The Ten Best Things that Netflix has Brought into My Life

If you know me well, you know that I love movies. I’m fond of TV at times, but I don’t tend to watch much current TV. I watch Castle. I watch Downton Abbey when it’s in season. And I watch The Mindy Project. I used to watch 30 Rock and How I Met Your Mother when they were on. But by and large…yeah, I’m more of a movie girl.

However, I’m a big fan of Netflix because it provides me with background noise while I’m grading or doing schoolwork or knitting. I’ve had a Netflix account on and off since the spring of 2010, and it’s brought many good movies into my life. So I thought I’d compile a list of what I like and recommend to others.

  1. Old movies: I was interested in old movies long before I ever heard of Netflix. I love Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart, and Netflix lets me see more of their movies than I can borrow from the library at any given time. The selection isn’t always consistent, but there are always a few new selections for my amusement and edification.

9. Psych: I’m not a huge fan of the later seasons, but I love this show. As a college student without cable, Netflix was the only way that I could watch Shawn Spencer torment Ghee Buttersnaps or whatever he had chosen to call Gus that week. And Pierre Despereaux is only an added bonus. Basically, it’s a hilarious buddy cop comedy, and I love it.

  1. Possession: The first time that I saw this movie, I was entranced. From the story line to the costumes to the acting…it was all amazing. I went on to read the book, and I loved it as well. It’s a brilliant, compelling story, and it was deeply moving to me both on the page and on the screen.

  1. Parks and Recreation: Everyone said that I’d love it, but I never got into it while it was on the air. A few weeks after it went off the air, I started watching it. And oh my lord do I ever love it! It’s quirky and ridiculous and charmingly flawed. Also, I like bacon. Please give me all of the bacon.

  1. The Grand Seduction: I’ve learned from my relationship with Netflix that I like quirky movies about people who feel real and who do things that have logical motivations that I can relate to. This movie about a small fishing village in Newfoundland that is struggling to adapt to the 21st century struck a chord with me. The characters felt real, and while their lives weren’t easy, I liked them and felt they were the sort of people I’d like to know.

  1. House of Cards: It’s not as good as The West Wing, but it fills a whole that TWW left in my life. I do love me some fictional political intrigue. I can’t watch it before bed because it gets me too amped up emotionally, and I can’t sleep. But while I don’t always like the characters, I want to know what’s going to happen to them and how it’s going to happen.
  1. Doctor Who: I’m a self-professed nerd, and I wouldn’t be half as happy as I am without Doctor Who. It’s smart (usually) and funny and all-around good fun. (If you’re wondering, David Tennant is my doctor.)

  1. Not Another Happy Ending: This movie was made for me. It’s smart and funny and entertaining. It’s a little dark, and it’s better if you don’t overthink it. It tells the story of an author and her complicated relationship with her publisher. It also sorts through the complexities of her (moderately dysfunctional) relationship with her father. Overall, it can be frustrating at times, but the end is so worth the watch.

  1. The West Wing: I started watching this show in September and finished it in January. It’s intelligent. It’s entertaining. It’s witty. It’s the best thing that I’ve ever seen. I love the dialogue and the character development. Overall, the show makes me wish for better things for my country. I wish that our country were led by the politicians on this show and not our current leaders-either side of the aisle. (Also, picking a video clip to accompany this was one of the hardest things that I’ve done today. I chose two and an image with one of my favorite quotes because y’all need to love and appreciate them.)

  1. The Decoy Bride: This might be my favorite movie. I relate to Katie so much. I jokingly call my church the Isle of Hegg because the two are not that dissimilar. The movie speaks to me. I wish I could go “man-vegan.” And I swear I am a “whole lot hotter than I look.” Now I just need my own personal David Tennant…

What movies or TV shows has Netflix introduced you to? What movies do I need to see?

Gilbert Blythe

True Confessions: I spent far too much of my young life wanting to be a redhead. Because I (like many girls, I think) wanted to be this girl…

I first encountered Anne Shirley and all of Avonlea when I was nine. And I fell head over heels in love with that whimsical, overly dramatic redhead and the whole eccentric town. I often tell people the first guy I ever fell for was Christian Bale when he played Laurie in Little Women, and that’s true. But my first real literary crush was this gentleman.

Gilbert Blythe, ladies and gents, Gilbert Blythe…I was that nerdy girl who wanted to marry Gilbert Blythe. He was smart, he was handsome, he was sweet, and he was good. He was unbelievably good, and I loved that. He rescued Anne from her ridiculous Lady of Shalott escapade. And he told Charlie Sloane (in front of Josie Pye!) that being smart was better than being good-looking. He also told Charlie that Anne was the smartest girl in the class. Gilbert was a good man.

(I also named a car after him once. It was a good car, a noble car.)

And for me, Jonathan Crombie perfectly captured my literary crush on the screen. He was impish and handsome and sweet and…he was Gil.

Jonathan Crombie died this past Wednesday. And I’m gutted. I never met the man. All I know of him is that he was in three movies that I loved, and apparently he loved those movies and being associated with them. But it’s so sad to me. He was young. And he’s gone…so suddenly. I feel like he’s taken a part of my childhood with him.

And at 26, I’m not okay with that. I’ve accepted that I’m an adult. But this somehow hurts in a way that I hadn’t expected. I know that he wasn’t Gilbert, but it somehow feels like Gilbert has died. I know that Gilbert is a fictional character and all, but I still feel this bizarre sense of loss.

Now, I suppose I’ll have to reread those books. And maybe I’ll rewatch those movies. And I’ll remember that while Jonathan is gone, Gilbert will always be with us in those books. Jonathan may have (beautifully) given him life on screen, but Gilbert can always be found in the pages of those beautiful books.

So rest in peace, Jonathan. Thank you for sharing your gift with us and for giving Gilbert life. You will never be forgotten.

Allergies and Friendship

Last month, Verily posted a great article called “How to Make a Friend With Allergies Feel at Ease.” At the time, I meant to post it on my Facebook feed, but then I forgot. However, it also inspired me to write my own post about living with allergies.

For those who don’t know, I have some common allergies such as pollen, dust, and mold. I also have a dairy allergy that was for many years incorrectly identified as lactose intolerance; many people in my life tend to mistake it for lactose intolerance still. And then I have some odd allergies such as an allergy to cotton. (Yes, I take allergy meds so that I can wear pants. Please don’t ask me about how I discovered this allergy.) I’m also allergic to most scented products. For example, even going into Bath and Body Works means that I will be spending some quality time with my inhaler that day. That scented lotion or perfume that you just love may well leave me with a constricted airway and a headache/dizziness. Most of my allergies are based in/around my respiratory system, and it’s probably no surprise that while I’ve had allergies for years, they became much worse after I had atypical pneumonia when I was 19.

The allergy that I want to most emphasize in this post is my dairy allergy. It is my most misunderstood, it has progressively worsened as I’ve gotten older, and it is my hardest to manage at a practical level. I go to many social events where the default food offering somehow involves dairy. Pizza is, for example, a quick and easy food offering. I know this well; in about a month, I’m actually hosting a party where I will be serving pizza-simply because it’s easy to get. However, I will also order Chinese food for myself so that I can eat. However, I’m providing myself (and anyone else who needs one) with a safe option.

At many of the social functions I attend, there is no safe option for me. My only options are to either go hungry or essentially poison myself knowingly. Last summer, I attended two weddings where the menu caused me serious issues. While my friends and family remarked on the sheer volume of food and felt that they may have eaten too much, I was near tears because of lack of options. Cream/cheese sauces on meat, on pasta, on vegetables…bread that came pre-buttered…mashed potatoes made with butter and milk…I was grateful that the asparagus was only cooked in olive oil. There were gluten-free options, but there weren’t real dairy-free options.

I realize that no one intended to offend me or hurt me. It is often largely a lack of awareness or understanding. While some people with food sensitivities can eat butter in baked goods, I cannot. (Cue story about the time that a friend very kindly bought me muffins thinking that I could eat them because he didn’t really that they were made with butter; I ate half of one and never told him that it made me sick.) Some people can eat pizza if they take the cheese off the top; I cannot. I spent three days miserable last month because I ate cheese pizza from which I had removed the cheese. That proximity hurt my digestive track.

What is my goal in writing this post? I have two goals really. The first one is awareness. I would like to make both my social circle and others I don’t even know aware of the dangers of food allergies. For some reason, I’m very sensitive emotionally about my food issues, and I tend to get upset/sad when there isn’t food that I can eat. Unfortunately, people tend not to understand why I’m standing outside a restaurant (or sitting in one) crying over a menu. The reality is this: If there is ONE (and only one) thing a menu that I can eat, that hurts. I feel left out. While y’all are debating between the pasta and the fish and the steak, I’m stuck with the spaghetti and meatballs. And while I like spaghetti and meatballs, I can make my own at home. If I’m eating out, I want something that I wouldn’t make myself.

The second is to encourage reflection and potential change. When you are eating with a friend with food allergies (either providing food or eating out), be mindful of what they can and cannot eat. Try your best to make sure that your friend will have options. Ask your friend what they can and cannot eat. At the party that I’m hosting next month, I’m going to buy myself Chinese food, but I’m also going to make sure that other guests know that if they need a dairy-free or gluten-free option, they should just let me know.

Talk to your friends with food allergies. Do your best to make them feel comfortable and welcome. Ask them what they would like to eat. Browse menus ahead of time so that you’re sure that friend will have options. One of my least favorite questions to be asked (which was also referenced in the Verily post) is “So what CAN you eat?” I realize that my food issues make me more difficult, but that remark makes me feel like I’m trying to be problematic. Trust me; I wish that I wasn’t such an issue.

When I go to a new restaurant, I try to check the menu online before going. (Admittedly, this is hard when traveling.) If I don’t have at least three options, I try to propose a new option. I read labels obsessively. I ask waiters annoying questions. I say “never mind” or “forget it” to more waiters than you could imagine-and I feel terrible about it. I also tend to tip those servers more generously.

One last suggestion: Try doing your own research. Ask questions. If you ask nicely, I’ll tell you whatever you want to know. If you want a list of what I can and cannot eat, I’ll make it for you; just ask. A few of my friends have made or ordered pizza with goat cheese for me; I can’t eat that anymore, but when I could, it was the sweetest thing for me. The guy who bought the muffins? I really appreciated them because he was trying. Yeah, it wasn’t quite what I needed, but he made a genuine effort. He made me feel included. And that is the biggest thing that you can do for your friends with allergies.

Help us to feel included. Eating is a social activity in our culture, and if we can’t partake of the food, then we don’t feel as connected. Ask us what we would like to eat, what we like to make…we might introduce you to some new and awesome dishes. Consider keeping us company if we’re sick because of something we ate or if we step outside because we’re overwhelmed by a lack of “Cecilia-friendly” food.

And please try to be patient if we don’t want to participate in an event. I have been known to skip social events because I know that the food won’t be “Cecilia-friendly.” If I make that choice, please don’t judge/criticize/mock me. Please realize that I’m acting in defense of my own health. And ultimately, if you haven’t got your health, you haven’t got anything.

Why “The Prince of Egypt” is an Easter Movie

From Christian Film Database

I love the movie,The Prince of Egypt. It came out when I was about ten, and I fell in love with the move. It was a story that I knew well, the story of Moses, the Passover, and God delivering his chosen people from slavery in Egypt. It was a story of God’s love for humanity and his desperate desire to draw his people to himself. But something about that movie resonated first with my ten-year-old self and then on into adulthood in a dramatic way.

Several years ago, I tried to convince a friend of mine that it is an Easter movie, and he disagreed with me. I don’t really remember his premise, but thinking it over, I think that I’m right.

On the surface, it is the story of God using Moses to lead the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt and into the Promised Land of Canaan. Well, okay, the movie only takes them just past the Red Sea, but the ultimate goal for them was the Promised Land. And it is clear from the movie that they will get there. It is the story of the first Passover. (Exodus 1-14)

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday, and from there Christians move through Holy Week towards Holy/Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and ultimately Easter Sunday, Pascha. In those days, we celebrate Christ’s Passover. Just as God led his chosen people, the Israelites, out of physical slavery and into a physical Promised Land in the Exodus, so too in his Passion, Christ led his people out of a slavery to sin and death and into a the Promised Land of the Kingdom of God.

Jesus’ death and Resurrection took place at the time of the Jewish Passover, and that is no coincidence. He wanted to make it clear who and what he was. As the Paschal Canon of St. John Damascene says, “It is the day of Resurrection, * O People, let us be enlightened by it. * The Passover is the Lord’s Passover, * since Christ our God, has brought us from death to life * and from earth to heaven. * We therefore sing the hymn of victory.”

Christ is the Passover that comes once and for all. The lambs who were sacrificed and the first-born sons who died were for the liberation of those particular slaves, for that particular group of people’s freedom. They were but a foreshadowing of what was to come. They prefigured the Firstborn Son who would come into the world and become the Lamb of God, the Lamb who was “slain, and purchased for God with [his] blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” (Rev. 5:9)

That is the story prefigured by The Prince of Egypt. The story that began in the Garden of Eden, continued with Noah, with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and with Jacob’s sons continues with Moses and the enslaved Israelites. It is the story of a God who tells Moses that “I have seen the affliction of my people in Egypt and have heard their cry…for I know their sorrow.” (Exodus 3:7). That is the same God who will send his only Son into the world because he continues to see the affliction of his people and heard their cries. And in the appointed time, he sends Jesus to live as a man, to suffer and die, and to rise from the dead to save his people from their slavery to sin and death.

To me, that means that The Prince of Egypt is absolutely an Easter movie. It tells a story of God’s relentless desire for his people, his tireless love for a people who continually turn their backs on him. He is a God who hears his people crying out for him. He loves them, and while his plans may not always make sense to us humans, he will never fail us.

And that is also the story of Easter, the story of a God who so loved the world that he sent his only Son into the world to give life and freedom to all people.

What do I “deserve?”

About a week or so ago, some friends of mine and I were discussing the phrase “You deserve better than…” after someone else had recently said it to me with regard to a complicated situation in which I had found myself. It’s an odd phrase to me, but I know that some people love it.

My main issue with that phrase is that we don’t always get what we deserve in life. We just don’t. The person who said that to me said it with good intentions, but the thing that he had forgotten is that we don’t always get what we deserve. Sometimes, we have to compromise and accept a less desirable option.*

I like to go for walks as a form of exercise. I can’t run due to knee issues, which stinks because I want to run a marathon. I really do. But anyway, I like to go and walk for about 40 minutes or so in the early evening. It clears my head and helps me work off stress. I listen to music. I day dream. And I get honked at by random dudes driving down the road.

When I lived with my parents, I walked in their subdivision, and I never really got catcalls or honking. I loved it. But now that I lived in an older, more traditional neighborhood, part of my daily walk involves a major road…and the honking is a part of my walk. I go for walks in either a sweatshirt/coat with jeans or a t-shirt and (boys’) gym shorts in the summer. I don’t view my attire to be provocative or even really attractive. And most days, someone honks at me. I know that this is intended to be a compliment, and I don’t think that these men are bad people. I think that they’re not thinking about what they’re doing.

But here’s the thing. I feel objectified by this. I don’t feel good about myself. I don’t feel complimented. I feel weird. I realize that the honking is meant as “you’re hot” or “you have a nice body” or something like that. It’s not meant to be creepy or gross. But it makes me uncomfortable. It makes me feel like they see me as an object rather than a person.

Now I don’t know any of these guys, and I don’t know their stories. But if I could, I’d love to sit down with them and tell them how it makes me feel to be honked at. See, I’m more than my body. And I want to be seen as more than my body. I’m a person with thoughts and feelings and what not. I love baseball. I love to read. I love to knit. I love to drink coffee. I love to laugh and to cook and to play Scrabble. I love cats and dogs. I like chocolate, but I don’t like Skittles. I love most tea, but I’m not much for rooibos.

These guys don’t know me. I could be married. I could have five kids. I could be a lesbian. I could be a really feminine looking dude. (That’s unlikely, I realize, but I’m just throwing things out there.) None of that is obvious from looking at me when I’m walking down the street.

Now, I don’t think that I deserve to be honked at. I don’t dress in a manner that could be described as “asking for it,” and even if I did, that’s still not an appropriate response/behavior. I don’t deserve to be treated as an object. No woman does. Women (and men-all humans, in fact) deserve to be treated with respect. Honking at a woman isn’t respectful. It also wouldn’t be respectful if I honked at guys walking down the road because I thought they were almost as hot as I think Tom Hiddleston is. (For the record, I wouldn’t honk at TH if I saw him walking down the road; that’s rude.)

The problem is that I can’t sit down and talk to these guys. I can’t find out their stories and share mine with them. I have to simply accept the honking. I may not “deserve” it. It may make me uncomfortable or make me feel objectified. But until men stop honking at women or at least stop finding me attractive enough to honk at, I have to take it. I think that I deserve better than being honked at. I think that these guys deserve better than honking at random women.

But in reality, it doesn’t matter what I deserve or what I think that I deserve. I can’t change the world. I can only change me. So I’m going to choose to continue ignoring the honking. I can accept that it’s happening. I don’t like it. It makes me uncomfortable. But I have compromised (internally) and accepted it because I don’t think that it’s possible to fight with every guy who honks or whistles at me.

But seriously people, dudes have got to stop honking at women. Women deserve better. And honestly, so do men.


*I’m not talking about compromising with major life decisions. I’m talking about compromising with things like not attending an event we want to attend because the situation simply isn’t logistically feasible. I might deserve to attend that event, but the logistics might not actually pan out.

FO: Enfield Pullover

Usually, when I write a finished object post, I like to tell you some story about how I found some pattern that I loved and some amazing yarn. Today shall be no different. One Tuesday in early January, Mary Annarella released a new pattern, and as soon as I saw the Enfield Pullover, I knew that I needed it. Then, I noticed that she used the Plucky Knitter‘s Snug Worsted, and I got even more excited. I was scheduled to have a sweater quantity of snug worsted in Skies of November coming in early February.

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So, the yarn came, and I started knitting the sweater. It’s a very clear pattern and very easy to follow. The construction is slightly different from anything that I’ve done previously because you build up the back and sleeves for a bit before you cast on the front. This is designed to deepen the neckline, and I think it’s a great design feature. 
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It’s also a pretty quick knit. And the end result is gorgeous. I love it. The yarn is soft and warm. The color is gorgeous. And while I don’t think (and I don’t hope) that this sweater will get too much wear this winter, I’m pretty stoked that I’ll have it around for next winter.  IMG_2233 IMG_2234 IMG_2235 IMG_2245

Raveled here.

Why I Want to Get Married

I was recently asked why I want to get married. The quick easy answer for me is “because I want a KitchenAid.” (No seriously, I do, and I don’t understand [other than the cost] why I have to wait until I get married to get one. But if you want to buy me one, I’d love to have one. Also, I kind of want a purple one, but I’m not going to be picky.)

Also, I’ve put a lot of time and energy into building up my “Planning for my Maybe, Possibly, Someday Wedding” Pinterest board, and it’d be nice to get to use some of those ideas.

I jest.

The real answer is more complicated. See, I’m Byzantine Catholic, and marriage is one of our seven sacraments. As Catholics, we define a sacrament as “an outward sign of an inward grace.” Well, hey, I like grace. I always want more of it. I definitely need more of it. So if there’s something that’s going to get me more grace, well, sign me up!

In Genesis, God says that is not good for Adam to be alone, and therefore he created Eve. (Gen. 2:18) I accept that. We aren’t made to be alone; we are made to live with other people. Marriage can help in this area, but that’s not entirely satisfactory reason for me. I have friends. I have family. Do I really need to get married just to keep me from being alone? Well, marriage does require a different sort of companionship and commitment than my relationship with my housemates does. It is a different kind of love.

Marriage is meant to be a mirror of the love of the Trinity. Cardinal Dolan explains that far better than I could ever dare, so just read him on the subject. Please.

In I John, St. John tells us that “God is love and the one abides in God abides in love and God abides in him.” (I John 4:16) I love that idea. I love it. Love comes from God, and if we are followers of God, then we must be mirrors of his love to the world. Marriage is a way of mirroring that love. But this is where that gets hard…

A few years ago, Haley of Carrots for Michaelmas wrote a post entitled “Marriage is a Kind of Death.” The title is a little shocking/jolting, but as I read it, I had to agree with that assertion. In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells us to “love one another as I have loved you.” (John 13:34) How did Christ love us? What was his greatest expression of love for us?

Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:6-11)

That is love. That’s the way that we’re supposed to love one another. That’s the love that our marriages are supposed to reflect to the world. I want to live that love. I want to be Jesus to those around me. Now, I don’t need to get married for that, but that’s what married love is supposed to be. And if I get married, that’s what I want. Is it hard? Yes. Will it require sacrifices from me? Yes. But will it be worth it? I believe yes.

The day after his wedding, Blessed Charles of Austria reportedly told his wife “Now we must help each other get to heaven.” That, to me, is one of the primary aims of marriage. Marriage is designed to draw us closer to God. It is supposed to help us to grow in holiness-by laying down our lives out of love for others. And this life then ought to be a witness to the world of God’s love for all of us.

A few years ago, I told a friend of mine that I don’t want to GET married; I want to BE married. The idea of a big wedding and having a party where I’m the center of attention is about as attractive to me as being boiled in oil. But on the other hand, I want to be married. I want to have a marriage; I’m just not enthusiastic about the part of my wedding where there will be people paying all kinds of attention to me.

When I recently told one of my housemates about this, she corrected me. “You don’t JUST want to GET married. You ALSO want to BE married.” She pointed out that the actual “getting married” part is the whole thing in the church, and I want that. I really do want to have a beautiful church wedding with all of the rituals and traditions that are inherent to a Byzantine Catholic wedding. But my desire to get married isn’t just about the wedding day. It’s about the life that comes with it.

I don’t want just the pretty day. I want the life that comes with it. I want the challenge of daily surrender, of putting another person (other people if I am blessed with children) ahead of myself. I want the life lived in the service of others.

I want to be married because I want to be a part of a union that reflects the love of God to the world. I want to be married so that I can live the love of Christ in a daily basis as my husband and I build a family. I want to be married because I want to build and encourage the Body of Christ. I want to be married because I believe that God has called me to marriage.

That’s the bottom line. It’s not Pinterest. It’s not the Kitchen Aid. It’s Christ crucified. (I Cor 1:23)

I believe that I was called to marriage. I believe that when I was 18 years old the Lord told me that I was made to be a wife and mother. And I believe that he has repeated that call to my heart and on my life multiple times since then.

So why do I want to get married? I want to do the will of God in all things.