{emotional stitches}

As I alluded to in my last entry, recent weeks have been un peu roof. Coming down from the high of an August move and a September promotion, I dove headfirst into October moodiness and November homesickness in much the same manner as my father once dove headfirst into a concrete wading pool and came out with a forehead full of stitches. Oh, California: You seduced me early on with your promises of glistening beaches, eternal sunshine, and seasonal fluidity (and gainful employment). How was I to know that SAD apparently also applies in reverse? Is there the opposite of a sun lamp on the market? Preferably, a device emitting a constant light mist and scattered raindrops, accompanied by damp orange leaves and a brisk autumn chill? Luckily, the combination of a week’s vacay in my hometown and The Heroine’s Bookshelf were just the emotional stitches I needed.

In THB, Erin Blakemore explores the literary heroines that she (and I) grew up with and their continued relevance to adult life. Each chapter is dedicated to a single heroine and a trait that she most embodies—Jane Eyre is “Steadfastness,” Scout Finch is “Compassion,” etc., etc. For me, the 12 chapters ranged from books I have literally memorized (Gone With the WindLittle Women) to one-time acquaintances (A Tree Grows in BrooklynThe Color Purple), with only one that I have never read (Colette’s Claudine at School). Each chapter contained biographical authoress information, a summary of the literary heroine’s journey and eponymous trait, and usually a personal anecdote from Blakemore herself.

While I see how some may find this type of thing a bit nauseating, I value this book for several reasons. Blakemore did an excellent job of channeling the nerdy little girl who read books during birthday parties and sleepovers, and who grew up to be the awkward young woman who overanalyzes everything and writes in a slightly cheeky, but more treacly, prose. As I say repeatedly, I was never a “real” English major, drawn in by theory and rhetoric; my favorite and most reread books continue to be exactly the ones that Blakemore uses.

They accompanied me to my first kiss and my first breakup, through college and into the weird uncharted territory of quarterlife crisis and grown womanhood. . . This wasn’t so much about becoming a cliché or a walking ad for libraries as it was about getting through my life. And it still is . . .

The one minor hiccup was that each of these author’s biographies is as rife with divorce, addiction, and chronic disease as any Housewife franchise, Real or Desperate. Sure, these women wrote the canons of heroine literary that would inspire generations to come, but their real lives were much more failure than success, a fact that I find moderately depressing. Still, they are facts—you can’t blame the biographer.

As luck would have it, the combination of THB and a visit home did more than provide emotional stitches—it’s the perfect timing for me to pack up and haul out my own heroine’s bookshelf.

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{free at last}

It’s gotten to the point where I’m more or less completely off crutches, giving me a certain amount of freedom (staying home alone! carrying things! racing dust mites up and down stairs!). Unfortunately, I was NOT ALLOWED to go to the beach yesterday with my parents and our three German visitors, which was très bummer. Not to worry—I spent a productive day lying on my bedroom rug and watching Seinfeld. I also finished The Maltese Falcon, but my post on that is reserved for the Book Blob and will appear this Friday.

In the immediate aftermath of surgery, I had decided that freedom from crutches would be my cut-off for postponing a job search, so, technically, I should be tracking down references right about now. Instead, I’ve continued my practice of finding jobs online that I COULD apply to, bookmarking them on my laptop, and leaving it at that. I’m currently operating under the philosophy that I can’t be rejected from jobs I don’t apply to. It’s working well so far—my self-esteem is still fairly intact. We’ll see how much longer it’ll remain so.

In other exciting book news, I ran across this little gem the other day: A Photographic History of Bromance, 1840-1918. I devoted a large amount of time and energy into verifying that yes, this is in fact a real book. Now all that remains is to wait until it appears in my local library, which likely won’t happen unless I move to a town bigger than 200,000.

During a brief respite in my current employment as chauffeur (chauffeuse?) for our three German visitors, I watched the Keira Knightley Pride and Prejudice and crafted last night. Despite being a die-hard fan for the 5-hour BBC P&P, I did enjoy enjoy the KK version in theaters and, later, when I procured it on DVD. Prior to last night, I hadn’t seen it for about three years, and I found myself slightly irked at various interpretations of the Austen classic. At first, I couldn’t figure out why, but I gradually came to realize that I just didn’t care for Knightley’s Lizzie. Now, I am a moderate fan of Keira (I’m planning a Pirates of the Caribbean marathon for the next time my parents go out of town), but her Lizzie seemed a tad too… je ne sais quoi. Giggly? Snide? Impetuous? My high-school memory of the novel tells me that Lizzie is to some extent all those things, but this Lizzie seemed just a little too-too. Flightly, I guess, might be the most accurate. Or immature. Something. Clearly, I’ve gotten too old and cynical to still be amused by Hollywood’s 19th-century witticisms.

What do you think? Which Austen film adaptation does the most justice? (Don’t even bother posting anything about the zombies/sea monsters parodies—I’m telling you right now I will delete it and, probably, block you from any future comments.)