I’d Marry Sir Richard Carlisle if I Had To

I have a few rules about dreams. One, unless the person you are talking to was in them or something especially surprising or funny happened, they aren’t worth retelling. And two, while there may be familiar images and scenarios from your real life, the argument that dreams have deeper meanings (think Freudian nonsense and the like) is preposterous.

You could say that I am about to break both of these rules in this post, but I’d argue that what I’m really writing about is my reaction to the dream when I woke up this morning.

Let’s begin with a bit of backstory.

In the past week, I have rewatched Downton Abbey twice with different people and spent my spare time researching the era. I also take medication that has a side effect of making me have incredibly vivid dreams. Cue waking up in a panic, screaming and punching (this happens about once a month) or leaping out of bed at four a.m. thinking that I need to save a drowning child. I wake up around twice a night from dreams and if I’m sleeping lightly, especially when it’s light out, it happens almost every half hour.

So last night, I dreamed that I was engaged and was being dragged around during my first London season by the Dowager Countess of Granthem to tell everyone about the news. My fiancé was akin to Sir Ricard Carlisle, and even though I was not happy about the arrangement, I was resigned to go ahead with the marriage.

Then, I woke up, realized it was the middle of the night, curled back up with my favorite pillow, stuck my cold hands under Max’s stomach (he was not too happy about that arrangement and kept squirming away in his sleep), and fell back asleep for a few more hours. And it wasn’t until I woke up and was texting Cecelia about our marathon yesterday that I really started to consider the dream.

Obviously, it was the result of watching the show too much, but as time went on, I realized something. The previous day, I had asked Cecelia which character she would want to be, and when she turned the question back around, I didn’t hesitate before saying Mary or Sybil. Wanting to be Sybil is easy to understand–she’s independent, has a strong personality and convictions, and ultimately runs away with Tom Branson to live the life she wants and not the one that her birth decided for her. Sybil is unquestionably awesome.

But wanting to be Mary is much more complex. Mary is often mean and controlling, in constant competition with Edith, and forever ending up in bad situations mostly of her own creation. She gets dealt a very bad hand in life, and her relationship with Matthew makes me so stressed out that I can’t get through some of the episodes without crying.

Yet despite all of that, I still want to be her. I almost always automatically like older siblings, and Mary is no exception to that rule. But more than that initial connection, I feel like I understand why she acts the way she does. Not only is she dealing with the familial pressure to marry the heir because of the entail, but she’s a member of a society that is full of unfair restrictions and expectations. She has known for years that she will probably never marry for love and that she will have to spend the next forty to fifty years of her life putting on a charade of domestic bliss and doing boring, almost useless tasks, like arranging dinners and paying calls. She doesn’t have a future to look forward to, and after Pamuk, it only gets worse. Her relationship with Matthew gets ruined because she can’t tell him what happened, and she’s stuck with Sir Richard because no one else will take a girl who is “spoiled good.”

Now, I am not a member of a peerage, society isn’t forcing me into an unhappy life, and I haven’t had a Turkish gentlemen die in my bed (I don’t think that I’ve even met any Turkish men.), but I do know why Mary would marry someone she didn’t love if it would “give her a position.” Sir Richard is the only chance she’s likely to ever get. She needs to have someone to give her a place in society and provide her with money. It may not be ideal, but it is necessary if you’re no longer desirable.

And I think that if I were in Mary’s place, I would have reacted in the same way with Carlisle. I would have resigned myself to an unhappy marriage.

In real life, I know that I’m not a particularly ideal person to live with. My chances of marriage are probably very low, and when it comes to healthcare, I’m expensive. So if someone came along who could pay for doctors and medicine and wouldn’t hate me for spending lots of time in bed with the lights off, I would take it. That’s not to say that I would prefer that arrangement to love–I would much rather the excitement of Sybil’s life and her relationship with Branson–but in all likelihood, I won’t get that, and I’ll be like Mary minus the Matthew bit.

But enough of that. Maybe tonight my brain will decide that it’s high time to hang out on a pile of wood chips or play with dragons.

In Which Ella and Pippa Are Hopelessly Different

Unfortunately, Pippa and I do not have much in common anymore, and there are many times when I just don’t know how to relate to her.

She tells me to shut up when I start telling her about an interesting video I saw about particle physics or when I start talking about current events.

She has no interest in watching documentaries or historical films–instead, she likes shows like Friends and The Nine Lives of Chloe King, which I find to be very surface-level and boring.

And when I even mention current events or a book to her, she doesn’t want to listen because “I’m not in school and I don’t want to think about school stuff!”

She overuses the word “like” and ends every few sentences with a slurred together youknowwhatImean, while I just mispronounce words I’ve only ever seen in print. (I thought that chaos was actually pronounced chaw-oh-ss and was actually a synonym of the word until fifth grade.)

She likes to talk very loudly on videochat and type with abbreviations, yet I find myself incapable of writing fragments or leaving out commas or capitalization (though typos and spelling are a whole other matter) while sending a text message.

And this unfortunately leaves me at a loss.

What do I talk to her about? What can we do together?

It’s not that one of our preferences is better–they’re not–we just are intrinsically different, and I have no idea how on earth to relate to her.

Lately, it just leads to arguing or me questioning her about school. And there only so many times I can listen to explanations of inside jokes or the time that a girl got kicked out of school for having sex with five different guys in exchange for cocaine (oh, boarding school and your “fancier” drugs).

I’m not sure where this leaves me, but it sure isn’t a comfortable place.

In other news, Pippa just told me that I look like I’m at a ski lodge because I’m wandering around in a toque and a heavy sweater. I just like to think of the outfit as I’m-cold chic.

In other, other news, I apparently possess the ability to wake up in a panic in the middle of the night for ten days running, thinking that I have an infant or a child who is in need of immediate attention. While this is better than the dreams I have of failing to adequately protect people, and certainly better than the ones where I have woken myself up by hitting something and screaming in my sleep, I have to admit that it is worse than the dreams where I’m getting married and something has gone terribly wrong or the dreams where no one wants to buy the flowers I’m selling.

I other, other, other news, when you’re adding additional post scripts (P.S.) to a letter you should only be adding additional p’s and not s’s because the p’s mean after the above. This has been amusing me to no end today, mostly because I just got an email that would have a section, if read literally, called “post script script script script script,” something that sounds very funny if you say it quickly.

And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, if, you know, you’re into that kind of thing.

Ella the Oversized Lab Rat

I missed school today after having attended for nine straight days. Last night, I had another really bad, vivid dream from the Geodon that woke me up at four a.m., and by the time for getting up to go to school rolled around, I became convinced that if I got anywhere near the train tracks, I would be hit and killed. After a minor freak out, I went back to sleep. To continue this series of unfortunate events, I woke up in a panic at nine, thinking that I was about to drown in the ocean and that I was in trouble for not protecting a little kid well enough.

This morning wasn’t my finest moment.

However, I was able to climb out of bed and get a lot of work done. I finished my homework on Shakespeare’s sonnets (five pages!) and spent some more time outlining my thesis. Hopefully, “Kate Chopin: Feminist or Liberationist?” is going to be a work to rival the Iliad and Grapes of Wrath. At the very least, it’ll be as good as The Baby-Sitter’s Club: Kristy’s Great Idea (a book I’ve never read, but I feel that I can accurately assume it’s worth). I’ve already got a legal pad full of notes, a binder with around twenty marked-up critical essays, and six pages of pre-writing.

Sadly, things weren’t exactly looking up. I started a new medication called Oxcarbazepine/Trileptal on Friday, and it’s been making me feel funny. Funny in a I-really-don’t-feel-normal-or-like-myself sort of way. It’s not enjoyable and led to a near full-blown panic attack on Saturday. Thankfully, my Dad put on my favorite movie, Miracle, and I calmed down.

On days like today, I just feel like an oversized lab rat. Every time I go to the psychiatrist my medication changes, as we continue in our quest to find the perfect chemical cocktail. Let’s see how Ella’s liver metabolizes this! Let’s see how her brain reacts to that! We accidentally sedated her? Whoops!

During therapy, we worked on a plan for me to be “my own best advocate” and to “own my body” (which totally sounds like it belongs on a NOW campaign poster for women’s empowerment) when speaking to the psychiatrist about my adverse reactions. Unfortunately, I know that if I can’t tolerate this medication, then electric shock therapy is left uncomfortably close to the top of the list. And no matter how intimidated I am by diplomas from medical school and dislike this new medication, I’d take it any day over ECT.

In the car home, I tried to broach the subject with my mother. That discussion did not go well, and I was told, “You just need to be patient. It’ll improve.” I sat in the car and cried while she and Pippa went into the grocery store to pick up seltzer. I just want my head back. I want my thoughts to be solely mine. I want to know that when I look down at my body that I am the one controlling it.

It’s evening now, and I’m sitting on my bed, surrounded by cats, full of hope that things will improve. Because things have to. I refuse to believe that the world is a cruel place.