Pride and Not so Prejudice

My daughter recently read “Pride and Prejudice.”  As many of you know, this is my favorite book.  I aspire to be Lizzie Bennett.  Well, a modern day version because I’m rather fond of indoor plumbing.

There’s a little backstory to my daughter reading this novel.  For AP Lang, they were required to read the first three chapters of a book from a time period they had trouble with, which is the 19th century for her.  And she was not loving the book when she began to read it, and couldn’t understand why I loved it so, but she chose to keep reading it.

Proud moment.  My daughter chose to voluntarily read this book. (and it’s a requirement for college English next year so she’s a bit ahead of the game)

And we began discussing the book, my daughters perspective that Lizzie was a boy hungry gossip, and my perspective was that my daughter was nuts.  But for arguments sake I tried to pretend that she might have a point in certain respects.  A very small point, but there’s nothing like a good debate.

Not so proud that she found this book to be the first recorded chick lit novel.

One morning I got a text from her when she was on the M101 on her way to school.

DAUGHTER: OMG Char marries Mr. Collins???

Proud moment.  My daughter texting me about a plot point in the book.

It’s amazing that my daughter reading my favorite novel could bring me so much joy.  It was wonderful to see the novel though her eyes, to discuss certain plot points and reasons why Austen chose to portray certain things in certain ways.  We analyzed the book as scholars, referred to it as a historical point of reference, and bonded as mother and daughter.

Bonding.  That was the best part.  Sitting at the table, or walking down the street, we were able to communicate with one another on a different level than just Mother/Daughter.  As my kid is smarter than me, and often more astute, we were able to discuss this novel as equals. Our relationship had just reached a new level.  I began to really see my daughter as the woman she will soon become.

Pride.

I am proud of the child she was, and I am proud of the woman she is becoming.  There are times, especially during middle school or teething, when a parent feels like they are failing at parenting.  They feel like they are the worst parent in the world, and things will never get better.  And then you hit a moment….and you exhale.  You realize that though not perfect, you did some things right.  You realize that you’ve raised a decent human being who you are now able to have an actual relationship with.

Proud.

When you hit one of these moments, savor it.  Because you know there are still going to be bumps ahead.  But take advantage of this small victory- this moment when you see your kid in a new light.

Allow yourself to spend a moment being proud.  You deserve it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Perception

I saw an off Broadway stage production of “Pride and Prejudice” the other day.  (on a side note, thanks to the new NYC flashing billboards, I learned funfact #184, the difference between Broadway and Off Broadway is the number of seats in the house)  This new production was the brainchild of Kate Hamill.  While keeping to the basic theme of the novel, she adapts it for a small, one set stage, as well as puts a 21st century twist on it.

Some of the characters have been eliminated (bye bye Kitty).  There are only 8 actors in the production, so with the exception of Darcy and Elizabeth, players have multiple roles.  Mary and Mr. Bingley are played by the same talented actor- he flips his hair in a different direction and throws a “dress”  over his pants.  The result is camp and funny.  And that’s how Hamill updated this work- by making it camp.   The actors used many of the same lines from the book, but interpreted them a bit differently than you would see in the Colin Firth version.  (sorry- to me that is the definitive version- there is only one thing wrong with it)

Interpretation.  Every person reading a book will have a different perception of it.  Every person looking at a painting will have a different perception of it.  Sure, many people will agree on certain points, but perception will vary by the viewer.  This is just how it is- everyone’s life experiences view how they interpret things.

The 11th grade in my daughters school have been studying “The Scarlet Letter” since the beginning of the year. Prior to the Thanksgiving break, the students had an assembly of sorts, where groups of students came up with individual interpretations of SL.  My daughters group did a movie, “Father Figure” which told the story through the eyes of Dimsdale.  One group did an interpretive dance, another did a riff on the TV show “How I Met Your Mother”.  She said is was great to see the different ways people talked about the book and she saw many areas of the book in a new light.

So, you’ve heard about a play I saw, you’ve heard about my kids school assignment.  What’s the point?

The point is, everyone has a different perception of everything.  Try to remember this in all your human interactions.  Remember that, even though someone may “look” just like you, they may be vastly different in their core.  Remember that someone may “look” totally different from you, but they might share many of the same traits and viewpoints.  We spend so much time talking about being equal (which is great and everyone should have equal opportunity- I am a huge believer in equal opportunity) that we forget that we should strive to be individuals.  We should take the unique qualities that we all possess and own them.  Celebrate our visions of everything we see.

While there is nothing wrong with being “like” someone else, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being “different”.  People with different ideas and different notions are what make the world go round.  Never be afraid to share your opinion for fear of ridicule.  never be afraid to disagree with someone (except me because I am always right…)

So as we officially enter what I refer to as the Holiday season, embrace your unique view, and the unique stance of others.  Do things your way, but allow others to have the same freedom.  And remember, whatever holiday greeting people choose to say, accept it with gratitude, because all they’re trying to do is say “Peace”.

Peace

My Secret…..

Sssh….I’m going to let you in on a little secret.  I really think I was meant to be British.  My family tells me this all the time.  I love tea.  I love a dry sense of humor.  I  swoon when I hear the accents (my New Yorkese is just not pleasing to the ear).  Burberry- oh don’t get me started on the plaid.  I would kill for sticky toffee pudding.  I truly believe I was born in the wrong place.

Looks wise, when you mix my Mediterranean Mother with my Slavic Father, you end up with a fair skinned. greenish hazel eyed, brunette.  People have never thought I was Polish or Italian, the dominant genetic groups- they’ve always thought I was English or Irish.  There was a point when I only dated blue eyed, blonde guys with Irish ancestry.  You could say that’s my type (my daughters history teacher fits this description- even though he’s about 12, I still felt the need to check my appearance before I walked into parent teacher conferences)

But my intense love of all things British sort of manifests itself in my love of three things:  Downton Abbey, Pride and Prejudice and Agatha Christie.  There is nothing I like more than absorbing myself in these two works.  So this month has been wonderful.

Why?  Because a few weeks ago, a Downton Abbey exhibit opened in NYC.  I was treated to seeing the actual kitchen, servants dining hall, Mr.  Carsons office, the Dowagers desk, the main dining table and Lady Mary’s bedroom.  As I told my friends, I could have moved into that room.  And the costumes!!!  Oh, those dresses!

For an Anglophile, a drawing room drama is perfection.  Back stabbing, wheeling and dealing and intrigue are so much better when done with an accent and a country estate.  There is a sense of class and elegance to the shows aired on PBS that just draws me in. (OK- I know- they’re PBS- they’re supposed to be like that) I don’t necessarily want to be part of that world (well- I have had a few dreams where I am Lady Mary), but it sure is a fun ride.  No American drama has captivated me as Downton did.  The dialogue was just line after line of clever and concise writing.  The actors- really- do I need to explain how good each and every cast member was?  I still haven’t gotten over Matthew and Cybil…..the attention to detail- there was not a thing on the set that wasn’t perfect and accurate to the time.

But my love of all things Brit also extends to literature.  Pride and Prejudice.  Seriously- could there be a better book?  Jane Austen had the ability to describe the universal nature of people is such an insightful and timeless way.  And tonight, I get to see an off Broadway production of that amazing book!  I get to live in a world of Elizabeth Bennett for just a few hours tonight!  To see such a strong female character, and to know how long ago the book was written….to know that Austen had the courage to write about it!

Of course, “Murder on the Orient Express” also came out this month.  Agatha Christie- the queen of the detective story.  Adapted by Kenneth Branagh.  Come on…..  Clever, timeless, witty, erudite…..the whole thing is perfect.  (ok- the movie is not perfect- but still- a murder on a train….Hercule…..it still works)

So here is my nod to all things British.  Here is to my wishing I was British.  I’m going to finish my tea, take the lift down and exit my flat to walk my Yorkshire terrier……perhaps I’ll even wear my trench…..