Boys only want love if it’s torture

Courtly Love.  Fin’ amor.  What comes to mind?

Knights on white horses.  Damsels in towers.  Romance.  Intrigue.  Purity.  Chivalry.

One of the many literature classes I’m taking this semester is Gender, Lit, and Culture.  The professor, Julie, is one of my absolute favorites (and happens to be my academic advisor).  This year, she’s teaching the class from the angle of Courtly Love.

It’s only been one day and I’m already over the moon with excitement.  Since today was the day for introductory material, we spent most of the time defining courtly love.  Julie showed examples of different aspects of the concept from movies like The Princess Bride, Romeo & Juliet, Shakespeare in Love, and A Knight’s Tale.  (Oh, Heath Ledger.  You beautiful, beautiful man.  May you rest in peace.)

The concept of courtly love is primarily literary, meaning it didn’t actually happen in real life.  It involves a man possessing deep, ennobling love with a woman who is usually unattainable.  (She could be married, far away, or even dead.)  The lover takes on the role of a servant, humbling himself before his beloved.  He gives her excessive praise and almost wastes away (symptoms: paleness of skin, sudden weight loss, sleeplessness) due to love.  The lady is placed on a pedestal, becoming an icon of unnatural beauty and a borderline spiritual inspiration to the lover.  Due to this position, the beloved is often seen as domineering, demanding proof of his loyalty and obedience before paying him attention.

In stories of courtly love, there is secrecy, adultery, and (of course) endless suffering on behalf of the lover.  Love transcends mere emotion–it is a game, an art with rules and guidelines.

I find it all fascinating.  It’s problematic, but also tugs at your romantic heartstrings.  The idea that there is such a thing as true love sets a standard that can never be met.  We know this, but still long for it anyway.

One of the things Julie talked about was that the traditions of courtly love continue to influence our culture today.  We talked about several examples, but my favorite was from a movie that came out not too long ago…  The song, of course, is satire.  But the agony of the courtly lover is shown PERFECTLY.  (Also, it’s the best scene in Into the Woods hands down.  Attractive men ripping their shirts, writhing around on rocks, moaning about love.  Absolute hilarity.)

Courtly love isn’t just in the movies.  Julie, defending herself with the claim that it’s all her eleven year old daughter listens to, pointed out that Taylor Swift songs are littered with courtly love themes.  After class ended, I visited some of her recent songs and discovered that is absolutely true.  I mean, the ENTIRE music video to “Blank Space” is a big, overblown courtly love fest. It’s not a perfect example, but comes pretty dang close.  Taylor takes the position of the beloved, holding complete and total control of the mansion and lover.  She’s on the pedestal.  She’s got the power.  And, goodness, does she use it.  The lyrics explain the thrill of the game and the agonies of love.  “Boys only want love if it’s torture.”

Courtly love aside, the music video is absolutely hilarious.  I’m kind of in love with it.

(Also, you can take a quiz on Buzzfeed to find out what part you are.  I got the screaming fight part.)

Sketchbook Corner (Watercolor Edition)

Or shall I say… Watercolor Corner?

One of my favorite Christmas gifts this year was a set of new watercolors from my little brother.  For the past few months, I’ve been scraping by on an eight-tint Crayola set that is five years old.  Yuck.  The new set has a massive array of colors and when I combine it with the big set of brushes I got for my birthday, I’m capable of achieving so much more with my paint.

I’ve been exploring some different techniques/subjects, which has been a blast.  Since this is a watercolor-only edition of SK and I’ve put a lot of thought and time into all these works, let’s take things one by one…

(Please excuse the crappy image quality)

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These mountains were the first thing I painted upon receiving my new paint.  I gave this one to my best friend as a belated Christmas gift.

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I had a blast painting this sunflower on Christmas day.  I gave it to my summer partner, Eva, (who loves yellow).

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This is my amateur attempt at capturing The Lonely Mountain from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.  It took forever to paint–so many layers!  I rewatched one of the films while I painted, staying up WAY too late to finish.  But, gosh, am I pleased with the result!  I loved it so much I sent it home with my older brother, who shares my love of Tolkien.

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Okay, so the picture quality is REALLY crappy here.  It looks much better in person.  This was my first real attempt at painting people since getting the new brushes and paint.  I originally started out doing lots of people (see previous Sketchbook Corners for examples), but it was difficult with only one brush to work with.  I started this one on a whim–the basic sketch took only a couple minute.  I finished her up at a sleepover, which was actually pretty challenging as I had to balance the paints on my friend’s couch while avoiding her over-excited pomeranians.

Did this one last night as well.  I wanted to experiment more with painting people, and I'm quite pleased with the result!  I've been reading several YA fairytale retellings, so I imagine she's either Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, or has a story of her own.

I painted this last night while watching the premiere of Marvel’s Agent Carter with my mother. I wanted to experiment more with painting people, and I’m quite pleased with the result! I’ve been reading several YA fairytale retellings, so I imagine she’s either Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, or has a story of her own.

Finally…

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This took FOREVER.  I did the background and sketches of the trees before New Years and didn’t pick it back up until last night.  The details on the trees took what felt like hours.  And yes… it’s inspired by a Taylor Swift song.  (My favorite on her 1989 album).  Painting all the black got annoying and adding words with white felt like a risk, but I’m definitely pleased with the result!

That’s all for this edition of Sketchbook Corner!  Check by in a few weeks to see what else my hands come up with.  If you haven’t seen them, do look at my previous SK posts and see how I’ve improved!

Also, because I’m curious… What painting is your favorite?  Let me know in the comments!

A blissful pause

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’m incredibly thankful for the past few days of peace, rest, and family.  I’m also thankful to finally be able to listen to Christmas music.  (Yes, I’m one of those snobs.)

It really has been a perfect break.

The extended family was here on Thursday and I handled the “So Amelia, what’s next?”question as well as I could.  I ate lots of turkey and mashed potatoes.

On Friday, I finally got the Mother/Daughter shopping day that was supposed to come in October.  We shopped from ten in the morning till four in the afternoon, taking advantage of Black Friday deals.  I also got lunch at Chipotle, which in and of itself is always an answer to prayer.

Our family tradition is to attend the Taylor’s Falls Lighting festival the day after Thanksgiving.  There’s a small parade down the six blocks that make up main street of the small historic town.  At the end of the parade, there is a countdown and all the Christmas lights in town are lit at once.  We also popped in the old one room schoolhouse (the oldest in Minnesota!) to see all the arts and crafts that the local third graders have been working on for the past couple weeks.  My aunt and uncle came to the event with us and, so night ended with soup and cider at our house.

Yesterday, Mom and I took advantage of Support Local Saturday and made the rounds in all the cute little shops in the area.  We found some good Christmas presents for family and friends, as well as delicious homemade fudge.  The afternoon passed curled up on the couch pretending to watch the Gopher/Badger football game.  I say pretending because, while the rest of my family attentively cheered for the Gophers, I sat and read Dracula.

Today marks the end of break.  I’m not looking forward to going back.

Over the past year, I have not been home for more than a week at a time.  It’s always a transition spot, somewhere I go to jump from here to there.  As a result, my room has become a dreadful dumping grounds.  I long to settle for a while, to clean the mess, to organize the stacks of books that don’t fit on the shelves, and lie low for a while.

Two and a half weeks, friends.  Only an Early Modern English recitation, final portfolio, two ten page essays, and two finals standing between me and a month of Christmas bliss at home.  It’s the final stretch.

I’ll survive by overdosing on holiday cheer and covers of Taylor Swift songs…

Twenty Two

I might as well come right out and say it… today is my birthday.

Slogging through six inches of snow was not how I imagined spending my first day of being twenty-two.  But this is Minnesota, and Minnesota does what it wants.

On this day last year, I was in Oxford, England.  How many people can say they spent their twenty-first birthday in Oxford?  (British people aside, that is.)  It was one of the best days I’ve ever had.  I splurged on shopping, toured some of the colleges, and had my first drink at the Eagle and Child pub.  It was quite the adventure, and you can hear all about it (and see pictures!) on my old study abroad blog.

My twenty-second birthday is definitely not as epic, but still has been incredibly special.  My mom came to visit yesterday.  We drove up the road to Alexandria and went antique shopping, wandered around town, and had a special dinner at an expensive restaurant.  We sat eating for several hours, enjoying each other’s company and opening cards and gifts.  The day ended relaxing in her hotel, where we did some online shopping.

I spent the night in the hotel and had the joy of commuting to campus in five inches of snow.  The local school district cancelled everything today, but the University never closes.  I keep telling myself that God just wanted to drop LOTS of natural confetti to celebrate my special day… it’s a nice thought, but not super effective.

Outside of the normal Monday routine, do I have anything special birthday plans?  Not really.  All my normal Monday night events were cancelled due to the ghastly weather.  So it looks like I’ll be staying in and watching movies with the roommates.  It’ll be nice.  I’ll wear comfy clothes, eating goodies, and avoiding homework because…

I’ll also be rocking out to the following song in my head, even though I absolutely loathe it.  But it’s my birthday.  I’m twenty-two.  I’m going to break all my rules.  (Then go back to loathing it tomorrow.)