Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Villette

I made it one of my goals this year to update my blog at least once a week even if the most interesting things I have to say regard movies I've watched or books I'm reading. It's been over a week now, so I'm due.

I'm reading a book called Villette by Charlotte Bronte (of Jane Eyre fame.) As some of you may know, JE is my all-time favorite book, which is interesting considering my short attention span for the classics. Sacrilegious to most bibliophiles is my distaste for Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy and a handful of other overly verbose Victorian authors. But I absolutely love JE for reasons listed in an earlier blog post. I grew up watching Timothy Dalton smolder on screen as the formidable Mr. Rochester; I grew up watching, horrified, while Bertha Mason threw herself, screaming, from the battlements of Thornfield Hall as it burned to ground. Heady stuff.

Admittedly, I was probably able to get through the book all the way the first time only because it was required reading in Mr. Baldwin's sophomore English class. But it has remained my favorite ever since.

I have shied away from reading any other Charlotte Bronte novels mostly for one reason: the fear of disappointment. I feel as if JE is the pinnacle, or the summum bonum, of the Bronte sisters' work (having read Wuthering Heights and numerous synopses for other Bronte books.) Many of them all seem to run along the same themes: Loneliness, Discovery, Friendship, Love, Passion, Loss, Redemption. (And governesses. Lots of governesses.) All good themes. (Even the governessing.) But in my mind, I cannot fathom another book executing these themes as well as...you know what.

Well, the point I'm winding around to is that I have finally gotten up the nerve, or the motivation, to read my second Charlotte Bronte novel. This is a big step for me, especially considering that my best friend--a Dickens lover, mind you, and a voracious reader of all books Classic--soundly condemned Villette as "boring." Eek. But then there is my sister, who applauded Villette as romantic, well-written, etc.

I have a confession to make, however, that neither my best friend nor my sister tipped the scales in my decision to read or not to read. George Eliot did. Quoth Ms. Eliot on the back of the copy I'm reading, "I am only just returned to a sense of the real world about me, for I have been reading Villette, a still more wonderful book than Jane Eyre."

!!!

That was it. An endorsement from another famous Victorian authoress singing the praises of a book "still more wonderful" than my favorite book? Why yes, I will read that book. That, and statement by the Oxford University Press on the back that Villette was similar to JE, but more honest, more autobiographical, and less...gothic--that all appealed to me.

I am currently 68 pages into my book. Not much has happened. (Then again neither did anything in the first 90 pages of Les Miserables, which I read all of, and loved.) I will keep you posted on whether or not I a) finish Villette and b) like it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

@011

And by @011, I mean 2011. Typo.

2010. A year of mostly mediocre movies (with a few exceptions) and books. And music. With a few exceptions. At work, we were asked to submit our top five picks of items that came out in 2010 in the above categories. Honestly, the albums and books and movies that popped into my head were mostly from 2009. 2010 just didn't stimulate me that much in the pop culture realm.

But pop culture isn't really what stands out in my mind about this last year anyway. I could make a list of all the things I did for the first time--places I've traveled, experiences I've had, etc.--but it would be a fairly short list. And everything on that list can be comprised into one overarching new thing that I did/learned/became in 2010. "Meh-widge." I don't blog a lot about the particulars of our marriage, but suffice it to say that I feel continually blessed to have a best friend at my side, all the time. I feel very strongly that Trav and I are headed in the right direction.

Trav and I have made some goals for this year. Resolutions, if you will. One of them is to spend less money. Done and DONE. No one is going to the Middle East this year; we aren't planning a Hawaiian getaway; and the Wedding--that most expensive of creatures--is over and done with. By simply living frugally but comfortably, we will meet this goal with little effort at all. (The best kind of goal ;)

Another joint goal is to get in shape. As a surprise, I got Travis a set of adjustable-weight dumbbells that he can use to workout with at home.

It was a gamble. The weights were expensive, and they were not on his Want list. Furthermore, I couldn't bring them out to Maryland, as each would require it's own suitcase to stay under the weight limit, which means Christmas morning was going to be a little anti-climactic.

And that's hard, even for a twenty-five year old.

But I went ahead and purchased them, feeling that it would pay off in the end. We had individually made efforts, on and off, to exercise all last year, but had never followed through with any regularity. I hoped that the convenience of being able to work out at home would solve that problem. But like I said, it was a gamble. Maaaaaybe we would... Maaaaaaybe we wouldn't.

Having presented Travis with a proxy 1 lb. dumbbell on Christmas morning (and a url to a picture of his real present waiting for him back in Utah), we eventually came home to the real thing. The dumbbells lay untouched for the first few days as we unpacked and got back into our regular routines. But I waited... hoping for the best but preparing myself to offer to take them back. They were rather expensive after all.

A few days later, as I sat curled up on the couch with a book, Travis pulled up a kitchen chair and began playing around with the weights. And by playing, I mean curling, 30 lbs. in each hand. Trav is a naturally muscular man. I had bought the weights that were 50 lbs. each, but expandable to up to 90 lbs. Good thing. Two days later, the same thing. And two days after that, another workout session in our front room.

And as easy as that, we have a routine. I even join him now. I can curl--wait for it--ten pound in each hand. Pathetic, I know, but I've never done any weight training before. We've added some lunges and leg exercises into the mix as well. The best part about it all is that there is no gym membership required, which means we can go as long or as short, as frequently or as not, as we want, and just feel good about the fact that we're doing anything at all! It's fun to be able to do this together.

By the way. He surprised me with these awesome boots. I wear them practically every day. Life is so good.

hoop-de-do