For Matthew Crawley

matthewThis post contains spoilers. Read at your own risk.

*****

I get really attached to characters. It is a sickness. When I read The Hunger Games the first time through, I nearly had a mental breakdown during Mockingjay. Harry Potter is an old friend. I’d have gone with the Darkling even if it did mean selling my soul. I stopped reading The Sweet Far Thing when Kartik died. I attended the Bennett/Darcy wedding and threw rice.

The list goes on and on. So, with this evidence, my attachment to the characters on the Masterpiece Classic show Downton Abbey should come as no surprise to anyone. I watched the first two seasons in the span of a week. The highs and lows of Matthew and Mary’s romance was enough to make me sick with worry.

Then, at the moment when all things had finally come together, tragedy struck. Sybil’s death was bad enough, but I had no idea what was to come later. The rest of the season we wrapped up some lingering threads. We saw Bates freed, Thomas redeemed, O’Brien set in her place. And then came Christmas and Lady Mary ripe with pregnancy.

I did a search for gifs of Matthew and Mary for another blog post and inadvertently discovered the news that Matthew Crawley dies in the Christmas special. I searched again and again and again, trying to find information to contradict the news. Alas, there was none.

So, I bought a TV pass on Amazon and watched the episodes that hadn’t already aired on PBS. It took me a couple days to get through the Christmas Special.

My sense of dread was distracting, and was made no easier by the foreshadowing throughout the episode. From the previous episode ending with a slow shot on Matthew, Tom and Robert happily winning cricket, to the touching scene between Mary and Matthew as they held their new heir, to Roberts speech about the incomprehensible blessings being reigned down on the family.

My heart was beating like a mad drum in my head until the very end. Then it was over, and I was drained. I was a hollow shell. I realize this is dramatic. I know it is television. Bite me.

Dan Stevens, the actor who has portrayed Matthew Crawley for three season, was my favorite on the show. His subtly and presence was grounding in a show that is, at times, hard to relate to. I understand the actor wanted to move on, and the grueling schedule was hard on his family life. He explains, here, his many reasons and why we should try to forgive him.

I am inclined to be sour for a few more days though. If you are struggling, like me, to let go, here is a suggestion of how to cope.

When you have reached acceptance, at which point I assume you realize we can’t change the outcome, but rather are thankful for the time we had with Matthew, I’ll applaud you. I’m not quite there yet.

However, Julian Fellowes has yet to fail us, even if she did kill Matthew in a head on collision. And we have the Crawley heir to support now.

We’ll be up and about in no time.

With little shame, a glass of wine looms in my future as part of my coping mechanism. I didn’t put together the tribute to Matthew below, but I support it.

RIP Matthew Crawley.  You husky eyed thing.

Road Trip Wednesday: #169 Lovers, Lovers Everywhere

rtwRoad Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. We,the bloggers who love YA Highway, post our response and then link it in the comments of the YA Highway site. Pretty fun!

This Week’s Topic is: Syncing up with our Bookmobile Book of the Month, NOBODY BUT US by our own Kristin Halbrook, we’re asking: Will and Zoe hit the road to be together. What’s the craziest thing you’ve done for love, or what’s your favorite book/movie moment of someone doing crazy things for love?

I am not going to lie. I am a romantic. It makes me tingly. I am not a super showy person, though. I don’t like pointing to myself or my love like a taunt. I also get really embarrassed by my own romantic side. It’s hard for me to be vulnerable with people and expose my soft underbelly.

This is something I have always struggled with as a writer as well. I love romantic love as a part of the story. I love tension and chemistry, and I love watching it develop as an attraction, a friendship, a reliance, a shared pain or secret. Romance is built on a myriad of foundations, and no one is necessarily better than the other. I enjoy writing about falling in love, but I flinch when it takes center stage.

My husband and I were actual Young Adults when we fell in love. The craziest thing I did in my romance with him was taking the leap to being with him. This is where I get squiggly. My romantic history was sketchy, a veritable shit-storm, and I was carrying around shrapnel from it when I met my husband. He was a junior in high school. I was a freshman in college. I won’t tell you the whole story here because the whole story plays out like a novel, and that will take too long. One part does, however, easily come to mind to help illustrate my answer.

The fear I was carrying from my previous experience threatened to push me away from anything else. I was on the threshold of this new romance and I was petrified of losing it. Not losing him, but losing the hope of him. I remember telling my mom one day that I had been robbed of my beliefs in love, and the expectation of what it would be like to finally be in love. (Seriously, those words. There is a reason I write YA.)

My mom looked me square in the face and said, “You have a chance here to make something completely new, the both of you. It will be whatever you both are willing to let it be. It can be anything, but it will be nothing if you don’t try.”

My mom is not known for being a romantic. She’s a gardener. If you are a rose bush or some rare fig tree, she might wax poetically, otherwise she sees it as a waste of time. So, her expressing this rather grand romantic sentiment was quite shocking.

But it helped me be bold. To not care where I had been before, or how naysayers around me mocked. And the payoff was big.

Now, I am going to risk being incredibly lame when I answer the second part of this question because all of these scenes send shivers through me. Looking for some of these clips prompted giddiness.

5. Say Anything…

Oh, young John Cusack, how I crushed on thee.

4. Matthew and Mary, Overall, but particularly when they danced.

If you are a watcher of Downton Abbey you will undoubtedly know why this one is bittersweet for me.

matthew

3. The make out scene in Rae Carson’s Crown of Embers. Steamy and utterly romantic.

2.When the Doctor closes the breach

Being separated and in love, especially when it is for the salvation of the world, is pretty crazy. Crazy Brave. Plus, the Doctor will never be happy. Not really. I was so scarred by David Tennant’s death that I have yet to move on to Matt Smith. Thinking about it gives me anxiety.

1. When John Crichton Dies

For those of you who have never been exposed to the wonders of Farscape, this will not make a lot of sense. But there are Two Johns, and one of them dies to save the love of his life. There are a million romantic scenes in Farscape. John and Aeryn’s love story is hard to beat. The word “epic” was created for these two.

As always, when I am asked to recall anything, I blank. Likely, many, many more scenes will come to me. Alas, I must actually post this. Feel free to jog my memory with others!

A Picture Post of Packing

“It’s good to do uncomfortable things. It’s weight training for life.”
― Anne LamottPlan B: Further Thoughts on Faith

Exhaustion is an overwhelming feeling. It dulls all other sensations. I imagine the next days and weeks, the detox of my emotions will yield an interesting uncovering of my feelings. I don’t know how most people deal with major life changes, but I tend to deal by pushing forward. I set my eyes on where I am going, and little can distract from that.

Some would say that kind of single-mindedness is a gift. I don’t know if I would agree. For me, I know no other way. It just is what it is. It is never comfortable, and then, when it is over, the wave of all I have held at bay rushes over me.

Yesterday we finished packing and loaded a POD to the brim. I’ll easily admit that I was not connected to the process for a lot of its unfolding. I wasn’t crying or laughing. I wasn’t fighting or relaxing. I was only being swept along by the current of events set in motion.

Then my son said goodbye to his best friend. Goodbye, from such little mouths, with such sweet faces, distracted me from my purpose enough to feel it. And I cried. I cried enough to know that there will be more tears.

Tears are funny. (Odd statement, I know.) They come in happiness, in sadness, in anger, in desperation. The breakdown walls we build up with pretense. They remind us we are not machines. We are feeling human beings. We lose and gain. We begin and end. Then we do it all again.

A special thanks goes out to Brian, John, and Stephen. The move would not have happened without you fellas. My love goes to my Brooklyn family — Nadia, Jonah, Sophia, Harold, Julie and Lewis — you gave me gifts everyday by your presence. To my landlord — a huge thanks for the home and the peace-of-mind in having such good people looking out for us. To my Manhattan pals — Amy and Anna — your fabulousness is unmatched.

Now, a sampling of the process by picture!

Brooklyn Bye Bye

We are moving. This is evidenced in our home by boxes and bubble wrap and tape guns strewn on tables and stacked in corners. We are going from here to somewhere else. So goes our belongings. It’s funny how moving makes everything feel new again. Not unfamiliar or shiny, that’s not what I mean by new. I mean unbroken. Untarnished. The edges all smooth, not chipped. No missing pieces.

The lingering irritation you might have felt with your home before you began to pack falls away. It is replaced by the whimsy of memory. You love, again, the creaking 100 year old floors that are beautiful but grating when you just want to pee in the middle of the night without waking up your son.

You suddenly realize you will miss briskly walking fifteen blocks home from dinner in the bitter cold, or the scent of garbage mixing with baking bread as you do. There will be a certain emptiness, and yes, peace to your morning now that the intoxicated local woman who brings your dog treats from the liquor store, won’t be able to violate your personal space on the benches outside Connecticut Muffin.

There is a loneliness to going about your day without a stranger asking how much you pay in rent, or telling you you’re too young to be a mother.

There is a disconcerting quiet to a world without city noise. A world where your son and his best friend can’t migrate back and forth between your home and your upstairs neighbors home.

Paths

Paths

We are happy to begin a new adventure, but it is with weeping we pack up this one. The charms of Brooklyn, which read like annoyances to outsiders, are what make this life here what it is. It is odd encounters with rough diamonds. It is food for the creative. It is the city that never sleeps, but that reminds you why you must.

Tonight I remember the joys, not the heartache, of being a transplant in the five boroughs. In my borough. In Brooklyn. In the future when I visit, I will once again be an outsider, but for a couple more days, I am a Brooklynite. And I am proud.

Snow Fall

Out of the bosom of the Air,
      Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken,
Over the woodlands brown and bare,
      Over the harvest-fields forsaken,
            Silent, and soft, and slow
            Descends the snow.
Even as our cloudy fancies take
      Suddenly shape in some divine expression,
Even as the troubled heart doth make
      In the white countenance confession,
            The troubled sky reveals
            The grief it feels.
This is the poem of the air,
      Slowly in silent syllables recorded;
This is the secret of despair,
      Long in its cloudy bosom hoarded,
            Now whispered and revealed
            To wood and field.
By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Looking out my window last night, the heavy blanket of snow my Brooklyn street was overlain with, made all who lived here momentarily stand still under it’s weight. It bellowed and whistled at us, at once cocooning our world with it’s dangerous arms, and warning us to the warmth of our homes.

We have begun to pack, and the frenzy of it has made me weary. Next week, we will load a truck and set off. And, seemingly, New York has given us one more unforgettable memory to hold in our hearts as we do.

Being storm-bound is often the only way for New Yorkers to still themselves. The City, in all her glitter and brilliant intrigue, is a mistress that steals your energy. But when the weather screeches at us, it is a harsh ally. Reluctantly, we take her call. We hide inside.

The beauty of snow fades rather quickly, and with its majestic fading, the quiet ceases. The work begins. We clear a path to the trains, and salt the cement beneath our shoes so we can bustle to-and-fro. The call of the City is louder than the whisper of the wind in the snow-banked streets.

She will always win.

Ground and sky swirl silver and white, a life-size snow globe in a city made of concrete. A playground capsule where we are in awe of what nature can do.

For a moment, this is all there is, the snow and the child in the snow. The balls made of it. The Men built from it. The world veneered in it. And I am thankful to breathe in the coldness of snow because you never forget the cold, or the fingerprint it leaves on your bones.

I will carry that with me forever.

Chapters End

Credit John Maxwell's Writers Refuge

Credit John Maxwell’s Writers Refuge

My relative radio silence for the last few weeks may seem a little odd. No, it’s not that I was sequestered in my writing cave, hunkered over a desk sculpting words like clay. I have not been deathly ill with an exotic disease you can only contract in the Amazon jungle, therefor indicating I was in the Amazon jungle and that’s why I wasn’t writing.

It’s only that we have been preparing for a major life change and so I have been quiet. I have been waiting to share until what I was sharing was less transparent-like.

About a month ago, my husband and I made the decision to move back to Texas. This was a hard fought choice. When we moved to Brooklyn almost two years ago, we were babies with a baby. We had no idea how significant this move would be in our lives.

And we have cherished, sometimes begrudgingly, the chance to live in a city most people only dream of living in. As I said in my “About” page, moving to New York changed my perspective on what kind of writer I was going to be.

It made me a writer.

The challenge of living here, and the bursting creative energy that is New York City, was a force behind the novel I am now revising for publication.

I am thankful to New York City for her help.

Now I have to go. It’s hard to say exactly when we knew the time here was coming to an end, but once we knew we made the move. We’ve always been this way, and I hope that never changes.

Over the next weeks we will be packing our apartment, finalizing details of our move, and waiting in earnest to see the purchase of a new home come through. I will try to share as much of the transition with you as possible.

We want to send out a very heartfelt thanks to our Brooklyn friends. The life we have had up here has worked because you guys found us and we you.

If you look at life like a novel, (and when you are a writer of a novel, everything becomes comparable to the writing process) you see that chapters don’t end without connecting to the next. Backstory, action, characters woven through the narrative, create the overall arc. Nothing is random, and nothing ends. Until the end anyway.

What I’m trying to say — and maybe not saying clearly — is that this is not a goodbye. This is a turning of a page. A chapter that leads to another chapter, and the work I’ve done developing my life in Brooklyn, will not be scrapped for revision.

This move is not the beginning of a new book. It’s the continuation of my family’s story arc.

My husband and I watched Battlestar Galactica for all four seasons. (I must be careful here, because when the BSG comparison floodgates open, with the waters come my longing.) BSG was a show that completed it’s arcs well. It built a meticulous framework, filled it in, roofed it off, and then landscaped it.

What I learned from BSG (besides some new curse words) was simple: everything is connected when telling a story. Every story must be filled with peaks and valley’s, comings and goings, location changes and losses. And in the end, every part of the story matters equally. If it doesn’t, it wouldn’t end up in the final draft or make it through post-production.

I intend on keeping New York a part of my life for years to come. I intend to have to because of my career. And I expect it not to be long before I am visiting. (And crashing on above mentioned friends couch/second bedroom.)

Now on to the wild lands of Texas again!

Pending the signing of a Warranty Deed and funding, my husband and I will once again be homeowners. So I leave you with the wisdom of Stewie Griffon and whatever you are able to glean from it.