Friday, February 26, 2016

this bard is on fire

My friend A invited us to her birthday dinner and told us that we would be meeting her new boyfriend. Later, SB asked me what his name was but I didn't know. "Maybe it's James," he joked, because for the past five years A has been in consecutive long term relationships with men whose names are variations of James.

Later that day, we exchanged the following messages:


As is wont to happen, during dinner SB and I had a good chuckle over her choice in men. We chuckled more when discussing birthday gifts and wondered if it would be in poor taste to get her a gift revolving around the word, "James". Then I recalled that one of my favorite albums is 1993's Laid, by a band called James. A is younger than us so there is a good chance that she doesn't have this album. "We can write on the card, 'For your birthday, we wanted to get you Laid by James'," I quipped. Then we chortled. And chortled some more.

SB is heading to the Causeway Bay HMV store to purchase our tasteful present.

Monday, February 15, 2016

eat your feelings

This morning, I was aghast to notice that my trousers were a bit snug. Apparently I cannot stuff my face for two months and expect to escape the consequences. I would say that it was fun while it lasted, but this holiday season has been miserable.

SB's very beloved aunt went to hospital due to a sore throat and died from an extremely aggressive cancer right after the new year. SB and I spent the holidays apart because my family decided to become insane and I wasn't interested in subjecting him to the family feud while he was hurting over his aunt being so suddenly ill. Every day was filled with unreal updates: the cancer spread to her brain...now it's in her lungs...now it's in her spine...

Upon hearing that the cancer was in his mother's brain, her son replied, "that explains her voting record."

And so I offered comfort the best way that I could to a partner who doesn't like to talk out his feelings: I cooked. There was a lamb crown roast when she went onto the morphine pump, a chocolate and caramel tart for that phone call that we all knew without saying out loud was going to be her last, and endless loaves of freshly made bread for each awful update that became almost comical in the surely it can't get any worse answers that we received. Cancer sucks in ways that the pink ribbons and prayer angels don't cover.

I think that we're at a point where we aren't drowning in sadness so it's probably time to stop drowning everything around me in gravy. I probably should start waddling up the hills with the dogs and working on those five stages of grief. I'm not sure which stage is the one where you eat a lot but I can say that I'm over it now. Either that, or I start wearing sweatpants to work.

Friday, February 12, 2016

the monsters within

SB's sister, A, is taking a Gothic literature class at her university. Being 13 hours ahead of her in time and therefore unconscious, I did not catch the first parts of the family WhatsApp chat regarding her course but she was bemoaning having to suffer through Wuthering Heights, A Picture of Dorian Gray, and Dracula. When I was her age, I also was aggrieved at being forced to read these stories. I now believe that I was just unlearned...and I partially blame my literature professor for that.

A's professor is doing a better job. I wonder if society has evolved in the decade and a half since I took a similar course or if A is just more fortunate than I was. Her professor has led discussions about the use of monsters in Gothic novels. A thinks that Heathcliff and Catherine are monsters. On one hand her discussion of how awful they were reminded me of her youth, but on the other hand she is so much brighter than I was at her age. It's a monstrous realization to have when I often think that I was never so young as A.

When I was her age, I read Wuthering Heights as a love story. But that's how our professor directed the studies. I thought Heathcliff was a jerk but with so many of my female classmates mooning over his gothicy-ness and brooding countenance, I wondered if I missed something. Years later I read Wuthering Heights again and confirmed to myself that indeed, Heathcliff and Catherine were a pair of selfish trolls, and Emily Bronte was a nincompoop for leading generations of women into worshiping their hideous, obsessive, vindictive love.

It was only a few years ago when a film adaptation of Wuthering Heights was released that I had a change to reread the story. A conversation in my local pub led to a rather splendid woman telling me that I was reading it all wrong, that Wuthering Heights was not a love story at all, but a feminist masterpiece. Being a card carrying feminist, I immediately downloaded the book onto my Kindle when I returned home and spent the night reacquainting myself with those horrid people. What an eye opener it was.

A is correct that Heathcliff and Catherine are monsters, but in fact, the real monsters are the bonds of society that created them. Wuthering Heights is a feminist masterpiece. It is a tale of confinement and powerlessness. Emily Bronte was brilliant but sadly, generations of hegemonic, mental imprisonment led her idiotic readers, myself included, to misunderstand her message and worship at the feet of one of the worst heroes in literature.

I had to stifle my urge to share this with A because I think that she is on the way to figuring this out. Right now Heathcliff and Catherine are the villains, but she is already discussing how she is not sure who the real monster of Frankenstein is. Oh, if only I hadn't been so dumb at her age. She even had an aside about Jane Austin's Northanger Abbey parodying the Gothics and informing us that monsters are only imagined. Oh, but they are real. I will have to bite my tongue and see where her train of thought is leading in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

more frightening

With the Zika virus afflicting Catholic nations, I wonder how long the church will put off weighing in. Before, the church's unflinching position regarding no abortion no matter the circumstances may have been disturbing to some but overall very few  people have been personally impacted by untenable pregnancies. Now, with an alarming number of women afflicted or in danger of becoming afflicted by the Zika virus, I wonder what Pope Francis will allow.