I May Never Get Married

I may never get married. That might seem like an odd thing to say, but it’s more than possible that I’ll never get married. I’m something of an odd duck. Dudes aren’t lining up to date me. And while I believe that I’m called to marriage, that call isn’t a guarantee that I’ll ever get married. That idea doesn’t make me jump up and down with happiness, but it is something that I’m trying to accept in my life. And I’m trying to live my life in my current circumstances and to make the most of my life as it is. I want my life to be valuable and useful. I don’t want to sit around waiting for a husband to come to me, but instead I want to grow and become someone interesting and worth knowing.

With that in mind, I decided to write “The Idiot’s Guide to Surviving Singledom.” I have devised five fairly simple steps for this.

Step One: Buy and read really good books. Don’t waste your time with bad books or mediocre books. Read the really good ones. Read the books that make you think and help you to become a better person. For example, I have become a devotee of my beloved Evelyn Waugh because he both entertains and inspires me.

Step Two: Get a Netflix account. Watch movies/TV shows you like. Watch ones that challenge you or intrigue you. I’ve seen so many movies that I never would have seen if I didn’t have a Netflix account, and I think I’m better off for it. (Remind me to write a post about my ten favorite things I’ve only found because of Netflix.)

Step Three: Find some uber-awesome girlfriends and read books/watch movies/drink fancy and delicious beverages with them while discussing these books and movies. Have a single ladies’ book club. I’m not saying that you should exclude your married friends, but make sure that you’re supporting and encouraging your fellow single ladies. Talk about your hopes and dreams. Talk about work.

Talk about what you’re reading. (I have a good friend who asks me what I’m reading every time we hang out one-on-one. Someone remind me to recommend Evelyn Waugh to her.)

Talk about the movies that you’ve seen. I recently watched this great movie about this writer (who was played by the girl who played Amy on Doctor Who) who can only write when she’s unhappy so her publisher (who is French and a pretty hairy dude and kind of looks like Henry Cavill and he’s handsome and he’s really hairy) tries to make her unhappy so she can write more. And I loved it. So I’m telling everyone I can about it. Here’s the IMDB page for it. And it’s on Netflix. You’re welcome.

Talk about your fears. My greatest fear in life is that I’m going to be alone in a nursing home someday with no one to take care of me. And there is NOTHING I can do about this. But I’m afraid of it. I’ve talked to people about it. I don’t know what I’m going to do about it, but at least I’m acknowledging my fears.

Just talk. Laugh. Cry. Share recipes. Scream. Build friendships. Build relationships. You’ll need your girl friends if you get married. You’ll need them if you don’t. Build and maintain relationships.

Step Four: Listen to GOOD music. Don’t waste your time listening to crappy music. Listen to music that inspires you and helps you to become more you. I don’t know what that means for you, but I know what it means for me. And sometimes, I think my music taste is developing more in this single season of my life than it would if I were in a relationship. I define good music as music that inspires you, motivates you, supports you, and speaks to you.

Step Five: Learn to cook really well. This isn’t to make you a better wife. This is just because it’s a useful skill. You’ve got to eat right? Life is too short to waste on bad food. Experiment. Try new foods and new recipes. In the past year or so, I’ve learned that I love making (and eating) lentil soup. I have so much fun playing with quinoa and split peas. Orecchiette tastes better when you cook it in chicken broth than when you cook it in water. I think that a little garlic and some olive oil make everything better. Eat adventurously.
Above all, just live your life. Don’t sit around and wait for life to come to you. Pursue and engage life. Find what matters to you. Do things that scare you. Take adventures. Become someone interesting.

Five Things that Make Me Happy

It is currently zero degrees Fahrenheit outside. And I’m vaguely crabby about this. So lest people think that I’m a perpetual grump, I’ve compiled a list of five things that are making me happy on this first Friday of Lent.

1. This video. There has never been a time when this hasn’t made me happy.

2. Last night, the Tigers’ coaching staff serenaded Justin Verlander at dinner, and he posted a recording on his Instagram account.

3. This recipe. I adore it. I mean, okay, I tamper with it, but I love it.

4. I might be doing this today.

(From Dumpaday.com)

5. I have a mug of tea sitting next to me.

Movie Review: The Imitation Game

Those who know me well know that I am more than a bit of an Anglophile. I’m also a bit of a Benedict Cumberbatch fan. (I say “a bit” because I don’t feel about BTCC the same way that I do about Tom Hiddleston…which is to say that I have a standing agreement with my mother that if the opportunity ever presents itself she’ll throw me under TWH’s feet.) Anyway, given this information, it probably won’t surprise you to learn that as soon as I saw the trailer for The Imitation Game I knew that I had to see the movie.

Saturday evening, I finally got that chance. I went with a few friends-fellow Anglophiles and BTCC fans. I went in with high expectations, and mercifully, I was not disappointed.

The movie tells the story of Alan Turing, a mathematician who worked for the British government during World War II. Turing was involved in the project to break the Nazi Enigma code. He was also one of fathers of the modern computer.

Turing was an immensely complex human being. He was a genius although I’m not entirely sure that he would agree with my assessment of his brilliance or that he would appreciate my calling him thusly. And that may tell you a bit about his personality. While very intelligent, Turing struggled with social skills; the film says that he didn’t have many friends as a child, and he tells his one childhood friend that his mother calls him an “odd duck.” Based on the film’s presentation of Turing, I’d have to agree with that assessment. And while I find Turing endearing, I suspect that in real life I would struggle to like him at times. He is a person whose genius I could respect and admire, but I could see why others might find him difficult.

That said, the movie was impressive. The cast (Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Mark Strong, Allen Leech, Matthew Goode, Charles Dance, and Rory Kinnear) was strong; I knew just from the cast list that this movie had serious potential. And the cast didn’t fail.

Mark Strong put in an impressive performance as Stewart Menzies, head of MI-6. Unlike my usual experience of Strong, here he was NOT the bad guy. (I know; I was surprised too.) Instead, he was compelling, a strong (pun intended) character determined to win the war at whatever costs necessary.

Keira Knightley did about as well as I expected. I’m not a fan of Keira, but I thought that she did well with what she had. She provided an adequate performance, and as Joan Clarke, she made a valiant effort to try to humanize the socially awkward Turing.

I could keep going, but I won’t bore you. Matthew Goode was definitely more than a pretty face-although I’ve no objections to Goode’s face. Kinnear was a sort of stand-in for the audience as Turing attempts to explain what he did during the War a few years later. Leech was charming and endearing. And Dance provided me with frustration but also with an understanding of how others viewed Turing. The child actors (Alex Lawther and Jack Bannon) who played the young Turing and his friend showed talent and maturity that offers hope for the future. Simply put, the supporting cast was excellent. They added depth to the story and helped draw the audience into the story.

But of course you’re probably wondering how I felt about Benedict. Well, he’s brilliant. The usually smooth spoken Cumberbatch stammered and stumbled over his words. He was awkward and uncomfortable and yet arrogant, and he was believable. I’ve seen Cumberbatch as Sherlock, as William Pitt the Younger, as Paul Marshall…looking at his IMDB credits, I realize that I’ve seen over half of the movies/TV shows that he’s been in. I’ve seen him play so many different characters, and he’s always different. He doesn’t play the same character over and over again, and that (to me) is the genius of Benedict Cumberbatch. He brought Turing to life on the screen, and he made me love the character. As I said earlier, I suspect that if I knew Turing in real life he probably would have frustrated me at times, but BTTC showed us the person inside, the real person.

That doesn’t mean that I understand or agree with everything that Turing did. He made some decisions later in his all-too short life that I’m not sure I would have made. Not being him, I can’t understand or change him, but there were definitely moments where I thought “I would have done X instead of Y” or “If I were Turing, I’d have done…” But one of the great and remarkable things about life that is that we are ultimately all individuals and we all make our own choices. (Also, I live in a radically different world than his, and so I don’t experience the world in the same way that he did.)

Overall, I loved the movie. It was heartbreaking, but I needed that in a way. I needed to have my horizons broadened. I need to see a movie that taught me something not only about history but also about humanity.

It was brilliant, and I highly recommend it.

The Muppet Christmas Carol…and Me

People who know me well know that I love the Muppets. People who know me very well know that my favorite Muppet is Gonzo. People who know me really, really well know that I kind of want to grow up to be a Muppet-even though I know that this is completely impossible. And people who know me extremely well know that I kind of aspire to be Gonzo.

Image from FanPop

Given the fact that I love the Muppets and I love classic literature, it might not surprise you to learn that my favorite Muppet movie and my favorite Christmas movie is The Muppet Christmas Carol. I grew up on that movie. My family owned several different film adaptations of The Christmas Carol. We had The American Christmas Carol and the George C. Scott version and we might have had another one too. We generally watched at least one Christmas Carol film adaptation per Christmas season throughout my childhood. But The Muppet Christmas Carol was always my favorite. There are so many reasons to love the movie. (BuzzFeed even has a post all about 25 of those reasons!) Different people love the movie for different reasons. And I want to briefly ramble about why I love this movie.

Image from the Muppets Wiki

For me, it’s the perfect blend of literature, music, and humor. The message of the movie is positive. It shows the importance of family, of friendship, and of love. Despite having a cast of singing animals and vegetables, the movie conveys the original story nicely. I personally love Gonzo’s portrayal of Charles Dickens. A blue furry Charles Dickens is just what I need to get myself in the Christmas spirit. (Remember, he’s my favorite and my almost-hero.)

 

Image from Christmas Specials Wiki

I also love Kermit and Miss Piggy as the Crachits. They are so believable and adorable. I’m not saying that human actors can’t accurately portray this family, but there is something enchanting about these two as Bob and Emily. Their home is just so homey and real. I kind of want to go live there…as long as they can keep rats off the goose while it’s cooking.

I love so many things about the movie. I love Sam the Eagle as a (mildly confused) British teacher. I love Fozzie as Fezziwig. I love the penguins. I love this guy. (I don’t usually like rabbits, but I want Bean Bunny to be my new best friend and my new pet.)

Photo from Muppets Wiki

He and I would have SUCH good times together. We could sing obnoxiously together. But back to things I love about the movie…

I love the Ghost of Christmas Present. And I think above all it’s his song “It Feels Like Christmas” that explains why I love this movie. This movie understands what Christmas is about. It’s about love. It’s about kindness and sharing and caring and love. And as the song so beautifully says, “the message if you hear it is make it last year.” So, I’m going to leave you with my favorite song from my favorite Christmas movie.

 

What’s your favorite Christmas movie? What are your Christmas traditions? Have a blessed Advent and a merry Christmas!

Post-Theater Reflections on Frankenstein

In the summer of 2011, the National Theater in London put together a once in a lifetime theater experience. The NT put on a production of Nick Dear’s stage adaptation of Mary Shelley’s famed novel, Frankenstein, with Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) directing.

The basic premise was brilliant on its own, but then Boyle upped the ante. He made the decision to cast two actors to alternate between playing Victor Frankenstein and the Creature. The cast featured Jonny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch alternating those two roles.

I’ve long wanted to see this production, but how could I? It was a stage production in the summer of 2011. It’s 2014 now. I was S.O.L.

Until a few days ago, when my roommate informed me that our local movie theater was showing the NTLive film of the production this week. Monday night, they would show a version with Benedict Cumberbatch as the Creature and Jonny Lee Miller as Victor Frankenstein. She’s going on Wednesday, but I could only go tonight, so…I went tonight!

As I mentioned above, Danny Boyle is probably best known as the director of Slumdog Millionaire. However, he was also the director of the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremonies. That production prepared me far better for what I saw in Frankenstein than Slumdog Millionaire did. The music and the lighting were both similar to the Opening Ceremonies. They were otherworldly and very natural, very primitive.

Overall, the production was delightful. The story is told from the Creature’s perspective rather than Victor’s. And while the Creature isn’t excused/forgiven all of his faults, he is easier to understand when one realizes/acknowledges that he was abandoned by his Creator at his “birth.”

There is, for example, an utterly brilliant scene in which the Creature and Victor meet and discuss both Victor’s motives in creating the Creature and the Creature’s current behavior/lifestyle. In their conversation, it becomes apparent that Victor views himself as a type of god or an equal to god. The Creature’s response comes from Milton’s Paradise Lost.

“Is this the region, this the soil, the clime,
Said then the lost Archangel, this the seat
That we must change for heav’n, this mournful gloom
For that celestial light?

In this scene, I think that Dear and Boyle demonstrate a full understanding of the struggle central both to the character of Victor Frankenstein and to that of the Creature. Frankenstein’s desire to be a god in his act of corruption forces the initially innocent Creature to feel a kinship with Satan rather than Adam. While the God of Genesis responds to the creation of Adam by saying “It is very good,” Victor responds to the creation of the Creature by panicking and running away. The contrast is thought-provoking. I think I’m not done processing this yet, but the production definitely left me with some meat to chew on.

Over all, I enjoyed the play. It was different from what I expected, but I liked being forced to think. If you can get a chance to see the film, I’d definitely recommend it.

If you’ve seen the production, I’d love to hear your thoughts. And once my roommate sees the version with Jonny Lee Miller as the Creature and Benedict Cumberbatch as Victor, I’ll try to link-up her reflections.

Pattern Release: Elise McKenna

Last summer, I was privileged to visit one of Michigan’s little bits of heaven, Mackinac Island. While there, I asked my lovely friend, Kathleen, to model a cowl I had just designed that I was going to name Elise McKenna after the main character in the classic film, Somewhere in Time (Collector’s Edition). Kathleen was, naturally, a wonderful model, and the cowl flowed beautifully with the beautiful waters of Lake Huron. IMG_0862 The cowl is worked flat and then seamed at the end. It uses US Size 6 needles and about 300 yards of fingering weight yarn. It is a relatively simple pattern, and I hope that you’ll give it a try. IMG_0863I have decided to publish this pattern as a free pattern until the end of 2013. The pattern can be found here and you can see my project page hereIMG_0864

Two Hundred Years of Pride and Prejudice

In case you haven’t heard yet, my favorite book turned 200 today. Yes, the thoroughly delightful Miss Jane Austen first published her most famous work on January 28, 1813.

And two hundred years later, the book (and its various film adaptations) are still beloved by women (and men) the world round. After all, who can ever forget the chemistry sizzling between the awkward Colin Firth and the defiant Jennifer Ehle in the 1995 BBC adaptation or the awkward brooding of Matthew MacFayden in the the 2005 edition?

The story has encountered zombies. It’s been modernized and sent to India. It’s even found its way into a vlog format on YouTube.

So why is this story so popular? What makes this brooding, shy man so attractive to women of the 21st century?

(photo credit: Pinterest)

Is it that we just all love the thought of Colin Firth in a waistcoat and cravat? Is it because all women see themselves as Elizabeth Bennet and their best friend as Jane Benent? Or is it something in his air, his manner of speaking, his manner of treating his beloved Elizabeth that strikes us? Is it his strong morals and his devotion to those he loves that resonates with us?

Well, I can’t speak for all the Janeites, but I can speak for myself.

Fitzwilliam Darcy is a strong, proud, reserved man. He is well-educated, both at an academic level and a personal level. (Have you heard about his library?) He holds firmly to his beliefs-although he does accept correction when it is needed. He defends what he believes in. He isn’t perfect as he himself will admit, and this admission is not false modesty but a sincere fact. He will do anything for those people he loves-his sister, Georgiana, Charles Bingley, Elizabeth Bennet etc. And this is endearing to me.

And then there is Elizabeth. She is a strong woman who knows her mind. She is intelligent. Like Darcy, she is protective of those she loves. She is stubborn but willing to be corrected when necessary. She is impetuous and not always the most discerning. But she is a very intelligent young lady.

The supporting cast is also realistic. While they are not as strongly and intricately drawn as the main characters, they are still realistic and relatable. We’ve all known some variation on Caroline Bingley and Colonel Fitzwilliam. Like it or not, we’ve all met a Wickham.

So why is Pride and Prejudice so popular after two hundred years? Because it’s realistic and relatable-at least that’s my take on it. (And because while these two are stinking adorable,

(Picture via fanpop)

These two are just as adorable…

(Picture courtesy of Pinterest)

What do you think? Why do you think that a book about relationships (not just romantic relationships but friendships and family relationships) has endured for 200 years? Please let me know in the comments.