Sunday, May 27, 2012

"The farmer dude is awesome!" or, "Girls' Commentary on Emma, by Jane Austen"

My daughter had her birthday sleepover last night. We went swimming, out to eat, painted nails and watched a movie. The movie was the main event, anticipated greatly by at least one of us.


You see, this was the first time I allowed my daughter to experience Jane Austen. I have protected Jane  from the offense of being read by to young-a-girl, of being blown off, misunderstood, or haphazardly compared to any other romantic girl-in-pretty-dress period movie or book that they may have seen or read.  I wanted to make sure that Emelie would be old enough to truly appreciate Jane.

I chose Emma, the 2009 BBC version for the movie selection. Emma is the most comedic of Jane Austen's works, and Emma herself is a very realistic character, with serious flaws, who makes real mistakes. The BBC version of the movie is 4 hours long and stays very true to the novel.

I had a fear that they wouldn't like it. That they'd think it was boring, slow, old-fashioned or too complex. If that had been the case, I'm not sure what I would have done. Go cry in my room. Offer my kids up for adoption... I just don't know. But, I didn't have to find out because they all loved it. (See video at the end of this post) At 11:35, when we were just half way through, they tried to predict the ending, and then insisted that we watch it all the way through, right then, and not wait till morning as was the plan. I obliged and we finally went to bed at 2 AM.

It was worth every minute - listening to them groan at Mr. Elton, feel sorry for poor Harriet, complain about snooty Emma, swoon over Frank Churchill and plead with Mr. Knightley to just "get down on one knee already!"

As Emelie said half way through, "Frank is nice and cute, but he always seems to get Emma into trouble. Then, Mr. Knightley is there to pull her out. I think I like him best." They were won over 100%. Jane Austen has been successfully passed down to another generation just as she has been for these past 200 years!

"(Jane Austen's novels) appear to be compact of abject truth. Their events are excruciatingly unimportant; and yet, with Robinson Crusoe, they will probably outlast all Fielding, Scott, George Elliot, Thackeray, and Dickens. The art is so consummate that the secret is hidden; peer at them as hard as one may; shake them; take them apart; one cannot see how it is done."
Thornton Wilder, 1938

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Monday, May 21, 2012

I'm not afraid anymore

I've just realized it. Just now.

I've been sitting here at my computer, attempting to design a stunning website for a client, listening to my two little girls (ages 4 and 6) playing in the living room next to me.

They were playing 'Getting Married'. This entails pretending to put make up on, going dancing and finding a husband. They ask the imaginary men if they think they're pretty. They decide if they like the imaginary guy and then run off with a towel over their hair for an impromptu wedding in the entry way.

I sat here, looking out the window laughing at them.

I just smiled and laughed and tried to watch them without being caught, because that would end the game, of course.

See, several years ago, I would have stopped the game.  I would have told them that they shouldn't be thinking about getting married... you're just little girls, right?! This is a very serious thing.  I would have asked them why they were worried if a guy thought they were pretty. Inner beauty is much more important. And, it takes a long time to find a husband. This just isn't something we play at, girls.

(I'll pause here while you laugh at me...)

But, that was several years ago.

Because I was paranoid.

I've always had an overwhelming desire to have what is good for my children. I want them to be Catholic, moral, holy, discerning.  I want them to choose good spouses. I want them to go to heaven. And, I guess in my ignorance as a young mother, I thought I could 'force' those things by creating a certain environment. By reading only certain books, watching only certain kinds of shows, by playing only certain kinds of games. More impressively, by what we wouldn't do.  What we wouldn't hear, see, discuss or pretend. If I guarded them against anything and everything that could possible open a path to something wayward, then nothing bad could ever happen, right? I could control it. Yes.

I needed to control because I was so afraid. Afraid that they'd be like me. That they'd make stupid decisions. That they'd get hurt and hurt others. That they'd be selfish and worldly and not listen to the Lord speaking in their hearts. Goodness sake, I can't have THAT. None of it. They'd be lost forever. And what would my friends think?

Then, at Easter Vigil this year, I realized something big. Big for me, at least. God got me anyway. Despite myself. Despite my weaknesses (of which there are many), despite my insecurities and obsessions. Despite my temptations, my past, my worldliness. He caught me and let me fall in love with his Church. If He can do that for me, with no lectures or cautionary tales before each life decision, then He can do that for others, surely?

And then, something else has helped. Having older children. I see in them a heart and a conscience that I could not have molded. I see them making choices that impress me. I see them wondering about people and how they act. I see them discussing the Church and her teachings and seeing the bigger picture behind them. I see them choosing friends that are children I admire greatly. I see them naturally seeking the good and turning away from the bad. And this gives me great hope.

Don't worry. I'm not walking away. I'll still fret, I'm sure. I'll still pray for them. I'll still teach our Faith and discuss life with them. But, not out of fear.  Rather, I'll do all these things out of hope. Because I know it's true and good. I see their little souls leaning toward the truth like my houseplant that leans awkwardly toward the window in the kitchen. It'll do anything for a little light.

If He can catch me, He can catch just about anyone. I'm not afraid.

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012


As I write this, the man who relieved my husband of his job almost exactly a year ago just walked past me in Starbucks. The man who, because of his actions, caused my husband to find a new job which he spends 3 hours a day driving to and from. I am resentful of this man. I resent his shiny shoes and expensive suit. Of his well groomed head of hair swept back so handsomely. I resent that he tries to make eye contact and I avoid, because this time, I think I really might punch him. I resent the fact that I am stretched farther than I ever thought I'd be stretched. I may be fraying. I expect to snap soon.

As imperfect as it was, I miss our old life. I miss my husband. He is my best friend. I adore him. He listens to me talk. When we first started dating, he told me "I like how you talk. It's like I can hear your brain". For most men, that would be a nightmare.  How lucky am I?

But now, he kisses my forehead while I sleep when he leaves in the morning and I watch him fall asleep on the couch next to me only minutes after the kids are tucked in. He tries to stay awake. He just can't. I'll call him with a run down on the kids: "This one talked back to the teacher, that one cried all through recess because she wasn't invited to a birthday party. French Horns cost $400, let me know if we're going that route. The boy was hopping around the living room in that tall laundry basket, fell into our new bookshelves and whacked off a chunk of wood. Tune in again next week..."

The other day, driving home,  he had to pull over on the side of the road, next to some farm near Cameron, TX because he was falling asleep. I don't know how long he stopped. I don't know how often that happens. I do know that I listen to the radio each afternoon, ears perked for news of car accidents. I pray over his tires and the skinny cattle that sometimes wander onto the highway.  I strain my every nerve to keep myself from obsessing over his safety, from generating statistics on the number of hours he drives, the daylight he is allotted, the condition of the rusty tin can he calls a car. That has no air conditioning.

All this, and I get angry. Seems like he should be the angry one. But he's not. He just goes on. He's tougher. He does it for us. Sometimes I think I need to be angry for both of us. And, at moments, I am. 

I know it will be good in the end. That much worse things befall couples every day. I just never thought this is how it would be. I know someday, we will reminisce with our children and grandchildren, "Oh, remember that job where you were gone all the time and all mom made for dinner was pizza and hot dogs wrapped in tortillas!?"  That will be nice.

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