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The Grey Matters


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Gone Girl, Marriage & Being Cool

GONE GIRL

By Gillian Flynn

a sort-of book review :)

I read this on the back porch with the cutest tea pot ever :)

I read this on the back porch with the cutest tea pot ever :)

This book is CRAZY, GIRL!

Let’s talk about marriage, sex, psychos, manipulation, murder, psychologically damaging parents, children’s books, failed expectations, anniversaries, media…. And more. (or at least accept that these topics are in the book, interesting, but far too many to talk about in one simple blog post!)

We finally had book club and now I can finally write this blog. I wanted the perspective of my fellow Book Ends Book Club members before I wrote away on this one.

This is the kind of book that doesn’t make you want to turn the page… but forces you to turn the page.  I was so filled with worry, tension, stress, hate, and sympathy for different characters at certain points in this book. When a novel can do that, you know you’ve struck gold. I yearn for a book to speak to me. I crave a good ending (not “good -happy“ but “good-slam-the-book-down-and-yell-OH-MY-GOSH-when-it-ends”). I’m always hungry for that next book that will affect my entire week. Literally… it affects my everyday life, reading a book like this one. When I was at work I kept thinking, “What’s going to happen to Nick? Did he do it? I’m awfully suspicious, but no… he is a nice guy.” And then eventually… “I HATE HER!”

Being that Nick and Amy Dunne, in Gone Girl, are celebrating their five year anniversary, I began contemplating my own marriage. I underlined many of the sentences. The insights, I thought, were very keen. They were well said through both Nick and Amy. She was similar to me, though much more disgruntled. But when she was happy… it sounded as though it could be me talking. When the two characters remembered arguments or less than perfect moments I wondered, “Wow, am I treating Greg as well as he deserves?” “Am I encouraging Greg to do enough ‘guy things?’”

{Let me just say here, I hate the word “Let” when referring to a couple. As in: “My husband didn’t let me go out that night…” or “I never let him do that. It smells bad.” As married couples, we don’t “let” each other do anything.  We are not each other’s parents. We support, motivate, and keep each other in line when it’s needed. :) }

Mr. and Mrs. Dunne faced normal issues and dealt with them in realistic ways, at least at the beginning.

QUOTE FROM THE BOOK:

“Because isn’t that the point of every relationship: to be known by someone else, to be understood? He gets me. She gets me. Isn’t that the simple magic phrase?”  -Amy

Yes, I thought. Greg gets me. I’m fairly certain no one else would want to spend this much time with me. He gets everything about me. It feels nice. There’s no pretense. No act. There hasn’t been for five and a half years, and there never will be!

This is one of the lines I so naively underlined, thinking it said it all. Thinking Amy was so sincere.

Now…Nick Dunne- whew. What a guy, right?  (CAUTION: spoilers!! Don’t read past here if you don’t want the ending to be ruined!) What a stupid, sad, careless, cheating, messed up, but ultimately kind of great guy who makes you feel sorry for him.

Even though he cheated. That’s one thing I kept thinking, after book club was over: “We didn’t spend as much time as one might guess, discussing how awful it was that he cheated. We didn’t give Amy any credit for getting him back for that particular mistake. Because isn’t cheating the ultimate bad thing? Is it worse than what she did? No…but it happens much more often and doesn’t take nearly as much brains to pull off. Whoa…”

Anyway.

As much as I take a stand against all cheaters, I felt sorry for the dude. Who wouldn’t feel sorry for someone who’s had this big of a prank pulled? Even if the meanest girl from high school was set up for murder she didn’t commit… I’d feel sorry for her! (well, maybe…)

Author Gillian Flynn did an excellent job with Nick, in my opinion. Even when the reader finds out what Nick’s secret cell phone is all about… why he hasn’t put much worry into his missing wife of five years…is told the truth that he has been cheating…well, it’s still hard not to love him. At first we are angry and feel fooled. Then we realize that he has done almost nothing in comparison to what Amy has just pulled on US as readers. She wins… she did the worst thing.

Then comes the big question (girls, it’s true), the one we are ALL asking ourselves after reading this book:

Am I guilty of trying to be “cool girl?”

Well, answer yes only if you truly can’t stand your husband having a life of his own. I felt defensive of how I live life, reading the “cool girl” part. I thought, “I do a few of these things. I don’t do a few of these things… but I do this, and this…does that make me a phony? Does that make me guilty of trying too hard to be a good wife?” Thankfully, the answer I came up with was NO.

QUOTE FROM BOOK:

“Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.

Men actually think this girl exists. Maybe they’re fooled because so many women are willing to pretend to be this girl. For a long time Cool Girl offended me. I used to see men – friends, coworkers, strangers – giddy over these awful pretender women, and I’d want to sit these men down and calmly say: You are not dating a woman, you are dating a woman who has watched too many movies written by socially awkward men who’d like to believe that this kind of woman exists and might kiss them. I’d want to grab the poor guy by his lapels or messenger bag and say: The bitch doesn’t really love chili dogs that much – no one loves chili dogs that much! And the Cool Girls are even more pathetic: They’re not even pretending to be the woman they want to be, they’re pretending to be the woman a man wants them to be. Oh, and if you’re not a Cool Girl, I beg you not to believe that your man doesn’t want the Cool Girl. It may be a slightly different version – maybe he’s a vegetarian, so Cool Girl loves seitan and is great with dogs; or maybe he’s a hipster artist, so Cool Girl is a tattooed, bespectacled nerd who loves comics. There are variations to the window dressing, but believe me, he wants Cool Girl, who is basically the girl who likes every fucking thing he likes and doesn’t ever complain. (How do you know you’re not Cool Girl? Because he says things like: “I like strong women.” If he says that to you, he will at some point fuck someone else. Because “I like strong women” is code for “I hate strong women.”)”  -Amy

Here’s a mini check-list:

–          I like to think I’m funny

–          I heart a good dirty joke

–          I can eat way too much, but rarely do anymore

–          I love the comics, F-Minus is my fav!

–          I don’t play poker

–          I HATE burps and burping

–          As to the x-rated part…. Um, NO

–          I get angry. I do.

I don’t know what kind of guy she is referring to, but I know that it surely isn’t the guy I married. I know I am far too lucky, having married the opposite of a “bro”…of a “frat guy”…I married someone who’s biggest concern in life is laughing and getting others to laugh with him (and brewing some really great coffee!) There’s nothing put-on when it comes to us. In fact, if Greg and I had tried to go on an official date and made these fake conversations that are really from movies happen, we never would have dated in the first place. Our first dates consisted of spending time on the back porch for an entire summer. In fact, other than a wedding, our first date happened thanks to a gift certificate his brother gave us! (Thanks again, Chris!) But enough about that.

Being someone who allows your spouse to enjoy the things they want to do, even if it means being out late or spending time without you, doesn’t have to mean putting on a show. Hell, I could even want some alone time in exchange for his. I like to get in a good sweaty workout and grunt my way through it. If he’s home for that, cool. If he’s not, even better.

Here’s another scary quote that I think we just need to all agree… is terrifying. It’s not okay to treat ANYONE like this, but especially your husband. As long as the communication remains intact… this will not happen!!!!!!!!

QUOTE FROM BOOK:

“Wear this, don’t wear that. Do this chore now and do this chore when you get a chance and by that I mean now. And definitely, definitely give up the things you love for me, so I will have proof that you love me best. It’s the female pissing contest — as we swan around our book clubs and our cocktail hours, there are few things women love more than being able to detail the sacrifices our men make for us. A call-and-response, the response being: “Ohh, that’s so sweet.” -Amy

I truly believe that without trying, I don’t do this!! I’m not just saying that, either. Neither do any of the married women in my book club. :)

Another thought on marriage: Giving up what you love is the last thing you should do. I love Greg the MORE he plays music and talks to me about different keys of harmonicas, while I listen in blissful ignorance and nod. He loves it when I write and read for hours and can’t even hear what he says to me.

Why?

Because these things keep us sane. Would things go well if I stopped reading, just so that we could sit and talk during that precious time? Probably not. If I bitched at Greg that his [awesome] band took up too much time and I can’t take the late nights anymore…. Well, that would be awful. What in the world would he do with his time? Come home just so that he can kiss me goodnight at nine pm? Come on, right? That’s just silly. It doesn’t take a “cool girl” to know it, either.

At the end of book club, after we all talked about how crazy Amy was and how disappointed we were in Nick and how her parents scared us more than we’d like to admit, the discussion came to the topic of how well a married couple has to know one another in order to be happy.

I was fascinated with the end of the book. As Amy points out to Nick, they knew each other better than anyone else. Even if they knew the worst in each other, they would never meet another person who understood them better. I wondered if this was so important. Aren’t there happy couples who, at the end of the day, don’t really know each other that well? Can’t people survive with a smile, a laugh, a kiss, and a comfort in knowing what to expect each day? Do people have to have an absolute knowledge of one another in order for their marriage to really succeed?

I think that’s unanswerable. Everyone is so different. I’ve never met another couple that thrived in the same way. I’ve never met a single person, out there on their own, who was looking for the exact same things in another person as the single person across the room.

Read Gone Girl and come up with your own opinion… and hopefully you won’t have any nightmares!

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Naturalism and Elk Hunting

NATURALISM and what HUNTING taught me.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Nature is a beautiful thing. The trees, the way they sway in the breeze, the fresh air, sounds of birds chirping all over the place… the cool and crisp morning that wakes you up. It all amounts to that stereotypical way many of us view nature- as a very peaceful, harmonious place. That’s so very true on many levels, but then again, there’s the side that is pretty downright vicious and mean and relies solely on survival of the fittest.

WHERE BOTH BEARS WERE SIGHTED!!!!

Take for instance, seeing my first BEAR. This might sound fun, like a movie or something, but I’ll tell you right now- it was scary. Greg saw two bears! I am thankful I only encountered one. After a day of calling elk in and not seeing any movement, I took the arrow off of my bow, made to leave the area, and when I stood back up there was a HUGE cinnamon bear (which we learned is technically a black bear) not more than twenty-five yards away. I began whispering to Greg (Fantastic Mr. Fox style, here) “Oh, cuss, oh, cuss, oh, cuss…” and hyperventilating. Greg kept calm, reminded me he had his pistol, while I’m shaking and trying to get my arrow back on my bow. The bear looked at us with its stuffed-animal-perfect -teddy-bear-face, and then disinterestedly walked away. WHEW. Talk about dodging a bullet, and that bullet is being eaten by a freaking bear.

Katniss style- my view when I hold my bow :)

NEVER before in my life had I been

a) in the wilderness for a full day of my life, from sun-up to sun-down

b) in a close proximity with something that could take my life in one swift move, or

c) so afraid for my actual life.

The whole aspect of nature and naturalism suddenly became close to home. I understood it better than ever before.

Amazing

In Jack London’s To Build a Fire, naturalism is quite clear. The man screws up, and the dog remains alive because of instincts. When my dad harvested his elk (woohoo!) I asked him if perhaps that cow elk’s “family” would miss her. He told me with confidence that no, nature is pretty indifferent to that sort of thing. The rest of the elk would move on without her and a new mature cow elk would take her place in keeping everyone together.

Now isn’t that a reality check? Nature is INDIFFERENT. None of those animals actually gives a care about us. They might care about each other, but that’s because as a group they are more likely to stay alive.

In Stephen Crane’s The Open Boat, nature is personified and glorified until the men realize it’s going to kill them. All of a sudden, nature isn’t such a beautiful and peaceful thing.

“If I am going to be drowned- if I am going to be drowned- if I am going to be drowned, why, in the name of the seven mad gods who rule the sea, was I allowed to come thus far and contemplate sand and trees?” (Because nature is indifferent!) …….

This man feels that nature wanting to kill him would be unnatural after all of the hard work he’s done in his life. It isn’t fair. He knows others have died the same way, but can’t help thinking it’s still unfair to HIM…

…”When it occurs to a man that nature does not regard him as important, and that she feels she would not maim the universe by disposing of him, he at first wishes to throw bricks at the temple, and he hates deeply the fact that there are no bricks and no temples. Any visible expression of nature would surely be pelleted with his jeers.”

Later, perhaps the best line of the entire story: “She did not seem cruel to him then, nor beneficent, nor treacherous, nor wise. But she was indifferent, flatly indifferent.”

It’s easy to lash out at something that “doesn’t care about us.” But isn’t it also a comfort to know that it isn’t all about us? That there’s a bigger picture of this Earth? That the world around us has many concerns and ways to survive? I think it’s humbling. I think it’s a reminder to work hard and stay as strong and fit as we possibly can. It’s a good incentive, don’t you think?

Before this hunting trip I tried getting into shape. I was doing it for my body (mostly just how it looked…) and so that I could keep up with my dad. My thoughts on physical health now? Stay in shape for that time when nature may get the better of us. When Greg and I were splitting our second protein bar out in the woods I kept thinking, “If I had to live on these…if I had to sleep out here…if I had to kill my own food for each and every meal…COULD I?” Would I survive? I went back and forth between “Yes, of course I could survive that. I’m tough” and “I would die right away.” (kind of like this…)

A good thought: even if nature is indifferent, there are people in my life who aren’t. Human love is unbeatable! My dad and my husband were there. They cared about whether the bear killed me or not. My family was praying for us while we were out in the wilderness. I have God, who cares about me more than any person, too. He created a nature that may be viewed as indifferent, but I care about nature even if it is indifferent to me.

Perhaps that’s why humans can’t simply live in peace. There will always be war (unfortunately) and destruction and people will always disagree. I love the idea that peace is possible. I am hopeful for it and I pray for it. But at the end of the day, I think it’s a very unrealistic thing to wish for. We are a part of nature, as much as living in our homes with our technology may feel like a separation from that. If we are a part of nature, it means it’s normal for us to have some tension and chaos and for moments to be anything but peaceful. If the world broke out into panic and all technology was gone, or food ran out, or some other disaster hit EVERYONE, I’m pretty sure we’d all be feeling a little bit more “survival of the fittest.” Even the most peaceful of person would want to survive, want their children to survive, and would go to almost any means in order to make that happen. This is what I truly believe, but I’d like to hear other thoughts.

Being that nature is so beautiful, I think that it would be a disservice to forget the other side… the side that isn’t so forgiving. That, in its own way, is beautiful too.


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Wildewood

Here is why WILDEWOOD had inspired me. Get ready for your musical world to be changed forever with this music. Here is their EP, which the three members spent so much time creating for YOU! Thanks Alex, Meredith, and Greg for making such amazing music.

While the Light Lasts cover art

These are the iconic boots Meredith has worn at many a Wildewood show.

I drew them. She wore them. We’ll always be a team :)

LEMON MOON and GOODBYE MORGAN short stories coming soon. If the songs don’t give you shivers, you aren’t human.