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July 2008

Twilight Insanity

No one has gone more insane over the Twilight series than my friend Curls. And, I mean no disrespect here, because I'm quite gone over the series myself. It was rather surprising, though, she usually doesn't like fantasy. We're reading Breaking Dawn for our next book club in August. Curls wanted me to go to the midnight madness at Borders with her on Friday. I may have acquiesced, but alas, I have a benefit dinner that night. I have to go be a grown-up instead of embracing my inner fifteen-year-old. I'm rather certain I'd have more fun at the midnight madness.

It should come as no surprise that we already have plans to go see the movie when it comes out on opening night in December. It was Curl's idea to get a hotel room and spend the night in the big city, making it a real girl's night out. She's already reserved the room. This is a BIG DEAL, you know? And man, come the middle of December, I'm sure I'll need a girl's night in the worst possible way. I hate Christmas. They may have to carry me back to the hotel in a drunken and blissful stupor. We may have to get a hotel room in December every year from now on. I think that sounds like a fabulous tradition. Just don't expect me to scrap book about it.

Oh, and Blackstone was rather irritated in one of my last posts that I made sex sound like a chore. I was just in a sarcastic mood, you know, the one I live in. I certainly don't consider sex a chore. You all know me well enough that that goes without saying, right? Well, I've said it anyway.

PS - I feel the need to add that I mean no disrespect to those of you who scrap book. They make beautiful keepsakes. It is just not something I have the patience for. I am so not crafty.

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Eclipse

Eclipse manages to boil itself down to one question - Edward or Jacob?

Now, I love Edward. At the end of Twilight, I was all Edward's. But then he left, and New Moon was all about Jacob trying to help Bella put the pieces of herself back together, and I wasn't so sure about Edward any more. He left because he thought it was best for her. He says that he was a mess without her and never thought she'd have so much trouble moving on. I believe that, but he also opened the door for Jacob. I quite agree with Jacob - in a normal world, without Edward, vampires and werewolves - Jacob and Bella would be together. As it is, Edward is there, and for Bella, there doesn't seem to be much of a choice. She knows now that she does love Jacob, but there's not even a contest in her mind. Edward is her life.

The metaphors for Edward and Jacob, the contrasting representations and character traits are interesting. Edward is the moon - cold, dark, mysterious, brooding, calculating. Jacob is the sun - hot, happy, energetic, passionate. Edward is experienced, wise, self-controlled, refined, and rich. Jacob is young, rash, innocent, quick-tempered and poor. Edward is almost omniscient, being able to read everyone's mind except Bella's. Jacob is all-known, his mind being read by Edward and his fellow werewolves. Edward knows what everyone is thinking, he knows everyone's secrets but no one knows his. Jacob can keep nothing to himself, and has no choice but to be an open book. To choose Edward would be a life of immortality, beauty, and darkness, at the expense of her friends, family and humanity. To choose Jacob would be to embrace a life of family, friends, light and humanity, at the expense of losing Edward, whom she doesn't think she could live without.

As much as I love Edward, I think I'm on Team Jacob. I have terrible soft spot for underdogs, and I don't think Bella's ever given him a fair chance. He's wrong for forcing himself on her and kissing her without her permission, but he loves her and doesn't have much time to get her to change her mind. He's also young and impetuous. It's not so much that he has a character flaw as that he's desperate and immature. Jacob will grow into one incredible man.

It only stands to reason that in Breaking Dawn, Bella's going to have to make a choice. She thinks she's already made it, she and Edward are planning their wedding and her transformation, but it can't be over for Jacob already. I see a few potential roads this could take:

  1. Jacob imprints on someone else. I find this highly unlikely, since he only has eyes for Bella, and it would just make it too easy for everybody. I also wonder if he's already imprinted on her and is hiding it from her. We already know she's exempt for other supernatural forces, so maybe she wouldn't succumb to a werewolf's imprinting.
  2. Bella becomes a vampire. If all goes as planned and Bella marries Edward and becomes a vampire, then Jacob's going to have to give up. He'll probably still love her, but he's going to have to accept his defeat. I have to say, I don't see Bella becoming a vampire. Not sure why that is. I think she's just accepted it too quickly and wanted it too unquestioningly for it to be the path she takes.
  3. Jacob or Edward dies. This one makes sense to me. One of the two of them sacrificing their life for her. Though I'm not sure who wins in this scenario because the one who gets Bella will win by default, and probably never have her heart.
  4. Bella chooses Jacob. Edward's made it clear that the only way he's leaving is if Bella changes her mind, but if she were to choose Jacob, he'd let her go. He'd never love anyone else, but he'd let her go. I can't imagine what turn of events could cause her to choose Jacob over Edward at this point, but it seems more likely than her becoming a vampire.

I'd also like to point out that the title, Breaking Dawn, well, we're talking about the sun aren't we? And Jacob is her sun. Any other ideas?

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Addendum

I'm feeling a bit guilty about something. I made it sound, in my previous post, as if all the guys I dated before Blackstone were losers or leaches, and that's not true. I did date some very wonderful guys, but I always knew before the end of the first date that it was going nowhere. I imagine some women must not have quite the instinctive and unquestioning response to a person so quickly. I've heard girls/women speak of being confused, of not knowing whether to stay with a guy or break up, if they want to keep dating or not, maybe there's just not someone else on the horizon and they'd rather have the here-and-now guy rather than no guy. I've never been really able to understand that. I always knew almost immediately, and it was difficult to spend time with a guy once I knew we weren't suited for one another. And that is how I looked at it too. I wasn't looking for my true love or anything, but there was always this strong gut reaction I had to a guy that told me we didn't belong together. I also had no problem being without a man, and I know some women have trouble with that. I can't be so sure I'd be comfortable on my own now, it's been 15 years. But back then, I was all too prepared to spend my life single.

Anyway, I did date some truly great guys. Guys that I hope are happy and found someone special who appreciates them, because I was certainly not that someone. I wish I'd known how to convey that better at the time. I was great at ducking phone calls and making myself scarce until they got the point. There were also those few poor souls, that we're only too willing to let me torture them, even though they knew I was not interested in a serious relationship. I even brought Polly on a date with me once so I could avoid being alone with a guy. He was so sweet, I should have just told him I wasn't interested. Not exactly my finer moments in history.

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New Moon

Is there anything more romantic than star-crossed lovers? Apparently, not. As much as it does make a great love story, it's always bothered me too. Why do Romeo and Juliet have to die for it to be the greatest love story of all time? *Sigh* I know why. Because reading about their forbidden love fading from hot, sizzling tension and controversy to a slow-cooker, long term marriage just isn't that sexy. It's why I've never been a great fan of the genre of romance. It's almost always the beginning of the love story, because that's the most exciting part. It also the shortest part if you're lucky and you find a romance that lasts. Even The Notebook, which I loved and is about a romance that lasted a lifetime, is still mostly the story of the complicated beginning of love, fraught with parental disapproval and rivaling suitors.

Despite the fact that the Twilight series is about new and forbidden love, I still love it. Just as I love Romeo and Juliet. Young, forbidden love has to be done well to keep my interest, because it's been done before and will be done again. It only makes sense, really. When you fall in love for the first time (for me, the only time, hopefully) - it's something you never forget. It doesn't trouble me at all that Bella finds herself in love with a vampire or discovers that her best friend is a werewolf. I think I prefer my fiction way out there, because at that point I tend to stop trying to make things make sense and just accept the story. I find it much harder to accept that two men are so in love with her. Does that ever happen in real life? I can accept all the stupidity - believing all too easily that Edward simply doesn't want her all of the sudden, thinking that Jacob can just be her friend. Teenagers are stupid. But I've never known a girl or woman to have two men so intensely in love with her. Am I wrong or just sheltered? It makes a great story, a great fantasy, but I've yet to see it happen.

So Polly, the seemingly endless adolescent tension reminds you of me and Blackstone does it? It's not just me over-identifying with Bella, then. I'll indulge you.Those months of waiting seemed like years, I swear, and I really couldn't think of anything else, and it was all leading up to high school graduation.  Am I confusing myself with Bella again? Oh right, in my story there are no vampires, werewolves or competing suitors.

I'd never dated anyone like Blackstone before. I'd never met anyone like him before. I didn't really think that a person so genuinely kind, trusting and innocent existed in the world. Certainly not in the form of a seventeen-year-old boy. I utterly corrupted him. Had we known more about each other before we started dating, we would have run in opposing directions from each other. As it was, before we knew how much we had to disagree about, actually truly disliked about one another, we were completely gone for each other. And he had all of the characteristics I find completely seductive - tall and handsome (in that gawky teenage way at the time), musical, passionate, intelligent, great sense of humor, well-read and a good writer. I also found that despite how sweet he could be, he was completely willing to stand up to me when I asked for it. Being with him put me completely off my footing. I was accustomed to fighting off guys who seemed to have sprung more arms that genetically possible. What made me even more uncomfortable were the mooney-eyed boys who professed their love while I tried not to visibly cringe. I preferred the kind with tentacles. Blackstone was neither of those, and it proved quite an aphrodisiac. We dated a month or more without ever quantifying our relationship. It was already the longest I'd ever dated anyone. I usually lost interest before the second date, and once I'd lost interest I really didn't see the point. I'd rather not go out than spend the night with someone who bored me.

Within the span of weeks, I was ready to lose my virginity to him. I really didn't know why I'd held on to it that long. I suppose I could get all mushy and say I was waiting for the right person, that I wanted it to be special. Back then I wanted it to be fast and with someone I never had to see again. I knew the first time wasn't cut out to be all that pleasant. But maybe I had been lying to myself, I think that subconsciously I'm way more romantic than I want to know about. After two months of kissing and parking, I was about ready to jump out of my skin. I started wondering if he was saving himself for marriage or something. The reality was that he was too gentlemanly and afraid of scaring me off, and I had no idea how to be the aggressor other than shamelessly throwing myself at him which was getting me nowhere but hot and bothered. You can see how I identify with Bella just way too easily.

Anyway, Polly and Bookgirl got to witness all this first hand. And when I say I was about ready to impale myself on a fence post, I think they'd agree that's not much of an exaggeration. I would guess it would be at about the six week point, yes, we went out for Polly's birthday, right? Me, Polly, and another of our best friends, lets call her Necie. I didn't need any illustration of how sexually frustrated I was by then, but I wasn't aware that it was physically apparent in my behavior. I'm still not sure I believe Polly that people were actually staring at me. Necie never really confirmed or denied Polly's observation, from my recollection, but she's much more modest than we are. According to Polly, the way I was eating cheesecake was completely indecent and making a scene. If that's the truth, I was completely oblivious. I'm sure my mind was on something other than cheesecake, though. My sexual frustration was only irritated to a further frenzy when Polly and her new boyfriend (the one I introduced her to the night we went out for her birthday and she later married and divorced) started getting busy before we did.

In the end, it took me three months to get up the courage to just be vocally direct and ask him to make love to me. I considered using words much more vulgar than that, but I'm not sure he could have handled it at the time. I never really saw love and sex being related back then, truthfully I had thought love was completely a fictional notion to begin with, but surprisingly the two came hand in hand for me. All that waiting made for some good memories. I don't regret it, but boy do I feel Bella's torture. And I totally get the role reversal. It's amazingly painful when you're boyfriend has your best interests at heart but is mostly succeeding in driving you insane. I have no idea how people wait until they're married to have sex, not unless they marry in their teens. I also don't believe how I could possibly hit a sexual peak in my forties that was more intense than in my late teens.

I can also relate to Bella's despair in losing Edward, though what I went through was nothing as severe. Since we started dating at the end of our senior year, we had eight months of bliss before college. He was only two hours away, but when he left I had no idea when the next time I was going to see him again would be. And me, being the entirely practical person I am, expected him to be like any other college guy and forget all about me the moment he was surrounded by all the very close and available girls on campus. I mean, how many couples survive a four year long-distance relationship through college? Especially, one that ends up being five-and-half years while he goes to grad school. Compound that with the fact that almost every friend I had except two left the state at the same time and I got to stay behind - and I was a mess. I loved him, but I never expected we'd make it. The odds were over-whelmingly against us. But to my utter delight and surprise, his parents let him keep one of their cars so he could drive home on the weekends, and we spent almost every weekend together, at least the parts of it when I wasn't working.

Oh, and lets not leave out the part where my mother hated Blackstone. She actually thought he was a bad influence on me. Unlike Bella, I was a very good liar. They manage to tolerate each other now, not much unlike Charlie and Edward.

And now that I've been way too open and entirely too honest, I wonder what Blackstone will have to say about it. Of course, enough of our friends lived through it with us that it's no big secret. I'll have a while to wait to find out though, he's only made it up to May in my blog entries. How long do you think it will take him to catch up? Three months, give or take? Maybe I should go look for a nice fence post while I'm waiting.

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Twilight

The time of day between light and dark, metaphorically, the place between good and evil. Also an apt word for the time when phases/ages in our lives come to a close and we're facing the start of something new. A time of sadness, change, fear, hope and possibility.

I've always loved fiction, non-fiction tends to be a real chore for me. And I've always loved fantasy - I grew up on Stephen King, Anne Rice and Dean Koontz. I've read The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I think Ender's Game is one of the best books ever written, and I loved every second of the Harry Potter series. Needless to say, Twilight was right up my alley.

Fantasy does require that you suspend your disbelief. Whether you're reading about vampires, aliens, ghosts, witches, robots or time travel, before you can enjoy the story, you have to be willing to set aside your condemnation of all things impossible. That's where good writing comes into play. A good writer can draw you right into their fantasy world. They describe the setting and the characters, so vividly, that they seem real. They create a story that you can't put down, even though you know it's not real.

Reading fiction is obviously about escape. Escape from our day to day realities. It may be a love story, horror story, mystery or drama, but for whatever reason, it makes our pulse quicken and our minds empty of all mundane daily duties. I've always had a particular soft spot for vampire novels. I think it's something about the centuries of knowledge packed in an eternally youthful and unnaturally beautiful package. It's also about seduction, forbidden desires, and possession.

I remember reading The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien in college, which is a fictionalized account of the Vietnam War. Some of the stories in the book get quite gruesome and also quite absurd. One of the topics we discussed was why would someone want to write fiction about the war. True, autobiographical accounts of the war would be just as powerful, just as moving, wouldn't they? Maybe, but probably not. Sometimes fiction can reach us in way that reality cannot. While the author's stories may have been fiction, the horror, shock and revolt they evoked from their audience was real. O'Brien used fiction to make the readers experience true and honest emotions about a real war. Sometimes fiction is the only way to evoke a true response. This is what I want from my fiction. Stories that make me feel and respond powerfully.

Twilight certainly does this, and I don't appear to be the only one so taken with the series. While Twilight may be about forbidden love, even more strongly, to me, it's about first love, true love. Edward and Bella belong together. It brings me right back to age seventeen when Blackstone and I met. The experience of falling in love with him was no less powerful, no less magical, than the story of Edward and Bella. But if I were to attempt to tell you that story honestly, without any scenes added for dramatic effect, or any removed for detracting from the romance, the physical and emotional tension - would I be able to evoke the response I want? Would I be able to get you to feel the truth of the intensity? I doubt it. The romantic lead in my love story may not be a vampire, I may not have felt my pulse racing because I was putting myself in mortal danger to be so physically close to him, but it doesn't mean that my skin didn't feel like it was on fire when he touched me, or that kissing him goodnight, physically separating myself from him wasn't painful.

Stephanie Meyer has done such an incredible job of capturing the confusion, the fear, the desire, the completely overwhelming intensity that is young love. It's the kind of emotion you can't keep in a relationship, arguably a big reason why so many people divorce. Oh, you can still recapture that kind of passion once in a while, but it's not the all-encompassing drama it was in the beginning. It just can't be. Eventually, a sort of comfort and relaxation develops with a person, which is the way it should be. But we miss the excitement, the heat, the fear and hope, that Twilight brings back to us.

Thanks, Polly, for recommending it.

 

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What's a Virgin?

I remember asking my mother this question after hearing Madonna's song Like a Virgin on the radio. I was 8 or 9, so I guess it's not all that surprising that I didn't know yet. She told me honestly, which I really think is the only way to go when your kid poses a question like that. You don't really want your daughter going around thinking it's a bird, now do you?

Maybe it's just that I'm getting older, but some of the music and the videos today, well, they make me uncomfortable. Now I'm no prude, and I'm not for abstinence-only sex education. You're just fighting too many hormones and primal instincts for that tactic. I also believe in the freedom of the press and free speech, but then I see Jesse McCartney's new video for Leavin' and my skin starts to crawl, because what is he? like twelve? Yeah, I know, he's twenty-one. Way past legal and old enough to drink even . . . . He still looks twelve to me. And to see him and this equally newbile actress/model is such an overtly sexual video, it just seems wrong. This is what I'm thinking watching MTV on the cross trainer the other day.

Trouble has his own pop music pet-peeve lately, the song I Kissed A Girl by Katy Perry. Every time it comes on the radio, which is about every twenty minutes on PRO FM, he says, "Mom, you put it on again," in a sincerely annoyed voice. I've explained to him that it's the radio playing the song, not actually me. The song really seems to bother him. I suppose this would be a good opportunity for me to explain gays and lesbians to him. Thus far, I haven't. He really seems to take offense to the idea of a girl kissing another girl. I guess that only makes sense since he still thinks boys and girls kissing is yucky. He may not be ready to hear about lesbians or sexual experimentation.

And while I'm on the subject of the music scene, what do you think about NKOTB reuniting? It's not so much the reuniting that bothers me as the video for Summertime which features the group members dancing with a myriad of scantily clad young girls, one the same newbile actress/model as Jesse McCartney's new video. At least she's his age, fellas.

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