Plain Jane

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plain janeThat’s an interesting notion Jane: that a man is so confident in the strength of a woman’s heart against the pull of another man, he never fears that another man may persuade her out of love, he only fears that she chooses to fall out of love. Am I reading it right? Because that’s some kinda power.

Plain Jane

austen sketch via mollands.netPlain Jane: “Miss Morland, no one can think more highly of the understanding of women than I do. In my opinion, nature has given them so much, that they never find it necessary to use more than half.”

-Jane Austen in Northanger Abbey

Perhaps that is why women usually live a bit longer, yes? We’re pacing ourselves.

Plain Jane

jane austen sketch via mollands.netPlain Jane: “A young woman in love always looks like Patience on a monument Smiling at Grief.”

-Jane Austen in Northanger Abbey 

I don’t know why, because I don’t think Jane intended this to be funny, but when I read this I was struck with quite the set of giggles. Probably because I imagined Jane looking smugly at just such a girl and thinking unimaginable things to write about her. Beware of the quiet ones, they’re usually writers, composing something that could bring you to your knees in seconds.

Plain Jane

photo via nomadbookslondon.wordpress.comPlain Jane: “Life, if you live it right, keeps surprising you, and the thing that keeps surprising you the most…is yourself.”

-Jane Austen in Northanger Abbey

Thank-you to everyone who stopped by to read yesterday’s post, it was, to date, VMMV’s most popular post! It always surprises me what readers do and don’t like, I guess Jane’s right, life, blogging, and writing just keep surprising you if you do it right.

Calendars and Countdowns

flapperdoodle 2013 calendar

January is a tough month to blog for. The warmth Christmas gives to winter is long gone, leaving us with pretty much just plain old, dismal winter: short, cold days sandwiched between my favorite December-month and the inspiration I’ve already got cooking for a February packed with Valentines ideas, coming up with January posts feels a lot like waiting in line. While I’m waiting though, I was trying to think of what January is known for. November has Thanksgiving; December, Christmas; October, Halloween; September, back to school; Spring months have Easter, freshness, and re-birth. The summer months are packed with sunshine, outdoors, pools, and bathing suits. But January…? Cable-knit perhaps? Hot drinks, afghans, and mittens? Then I had it…counting! We love to countdown in January. We count down the last hours, minutes, and seconds to January first, buy new calendars, re-evaluate plans, take deep breaths, and try and make a whole new year look much more manageable by breaking it down into countable moments: two months ’till spring, five ’till summer, uh-oh, 350 days until Christmas. Three days ’till Friday, one ’till Wednesday, oh if I can just make it four until Saturday. Numbers, time, crossing things off, writing things down, schedules, and re-setting what all came crashing down when the Holidays began.

We thrive off schedules: knowing what to do and when to do it gives automatic comfort, security, sometimes monotony, but usually relief. I can take my countdowns a little too seriously though. Setting expectations and time-frames are always a good idea, but when they are unrealistic and un-bending, that’s when you get yourself into trouble.

flapperdoodle calendar

In Jane Austen’s first published novel, Northanger Abbey, the heroine Catherine Moreland is a girl quite unsatisfied with her countdowns, for “she had reached the age of seventeen, without having seen one amiable youth who could call forth her sensibility, without having inspired one real passion, and without having excited even any admiration but what was very moderate and very transient” (Austen, Northanger Abbey). Obsessed with gothic novels, she lives in a dream world that seems so much more exciting than the everyday life of her small village. When she at last gets the chance to venture outside the tiny town she grew up in, she expects unrealistic things. She anticipates sudden, grand romance, fame, fortune, and intrigue, and when it doesn’t happen right away, she begins to force things. She reads into the smallest, silliest occurrences and exaggerates reality into unrealistic fiction. Only when she learns patience and a contentedness with her current reality does she learn that you can’t always set-up a countdown to success, happiness, or adventure.  Sometimes, calendars are best for doing laundry, for making sure the bills are paid, for remembering when the garbage goes out, and, sure, for looking forward to the next vacation. But don’t let countdowns make you live for “one day” instead of living for today. You might be surprised, for even Catherine didn’t expect “to begin perfect happiness,” with her love, Henry Tilney “at the respective ages of 26 and 18” (Austen, Northanger Abbey). As soon as she stopped counting down to her next adventure, she started living rather happily in her everyday.

HelloSmallWorld vintage animal calendarWhile you’re learning to live happily in your everyday though, keep track of all your to-do’s and essential countdowns on these adorable calendars I found on Etsy. Flapperdoodle is quite possibly my new favorite Etsy shop for all things paper. I stumbled across this 1920’s style calendar that inspired this whole post and instantly fell in love. The calendar comes in a pre-printed form, or you can get the PDF that the shop owner Kate Gabrielle simply emails to you to print at your leisure for only $5.00! The second calendar is an adorable one from HelloSmallWorld. I could face any to-do with these little guys staring back at me each month:

2013 Calendar - Jaunty Animals

Hope this helps your January countdowns. Hopefully your month will become known for something better than just crossing off days. Good luck!

– <3 A. 

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Plain Jane

jane austen sketchPlain Jane: “It is only a novel… or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language.”

-Jane Austen in Northanger Abbey 

This year I’m heading back to the books. It’s been too long since novels have occupied my brain-space and I’m looking forward to giving them their niche back.

Plain Jane

jane austen sketch Plain Jane: “A woman especially, if she have the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can.”

-Jane Austen in Northanger Abbey

Obviously a  prod at her era’s ridiculous ill-treatment of “smart” women, Jane definitely didn’t conceal her knowledge of working words into beautiful sentences (thank goodness!). I often wonder if Jane had been a modern writer how successful she would be. She reveled in contradicting the status quo yet always maintained her point of view, dignity, respect, and, of course, her femininity without compromising her art.