New obsession: Downton Abbey

My new semester has begun, which means I have been doing a great deal of organizing, unpacking, writing, reading, and frantically trying to remember my class routes. It also means that when I am doing something that doesn't require full brain power (folding laundry, putting together binders, etc) I can watch TV for extended periods of time on my trusty laptop. I had heard great things about Masterpiece Theater's Downton Abbey, but hadn't had the chance to watch it until this week.

Oh. Man.
The basic premise of the show is: "Exposing the snobbery, backbiting and machinations of a disappearing class system, this series chronicles the comings and goings of the upper-crust Crawley family and their assorted servants." (Thanks Netflix!) But it is so much more than that. The fashion and costumes are fantastic - drop waists, pincurls, lace, and red red lipstick. They make me wish I was a rich young aristocratic heiress in 1910's England so I could be wooed by men in cummerbunds.

And the scandal! The scheming! The servant shenanigans!! It's like a 90's era soap opera, only classier and with British accents and women who aren't allowed to wear pants. Don't let the fact that it's a PBS production worry you into thinking it's farty and boring. That is always my first criticism of PBS shows, to be honest, but this one proves me wrong.

So go watch it already.


This semester....

....has been bat-crap crazy. Hence my lack of blog entries. I have been struggling a lot lately with personalish-things, and stress, and work, and school, and my calling, and rekindling my dating life (!!!). I think I am going to make it, though. Mainly thanks to prayer, faith, many of my very sweet Relief Society sisters, my Mamma, and copious amounts of Diet Dr. Pepper.

I kind of wish I could fast-forward time and arrive promptly at this Saturday afternoon, when I walk into my family's house in Kaysville. It will be spring break! And Easter weekend. And I will get to see my family, and my Utah friends. And I'm pretty sure my little doggie Lady Gaga will be so stinking excited to see me that she'll lose her mind.

I can't wait.


thoughts on the narrow definition of feminism in literature: (AKA, in defense of Bella Swan)

Longest blog title ever.
So, recently something has been kicking around my head. And it is bugging me.

To begin, you need to know I am a feminist. I think women like Joan of Arc, Grace O'Malley, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and all the other strong defiant women throughout history who threw off the yoke of traditional womanhood and stood up for what they thought was right, are awesome. They inspire me enough to know why some women would want to burn their bras. (Though I don't want to. Such a waste of money. And bra-lessness is uncomfortable.)

However. I think feminism in our culture has become a little bit backwards, and that is what nags at me. I think the root of feminism is recognizing that women have the right to be whoever the heck they want.

Want to run a business/go into politics/become a soldier? Awesome! Do it.

Want to be a stay at home mom or wife or homemaker? Also equally awesome! Do it. That's what I would say.

Unfortunately, it seems like modern feminism downplays the choice to be traditionally feminine, and argues that to pursue a path like motherhood or marriage or falling in love is undesirable and unsuited to a truly modern women. To them I say: Bah humbug. (Actually, I'd rather say something else to them, but I am trying to use less curse words in my day-to-day vocabulary.)

Which brings me to my main point. For those of you who don't share my book-geekery obsession, I apologize if the following is just gobbledegook to you. I love Katniss Everdeen (of The Hunger Games). She is strong, brave, defiant, and fights violently for the things that matter to her. I love Hermione Granger (of Harry Potter). She is intelligent, sensible, determined and uses these skills to turn the tide of a magical war. These two heroines are regularly lauded as positive role models for women, because they personify the things that our current culture of feminism applauds: the ability to break through stereotypical 'feminine' barriers by being strong in a way, for centuries, only men were expected to be. I agree - they are great.

But you know what else? I love Bella Swan (of Twilight). She falls in love, unapologetically. I think that's brave, even though she becomes a hot mess when Edward leaves. She is quiet and awkward but doesn't try to change her personality and tastes in order to fit in with her peers. She knows precisely who she is and what she wants out of life, and I think that is strong. I don't think the fact that she wants to spend forever with the man she loves is a sign of weakness of character. I think it embodies precisely what the crux of feminism is:
A woman can and should be whoever and whatever she damn well pleases.

So when I see this:

... it makes me shake my head a bit. And mumble curse words. And blog until my annoyance goes away.


First weeks of class

I am officially back in school, and officially swamped with a bazillion things that need to be done all at once. Gahh. However, one of my New Years resolutions, yet again, is to blog at least once a week (and I missed out on most of January already). So...

In Sum:
I made the trek up to Rexburg and got moved into my apartment with help from my trusty, box-moving dad. (Thanks pop!) I have one of the same roommates as I had the last time I was up here (hi Jen!) which is FANTASTIC. I cannot stress enough how key having room mates who are on the same wavelength as yourself is when it comes to things like tidiness. It can effect the entire living experience. Seriously. Such a relief.

My classes: I am nerdily thrilled with the material I get to read and write about this semester. I'm taking Family Foundations (a religion class, which has The Family Proclamation as the basis for all of the material we cover), The Middle East (taught by a man who lived in the middle east for 7 years and has a deep love and respect for the culture and people there) Postmodernism (oh man!! This is contemporary fiction from 1965 up until the present. Our texts are books that have been on my to-read list for eons, so I am more than a little pumped to get into it) and Advanced Literary Criticism, which sounds scary and boring, but I assure you it is not. My teacher is from Boston and talks with a New Yawk accent, and during the first period alone we discussed Aristotle, Shakespeare, and Escher and how they relate to literature. Amazing. Also, he looks like Dustin Hoffman, so just being there is an entertaining experience. I also have Science 101, which has not proved utterly mind-numbing yet, so that's a good sign.

My life: I got called to be the 1st Counselor in Relief Society (a women's organization in our church) and wow. It takes up a lot of time, but apparently I had plenty of random time stored away in nooks and crannies that went unused over past semesters, because somehow I am finding time to fit it in. I also started work again this week. I am still unsure where all the hours I require in each week for work and study and service and class are going to come from, but so far I'm alive and kicking. I haven't even had to borrow Hermione Granger's time-turner yet. (I knew I could work a Harry Potter reference in there somewhere. High-five.)