Greetings everyone and happy late summer. I have always been a fall person but am just now acknowledging the splendors of late summer. A heat lover I am not, but give me some late summer where I can hear the crickets outside my bedroom window and feel the nip of autumn in the air and I am in sheer bliss. I especially like the sound of their chirping as I read novels by evening lamp light.
Okay, there are a few things that have been occupying my thoughts over the last few weeks. I will just refer to these as my thought cluster. I am reminded of my sedum plant that is starting to show subtle hews of pink, their tips like match sticks that are starting to burst. I’ve been very proud of how well my sedum plant is doing and the sunflowers that are growing on the side of the house. My apple tree has also done very well this year, as you can see by this pic. My daughter took her “not so little” brother to his first concert. We are also settling into new rhythms and routines.
I have often associated summer with the season of being more hyper-aware of global warming, especially when it comes to fires. Fire season was rough in Utah last year, but this year, thankfully, it has been rather mild which has given me ample space to fret about the fires in Alaska, Siberia, and the Amazon. Oh friends…my heart breaks.
My husband has been out of town for ten days, and launching my children into school proved to be more overwhelming than I imagined. I decided that hyper-awareness was wearing me out, and got lost in a novel and series on Netflix. First of all, I read Educated. Than I watched 29 episodes of Outlander. It was an escapist vacation really, and I needed it. I do remember thinking to myself, “should I really be doing this?” Than it occurred to me, “Yes, you should. You have been too caught up in reality lately and look how well that has been working out for you!”
Typically, with these news worthy shock events, I could knock myself into a tailspin, which does absolutely nothing for me and forges zero solutions. I have felt so powerless. It’s okay to gain inspiration from a strong female character who is determined to change the course of the future. I have reacquainted myself with one of my loves, historical fiction, and history in general. I’ve actually missed all that research I was doing for Beowulf.
I also found peace in knowing that history was the only stable ground that my father and I could meet upon. My personal relationships with family have been bothering me lately just as much as the state of the earth. The variables with my father have always been complicated.
I sometimes think about where my dad would have been if he had not worked at the steel mill or in a coal mine. How would our lives have been different? The only answer I can fathom, would be that he would have made an excellent history teacher, and when I think on this it makes me feel somewhat remorseful.
Either way, when I see myself as half of my father, who was rather troubling, I can find peace in knowing that part of this came with a love for history, our height, and having dark unruly hair. I see that the character Claire in Outlander also has dark unruly hair and I don’t despise my hair so much. I’m embracing it at the moment. I see no other resemblance between us, although I do have some degree of medical knowledge. So in that regard, I do find her character to be relatable.
Okay, so these are my summarized thoughts on Outlander. First of all-Scotland. Need I say more? I think the show had me with the majestic buck in the intro and white muslin-clad maidens dancing while cradling delicate lanterns in their open palms among primitive rune stones.
Second of all, time travel, and historical fiction? Wow! Most excellent combo. I love overlapping genres and anything that overlaps with science fiction, fairy lore, or magic, are always a win for me. Third of all, I’ll just admit what I am not admitting. The whole Harlequin-type of romance portion can be very off setting for me BUT when it is enhanced by what has been dubbed “fifty shades of plaid” from fandom, I can deal.
By the way, as a writer, I am completely aware that romance is the embarrassing number one seller on the book market. Thanks to the baby boomers. I have considered overlapping my writing with romance for that reason.
Also, I read that Captain Picard from Star Trek is a huge fan of the Outlander series. Anything that is good enough for Captain Picard is good enough for me.
Okay, the blood, the guts, the gore, and the nudity in Outlander, have been marked as comparable to that of Game of Thrones. I never got through Game of Thrones. A friend of mine who did not mince her words said, “too much tits and blood.” That just about covers it for me (Yes, I just totally said the word tits on this blog).
I don’t know how I was able to get past it with Outlander, but I did. However, there are two episodes that I really struggled with. The honeymoon scene (which would make most maidens giddy) bordered on corny, and the infamous “rape scene.” I really had to fast forward through a portion of that one, and I will never think of lavender oil the same.
There are two things about Outlander that I admired. Again, the rape scene. I have a love/hate relationship with the rape scene. I have to commend the show for the universality of the concept of being physically violated. To witness rape scenes with females characters in movies has become so common place it seems that society has almost become immune and apathetic towards them.
To place the rape scene into a highly different context and represent the universality of the raw emotions of being violated and the primal guilt that comes with animalistic pleasure was almost sickening, but somehow, spot on. It really was disturbing in all it’s depths. The after shock of the rape was well represented, and the ugliest parts were not shrouded.
It was as raw and as real as it gets. It was not enjoyable to watch by any stretch of the imagination, (as any rape should be). The viewer should be deeply disturbed by what they are witnessing. Also, it provided the perfect opportunity for a man to put themselves in the position of any woman who has been raped, or any man for that matter, because it does happen.
The scene served its purpose. Also, the rape scene and the torture almost took up the entire episode. It was a rough one to get through, and if one can submit themselves to that, well they can almost bank on completing the series. I also have to commend a breast shot, where the female character Jenny, dismounts from her horse, extracts some breast milk into a metal cup and flails it into the grass, while declaring she could no longer continue on horseback being thus engorged. Bravo for commemorating breasts for their useful purposefulness and not for unnecessary voyeurism or male fantasy.
I also had to admire when Claire is chastised for wearing a scarlet dress with a plunging neck line but holds her ground for being confident in the way she looks. Any backlash for the outfit was the viewer’s prerogative, not hers. Why should she feel shameful or scandalous for wearing something that made her feel divinely feminine, beautiful, and confident? Not to mention that her frivolity with pruning is the catalyst for the use of Jamie Frasier’s word “honeypot” later.
Okay, I admit it. Jamie Fraser is swoon worthy, even for a romance critic such as myself. I do believe there may be some fanatics who may be caught up on his use of the word honey pot but for me, the show really had me at one word, okay numbers actually… 1968. Can we just talk about that moment Geillis drops that date into the plot before being dragged away to be burned on the witch’s pyre?
There are some things that I found rather amusing when placed outside of their own time. I liked Claire’s reference to Pirates having eye patches, peg legs, and an exotic bird. The scene where she mentions she only wishes she could give a wounded man a tetanus shot was uncanny, or the fact that having a scar for a small pox vaccine was considered the mark of a witch was also jarring . I was also reminded about the injustices of witch trials and Claire had it spot on. Sometimes testimonies did not matter when the audience wanted noting more than to witness a barbaric witch burning for their own viewing pleasure.
I was sickened that witch trials were not fiction. I was also reminded of the concept of arranged marriages, and how women had little hope for obtaining wealth, property, or protection except through marriage or inheritance and how many women lied on the fringes of being destitute on a dime. There was also the matter of kingship, kinship, loyalty, and the leadership of clans.
The fall of the clans, the Highlander ways, and the fleeting ancient languages were also reminiscent to me of the pitfalls that befall indigenous people everywhere.
There were two parts of the series that I was not a fan of. I was not overly taken by Claire’s song and dance traveling gypsy show. I hated seeing Jamie Fraser’s godfather out of his element in the traveling showman hustle or in France. The best part of the whole entire French portion of the series was the cinematic wonder of crossing a vast blue sea and Claire’s slight of hand with goblets of poison while a snake lied slithering in a gold cage. I was not a fan of aristocratic Claire or hobnobbing wine entrepreneur Jamie. To be honest, I was not a fan of white saintly pregnant Claire either. All is redeemed when Claire experiences birth, and of course my sympathies were with her. Once again, the story becomes relatable to the human experience of loss and the depths of child bearing. As she forges her return from the depths of illness and trauma, I was ecstatic to see the Claire that I had come to know.
I was never so glad to see three of the movie’s characters return to Scotland in all my life. This is why I wonder if I will struggle with the rest of the series, which according to my inability to embrace the element of surprise, takes place in America. France almost lost me. I also struggled with Claire’s return to the 1960s dressed like a modern day Mrs. Robinson. This was essential to the plot, but knocked me for a loop. I loved the scene with Jamie and Claire at the stones, and the words he gave her (spoiler alert) before returning her to her own time and Frank. That’s when I finally realized the crush potential for his character and admittedly, his charming accent, in which I was not even immune.
Anyway, this was my escapist staycation. I am hoping there are some other Outlander fans out there. If you just had to endure a spill that deviated from any underlying anxieties with ecology or the state of my country (which I am trying to fix) I apologize. I do want to say that I get fairly disheartened that we are entering what has been referred to as a second mass extinction. Yet, when I study history and humanities, or consume stories that broaden the imagination and hit a chord within me about the human condition over time I am humble. Humanity could not have all been for nothing. History is being forged as we speak, and only time will tell what future generations will think of us.
Perhaps escapism is not so bad after all. It’s done wonders for me.
Until next post!