Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Jane Eyre: A timeless tale?

Every time I log on to Goodreads, I see a preview for the latest Jane Eyre movie. I think this is the 427th Jane Eyre movie to be released since the early 1900s. And it looks exactly like all of the other ones.

I understand why Jane Eyre's story is so beloved. Jane Eyre is one of the few classics that I enjoy for its literary value as well as its entertainment value. Jane is a very intriguing character, and her story is interesting and well portrayed. And, of course, I love that she stands up for her values, even though she totally could have gotten away with doing the easy thing.

BUT . . . do we really need another movie? I have seen at least 3 versions of the movie--all very long, all very similar--and I didn't even watch all of the ones my mom and Kimberly got through when they went through their Jane Eyre phase/obsession. And then we got another announcement that there is yet another Jane Eyre movie to delight the world, only with exciting new actors! I'm fairly certain that the dialogue, costumes, settings, and characters will be a mirror image of what we've seen already, even if the faces are new.

My first rationale for the oodles of Jane Eyre movies was the timelessness of the tale. People have loved this story since Bronte's day, and it is a book truly deserving of its praise. Stories like that last for an eternity because it is full of timeless lessons and wonderful characters. But they keep making the same movie over and over again. Directors/producers don't even vary the themes of plot devices that much. Just rehashing the same, 18th-century setting over and over again. That doesn't suggest timelessness.

Just once I would like to see a modern-day version of this movie, one that was deliberately made to play off of Jane Eyre (Twilight doesn't count). I love the pink Pride and Prejudice (that's what my family calls it, anyway)--the Mormonish version of Jane Austen's classic tale. The movie was able to keep the major elements of the original Pride and Prejudice, and because of its timeless nature, it was easy to transfer the themes to our modern day in a believable way. Especially for a Mormon audience.

The fact that we haven't seen a Jane Eyre spun modern movie bothers me a little bit. (I haven't done a ton of research on this, so please correct me if I'm wrong.) The fact that Jane Eyre hasn't been told through a modern lens suggests to me that society doesn't see the need for it. Jane Eyre is a wonderful story, but it only works in a setting in which morality is stronger than law.

When I finished reading Mansfield Park, I did my usual Goodreads review and then starting browsing through the reviews of others. Most of the readers disliked the book not because it was slow moving and somewhat lacking in plot, but because the heroine, Fanny Price, was too moral. A lot of readers just couldn't relate to her namby-pamby attitude about "doing the right thing" and her passive way of dealing with things.

I wonder if people put Jane Eyre in a similar boat--automatically dismiss her because she is upholding values that society now deems ancient.

I'm probably making too much of this. Maybe people are too busy trying to make the "official" Jane Eyre movie to think about telling the story in a creative way. Maybe I'm the only one who's slightly annoyed about the plethora of identical Jane Eyre movies. (More likely, however, there are a ton of adaptations out there, but I'm just too dense to notice.) But I'm really starting to wonder if there's a more philosophical reason why movie makers haven't tried to transfer the timelessness of Jane Eyre to our day.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I spend a good portion of my day reading. And for once, I'm not talking about books that come in physical form, divided into chapters. I'm talking about blogs and news content that has to do with healthcare, technology, and business.

Every now and then I will come across a true gem in my reading. And by "gem," I mean writing that doesn't expound upon political and life-altering subjects. I like to be informed about the world, but the little nuggets of "nothingness" are the things that break through my glazed stare at the computer screen and maybe even cause my facial expression to change.

I've made it a habit to read reader comments to help me broaden my horizon, and without fail, there is always that person who says, "Wow. I can't believe you're talking about having to wait a whole week for your iPad 2 when people in Japan are dying."

While those naysayers do have a point, I beg to differ. Yes, compared to what Japan is facing right now, most of the stuff we Americans care about don't really matter. Even without world crises surrounding us, we all have to experience the sensation of dying, and we won't be able to take our trivialties with us.

So, yes, I do realize that unimportant things can distort our perspective on what is really important, but those little nothings sure make life a heck of a lot more entertaining.

One of the reasons I started this blog was because I wanted to express my thoughts about the little trivialties of life--things like rocks, clouds, and purses. Why do I even bother thinking about such things? I shall tell you.

Ahem. Here comes an inspiring revelation:

It is the small things in life, the trivial nothings, that make life complete.

Brilliant, I know.

The past few weeks I have been absorbed in making my job my own and making plans to move out. The past few weeks have been very one-sided. I got a lot done and expounded upon my responsibilities, but I missed out on the small things that I used to take note of without thinking. I found myself trying to decide what my next blog entry should be, and I came up with nothing. Which, ironically, got me thinking about a blog entry about "nothingness."

So this weekend I tried to reevaluate things a little and focus more on less important things. And you know what? The past few days have been a lot more . . . complete.

We have all had that lesson in Sunday school or YM/YW with the jar, the rocks, and the water (or sand). We've heard our leaders tell us that we have to put the big rocks in the jar before the pebbles or else the big rocks won't be able to fit. Those leaders knew what they were talking about. The big rocks should go in first. But don't forget to fill in the little air pockets with water. It's the finishing touch that adds flavor to everything else.

Monday, March 21, 2011

31 things I'd rather do than get up at 5:30 a.m.

A combination of my usual restless Sunday night of sleep, waking up and leaving the house before the sun deigned to show itself, and a warmish shower have left me in quite a charming mood this morning. I can think of a lot of things I would rather do than get up at the horrible hour of 5:30.
  1. Wear heels.
  2. Go on a date with Mr. Collins.
  3. Eat a pickle.
  4. Listen to Sugarland for 5 minutes.
  5. Watch The Nightmare Before Christmas.
  6. Ride the ferris wheel 50 times.
  7. Become president of the United States.
  8. Go visiting teaching.
  9. Get Jimmered.
  10. See snow in July.
  11. Deliver pizza to Payson Fruit Growers.
  12. Get a really bad sunburn.
  13. Go back to school and get a degree in chemistry.
  14. Donate my Harry Potter books to charity.
  15. Endure an entire day without a drink of milk.
  16. Go to Vegas.
  17. Stand in a field of hay during allergy season.
  18. Answer the phone when the caller ID says "Toll Free."
  19. Let an insure/ensure mixup slide.
  20. Replace the headlight in my car.
  21. Drive uphill during a blizzard.
  22. Watch a 6-hour golf tournament.
  23. Wear fake eyelashes that curl all the way to my eyebrows.
  24. Read crap written by the Beat generation.
  25. Write a poem.
  26. Skip lunch.
  27. Root for the Lakers.
  28. Go an entire week without chocolate.
  29. Work and entire day for free.
  30. Ride "It's a Small World" at Disneyland.
  31. Sympathize with an attention-seeking person.
Don't quote me on any of this. It is highly possible that my irrational emotions are causing me to exaggerate slightly.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Singles ward = "grown up" Primary

It has become a bit of a tradition at our house to swap funny stories when we get home from church on Sundays. Kimberly and I tell of our latest singles ward adventures, and Mom shares her cute Primary stories. Over the past few weeks, though, it has become increasingly apparent to me that singles wards are not really that different from Primaries.

When I moved to Provo for the first time, I was a little surprised to find that college students aren't really adults (despite all the lies I had been told that I was going out into the "real world")--they're basically just kids in fully capable bodies. Without the harsh judgments and self-centeredness of high school students, these recently released "inmates" had no problems with chasing ice cream trucks, standing on their heads, taking race car lunch boxes to school, and watching Disney movies for FHE.

Some similarities I have observed between young singles and small children:
  • You have to keep them entertained if you want to keep their attention. If you're not funny, nobody likes you.
  • It is perfectly acceptable to play with toys. My current ward has a Barbie--named Mr. Rochester--who has 2 outfits and his own chair for choir practice.
  • It is impossible to get them to stop talking.
  • Getting them to sing is quite a job. (Not so at BYU, however. BYU students' willingness to sing the hymns with gusto is the thing I miss the most about BYU wards.)
  • They are greatly underestimated by the "real" adult population.
  • They don't think bedtime is necessary.
  • Disney movies are considered an accurate representation of real life.
  • $10 is a lot of money.
  • A lot of tattling takes place, and a lot of times the bishop has to resolve it.
  • They want to be taken care of, but will lash out if you try to tell them what to do.
In conclusion, I don't think people ever truly outgrow their childhoods. We're all children at heart, and that makes for a lot of awesome personalities and adventures.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Why I love being a BYU grad

We all have special ties to our alma mater, but I'm glad mine is BYU.

BYU has gotten a lot of attention lately; between all the Jimmermania and Brandon Davies' shocking suspension from the basketball team for an Honor Code violation, it seems like everyone is talking about BYU, whether they have good things to say or not.

So, naturally, I have to put my two cents in.

The last few months has shown me just how many BYU haters there are out there. At first I just thought it was funny--San Diego State's habit of dressing up like missionaries (albeit sloppily dressed ones) when BYU comes to town is pretty entertaining for most of us who have a sense of humor. And, you know, we Mormons like attention, even if it's not always positive.

But I feel like I've had to defend myself a lot more lately. I work in the real world now (you know, Salt Lake), and while there are some loyal BYU fans across the valley, Ute fans still claim a majority of the population. It takes a lot of self-control to not lose my cool when individuals start bashing on BYU, even if it is playful.

And here is the part where I get to my point: I am proud that I have something to defend. In a world where immorality and crime is the norm, it is rather refreshing to know that at least some organizations will take a moral stand, even if it means heartache, disappointment, and lost opportunities.

And while most sports fans don't agree with BYU's Honor Code, most of the critics respect BYU for sticking to it despite tremendous adversity. However, more telling to me was the reaction of the students. Yes, there was some anger and probably *gasp* some colorful language, but the students for the most part stood by the school's decision. It's not just the university that upholds certain standards--the students believe in them too.

And I have to say that, even though they drove me crazy by my senior year of college, I love those "only at BYU" moments.

Anyone who knows anything about BYU should know what I'm talking about.

For example, on Saturday afternoon (sadly, during BYU's last home game of the year), I went to Vocal Point's anniversary concert. 75 men--from the scrawny, current members with a full head of hair to the balding and not-so-scrawny alumni members--entertained us for 2 hours with boy band songs, rehashed choreography, award-winning numbers, and lots and lots of good sound.

The most obvious "only at BYU" moment came when the MC announced that we would be hearing from the children of past Vocal Point members. 25 children, ranging in age from 3ish to late adolescence, flocked onto the stage. And then the MC said, "These kids represent about 7 Vocal Point members." Only at BYU. . . .

The best moment came at the very end of the concert, though. The entire crew crowded together on the stage to sing a couple of joint numbers and the final number was . . . "Nearer My God, to Thee." My sisters and I about had a heart attack when the song title popped up on the backdrop. Just imagine--75 men, men who can do amazing things with their voices, men who hold the priesthood, who served missions, who are fathers (and some who are still single and very much available)--came together to sing Vocal Point's most powerful arrangement of a truly inspiring hymn.

I almost exploded with happiness; the Carter sisters in the back corner of the balcony came dangerously close to floating away to heaven. Again, this type of thing only happens at BYU.

So, yeah, BYU is weird, at times ridiculously so. However, I would rather be known as the one school that doesn't allow caffeine and beards than as one of the many schools that lets kids get away with whatever they want. BYU is different, but at least it is consistently different.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A life of contentment vs. a life of risk

A while back, during my usual morning healthcare/EHR reading, I came across a blog article that argued that a life without risks is no life at all. The author was talking about marriage specifically (I'm not sure how that made it through my "electronic health record" and "meaningful use" Google alerts, but I read it anyway), but he also talked about doing crazy things like cliff diving and bunji jumping. In short, he argued that the value of life is at its highest when risks are involved.

I've thought about this a lot over the past few months. I do have an adventurous side that prompts me to ride the scary roller coasters, test out the water skis, outperform my competitors, and eat giant hamburgers. I drive a stick, stick to a tight budget, read really long books, and try to figure out the intricacies of modern healthcare because I enjoy a good challenge. But I don't think that I'm a risk taker.

I first realized this when I spent 4 months without a steady job and spent a lot of time trying to build up some sort of freelance reputation. I wasn't very successful. I think the reason for this is that I don't like to invest in anything when I can't see the final outcome. It was extremely difficult putting myself out there and making myself "stand out" when deep down I knew it wasn't going to make any difference.

I've also noticed that when I wrote papers for school, my first thought would be, "How can I implement my teacher's opinions into this?" rather than "What is my stance on this issue?" I soon discovered that my best grades came about when I sucked up to the teacher rather than went out on a limb and defended my own radical stance. It was safer to just go with what the teacher wanted to see.

And as for as jumping off of stuff, I know I won't be hanging out with my grandkids a million years from now thinking, "Gee, I sure wish I had jumped off of something really far away from the ground when I was your age." I don't live for that kind of thrill.

My philosophy has always been to do what needed to be done--and nothing more. I worked my butt off through college because, honestly, that was easier and less stressful than applying for every scholarship I could find. I applied myself in the classes I thought were relevant for a future career, and didn't concentrate too much on the irrelevant ones (such as that stupid, hair-pulling foreign language requirement. Yes, I see the value in learning a foreign language, but if I want to be ignorant in that area I think I should be allowed to be so). I cared more about learning than I did about achieving a perfect GPA. I completed 2 BYU internships because I hoped that it would give potential employers a legitimate excuse to give me a second glance.

Even in a non-academic/professional setting, I abided by the same basic precepts. I didn't show off my piano abilities unless I had to. I rarely spoke up because I knew that eventually someone would say what I was thinking.

In short, I am content with a contented life.

However, it is still important to take risks, to jump out into the dark and float around for awhile before something catches you. The risks we take add a lot of color to our lives. So, my contentness with life has hurt me in some areas.

Particularly the dating area.

I've always known that I would marry an awesome guy some day, so I haven't worried about my single situation that much. I never saw the point in dating if it wasn't going to go anywhere, which is probably why I've never had a real relationship; I haven't ever been willing to go out on a limb with someone I was unsure about. So I stay contentedly single. I can say this now because I am graduated from BYU--I enjoy being single. I like that I don't have to plan my life around someone else and share all of my stuff. I have developed relationships with my family and friends that I never would have developed if I always had my boy to hang out with. Yes, marriage is my highest goal in life, and I do wish that I had that special someone who knew everything about me and who made me smile for no reason, but to get that I would have to learn how to flirt or something. I don't like making a fool out of myself, so I have never mastered that particular ability. Thus, I stay in the safe, yet frustrating, single environment.

On the other hand, being a risk taker can also leave you with nothing. For example, when I was offered a job at ChartLogic, I was still waiting to hear back from two other job prospects that I felt much more qualified for and that fit my particular interests better. However, I took the first job that was offered anyway, rather than hoping I got my "dream job" somewhere else. I don't know what would have happened if I had not accepted this job, but I have no regrets. For the first time in my life, I can honestly say that I love my job, not just that I like my job and am content with the way things are going. I trained myself up for a desk job rather than a saving-the-world type job, and that's where I am happiest.

So my grand conclusion comes down to this: moderation. It is good, healthy, to take risks in life, especially when it comes to major, life-changing decisions. None of us get a guarantee when we enter a marriage contract or start a new career--we just have to do our part and hope things work out. Risks have a way of reminding you what is really important in life and helping you stick to your goals. And, they add a lot of crucial flavor. Life is meant to be enjoyed, after all.

However, it is just as important to be content with what you have. Constantly taking risks just to give you a thrill or new challenge isn't going to keep you happy--sometimes what we have is all we're going to get, so we might as well be happy about it. I have never had everything I wanted at once, and I'm pretty sure I never will. Life is meant to be enjoyed, but we can't enjoy it if we don't know how to find joy in the journey.