Thursday, March 31, 2011

Idle musing

To preface, as we were leaving the post office this afternoon, another blue Subaru went through the light at 10th & Pete Ellis and we ended up behind that car once the light changed and we turned onto 10th St. This is just an idle monologue I had in my head to pass the time as I drove. 

We just passed ourselves. I wonder where we're going?

Oh look, we're going the same way.

Yep, we're taking Bypass. And so are we.

Oh, well, that's obviously not us. We aren't turning there.

And so we continued on our way as the doppelganger car turned into a driveway. It's not as entertaining written down as it was when we were following the other car. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I want to learn more about George VI

"The King's Speech" is a movie that seems to polarize audiences. I loved it. Yes, I have a major crush on Colin Firth, but I loved the story too. The movie made me want to learn more about George VI.

A friend of mine recently complained that she hated the movie, pointing to the fact that the main character was born to privilege, with a 'silver spoon' in his mouth, so his problems didn't interest her. I think the story has much more depth than that; hopefully I can articulate all the reasons here (because the essay I composed in my head, before I gave up and got out of bed, was really good.)

Let's take on privilege. Yes, Bertie was born into a privileged situation. But that didn't help him any; it seems to have made his situation worse. The pressure and expectations of his position didn't give him room to find his own way, choosing a path that complimented his talents and minimized his limitations. The high expectations and family infighting added to his problem.

If you want to look down on privilege, look no further than his brother, the infamous Edward VIII. Now there is a shining example of what can be wrong with being born into privilege. His romance with Wallace Simpson was followed and lauded as one of the romances of the century, but they truly were spoiled. This was a couple that really did live off the people. They spent extravagantly, living in an ivory tower on the backs of everyone else.

Some of the reasons for his stammer are explored in the movie, and his father's constant ridicule is a major part. He strived for his father's love and approval, just like any child. That silver spoon certainly didn't give him a silver tongue. And it didn't make his parents good at parenting.

His struggle humanized him, showing that it doesn't matter what your station is. If someone in the public eye can overcome a stammer, so can anyone.

George VI is a fascinating person. I really didn't know much about him, but the bit I've learned since this movie came out makes him one of the most underrated historical figures I had never heard about. Think of what  a different world we would live in if Edward VIII hadn't abdicated. He actually objected to England getting involved in WWII, protesting that Hitler should be left alone because he was the leader of Germany. Think about that. Probably the best thing he ever did was abdicate.

George VI also revolutionized the British royal family. He was a man who never wanted nor expected to be king. It was thrust upon him during a very turbulent time. He stepped up to the task and did what needed to be done. Before him, the royals were much more like Edward VIII. George VI instilled a sense of duty. The current royal family works, in their own fashion, because of him, dedicated to public service. Are they like you or I? Well, not exactly, but they are still people.

So I ask: is the movie and story invalid as a portrayal of a man's struggle just because he was a prince and king? He was still a man fighting an internal battle. He had to fight all his early training both that he was above and better than others and that he was inferior. Yep, that's quite a dichotomy. But it's true. His stammer seems to have been caused by his feelings of inferiority when compared against his 'perfect' older brother, pounded into him by his father's disparaging remarks. And he had to open himself up to working with a commoner to cure that stammer. That's a big deal.

If you can't be sympathetic to the inner battle of a prince 'deigning' to work with a commoner, consider a different yet similar battle. Think about a white person in the south in the 1950 working with an African American. Think about a Brahmin in India working with an Untouchable. Find the parable that works for you to make you understand that he was incredibly brave given his time and circumstances to do this.

And let's look at current affairs for a moment, because some of this story still resonates. Edward VIII abdicated because he couldn't be King of England and Head of the Church of England and marry a divorcee. Do you remember the controversy when Prince Charles and Princess Diana divorced? And then Charles married a divorcee? Yep, same issue. Can he be king? I don't know if that's ever truly been resolved, so I wouldn't be surprised if Prince William is actually the next king even though his father is technically still the Crown Prince (which is giving William time to grow up and have a bit of life a little further from the spotlight.)

Elizabeth II went from being just a princess to being Crown Princess in the blink of an eye.... and has been one of the longest reigning sovereigns. Those little princesses that Bertie tells stories to grew up to be the current queen and Princess Margaret. Remember the beloved Queen Mum who died just a few short years ago? Yep, she was King George VI's Queen Elizabeth. (Back to the movie, I think that is my favorite of Helena Bonham Carter's roles. And she clearly shows a woman in love with her husband. Heck, there is a conversation in the movie that she married him DESPITE his being a prince because she loved him. Talk about romantic.) This wasn't a story that took place in a vacuum.

I'm sure I could go on, but this has already gotten rather long. Suffice it to say that I can't wait to watch the movie again because Chris still hasn't seen it and you know it's on our Netflix queue!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Simple isn't always easy

I've found myself talking about simple choices a lot lately. We all make choices in life, whether big or small, about how we will deal with situations. We can be proactive or reactive. We can bury our heads in the sand and pretend nothing is happening, letting events roll over us. We can take the high road or the low road.  There are a lot of ways to dealing with the lemons life has a habit of dealing out. 

So I found myself telling first one friend and than another in the last few weeks that they had chosen happiness; it wasn't easy, but it was as simple as that. And I think a lot of people forget that. Simple isn't easy. Easy isn't simple. 

So, if you chose the happy ending, fighting the obstacles, no matter what they are, kudos to you. Practice makes it easier; remember that the easy path is often the one with the tough consequences and the tough path is the one with better ending. 

For those ladies who are making those tough choices (and to the ones I don't know about), you are doing the right thing and don't let anyone tell you differently. You are amazing and strong. Tell your stories; you can help others by being truthful and honest. And I am always here if you need and ear or a shoulder. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Writers with Moxie and Determination

My writing group is a great group of women. We had our second official meeting last night, where we commented and critiqued each other's work. This week, four of us submitted chapters.

I really appreciate the feedback I get. I submitted 3 (short) chapters and there were some good questions asked. Questions for me tell me if I am telling the story I think I am. If the questions are things I answer later, I'm doing my job right. If not, maybe I need to change something. But so far all the questions are the ones I hope readers have at this point.

The group also asked for more dialogue, more character development, which is something I know I need to work on. While this 2nd draft is much better than the first, it's going to take hard work to flesh things out the way they need to be. My writing style has usually been "sweet and to the point". Drawing things out is a challenge, but it's a good one. I really like my story and think it has been well-received. I think it has a future. If I can polish it the way it needs to be polished.

And of course I still need a title.....

There are eight in our group, although only six of us attend regularly (sometimes it's hard with kids and husbands who work crazy hours.) Not everyone has something to submit each month. But the really exciting thing is that we are all doing something different. We have so far one memoir (truly fascinating!), two very different sci-fi pieces, a romance novel, a humorous fantasy short story, and my fantasy novel and very short play.

I've enjoyed each and every piece and we all have different voices along with our different genres. I look forward to our meeting each month.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I am a feminist

I guess that's pretty obvious to anyone who knows me. But it's time to think about what being a feminist means to me.

First, I want equal rights for women. Don't fool yourselves: we don't have equal rights. The ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) is still not part of the constitution; women still don't get paid the same for doing the exact same job; some companies still discriminate against women, especially married women, assuming that they are on the baby track.

I want women to have equal opportunities. I want women not to be judged by whether they are married or not, whether they have kids or not, whether they fit some arbitrary definition of beauty. Things like this should not be happening. If we're going to bring marital status into a political debate, then let's open the discussion up to those who are on their second, third, fourth spouse.

I want women to stop fighting amongst themselves when we make different choices. There is no one right choice. There's what's right for each of us. I want it to be ok for a woman, or a man for that matter, to take time off from work to raise children without being looked down on for not being 'modern' enough. I want it to be as ok for a woman as it is for a man to NOT stay home and to keep working.

I want women to have equal access to good health care. That doesn't always happen, especially with the current legislative assault (both nationally and in Indiana and other states) on Planned Parenthood and other providers of women's healthcare. And let's not forget most clinical trials and research for diseases, new medications and other treatments have typically used male subjects and just been extrapolated for women, often with disastrous results.

Equal rights for women doesn't take anything away from men other than maybe some privilege. And I don't see a problem with that. If someone gets extra privileges, it should be because they have earned them, not because of an accident of birth like being born male, white, or rich.

I want it not to be ok for women to be treated like property, not even in movies and tv. I want the culture of rape to not be implicitly accepted. I want my sons to grow up respecting women.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Walking for the homeless

I've signed up to do the Homeward Bound 5K walk again this year. Chris and I did it last year for the first time and had a good time. We didn't raise much since we signed up a week before the walk, but it was good to do it.

This year, my moms' group is forming a team and walking together. If you would like to support the 10 local agencies who benefit from the walk, you can donate to our team page or my individual page.

The 10 agencies are Amethyst House, Centerstone, Community Kitchen of Monroe County, Hoosier Hills Food Bank, Martha's House, Middle Way House, Monroe County United Ministries, Mother Hubbard's Cupboard, Shalom Community Center, Stepping Stones, and Youth Services Bureau of Monroe County.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Why I blog

There have been lots of helpful hints about having a successful blog. They all come down to picking the one thing you want to blog about and being consistent.

Here's the thing: I blog as a way to share what I'm thinking and feeling and experiencing. I'm not just one thing. I don't aim to have a 'successful' blog in that regard. I don't aim to make money. I hope people who read my blog (mostly friends and family) enjoy what I have to say, but I'm not going to go looking for tons of followers. I outgrew popularity contests in high school and really don't need to go back.

Do I write about being a mom? You bet. After all, I spend all day with my kids. They are a HUGE part of my life.

Do I write about politics and current events? When I have something to say.

I also write about my interests (knitting, movies, writing).

I've offered this space to a few people to guest blog if they have something they really want to share. I still hope some of them will do it.

But really, I blog because it's easier for me then keeping a journal. I do this for me. I really appreciate when people read what I've written and leave comments (as long as they are courteous, which they have been).

Thursday, March 3, 2011


A few years ago, I started to teach myself to knit, using a book and occasional help from my mom. Other than scarves, I haven't done much since Wil was born, but I finally decided I needed to venture into something bigger. I don't have too many more people who need scarves, after all.

In December, I saw some really cool yarn that I just had to pick up. Then it was time to find a pattern to go with the yarn. Some searching online found a super easy baby blanket pattern that only required knit and purl stitches - nothing complicated, no cabling. And it calls for a thick wooly yarn. Perfect!

So, at Christmas I cast on my first stitches. I haven't worked too much on it. (Too many irons in the fire to dedicate a ton of time to it!) But I now have about six inches knit and I'm very happy with my progress.

When I started, I didn't have anyone in particular in mind to give it to, which is why the green was a perfect choice. But my moms group is planning on donating hand-made blankets to Project Linus. I think that's where this blanket will go when I finish. At this rate, it will take a while. Although I am getting faster. I knit 4 rows last night!