#Outlander, #Fandoms, and Finding Your Tribe

By the time I turned 40, I had amassed a lot more good books, a few more wrinkles, and more true friends.  That is the nice thing about finding yourself…once you find yourself, you can find your people.  Everyone needs people.  Even a sporadically extroverted introvert like me.

My people tend to be a bookish sort.  Full of snark and geeky cultural references tucked alongside the botanical names for certain herbs and an unapologetic appreciation for the bagpipes, my people are a motley bunch.  Yet, I still delight in adding to my tribe.  In fact, I seek them out.

As I gathered water bottles and hollered for my son to hurry up and grab helmet and pads for practice, I dashed back in the house to grab a book.  Well, two books actually.

“Haven’t your already read Outlander like a million times?” he asked as I climbed into the car.

“Mmphm,” I snorted.  “You know I have.”

“So….why are you reading it again?”

I sighed impatiently.  “Some books are worth reading again.  But I’m actually not re-reading it.  I’m reading that other one.” I nodded my head towards the other book.  My battered copy of Voyager peeked out from under the cluttered in the back seat.

“Why did you run it to get it if you aren’t going to read it?”

I shrugged.  “Well, in case I run into someone that likes Outlander.  Or might like Outlander.

That’s right.  Let that Fandom Flag fly high.

This is the same reason that I want to get a new phone.  Well, besides the fact that my iPhone is so old that it only has 3G, there is no space left on it, and it is so slow that if I had to use it to call 911, whatever crises warranted the call would likely be over.  But I digress…I want a new phone so that I have the space to get a new ringtone.  The ringtone.  The Skye Boat Song.

Right now, all incoming phone calls* are announced with the blaring of the Doctor Who theme song.  (Which I downloaded after I realized that the magical twinkling bells of Hedwig’s Theme was not audible from the nethermost of my purse.)  I briefly considered the Sherlock theme, but my inner Scotswoman wants bagpipes.  So that’s that.

At first, I didn’t realize quite what I was doing.  I thought I was simply surrounding myself with the things I love.  Which was true, of course, but it is more than that.  Like a male peacock showing off his plumage, it was all about attraction.  I was trying to attract others.  People like me.  My people.

There is a Scottish festival coming up in a few weeks.  There will be tartans, and meat pies, and bagpipes.  Books of history, and uprisings, and recipes, and languages.  I want to get a new license plate that proclaims my heritage.  Perhaps a bumper sticker, too.

sassenach
Well, hello there, fellow Sassenach!

If you see me driving down the street, feel free to honk.  If you see me at football practice reading, pull up a chair.  We can talk Outlander, or Sherlock, or Game of Thrones, or Walking Dead, or….whatever.

Come on.  Don’t be shy. There’s plenty of room in the tribe.

* This is not strictly true.  I do have one other ring tone.  All of my husband’s calls are proudly announced with the ear-piercing wail of a police siren, since he is…well…a police officer.  This is particularly fun when I am in a crowded place and he calls, and everyone around me looks around nervously.  My kids do not find this nearly as entertaining as I do. 

Why I Encouraged My Teenage Daughter to Read #Outlander

When I was fourteen, I read Flowers in the Attic. Several of the other girls in my grade were reading it…whispering about it…stashing it away when the teachers walked by. Of course, I had to read it, too.  I was lucky; my mother was always happy to buy me books (although, had she read the book herself, she might have rethought that, at the time).

Some of my schoolmates had borrowed the book from their own mothers…and by “borrow” I mean that they took the book after their moms left for work and then slipped it back into place before their moms came home in the evening. In the time in between, we consumed the story with a kind of perverse fascination.

So this was what grown-ups read!

Outlander-blue-cover-198x300So when my own fourteen year old asked if she could borrow my battered copy of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, I didn’t hesitate long before passing the book to her. My heart skipped a beat as she dashed to her room to start reading but, to be perfectly honest, this was likely more concern for the fate of my beloved book than for how my daughter would react to the story.

No, that was a given.

This was one of those books that would leave a mark on her soul.

Some stories do that…they stay with you forever. I simply wanted to make sure that her first Adult Book was one worthy of the honor.

I read a lot of the same books that my daughter reads. Not because I am policing her reading, but because I want to share in it. When she comes to me sobbing over some book betrayal, I need to know who has earned those tears. But some of the books targeted to teenagers seem to portray the female protagonists as perpetually enduring some Great Tragedy, or waiting for a male character to define them/save them/notice them/love them.

Not all of the stories, mind you. There are some really good YA books with strong female characters who represented a wide range of diversity. But, honestly, we waded through a lot of simpering fools to find a few strong female protagonists. And a lot of the love interests shown in the books were either sparkly or broody. Many were emotionally manipulative or controlling. If she was going to have a “book boyfriend,” I wanted better for her.

So when I realized that my daughter seemed interested in this massive tome which made me laugh out loud, and ugly cry, and real passages aloud for the simple pleasure of feeling the words on my lips, I didn’t discourage it.

In fact, I encouraged it.

I scoured the books to find passages which showed the strength of love, the resilience of the human spirit, the anguished soul clawing its way out from the pits of despair. Some passages I read aloud. But sometimes, I left the book conspicuously next to the sofa—pages temptingly dog-eared—like an offering.

So when she finally asked to borrow the book, it was a relief, really.

“Where are you?” I’d ask eagerly. But not too eagerly.

The book served as a way to talk about hard things, scary things, awkward things… We talked about love and sex and respect and mutual pleasure and consideration between couples. We talked about marriage and expectations and the roles we construct for ourselves (and those that others wish to inflict on us). We talked about sexuality and about when feelings aren’t reciprocated. We spoke of honor and vows. Of promises kept…or not. We shared tears and heartbreak and loss. We talked about rape and brutality…and of healing. We spoke of hope and faith and trust.  We talked about when to hold on; we talked of when to let go.

I let my fourteen year old daughter read the book not in spite of the fact that the books is mature, but because it is. I let her read the book because I know that a book can be more than just entertainment—more than just a story.

Sometimes, if you’re lucky, a book can be a conversation…or at least the beginning of one.

 

#Outlander and All The Feelings Ever

There is a reason I rarely wear eye make-up.  Well, besides the fact that I am lazy and hate having to take the blasted stuff off, plus it makes my lashes feel inordinately heavy, which makes me think that it must be time to go to sleep).  Mostly, I avoid mascara because, inevitably, it will end up in wet, black tracks down my face.  Call it the burden of being an empath.

For as long as I can recall it seems that other peoples troubles weigh on me as heavily as my own.  If a friend gets dumped, I grab a pint (of ice cream or beer, I don’t judge) right along with her.  When she starts looking for a house, I giddily sign up for house alerts on Zillow.  Those closest to me know to never send weepy memes to me without a *Kleenex Warning.*

Yesterday, I made the mistake of reading a mother’s letter to J. K. Rowling.  Of course I ugly-cried at my desk and hoped all that walked by might think it nothing more than a bit of spring fever.  Even now, when I called my bleary eyed daughter down from bed to read it to her before I left for work, I choked on the words and she had to make an emergency kleenex run before I flooded my keyboard.  (I have taught her well.)

This blessing/curse of feeling All The Feelings Ever also happens when I read.  As a general rule, I avoid books that contain abducted children for this very reason.  (Although I did watch “Room” recently with my eldest child.  We both ended up screaming “Jump!” at the screen while we ugly cried together.  It was oddly satisfying.)

SPOILER WARNING: THIS THE IS PART WHERE I START TALKING ABOUT OUTLANDER

This All The Feels Ever thing is probably also why I read (and re-re-re-re-read) the Outlander books.  It is why I wept mercilessly at the end of Dragonfly in Amber and called over my daughter as I tried to choke through Jamie and Claire’s parting.  It is why I rejoiced when they were reunited in Voyager.  It is probably why I got so incredibly angry when Lady Sassy-Pants blackmailed Jamie.  It is why the sound of the bodhran sent a shock wave up my spine in  A Breath of Snow and Ashes.  Even now, when I read that bit, I have to read it aloud.  And every time, every single time, I get goosebumps:

I sat up, listening hard. It was a drum with a sound like a beating heart, slow and rhythmic, then trip-hammer fast, like the frantic surge of a hunted beast.

I could have told them that Indians never used drums as weapons; Celts did. It was the sound of a bodhran.

What next? I thought, a trifle hysterically, bagpipes?

It was Roger, certainly; only he could make a drum talk like that. It was Roger, and Jamie was nearby.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES, chapter 28 (“Curses”). Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

The All The Feels Ever Thing works both ways–for good and for bad.  Sure, after Wentworth I could barely function, but there might have been a good bit or two in the books to help balance that out.  *blushes furiously*

*ahem*  Moving on…

I’m not sure if the All The Feels Ever thing is genetic or not, but I am fairely sure my mid-kid has it.  She recently took to binge-watching Switched at Birth on Netflix.  This resulted in her bawling and using an entire box of kleenex when someone was cheated on by someone else.  The knowledge that my genetic predisposition would continue on would have been much more endearing if I was not then re-re-reading a certain bodhran scene and had need of kleenex myself.

My husband rolls his eyes at us both and quietly slips off to buy more tissue.  He knew early on what he was getting into.  He teases me about crying over an old Lifesaver commercial and a certain episode of the Simpsons.  Yeah, he knew just fine what I was all about.

I used to wonder about this.  This whole All The Feelings Ever thing.  But then Outlander, as it so often does, offered me an explanation.  In An Echo in the Bone, Claire has to leave her beloved cheetie Adso behind.

“Go on, then,” I said, and set him on the ground.  He stood for a moment, tail waving slowly, head raised in search of food or interesting smells, then stepped into the grass and vanished.

I bend, very slowly, arms crossed, and shook, weeping silently, violently.

I cried until my throat hurt and I couldn’t breathe, then sat in the grass, curling into myself like a dried leaf, tears that I couldn’t stop dropping on my knees like the first fat drops of a coming storm.  Oh, God.  It was only the beginning.

I tubbed my hands hard over my eyes, smearing the wetness, trying to scrub away grief.  A soft cloth touched my face, and I looked up, sniffling, to find Jamie kneeling in front me, handkerchief in hand.

“I’m sorry,” he said very softly.

“It’s not–don’t worry, I’m . . . He’s only a cat,” I said, and a small fresh grief tightened like a band round my chest.

“Aye, I know.”  He moved beside me and put an arm around my shoulders, pulling my head to his chest, while he gently wiped my face.  “But ye couldna weep for the bairns.  Or the house.  Or your wee garden.  Or the poor dead lass and her bairn.  But if ye weep for your cheetie, ye know you can stop.”

“How do you know that?”  My voice was thick, but the band round my chest was not quite so tight.

He made a small, rueful sound.

“Because I canna weep for those things, either, Sassenach.  And I havena got a cat.”

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE, chapter 12 (“Enough”). Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Maybe I can’t weep for my husband’s heart attack and the resultant health problems.  I can’t weep for the mass in my mother’s lung.  I can’t weep for the heart tests that my eldest daughter is enduring.  If I start, I don’t know that I can stop.  But I can find some escape, some joy, and the release of some much needed tears between the pages of a book.  And, for that, I am so grateful.

Depression, #Outlander, and a New Year’s Wish

When you take away the twinkling lights and beloved carols, the bustle of family underfoot, and the sweet anticipation, winter can seem just…cold. Maybe the feeling is held at bay until after the last of the wadded up wrapping paper finds its way to the trash bin, or perhaps it creeps in not long after the ball drops on New Year’s Eve. But it comes. It always comes.

The frightful weather outside no longer seems delightful, instead of throwing another log on the fire and shouting for the storm clouds to do their worst you wonder just how much firewood there is left, and worry how the roof is holding up, and if your pipes might freeze.

Laundry piles up as you put off the wash until the temperature can fight its way back above freezing, and suddenly the same four walls that seemed so cozy and inviting now seem to close in around you. The family you love seems to get on your nerves, and you spend an inordinate of time hiding in the bathroom just for a moment’s peace.

You start to notice the gaps . . . Those dark spaces that used to be filled by someone you loved. You are reminded of the traditions that fell away this year, since the one who carried them out is no longer around to do so. Perhaps there were angry words before the absence, or maybe there was no time for words at all. The were just . . . gone. Or maybe they lingered until there was nothing left to remind you of the person that once was, and you wished you could recall something more than the weakened shadow with which you were left.

For all the joy the holidays bring, too often they also bring sorrow. Maybe this is why I read so much around the holidays. It isn’t because there is more time (because there isn’t), or because the cold keeps me nestled indoors (because I tend to get cabin fever), but maybe it does have something to do with the fact that books remind us that we are not alone.

Books remind us what adventure feels like, the joy of possibilities, and the intimate pleasure of a story well told. They give us a taste of love when our own life might be lacking it, and a sense of justice of which the world too often seems sadly devoid. Books remind us what honor looks like, and loyalty. They can show us joy, and peace, and light.

But some books, daring books, also remind us what darkness is . . . and how to find our way out of it.

Harry Potter reminds us what true friendship looks like. Friendship with all of its faults and flaws. Friendship that acknowledges both selflessness . . . and jealousy. Friendship that has room for shortcomings, for missteps, and that still finds its way to forgiveness and loyalty. The series shows us love in all of its myriad of forms: the love of true friends, yes, but also the love of brothers, of parent and child, and of mentor and protégé.

But, in these dark days of winter, sometimes love and joy can seem as scarce as the fleeting daylight. Sometimes the emotions more easily identified with are those that mirror the steely grey sky.

J. K. Rowling gave the dark emotions form in the Dementors. These creatures sucked the joy out of those around them, just as depression can steal away whatever joy we try to embrace. If only chocolate could stave off the effects of depression as well as it did the after-effects of a Dementor attack . . .

While Harry Potter may have personified depression with its Dementors (and while a dear friend and I often refer to ourselves during inexplicably cranky/depressive moods as feeling rather “Harry Potter Book Five”), few stories summon forth the darker side of humanity better than the Outlander series.

Diana Gabaldon allows us unimaginable intimacy with her characters. We bear witness to violation, to self-loathing, and to grief. But, more importantly, she leads us through to the other side of the dark journey.

[SPOILER WARNING….]

JAMIE ~

From the beginning, we know that Jamie has had to endure Dark Days. His mother died in childbirth, he believed his sister to be in ruin, his father died of a stroke during Jamie’s flogging, he believed his uncle to have tried to kill him, his wife is nearly burned at the stake, and he tried to return her to her rightful time even though such a move would mean losing his true love. Later, he endures unimaginable brutality to try to save his beloved Claire. And that’s all just in the first book!

The end of Dragonfly in Amber always results in an ugly cry. (Yet I keep reading it, again and again.) Whatever joy he found is ripped from him as he is separated from Claire for twenty long years. In her absence, he fully expects to die and does nothing to try to avoid death. Instead, he embraces the relief he expects it will bring.

Slowly, his life finds purpose again. First, as a de facto chief of the prisoners at Ardsmuir. later as provider for Laoghaire and her daughters. He is uncle to Young Jamie and surrogate father to Fergus. Sometimes, we are reminded, it is enough to keep going for the sake of others until you can find your own reason to continue.

CLAIRE ~

Claire’s strength is one of her defining characteristics. When ripped from her husband and the life she knew, she did not fall apart or expect to be rescued somehow. Other that one brief moment of tears while perched on the lap of a certain highlander, the woman was unwaveringly strong. But even Claire has her limits.

In Dragonfly in Amber, when Claire lost her Faith, her beloved first child, she did in fact seem to have a crisis of faith. The darkness surrounded her and she found little reason to go on. As angry as she was with Jamie, she felt ungrounded and without direction or purpose. Only after she realized that she was needed, that he needed her (what with being imprisoned and all), did she start to regain her sense of action.

In a later book, even when Claire was brutalized at the hands of kidnappers, she did not succumb to the darker emotions that might easily have drowned her. Although there was still much to be dealt with and worked through, she did not give up. As long as Jamie was by her side, she seems able to withstand nearly everything. He is her strength, as she is his. In fact, it seems that Claire is most vulnerable when Jamie, her emotional bulwark, is absent.

Undoubtedly the lowest point for Claire was when she feared that Jamie was lost at sea. Without Brianna to care for, there seemed little reason to continue. She contemplated suicide and found what solace she could at the bottom of a bottle. And the readers bear witness to her nearly ruinous grief. We want to shout to her that Jamie is alive! We want to tell her to hang on, that things get better, and that there are still so many others to live for . . . just as, in real life, when we wish to whisper these same consolations to our own real-life friends and family members who suffer from depression or who are struggling with grief. Hang on. Just hang on . . . it gets better.

YOUNG IAN ~

Young Ian suffers from his own grief. The pain of being separated from his family time and time again has to weigh on him. He also confronts the nearly unbearable struggle of trying to do the “right thing,” and of trying to put others first as he offers himself as a substitute for Roger and, in doing so, must turn his back on his family, his faith, and his heritage. Then, when he finally builds up a life with Emily and they try to start a family, to then suffer the loss of child after child until finally his own wife turns from him. And the aching loneliness he quietly endures as he tries to make peace with his loss . . . only to see in his Uncle Jamie and Auntie Claire the kind of love that he longs for. Remarkably, the constant reminder of their joy doesn’t call forth bitterness, but rather hope. Hope that if they can find their way back to one another, that perhaps he, too, can find his way back to happiness. Young Ian still has the soul of a poet and there remains in him the young lad that, on that day long ago in a brothel, when confronted with his Auntie Claire, long since presumed dead, finds the whole thing to be incredibly romantic. Although he faces his own torments, Young Ian meets them like the poet-warrior that he is.

Not everyone is as lucky.

FERGUS ~

Perhaps that is why, for me, the character whose struggle with his own internal demons touches me most is that of Fergus. Fergus, who in his youth made light of his missing hand and joked about finally being a gentleman of leisure, who never complained about his motherless childhood, who always seemed confident and jovial . . . that this is the character who tried to take his own life, that we didn’t see it coming, THIS is the character, the moment, the desperation that I feel sharpest. Because sometimes you DON’T see it coming. Sometimes, no matter how well loved they are, no matter how many people care, sometimes we just don’t see it.

That is why, in these dark days of winter, as we take down the tinsel and tuck away the garland, it is well to take stock of ourselves and those around us. Depression can set in like winter’s chill, and sometimes you don’t realize how cold you are until you can no longer feel.

A new year approaches. Perhaps instead of resolving to fit into a size four dress or buy something bigger, better, or more expensive, we could resolve to take better care of ourselves . . . and of those around us

My wish for the new year is simple: May your home be filled with books that speak to you, friends who care for you . . . and time enough to enjoy both.

Characters, Emotional Short-Hand, and #Outlander

Change comes, whether we want it or not. This year has proven that. Health scares do not ask whether it is convenient. Medical bills pile up, unopened, on the kitchen counter. I try to remind myself that sometimes the unexpected can yield glorious results. I dip my toe into the river of change and wonder “What if…” I live in stories, both the story of my life and the stories that I read to escape my life for a little while.

For those who know me well, this has resulted in a kind of emotional short hand. I can quickly explain a state of mind…of being…with a certain book character at a certain point in a story.

Tired, lonely, frustrated, I have confided in a fellow book-obsessed friend that I felt very “Harry Book Five.” Harry Potter–alone over the summer, with only vague messages from his friends while he endured the hell that was Number Four Privet Drive, feeling excluded and forgotten—perfectly captures the days when I scramble get by, so hurried by life that I go days before I realize that I never even spoke with anyone at all but have been stuck in my head with only my problems for company.

Other days, I feel very Outlander Claire…out of my element, trying to make things work out, chasing after some seemingly impossible goal. Occasionally, I find a kind word or a friendly face—my Mrs. Fitz. If I am lucky, she might bring me a drink and tell me to get some rest in her firm, not fussy, way. And, like Claire, for once I might just listen.

On the days of desperation, I feel a bit like MOBY Claire of the Sunken Ship. Alone. Going through the motions. Reminding myself that I have to endure. Waiting for the dawn just for the relief of having escaped another long night. I am not proud of those nights. But truth and courage don’t always come as a matched pair. Sometimes they are patch-worked together, and the seams that hold them are the scars that Life leaves us with.

Sometimes, I find a wee bit of Jamie lurking in my soul. More nights than I care to count I have watched my husband sleep and counted his breaths. I have offered up countless days of my own life to be added to his days, tried to bargain with God, and promised more than I have to give for more time. Please God, give me more time with mo cridhe. Because when you find the Blood of your Blood, Soul of your Soul, the last thing you want is for them to slip back through the stones.

On my best—my happiest days–I am more Claire at Fraser Ridge. I am at home, at peace, and surrounded by those I love. I have my garden and my wee herbs. I tend my children and my chickens and, as the sun slips behind the black shadowed branches of the maple and ash, I feel my Jamie slip up behind me and pull me against him.

imageSometimes you can feel Change. It might be a soft summer breeze or the cutting bite of a winter wind. But you feel it, and you try to brace for it, and you pray…

I can feel Change coming.

After #Outlander

With Outlander now on hiatus, there are hours to fill. Long, hot, Oklahoma-summery hours. With hours and hours without school to help occupy the children.

So. Much. Time.

Yes, yes, I know there are always 24 hours in a day, but there is something about the heat that makes the days drag. Some days it seems that all I do is make the sweaty commutes to and from work…and try to convince my children that cleaning their rooms is a good way to alleviate boredom. (No, they never, ever believe me—but I try.)

This year, however, I was inspired. Inspired (as in so many things) by reading Outlander. Inspired, also, by the fact that Hubs survived The Widow Maker.

As a result, I wanted this summer to be Something More. I wanted it to be Memorable.

So, I planted more flowers than usual…

Purple Cone Flower
Purple Cone Flower

…and more vegetables.

(Peas, tomatoes, string beans, black beans, jalapenos, leeks, and onions.)

…and more fruit. (I planted a crabapple tree, two apple trees, a raspberry bush, a blueberry bush, two blackberry bushes, and two elderberry bushes. We added a second grape vine (with plans to add two more).

Apples!
Apples!

And I planted plenty of herbs (five varieties of lavender, three varieties of rosemary, curry, two kinds of sage, four kinds of thyme, cilantro, parsley, horehound, ten kinds of mint, dill, three kinds of oregano, three kinds of basil, a couple of stevia plants, tarragon, chives, bergamot, wild ginger, ginseng, chamomile, calendula, lemon verbena, lemon grass…I know I am forgetting something…)

We like mint, don't judge.
We like mint, don’t judge.

And I planted flowers. Lots of flowers.

Borage
Borage
image
Lots of purple flowers.
image
Chamomile and more purple flowers.

And, last weekend…

(insert drumroll here!)…

Cluck!
Cluck!

…we added four chickens to our bramble of a backyard.* Three Buff Orpingtons and one Bar Rock. (I am looking to add a couple of more asap, because apparently there is a thing called “chicken math” where you plan to get three chickens, come home with four, and immediately add two more. Fortunately I am much better at this “chicken math” than “new math.”)

I spent Friday night putting together the coop while Hubs was at work (I might have forgotten to tell him that I was finally going through with all this! Oops! Surprise, honey!).

Coop in the daylight.
Coop in the daylight.

My dad was kind enough to help put together the coop. As daylight gave way to dusk, we kept hammering and piecing things together. It felt good…and productive…so nice for something to make sense again. Before long, we were building by moonlight. I broke the silence to ask my dad if a chicken coop built in the moonlight was somehow lucky. (After the stress and drama of this year, I will take my luck where I can find it.) I could hear the smile in his voice when he answered, “Yes. You’ll be lucky if this coop stays together.”

I laughed like I hadn’t laughed in ages. And it felt good.

It had been a while since I laughed. Laughing felt like tempting fate. I didn’t want to mess with her…she was a bitch! So I had stayed quiet. I had kept my head down. I didn’t want to look too far ahead.

When Hubs was in the hospital, the books were my refuge. I read them, and re-read them. They were my touchstone. They reminded me that True Love was hard and scary…but that it was worth fighting for, worth sacrificing for, and that gave me hope.

I read about the potatoes in Jenny’s root cellar, and I read about Claire’s garden and her wee herbs. I had always loved herbs. As a teen, my room was filled with books about herbs and their uses. I saved money to buy herbs…much like a “normal” teenage girl might buy clothes.

But somewhere along the way, there was not enough time, or space, or money, or…something. Somewhere along the way, I let it slip away from me. Reading the books reminded me of how many things that I loved and let go. And when Hubs had his heart attack, it reminded me that life was too damned short and unpredictable to put things off.

So I bought chickens. Because, I gotta tell you, chickens are friggin’ cute.

We named them all after Scottish clans...one *might* be named Fraser.
We named them all after Scottish clans…one *might* be named Fraser.

Yes, I bought chickens. And I planted herbs, and vegetables, and fruit. I started to study Gaelic, and I researched my genealogy, and I listened to bagpipe music while I watered the plants.

So while Outlander is on hiatus, I will not fret over Droughtlander or obsess about every snippet of series information that ripples across the internet (although I really AM looking forward to seeing Season 2!).

Instead, I will enjoy my summer…the summer that Outlander inspired.

Slàinte
Sláinte mhath.

* Yes, I know that Jamie said that “Chickens make verra poor company.” But he and I do not agree on everything. For example, I am in the “Claire camp” when it comes to neck kisses. Just sayin.’

You Don’t Have to Choose #Outlander

After getting Jamie and Claire safely on the ship to France, I purposefully avoided social media for a few days.  I wanted to let the hoopla die down.  I didn’t want to hear the inevitable bitchfest that would most certainly ensue.  Of course, people are entitled to their own opinions, I don’t mean that.  I just was not up for all of the comparisons ad nauseam.  I wasn’t ready to face all of the They Should Haves and How Could Theys and But They Left Outs. 

Diana Gabaldon encouraged readers to “Put Down the Book”…I really wish more readers had heeded her words.  Because, let’s face it, the woman’s a smart cookie.

*sigh* 

Of course a book and a televisions series are entirely different mediums.  Television shows are restricted by budgets, time constraints, and, well, more limitations that I am qualified to itemize.  Books are only confined by the reader’s imagination.  But both mediums have a place, both serve a purpose and, dammit, both deserve some respect.

I view the books and the show as two distinct but related things. You  know, kinda like my kiddos.

My oldest likes manga and All Things Japanese and is a night owl.  She loves to read and is messy and doesn’t give a rat’s ass about fashion.  I kinda love that about her.

My mid-kid spends hours picking out clothes.  She likes to garden and to cook (no idea where she gets that *blinks innocently*) and to adopt stray animals.  She also rolls her eyes a lot, and her sarcasm can wilt a soul.

My son eats and breathes sports.  He rises with the sun in the morning, makes the sign of the cross whenever he hears sirens in the distance.  He also thoughtfully informs me when he feels “hug deficient.”  He melts my heart.

And just as I try not to compare the My People but instead love them for who they are, that is also what I try to do with the books.  I can love how, in the show, Claire’s pregnancy is revealed by her increasingly queasy stomach in times of stress.  (My non-OL-book-reading husband even noted that Claire was starting to puke with alarming regularity.)  But I can also love that in the book the quiet revelation of hope and new life is found in the warm, life giving waters under the abbey.  I don’t have to choose…just like I don’t have to pick a favorite child.

The television show is not a “bastardization” of the books.  The changes they make take nothing away from the books.  You can enjoy both.  You don’t get your Outlander Fan card taken away if you can’t angrily recite every deviation from the books.  Honest.

It makes me a happier fan when I allow the books and the television show to work in the way that they can…then I can sit back and better enjoy the distinctions instead of itemizing them for an angry post mortem.  Good Lord, if all I did all day was try to hyper-analyze the differences I (and those around me) would be miserable!

Life is too short to waste time in a hate-filled Book Versus Television Deconstruction.  There are too many Really Important Things In Life to get riled up about.  So, for me at least, I will treat the show and the books as I would my children.  I will watch proudly as they find their footing, as they grow and evolve.  I will proudly tell others of their exploits.  But I will not compare them or try to make them into clones of one another.