Saturday, April 25, 2009

Wide Open Spaces

I'm coming out of stealth mode to do a little warm-up writing. I've a rewrite of a short story to work on, and I need some "narrative calasthenics" (I stole that phrase from some guy in Poets and Writers mag) to get my fiction juices flowing. It's such a irony that the same house-cleaning frenzy that frees up my mind so that I can write also makes me to tired to want to do anything.

So this week in Domesticity class we've been talking about the open floor plan and its many evils. It's so weird how everything we've talked about in that class keeps popping up at random moments in my "real", non-school life. This week we read about how the advent of the open floor plan placed so much more responsibility on already overworked women. With all that visually pleasing open space comes the ability/expectation to multi-task. Mother has to be everywhere at once, and she can be if she can see everywhere. Plus, there is no front room that you can keep clean for company. Now, everything has to be presentable all the time because it's all visible to visitors. At Bible study last night, one of my friends was lamenting that fact that she spends so much of her time chasing her 2-year-old son. When I mentioned what we read in class about Betty Friedan's maligning of the open floor plan in The Feminine Mystique, my friend couldn't help but agree. (Though she seemed almost too tired to so much as nod.)

Are we (and by "we," I mean women) creating more work for ourselves by selecting those oh-so-popular open floor plan houses? Just because HGTV says we need all that open space and "flow," does it really make it true? As I've read so much about domestic advice and its history over this semester of Domesticity class, I've become aware of how transient domestic advice really is....fluid and rarely reflective of the society it is meant to represent/guide. So much of the advice is never followed, but we are left with this guilt that we aren't doing the "right" thing by our homes and families.

Don't get me wrong, I am in no way suggesting that HGTV is evil or that I will never again flip hungrily through a decorating mag. I simply submit to you, dear reader, that when making house/decorating/cooking decisions, we women should start basing it on our own convenience/comfort/taste rather than on something that the "experts" tell us we should like. It is important to remember that so much of the modern domestic advice is driven by consumerism and marketing. Product placement almost overwhelms some of those HGTV decorating shows. 100 years ago, women couldn't even vote. Now we have a female Secretary of State. Women have not come this far to be controlled by a clever jingle or compelling commercial.

Of course, if we're talking about convenience, there are some inventions/innovations that do make our jobs easier. I have a couple of items, like my Kitchen Aid Mixer and my insanely wonderful laundry cart, that make my domestic tasks so much simpler. But even my household tools deserve a second look. So many of the tools that we use to make our jobs easier/faster, really just isolate us more and raise the standards by which we measure our housework.

Okay, enough of my housework rant. I'm still seeking the title of Domestic Goddess. That didn't change. I do, however, have a different understang/perspective when it come to my role as wife/cook/laundress/housekeeper. But I suppose I should use some of my mad multi-tasking skills to get some serious writing done. Thanks to the inventor of the open floor plan for giving me that oh-so-useful skill!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Laying Low

I am officially going into stealth mode. As of tomorrow, I will be a month from graduation. That's right, 30 DAYS from graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Pretty exciting stuff. Nevertheless, these will be 30 of the busiest (and likely craziest) days of my life. I have assignments, meetings, and deadlines coming out my ears. Sunday is my reading at College Town (to be held at the uber hip, Hub Bub in downtown Spartanburg.) May 7th is my oral defense. I've got presentations coming up in 2 classes. Lots of public speaking, lots of work...I need a new outfit and a hair cut. I mean, I have to look good, right?

So blogging will probably take a backseat for the next few weeks. I'll probably post some pictures from the reading even if I don't have time to wax verbose about it. Next week is the Concept Release Party and the Wrap Party. I am really excited about those, and I will definitely post pictures of them as well.

Well, I guess that's all for tonight. No rants, muses, or clever turns of phrase. Just an update and apology for my probable absence. See you at GRADUATION!!!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Fireproof: A Night At The Movies

For the past few months, I have heard tons of buzz about the film, Fireproof, a new film by the people who did Facing The Giants. I haven't seen FtG, either, but last night, I finally got a chance to watch Fireproof. What seems most impressive about this film is that it was done almost entirely by church volunteers in 30 days! What an amazing accomplishment! It was also really beautiful to watch the DVD bonus features where they showed the cast and crew covering each scene/shot in prayer. Very powerful.

Impressive feats aside, however, it was still a film meant to entertain, and I tried to set aside any preconceived notions aside and just watch. The film follows a young couple, Caleb and Catherine Holt, as their marriage spirals toward divorce. After a heart-to-heart with his father, Caleb decides to spend 40 days trying to save his marriage using "The Love Dare." This journey of discovery turns into a story of redemption as Caleb finds salvation and prays to save his marriage. The ending is touching, though predictable, and more about message and meaning than it is about art.

I hesitate to criticize the film as I am certain that many will see it as some sort of snide swipe at a church's inspiring production. However, it is a film, and I endeavor to review it objectively. The writing, while far from inspired, is actually better than I expected. There were times when they snuck in a bit too much exposition in the dialogue, but overall, it wasn't bad. The acting, unfortunately, left something to be desired. Kirk Cameron, though far from my favorite actor (Hello! He's Mike Seaver, for crying out loud!), was at least passable. Even Erin Bethea, the church volunteer who played Catherine Holt, wasn't terrible. What seemed a shame to me was their choice for Caleb's father. Arguably one of the most important characters, Mr. Holt was wooden (at best) as he delivered his speeches on relationships and spiritual things. How unfortunate that the man who shared the most important message of the film (salvation) frequently sounded like he was reading from a cue card.

On the positive side, the special effects were well-done. The fire and car crash scenes were both believable and suspenseful. The emotions in the film also felt very genuine, which is crucial in a film that relies so heavily on emotional impact. Also refreshing was the film's frank use of scripture. No dancing around Christian themes here. Everything is laid out clearly for the viewer, no apologies.

I am certain that I have now sentenced myself to the pantheon of Christian movie haters - but unjustly so. I applaud what these people were trying to do with this film. It is a message that needs to get out - marriage is a committment, a decision, not an emotion. I simply feel after viewing the film that it is less popcorn and pj's and more marriage seminar. A fun, entertaining marriage seminar (and no, that's not an oxymoron.)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Theory of Relativity

It's nearly 1:30 in the morning, and I'm getting droopy-eyed and fuzzy-brained, but I'm blogging anyway. Who knows when I'll get another chance. Last week was Spring Break, and I spent it in Maryland with my family. It was so much fun and such a good (and very needed) rest, but I didn't get much schoolwork done. So now I'm even further behind than I was before Spring Break, but I'm hoping that the rest I got will enable me to dig in and get the work done. Just over a month to graduation after all.

We submitted the final proof of Concept today. I am so excited about the way it turned out. It looks great, and I think we made the right choices about what submissions to include. Everyone on the staff worked so hard, and it is so satisfying to see everything come together. Tonight there was a reading at school, and I got a chance to talk to Professor Mulkey about some of my grad school questions. I found out that I have to have a story ready before this month is over! Yay! Another thing to add to my neverending to do list. I'm starting to freak out a little bit about getting everything done. (Okay, I was already freaking out before Spring Break. I guess, I'm just freaking out all over again. Or maybe I never stopped.)

At least I got to spend the week with my family. It's always wonderful to see the whole gang up in Maryland. There's nothing more soothing than an evening of Nanny's good cooking and baked goods. Of course, I also managed to squeeze in the requisite shopping with Grammy and a side trip to Antietam for Steve, the Civil War history buff. It is always like some kind of miracle how for a week I can slide into the lives of people whom I see so rarely. Sometimes I wonder what their lives are like when I'm not around. It's like quantum physics for relatives - if an aunt has dinner with your grandmother and you're not there to see it, does the gravy taste as good? Seriously though, it is curious how I can be folded into the lives of people and then slip away for another year. During the intervening year that passes between visits, there is no piece of me remaining in Maryland. Everyone's lives go on whether I'm there or not. Remember that movie Brigadoon about the town that sleeps for one hundred years only to awaken for one day before sleeping again? That' s what my annual visits feel like: updates on what has passed in my absence.

This digression about my Maryland visits makes them sound so negative, and that was not my intention. My time away from family would not seem so poignant if I didn't feel such love when I'm in their presence. Ultimately, I am grateful for my family and the time I have to spend with them.