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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Becoming the Ideal Woman . . . by 19th Century Standards

If I've learned anything in my days as an English major, it's that girls are supposed to idolize Jane Austen. If that's the case, I must not be a very good girl. I respect Ms. Austen and her success, but every time I start one of her novels, I realize halfway through that it's just like the last one. Yes, I realize I'm committing literary blasphemy.



However, Jane has taught me more than I'm giving her credit for. The women she writes about, of early nineteenth century Britain, are required to nail down a few hobbies early in life. What else are they supposed to do? They weren't allowed to go to school or work. Instead, they spent their time parlour (spelled the British way, of course)-sitting, sewing, reading, drawing, etc. while the men were off trying to find their daughters suitable husbands.

Now, just so we're clear, I consider myself to be a feminist. I'm all about women's rights. I just think every gal should have a few things they enjoy doing in their free time. As much as I'd like to claim watching Netflix and/or eating Oreos as a hobby, it doesn't make me sound very accomplished.

So, here you have it. A list of hobbies for me to pursue once I've ended my career as a student (which is approaching all to quickly).

1. Sewing
---This is a lost art. I only had a handful of outfits growing up that were store-bought. The rest were 100% Becky. My mom knows her way around a Singer. That's a sewing machine for the sewing illiterate like me. Mom would wander around stores like OshKosh B'Gosh and Baby Gap, scope out the cutest outfits, and then promptly replicate said outfit with the help of a McCall's sewing pattern. But eventually, I grew "too cool" for homemade clothes. As of August, I will be jobless, and therefore, penniless. Suddenly, my mom's hobby doesn't sound too bad.

2. Photography
---On the other end of the spectrum, we have my dad. My dad majored in photojournalism and has worked in a warehouse for an electric company my entire life. He's consistently kept photography as a hobby, buying antique cameras at garage sales and periodically converting closets into darkrooms. I can't sketch or paint like the women of Jane Austen, but there has to be something artistic I'm good at. I like to think of myself as a creative mind, even if only marginally.

I can't wait until one day my kids are saying, "My mom majored in English, but now she's a [what? Finish that sentence. Please! Someone finish that sentence!]. She still likes to read though."

*Handwriting Analysis
I don't know if this is a real hobby, and I don't know if this is what it's called. But for years now, I've been wanting a book that will tell me how to interpret different types of handwriting. Don't ask me why. I know it's random.

*Cooking/Baking
This one is almost too obvious. Let me clarify something. I know how to cook. My mother is one of the best southern cooks on the planet (in my humble opinion), and I've been watching her for over 20 years. I know how to follow recipes, boil, baste, and bake. I just don't. Who has time? One day, I'll be a pro. Especially if I can just have someone to clean up the mess I leave in my wake.

*Running
This is a joke.