Monday, June 26, 2017

If I Were a Jane Austen Character...

I've taken I don't know how many "Which Jane Austen Character Are You?" quizzes in my time. I think most of the time they come up accurate, but they typically cast you based on if you're a man or woman.

How I wish I could say that I was Elizabeth Bennet; Witty, Pretty, and Headstrong. Don't we all want to be Lizzie? She's got such a head for the right thing to say at that exact moment, while being able to learn from her mistakes.



Typically, I get Fanny Price, the quiet observer in Mansfield Park who has been in love with her best friend for most of her life.


As I get older I sometimes think that I'm Anne Elliot, the responsible middle daughter of a vain, pompous spendthrift in Persuasion, who spends most of the book regretting a lost love.



If I were going to be truly honest with myself, though, I'd be none of these characters.

My book club read Pride & Prejudice awhile back, and in rereading it, I really started to watch a certain character. He was shy, intelligent, honorable, and almost too willing to give in to first impressions.

It's Mr. Darcy. I'm totally Mr. Darcy. I really understand him on a personal level.

Let's look at the facts. Mr. Darcy is:
  1. Shy. Upon his first visit to Meryton, he only speaks to his own friends, Mr. and Miss Bingley. He doesn't break away from them or even step out to talk to the woman he finds prettiest in the entire room (Lizzie). 
  2. Stubborn. He stubbornly clings to his initial opinions of people, and even tells Lizzie that once his good opinion is lost on someone, it is lost forever. It's one of the most important quotes on his character. 
  3. More extroverted around close family and friends. He dotes on his younger sister, Georgiana. Lizzie's entire opinion of him changes after speaking to her as well as his housekeeper, who have nothing but the best things to say about him. He's seen (in the 2005 film version) laughing when Georgiana is around, and Lizzie can see what a friendship they have. 


I did a little soul searching after rereading the novel, and found that I also am:
  1. Shy. Okay. It didn't take a brain surgeon to figure this one out. My dad's favorite story to tell about me was the first time I went roller skating, I went around twice, watched everyone else skate for the next two hours, but the next time I went out, I was skating quickly around the rink. I'm very heavily guarded in my outward opinions until I get to know someone and gauge how they'll react. Not to say I care about other's opinions of me, but I do care about looking like an idiot if I don't think things through. Also, I check out EVERYTHING before I go through with something. I visited Stephens three times before I applied. I texted my friend, who is a groomer at a Petsmart in Texas (she used to work at one here), about policies from her experience before I scheduled an appointment for Chuck to get his nails clipped.
  2. Stubborn. It's almost a family trait to hold grudges. And my grudges can be legendary (There's a short list of people who are actually dead to me. They come up to me on the street and start talking, I will look right through them and not speak. Immature? Maybe, but I've been burned horribly and refuse to go through that again). 
  3. More extroverted around close family and friends. In true introvert fashion, I'm very outgoing around people I'm comfortable with. I can be the biggest goofball with my beloved friends and family. They know how to bring me out of me shell, and dropping me in the middle of an unfamiliar situation is not the way to do it. 
I've always liked Darcy, and I think that's what people love about characters, especially when they're so complex: They see bits of themselves there. It's important in writing stories that really speak to the audience to make them well-rounded and somewhat mysterious. 

Peeling back the layers of a character is like meeting them in real life. You don't know everything about them until you get to know them. And the prejudice surrounding Mr. Darcy is exactly why you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. 

  • Which famous literary character are you? (I'm always Jo March. WIN!)
  • Who do you love best in Jane Austen?

Monday, June 5, 2017

That Time I Almost Met Debbie Reynolds

It's no secret I love old Hollywood musicals. I even like bad musicals that have elements of Old Hollywood in them (Looking at YOU, Xanadu!).

I've been enamored of old movies since I was a kid. My dad and I would watch them all the time. I don't remember the first time I saw Singin' In the Rain, but I remember it was in our first house, so I was less than seven.

I watched it again in high school and almost died laughing. I learned the songs, fell in love with Gene Kelly (though I hear he was a jerky perfectionist in his professional life), and thought getting started in Hollywood was as easy as popping out of a cake.


Who knows? I might have been in the 20's.

There's a reason it's one of the top musicals ever made. It's just so dang funny and timeless. Is there a better villain than the squeaky-voiced Lina LaMont? Is there a funnier number than Fit As a Fiddle or Make 'em Laugh?

Back in 2010, FilmStreams in Omaha had a showing at the Joslyn Art Musem, and Debbie Reynolds was to speak beforehand. Because my dad is amazing, he bought us tickets.

I got dressed up. If I was going to meet Debbie Reynolds, I wanted to look awesome. I don't remember many specifics about the outfit, but I did remember the shoes I wore. they were fuschia platform peep toe booties with a huge bow on the side. Difficult to walk in, but they looked so cute, who cared?

Before the show started, I went down to the basement, where the bathrooms were. I wasn't going to miss my chance to see this amazing film on the big screen.

As I was coming back upstairs, I heard a loud commotion, and as I reached the landing, a crowd of museum or Film Streams employees was ushering in a short woman with permed blonde hair.

It was Debbie! And she was right in front of me!

Hoping to meet her for a quick second, I took the final step...and missed it. I fell off my shoes, crashing to the floor with a little shriek.

The crowd stopped, and in almost slow motion, they looked down at me.

I stared right at Debbie. She stared back at me.

And just like that, it was over. They ushered her into the theatre while I picked myself up, and hurried to my seat to exclaim to my dad, "I tripped in front of Debbie Reynolds!"

Unfortunately, I didn't get to meet her. I was a night waitress and I had to get to work, but that's still one of my favorite celebrity encounters of all time.

I was very sad when Debbie Reynolds passed away following her daughter, Carrie Fisher. The world lost two immense talents. I always wanted to meet Debbie for real, but that didn't happen. At least I can say she looked right at me.

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If I Were a Jane Austen Character...

I've taken I don't know how many "Which Jane Austen Character Are You?" quizzes in my time. I think most of the time they ...