Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy League of Women Voter's Day*

*Brownie point for those of you who get the reference

by Jennifer Harlow

When I was informed I was the person to post on this blog on Valentine’s Day I was a bit flummoxed. I mean, I’m the only one of our posters who has never been married or been in a long term relationship. I am one of the least sentimental, romantic women on the planet. I'm a fighter, not a lover. I've cried at exactly two movies in my lifetime. I'd much rather watch Texas Chainsaw Massacre than The Notebook, unless I want to fall asleep from boredom or see how many times I can roll my eyes in the space of two hours. When I read Romeo and Juliet I just wanted to smack the two teens upside their heads for being so stupid. I mean, hello! They were fourteen! So I was a bit wary about writing about romance, especially on Valentine's Day, as I am perpetually single and through feminism classes know that Valentine's day is just a holiday sprung from corporate greed and the only real reason all us female singletons feel bad about VD is the not-so-subtle brainwashing of females that we need a man to complete us and make our life worthwhile. (Thank you Disney).

I started on a post to reflect this, but since my last one about the West Memphis 3 was kind of aggressive and a downer I decided to embrace this “holiday” and do something upbeat(ish). So today I will pour some antifreeze in my veins to combat the ice and write about the romantic influences in my writing. Because I do believe in love, and do enjoy writing about it (as long as I get to kill a few things along the way.)

Here they are, in no particular order:

1. Titanic: This was one of the aforementioned movies that made me cry to this day (the other being Apollo 13 for some unknown reason.) The first time I saw it when my parents came to pick me up at the theater I was sobbing so hard they thought I'd been assaulted. It took a couple minutes for me to calm down before I could tell them what really happened. That I'd just seen the most touching love story ever. Not only is it a thrilling movie, the love story between Jack and Rose is wonderful. They shouldn't be together but find one another. They sacrifice for this love, him his life for her. And that last scene, when old Rose is on the boat, dies, then is reunited with Jack on the Titanic with everyone still makes me verklempt. Best epic love story ever.

2. Charlotte Bronte: Not her books, though Jane Eyre is a pretty decent love story especially considering something like it had never been done before. No Bronte's life is something that no writer could ever have come up with. Cliff's Notes version. A plain girl, she was born to a poor clergyman. Her mother and two older sisters died, leaving her the eldest girl. She had an isolated childhood with only her remaining three siblings and imagination to keep her company. As she got older she had to go to school to learn to be a teacher and she fell in love with her married teacher. He rebuffed her and she returned to the moors. Then she wrote a book, and it was a sensation. Of course within a year of it coming out all three of her siblings died, leaving her alone with her hard father. Then, out of the blue, her father's curate tells her he's been in love with her for years and wants to marry her. Her father goes ballistic, and though she's in her late 30s tells her to refuse. Curate then falls apart all over town, performing grand romantic gestures. She eventually gives in, and realizes on her honeymoon she's fallen in love with her husband. They're not even married a year when she dies of complications from her pregnancy. You can't make this stuff up.

3. Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie: This is one of my favorite books ever. I laughed, I got misty, I stayed up all night reading it. It's about two un-perfect people who try to stay away from each other but fate keeps throwing them together. It's how I wish love could be. Just read it.

4. Ralph Fiennes: Yes, I heart Voldemort. While all the other girls had Johnathan Taylor Thomas or Brad Pitt posters, I had Mr. Fiennes. From age 12 to 20 he was the lead of all my insomnia fueled imagination sessions. He was my romantic hero, and from The English Patient to Strange Days (I still melt in that final scene when he scoops up Angela Bassett, stares into her eyes, and kisses her) he gave me a lot to work with. I even decided to write my first book after seeing one of his movies, Red Dragon (it hasn't been published yet). He's still my favorite actor.

5. My grandparents and parents: Once upon a time there was a 19 year old girl living in Nottingham, England who attended an Air Force dance with her mate. There she met a dashing plane mechanic from New Jersey. They danced the night away, had two more dates, then she agreed to move to America with him. They are celebrating their 56th wedding anniversary this year. On the other side of the pond Jim and Ginny were introduced through friends. They married, had two sons, divorced, then ten years later realized they still loved each other and re-married. Right now he has Alzheimer's and she's taking care of him. From those two unions came Mark and Susan. They met on a blind date, dated for two years, then married 30 years ago. They've survived ten moves to four states, cancer scares, a sick possibly dying young son, raising four children, and having the snarky me as a daughter. This is real love. It's all about mutual respect. Loyalty. Compromise. Being equal partners. Theirs are true love stories.

What about you? What is your definition of romance and love? What movies/books/songs make you feel the love?

So anyway, Happy League of Women Voter Day AKA Valentine's Day! Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a date with a box of chocolates I bought for myself and Leatherface.

Happy Valentine’s Day! =P XXXOOO


Shannon Baker said...

I'm sorry, is it Valentine's Day?

From one dis-romantic to another, great post!

Lois Winston said...

Please, I'm still trying to lose the excess weight I put on over Christmas. Somehow the memo went out that Christmas 2011 was the year for chocolate gifts. Two boxes of chocolate covered pretzels, two large samplers, and one box of truffles later, I'm still putting in extra hours at the gym to rid myself of those chocolate calories. If my husband knows what's good for him, he'd better not walk in the door with a heart-shaped box tonight!

Beth Groundwater said...

Great post, Jennifer! Here's my definition of a great relationship:

When I kissed my hubby this morning and said, "I love you," he replied, "I love you, too--EVERY day!"

Man, am I one lucky woman. We don't make a big deal out of Valentine's Day (though I did make him pecan cinnamon rolls for breakfast). Instead, we show each other our love for each other in small ways every day.

Jennifer Harlow said...

Shannon-I like romance just not fake treacly kind.
Lois-I heard on the radio that one man gave his wife vericose vein surgery for VD. Hope the hubby doesn't get you that!
Beth-U are a lucky woman. All Leatherface got me for VD was a chainsaw. Again. All he ever gets me. Ever. :)

Deborah Sharp said...

Awww, this is such a sweet post (well, sweet for you, anyway ;-). I'm misty-eyed at the section about your grandparents and parents. Hope you and Leatherface will be very happy together. Happy V-Day ... btw, what's the reference?

Kathleen Ernst said...

Hey - thanks for forcing yourself to focus on the mushy stuff. I love your family stories! Those are the best. My maternal grandparents are long gone but when I think of how tenderly my grandfather cared for his wife during her final illness...OK, now I'm misting up.

Jennifer Harlow said...

Shannon-I think I'm a closeted romantic. It has to come from the heart, like Beth said.

Lois-I just hope your husband didn't come home with an appointment for varicose vein surgery. I heard that one on the radio today.

Beth-So right.

Deborah-Thanks, I do try to access my feminine side on occasion just so it doesn't close off completely. And the reference is from "30 Rock" last episode Liz Lemon went around saying "Happy League of Women Voter's Day" as this was the day they came together.

Kathleen-I'm so blessed with my family. I really am. I thank God for them all every day. We all really love, respect, and support each other.

Thanks for all your comments! Hope your League of Women Voter's Day was great. :)