ – smiles – whichever. Either way, I rest my case. (I know you didn’t ask but come on, it was totally worth mentioning.)

This adaptation, like any and all good adaptations, hits all the major plot-points: Jane falls for Bing Lee (love at first sight!). Lizzie finds Darcy intolerable. Bing Lee throws a party. Jane and Lizzie stay at Netherfield. Lizzie meets and flirts with Wickham. Wickham is full of shit and eventually hooks up with Lydia. Bing Lee is convinced to leave Netherfield by his interfering sister Caroline and best friend Darcy. Charlotte accepts a proposal from Mr Collins and then Lizzie goes to visit her. Lizzie goes to Pemberly and that’s where we are now.

I’m getting really invested in these characters. Like, if you had asked me a fortnight ago, I wouldn’t have thought it would be possible to have more love for Darcy and Lizzie or more hatred for Wickham or more angst and eye-rolling over Lydia but I LOVE IT SO MUCH MORE NOW. I’m thinking about the story differently and how this modern adaptation works (and how it doesn’t).

Like – Mary. I am so into Mary as a character. She is just a bad-ass and yet so perfectly in character: introverted, quiet, soft-spoken, keeps-to-herself. But then she knows how to wrangle Lydia and turns into a good friend for her cousin. And nabs herself a boyfriend!

Speaking of Lydia – I never would have imagined Lydia as a sympathetic character, not really, but this vlog has managed to do so. Giving her a spin-off series really lets us into the emotional depth of Lydia: she’s the baby of the family; she’s not as close to either of her sisters as they are too each other; she doesn’t have a love interest (and seems fairly content with that in the beginning) but clearly doesn’t want to be pigeonholed as a slut, either; she’s lonely. This is the first P&P adaptation, at least that I’ve seen, that really allows Lydia ample screen time and gives her some plot instead of treating her as a plot device.

And Lizzie. You guys, this series took the opportunity to show Lizzie as a biased/not completely reliable narrator and ran with it. Of course they kept Lizzie the main character and are telling the story from her perspective, but it’s so refreshing to see that she’s fallible – and that others around her know that! The use of Jane and Charlotte in the videos has really helped flesh out how Lizzie’s opinions can be ‘prejudiced’ and sometimes marred by her first impressions. (Fun fact, the original title of P&P was “First Impressions”. The more you know.) Her use of ‘costume theater’ helps dramatize her interactions with others, sure, but it’s also giving us, the viewers, a really accurate portrayal of how, exactly, Lizzie thinks of those people while veiling it in a ‘fake’ kind of way.

Now that it’s been mentioned, enough can’t be said for Lizzie’s costume theater. While biased, it really helped to introduce characters and give them another dimension while letting us into Lizzie’s mindspace. Also, it gives us time to really appreciate how precious and adorable these characters are. May I present:

darcy1 darcy2 darcy3 fitz1fitz fitz3

If you didn’t notice, the first gif set isn’t just Darcy – it’s hipster!Darcy. That is his natural character disposition! Darcy is a hipster. I totally buy that interpretation 100%. In Lizzie’s costume theater bits she always provides a red bowtie and newsie cap (in one episode she called Darcy a Newsie and I almost died I was so thrilled). In that first gif, those are HIS OWN hat and tie. He wanted to be in character costume to please her.

And that bottom gifset? Yeah, that’s Fitz. I don’t know if you remember him from the books, but he’s pretty much always been my fallback option for Lizzie if she couldn’t have Darcy. But in modern times he’s gay. And wonderful. I just, I need a Fitz in my life. He really gets Darcy’s personality and knows how to coax Darcy into being teasing and lighthearted and it’s fabulous. I also love that he and Gigi are conspiring to get Lizzie and Darcy together. Their twitter interactions are actually the best. Case in point:

Screen shot 2013-01-30 at 2.00.39 AM

Okay, I’ve made my pitch. If this hasn’t won you over, I don’t know what will. While you watch keep an eye out for Georgiana “Gigi” Darcy’s blatant machinations (with her super side-kick Fitz), the nods to having a Vlog Brother produce (Mary was reading Looking for Alaska), the cranberry green bean jello mould, Wickham’s abs, Mr Collins’ proposal, the Lizzie/Darcy fanfic shoutout (you guys – someone trolled AO3 by posting the first 800 or so words of P&P as if it were a Regency AU fanfic). Okay. That’s really all.

Start watching! I provided the link to the entire series playlist for your convenience:

(Don’t shoot me for the plethora of Diet Pepsi ads.)

Informative Speech: Fandom

Okay, show of hands – who here has ever heard of 50 Shades of Grey? Everyone, right? If you have, you’ve inadvertently stumbled across fandom. Today I’m going to explain what exactly fandom is, how it started, and how it has managed to make its very own subculture, complete with its own language.

First, it must be said that there is a difference between being a fan of something and being part of a fandom. Fans are casual in their interest – they will tune in from week to week to watch the show or pre-order the next book in the series, but they don’t devote any more time to it than to set their DVR or actually enjoy the material.

A member of a fandom is an entirely different story. For a member of a fandom, they invest their time and emotions to their interest. And it’s a phenomenon that’s been going on for over a century.

One of the facts I find most surprising about fandom culture is that it’s not new or recent by any stretch of the imagination. Though I only stumbled upon fandom in the last few years, fandom culture has actually been around for decades.

The first modern fandom is considered to be Sherlock Holmes. That’s right, there were fans sitting around as early as 1887, writing about these beloved characters in the first recorded cases of fan fiction. In 1893, fans of Sherlock Holmes even held public demonstrations of mourning when the titular character was “killed”.  Let me do the math for you – 125 years this has been going on. And for the record – Sherlock Holmes is still being written about today. I saw a story about him that was updated this morning.

The thing about fandom is that it can be for fans of literally anything. The most common and mainstream fandoms tend to be related to television shows, movie franchises and book series. They even have nicknames – you’ve probably heard of some of them:

  • Twilight fans are Twihards,
  • Firefly fans are Browncoats;
  • for Star Trek there are Trekkies
  • and Dr. Who has its Whovians.
  • Janeites are those who adore Jane Austen
  • Whedonites worship at the alter of Joss Whedon – figuratively, of course.
  • And yes, there are even Bronies – fans of My Little Pony.

I couldn’t make this up if I tried.

But there are less mainstream fandoms as well – for musicians and bands, anime, plays and video games. Even celebrities.

And when I say that fandom is a culture, that’s not a lie. It’s so expansive it has grown to have its own language. My friend Diana and I, though we have zero fandoms in common, can hold an entire conversation about the phenomenon without anyone understanding. It’s not their fault, they’re just not part of the culture.

So if you hear a strange conversation about a new ‘fic’ someone read, know that they’re probably talking about fanfiction – or fictional stories – anywhere from a few words long to a few hundred thousand – about a show or movie or book. In case you didn’t know – that’s how 50 Shades of Grey was born. It was originally published – probably on a site like fanfiction.net or Archive Of Our Own as Twilight fanfiction.

Or maybe you’ll hear the word ‘ship’ but no context clues to think the conversation could be about boating. They’re probably talking about two characters being in a relationship, or wanting characters to be in a relationship.

And beyond that, there are OTPs, or One True Pairings – the couples a fan thinks should belong together.

These ‘ships’ or OTPs may or may not be canon, which means they take place in the continuity of the fandom’s universe or ‘verse. If something is ‘canon’ it means it happened on the show, or in the book series, et cetera.

But something may also be ‘fanon’ or “fan canon”. That means that a fact which doesn’t necessarily exist in the universe or continuity of the show has been accepted by the fans as fact – such as minor character backstory or the first name of a character.

I know this is a lot to hear, especially if you’ve never been exposed to fandom before. Believe me, I understand. The first time I stumbled across a fandom I was googling every other word to understand this new language.

The thing about people that take part in fandoms is that you may never know that it’s a hobby of theirs. While I’ve always been a television addict, I’ve never had anyone that truly shares my passion about the same shows.

But then I joined Twitter and could follow the writer’s room of my favorite show. I thought – no big, I love to write, I wonder what their process is. And then I started recapping television shows for a small blog. And then I befriended THOSE writers on Twitter. And then I joined tumblr and all bets were off.

It grew slowly, and steadily, my delve into fandom. And now, after watching an episode of my favorite show, I no longer turn off the TV and get ready for bed. Now I log onto Twitter and see what is being said about it, and complain about how many FEELINGS the show has given me.

Fandom can be a bit of a life ruiner, but at the same time it’s rewarding to connect with people about my interests. It’s nice to live in a world that makes it easy to connect, and make friends. Now you don’t have to trek to San Diego to take part in Comic Con or Austin to go to the Austin Television Festival. Now if I want to talk about my crazy theories about ANYTHING I can take to tumblr or twitter, and immediately find some camaraderie.

Fandom is a strange concept to some. It’s even a strange concept to me, and I take part in them. But they can also be rewarding. And if you’re still lost, think of it this way – do you have a sports team that you’re devoted to? Do you take part in fantasy football or baseball? Then you, my friend, are also part of a fandom. Welcome.

Gallery

Makin’ Friends on Buses

I’ve been in England for a little over a week. In that short time, I’ve been to Brighton a handful of times, traveled East to the Village of Rottingdean, traveled North to the capital, London, and explored my campus in Falmer. I’ve traveled by bus, coach, and train. The bus is, surprisingly, the best. I’ve been grocery shopping no less than three times and eaten my weight in Nutella. I’ve been to class, the only class I have (for now) and picked my topics for my essay and presentation. All that’s left is planning the next few trips on the horizon. On the list are: Stonehenge & Bath, Oxford, Edinburgh, Dublin, Amsterdam, Paris, and Belgium. That’s not even counting the Pride & Prejudice tour of England I have planned. Wish me luck.

No Matter How it Ends, No Matter How it Starts

You may (or may not) have noticed that I’ve been fairly remiss in not updating my blog much at all this summer. And I truly, humbly apologize. It was just one of those summers where absolutely nothing happened. Okay, that was a fib. But it was another boring summer. This is my fairly Comprehensive List of Summer Accomplishments:

Books Read:

  • Loud in the House of Myself
  • Zombie Spaceship Wasteland
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Spoiled
  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

TV Shows Watched (in their entirety, for the first time):

  • Parks & Rec
  • Modern Family
  • Firefly
  • Castle

Shows I Started Watching, but Haven’t Finished. Yet:

  • Friday Night Lights
  • Party Down
  • Supernatural
  • Everwood

Aside from those amazing feats, I spent my days at BVFAC and my nights… at BVFAC. When I wasn’t working (at BVFAC, if that wasn’t, for some reason, clear) I was probably at a funeral. Because I went to three this summer. One each month I was on break. If that’s not a downer, I don’t know what is.

But now I’m back! I don’t have to work for the next 4 months! This will be the first time since I graduated from high school that I haven’t worked year-round. And what better reason to have my work life on hiatus than the fact that I am no longer in America and that my visa doesn’t allow me to work? At all. Can’t even intern or volunteer. What a crying shame.

So now I’m just hanging out in England. I arrived on the campus of the University of Sussex yesterday after traveling for approximately 24 hours by train, plane, and automobile. The country, from what I’ve seen of it, is gorgeous. Brighton, from what I’ve seen, is gorgeous. Kind of like a more lived-in, less crusty upper-class Georgetown (the area, not the school). My dorm room is nice, but lacking posters. Send me posters! I really don’t have any complaints. At least not just yet.

Okay, well I don’t have any complaints about the accommodations. Campus is lovely, as is everyone I’ve met so far. Also, their public transit is just as wonderful as DC’s. But… from what I’ve tasted of the food so far, not awesome. The food that was university provided, at least. I ate lunch at a cool little hole-in-the-wall Mexican place today down in Brighton and it was wonderful. But the fish and chips the Uni gave us for dinner was… weird. And cold. Is that how it’s supposed to be? I though it was supposed to be served fresh from a cart on the pier wrapped in newspaper. (The fish and chips, not the cart on the pier. Damn dangling modifiers.) And the bowl of what I had assumed to be cheesy rice? Perhaps it was a rice pudding, but I don’t think I’ll ever know for sure and I’m not necessarily that keen to know. I guess it’s a good thing this place is self-catering after all.

The cool thing about dinner both nights was that, not only was it free, we were served alcohol. It was strange. Being served, not the alcohol itself. The beer I had both nights was good. I haven’t been to the pub yet, but I’ll make sure give one a review once I’ve hit that milestone. Instead of heading out last night after dinner, we found the common room and made fun of the weird British commercials played during reruns of Friends. Because I am classy.

Tomorrow is a trip to London! So expect an update. And my class starts on Monday. Yup, class. Just the one. I have one class the entire month of September. And it involves a bunch of field trips. So, updates to come. And pictures. I don’t know how soon, but definitely sometime this month. That’s the best I can do, because I’m also in the midst of planning weekend trips. Because the one class I’m attending? Only meets two days a week. On concurrent days. In the afternoon. For two hours. So. Much. Free time. I’m hoping that by the end of the month I can, at the very least, check Dublin and Scotland off of my to-travel list. Keep your fingers crossed! (Both for me and timely updates!)

I’ve Got a lot of Angst (re: Sense & Sensibility)

I’ve slowly come to the crippling realization that I am my own worst enemy and it’s all Colonel Brandon’s fault.  See, it’s fairly simple. I hate Colonel Brandon. Absolutely loathe him.  He’s a sucky character and unworthy of the “hero” role into which Jane Austen so presumptuously thrust him in Sense & Sensibility. Perhaps I’m being unfair because S&S is my least favorite Austen novel. Maybe it’s because I have lofty ideals of an Austen hero challenging the heroine with his witty banter instead of swooping in to be her saving grace. There’s no maybe about that one, actually. I hate that Colonel Brandon saves Marianne. She shouldn’t need saving in the first place. (A lot of my anger might be misplaced, simply because I dislike Marianne). Furthermore, Colonel Brandon is too old for Marianne. It’s kind of skeevy (granted they live in the early 19th century).

But I’ve got my reasons for disliking Colonel Brandon. Here are some of them:

  • He’s too old for Marianne. Well, yes, that’s arguably true. But, at the same time, he’s not imposing or thrusting himself in her path. He’s patient and waits for her to come to him. He’s a friend to her in the meantime. And in the scope of Austen heroes, he’s well within an acceptable age-range. Knightley was almost 20 years older than Emma. Darcy’s probably 15 years older than Elizabeth. I’m just saying, he doesn’t really follow the “his age divided by 2 plus 7” rule.
  • There’s just no chemistry. Honestly, Col. Brandon has more chemistry with Mrs. Dashwood than he does with Marianne. Which, really, is reason enough to dislike his pursuing Mrs. Dashwood’s teenage daughter.
  • He’s so blah. No witty banter. None. He just seems old and tired. Run-down. He probably needs a vacation to Bath to lighten up. Jeesh. He’s practically curmudgeonly.
  • He’s old-school (unironically). Flannel waistcoats. Need I say more?

A lot of this I stand by. It’s not simply that he’s too old for her, it’s that he’s already been in love and only falls in love with Marianne because she reminds him of that girl he never had. The relationship between Marianne and Col. Brandon is one that has to be learned and I don’t like that. Marianne, at the end of the book, just kind of seems like, “Oh, very well. It’s not like I’ve got many other prospects, and this guy clearly loves me unconditionally…”

And they don’t really have chemistry. Austen novels teach us, over and over again, that chemistry is very important in a relationship. That witty banter is just a thin veil for their sexual tension. Compared to the sizzling dialogue between Elizabeth and Darcy, Marianne and Colonel Brandon are limp, overcooked noodles. I mean, sure, by the end of the novel Marianne is a different person than she was in the beginning. She knows that the “bad boy” Willoughby isn’t the best bet for a comfortable marriage. So she goes for his polar opposite: Colonel Brandon?

The thing that really kills me about Colonel Brandon, though, is that I can kind of identify with him. I see where he’s coming from. He’s lived, his heart’s been broken by unrequited love, he just wants to settle down. He doesn’t force Marianne into anything or make any presumptions. He doesn’t judge her. He lets her make her own choices, even when they (inevitably) lead to mistakes. I can respect that. Maybe Marianne will have to learn to love Colonel Brandon, but you know he won’t crowd her while that’s happening.

The single most way that I can identify with him, however, is in our infirmities. Neither of us are old. Well, I guess given life expectancies in early 19th century England, he was a little bit old. As a matter of fact, to him Marianne must be a veritable whippersnapper. But, alas, she was of age… Anyhow, infirmities. We both have them. Flannel waistcoat? He wears it. Sounds like something I would wear, too – and not just because of the implied hipster-ism. I’m not above admitting that I bust out the long-underwear every winter to stay nice and toasty.  Also, Colonel Brandon just strikes me as the kind of guy who frequently is in need of a hot water bottle. You and me both, mister. But, similarities aside, regardless of my respect for him, I have to say, he’s still my least favorite of Austen’s “heroes” and I’m not comfortable in casting him in such a light.

 “But at least, mama, you cannot deny the absurdity of the accusation, though you may not think it intentionally ill-natured. ColonelBrandon is certainly younger than Mrs. Jennings, but he is old enough to be my father; and if he were ever animated enough to be in love, must have long outlived every sensation of the kind. It is too ridiculous! When is a man to be safe from such wit, if age and infirmity will not protect him?” [Marianne]

“Infirmity!” said Elinor, “do you call ColonelBrandon infirm? I can easily suppose that his age may appear much greater to you than to my mother; but you can hardly deceive yourself as to his having the use of his limbs?”

“Did not you hear him complain of the rheumatism? and is not that the commonest infirmity of declining life?”

“My dearest child,” said her mother laughing, “at this rate, you must be in continual terror of my decay; and it must seem to you a miracle that my life has been extended to the advanced age of forty.”

“Mama, you are not doing me justice. I know very well that ColonelBrandon is not old enough to make his friends yet apprehensive of losing him in the course of nature. He may live twenty years longer. But thirty-five has nothing to do with matrimony.”

“Perhaps,” said Elinor, “thirty-five and seventeen had better not have anything to do with matrimony together. But if there should by any chance happen to be a woman who is single at seven-and-twenty, I should not think Colonel Brandon’s being thirty-five any objection to his marrying her .”

And, yes, after reading scenes such as this, I do often wonder as to why the hell Elinor didn’t end up with Colonel Brandon. And then I remember that stupid Mr. Ferrars. (No, the other stupid Mr. Ferrars.)

Clocks slay time… only when the clock stops does time come to life.

Another unproductive day. I woke up late and spent most of the time contemplating the dream I had last night and life at college. Sometimes it feels like I’m still waiting for the whole college experience to begin. It’s not that I’m not happy with my time at GW, it’s just that it doesn’t necessarily feel like the most typical, cliche version of events.

Anne and I bonded today, talking about our lives. It was a nice talk. I realized that I tend to be a pretty serious person. Not that I’m never goofy, but I don’t bring barrels of levity to every situation, either. I dearly love to laugh, but I don’t feel like I do it as often as I’d like. I’ve noticed in the last few weeks that I’m very fixated on my future instead of the now. I also tend to spend some time reminiscing. I don’t know how to better interact with the now, but it’s always going to be now, with my future passing by. Does that make any sense? I guess I need to work on seizing the day, taking the bull by the horns, carpe diem, yadda yadda yadda. My life just seems too busy to find time to change – what with classes, work and interning. But before I can change my habits, I need to figure out how. Next semester will be a more freeing time, what with no internship to contend with. On the whole, I’m content – I’m just not always happy. The spring will be a nice change of pace – I’ll have some more time for me.

The big issue I tend to wrestle with is finding my niche here at school. I have friends and I hang out with them a lot, but I still find it hard to beat my occasional reclusive behavior. I’m always harried by time. I feel like Quentin Compson, but, you know, without the incest and suicidal tendencies.

Maybe that’s the heart of the issue there. I don’t have my time to read – to completely absorb myself inside another life, to bear their burdens instead of mine for awhile. I’ll work on some homework, finish watching the Bama game, and give my current hero, Winston Smith some time to come alive. And maybe inspiration will strike and I’ll be able to work on my writing for a while. If only I had a fireplace or a beautiful old library…