Monthly Archives: February 2012

Searching for Colonel Brandon

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Recently, the Universe sent me a message in the form of a book someone lent me out of the blue.  The book is titled, A JANE AUSTEN EDUCATION: HOW SIX NOVELS TAUGHT ME ABOUT LOVE, FRIENDSHIP, AND THE THINGS THAT REALLY MATTER by William Deresiewicz.  I greatly enjoyed this book because it combines a personal journey with interesting insights about Jane Austen novels and the life lessons therein.  I adore Austen’s work thus revisiting her stories and characters from a different perspective was a joyous experience in addition to re-enforcing some concepts about relationships that are still a bit new to me. (To see a review of the book click here.)

A few posts back I talked about a great article I read in Psychology Today  about finding a good mate via looking for certain characteristics and avoiding some major relationship blocking ones. (Click here to go to previous post titled, The Right Stuff.) One of the things that particularly struck me in Deresiewicz’s book were his theories that Jane Austen had similar thoughts.  In chapter six of A JANE AUSTEN EDUCATION, he talks about SENSE AND SENSIBILITY.  On the jacket cover he summarizes the chapter and the main lesson in the book with these words,

“A true lover is someone who is different from you and is wiling to challenge you. If your lover is just like you, then neither of you has anywhere to go.”

The chapter goes into depth about the difference between the two main characters of the story, the Dashwood sisters, Marianne and Elinor.  Marianne is the romantic who falls into a passionate, reckless relationship with a handsome man who shares her tastes and romantic nature.  She is the “sensibility ” part of the title, all emotion, all heart.  Elinor is the “sense” in the title.  Moving cautiously in her love life, she is all judgement and reserve, all head. Austen is really showing us what a successful love match is all about here.  Marianne’s love is not a man of character and good judgement we find out half way through the book but she is able to temper herself a bit, grow up and find happiness with Colonel Brandon, a man from whom she differs in age and temperament but one who appreciates her nature, is even tempered , has a commendable character and is patient, kind and generous. In other words he has the characteristics that make for a good long term partner while offering the opportunity for Marianne to grow.

I love this book because I have often said that all you really need to know about navigating life you can learn from reading Jane Austen.  It is great to have someone like Deresiewicz to articulate the lessons so clearly. There is a lot more to the chapter, the theory etc but this is all I wanted to touch on today.

All of it gives me pause to rethink what I am really looking for in a mate and how far I still have to grow out of my childish romantic notions.

(click here to read blog post about romantic fantasy and how it has affected my perceptions about love, The Big Sell.)

Drinking Habits

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Yesterday was Valentine’s Day, one of my least favorite days of the year starting with the 6th grade which was the year all the people in the class stopped exchanging paper Valentines.  Ever since then the day has been a gut wrenching, ego-shrinking humiliation of witnessing other women be gifted with flowers, candy, jewelry and wined and dined at fancy  restaurants while my day usually ended in a fight with whomever I was dating at the time.  The exception were the years I spent married to the father of my daughter H2.  He was always very good about remembering the occasion with something wonderful starting with the first Valentine’s of our dating life when on February 13th he sent me three dozen long stem white roses in a basket, you know, like the ones opera singers get in old movies after a stellar performance (aka: post Susan’s performance in CITIZEN KANE) complete with a card that said, ” I just couldn’t wait.”  Practical and romantic as roses are probably half the price on 2/13 as they are on 2/14.

Anyway, that has nothing to do with yesterday where I am lacking a lover of any kind other than the vibrating variety.  In a kind of desperate moment, I agreed to meet a man we will call B8 for a drink at my neighborhood hangout which is five minutes away from my house. I say kind of desperate because I think the only reason I agreed to meet him last night is because it was Valentine’s and I just wanted to be interested in by someone. But I have had coffee with this man and he seems nice so what the heck, right?

We meet at 7:30pm. We order.  I am having only one drink so I opt for a glass of bubbly with a glass of water.  He orders a vodka martini AND a beer. This strikes me as an interesting choice.  I have spent way too many hours of my youth in bars with plenty of drunks and married two alcoholics but I have yet to observe a drink order quite like this.  So I ask him why he ordered the beer and he says it makes him drink the martini slower which prevents him from getting drunk as fast.

What do you think of this logic, readers?

 

Stats Show My Chances Get Better The Smarter I Get

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So I am hanging out with my friend, Candace in her charming little pied a terre on the Upper East Side of Manhattan this morning, indulging in reading a hard copy of the NEW YORK TIMES (one of my favorite Sunday morning activities) and low and behold a most encouraging article is found regarding my status as a educated single woman-

Stephanie Coontz’s Op-ed piece titled, “The M.R,S and the Ph.D”.  Coontz debunks the longstanding myth of the 20th century that educated women have trouble finding husbands. Not that I am particularly out to find a husband at this point in the game but I am a hopeless romantic and am certainly open to being married in the future provided a good-looking male with the right characteristics and similar core values comes along.

At any rate, I found some encouragement in Coontz findings.  She claims that women can rest easy that the old ideas about educated women and finding mates are outdated.

The old idea is this:

“As Kate Bolick wrote in a much-discussed article in The Atlantic last fall, American women face “a radically shrinking pool of what are traditionally considered to be ‘marriageable’ men — those who are better educated and earn more than they do.” Educated women worry that they are scaring away potential partners, and pundits claim that those who do marry will end up with unsatisfactory matches. They point to outdated studies suggesting that women with higher earnings than their husbands do more housework to compensate for the threat to their mates’ egos, and that men who earn less than their wives are more likely to experience erectile dysfunction.”

The new reality is this:

“For a woman seeking a satisfying relationship as well as a secure economic future, there has never been a better time to be or become highly educated.”

And this:

“…over the past 30 years, these prejudices have largely disappeared. By 1996, intelligence and education had moved up to No. 5 (from No. 11 in 1956) on men’s ranking of desirable qualities in a mate. The desire for a good cook and housekeeper had dropped to 14th place, near the bottom of the 18-point scale. The sociologist Christine B. Whelan reports that by 2008, men’s interest in a woman’s education and intelligence had risen to No. 4, just after mutual attraction, dependable character and emotional stability.”

Coontz goes on to site statistics that prove her theory.

Now, I am college educated and perhaps soon will be pursuing a Ph. D. so I am really excited.  As I get more educated, men are increasingly likely to choose an educated woman. The odds are totally in my favor.

How cool is that?

What’s with the SUV’s?

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So having said I was uninterested in dating, I met a man for coffee this morning.  There is a story behind this, of course.  This man is connected socially to my landlords and I said I would meet him before I put the moratorium on dating.  They asked about him and I caved.

Anyway…

We had a pleasant coffee and conversation, no fireworks but just fine.  He likes to dance and it would be fun to see how this rather conservative person manifests dancing.  At any rate, we get out to the parking lot after chatting and he hops into his huge SUV.  This is the second rather conservative man I have met here who drives a in-excusably large SUV.  Both men are divorced with grown children who no longer have an apparent reason for driving these gigantic gas guzzling automobiles!

It just makes me want to vomit.

Perhaps I am being judgmental here but, really, this act of driving some giant car without a real purpose  just seems egotistical and un-thinking.  What about the environment?  What about practicality?

Both of these men are wealthy and could probably afford any regular car they would want so why stick with these horrible, giant cars?

I know I said that any two people can have a relationship given the right qualities and a willingness to communicate BUT this seems to be a pretty serious indicator of core values.

I drive a 2004 Honda Civic Hybrid.  Do you think it is possible that I could live harmoniously with a man who drives a huge, honking’ SUV?