outlander s1e12: lallybroch

outlander lallybroch

Jamie, Jamie, Jamie. You’d think you had learned something after being married to Claire. Like not to assume you know what’s going on with the woman of the house. Or to, I don’t know, listen to her about the state of the estate she’s run for the past four years.

But no! Supposedly diplomatic Jamie turns into a dumb, egotistical boy the second he gets home to Lallybroch–just like how I revert back to being my 12-year-old self as soon as I walk through the doors of the house I grew up in.

But now Jamie is an adult, and he is the laird (which he keeps reminding everyone), and the stakes are much higher than they were when he snuck into his father’s room to play with swords.

Claire, Claire, Claire. You’d think you’d have learned something after choosing to stay in the 1700s. Like that even if you don’t agree with certain social rules, that doesn’t make them go away. And that maybe you don’t understand the entirety of the situation based on 30 seconds of your own observation in a place and time completely new to you.

But, no. Claire still assumes she knows best and speaks without thinking of the consequences, telling both Jamie and his sister Jenny how they should operate.

But both Claire and Jamie grow a little in their time at Lallybroch–thank goodness. When Jamie asked Claire to listen and to trust him on how to talk to his family, Claire finally begins to realize that she might be able to get more of what she wants if she knows the rules of the game–and knows when it’s best to break them.

Jenny’s husband Ian also helps Claire see this, as they bond over loving the hard-headed Frasers. Their conversation rang so true to in-laws discussing the family they love, but are outsiders to. Ian seems to really love Jenny. He lets her be herself, and when Jamie came back and effectively kicks Ian out of his position of power, not to mention his own bedroom, he doesn’t argue or fight. He respects Jenny’s family and the way they choose to do things, and he does his best to support the Frasers–not just Jenny, but Jamie and Claire, too. When Claire sharply asks why Ian married Jenny, he sweetly speaks of when they met, and how she made him whole. This does not sound like a man who married for opportunity or power once Jamie was out of the picture, it sounds like a man in love.

In fact both Ian and Jenny don’t seem to hold on to resentment toward Jamie for coming home and assuming role as laird–their (legit) resentment instead is for his boorish behavior while doing it.

But Jamie, like Claire, starts to listen in this episode, and after a harsh talk from his wife, Jamie gets it together. He apologizes to Jenny, and the two reconnect and discuss their roles in their father’s death and the guilt they’ve held onto for so many years.

Laura Donnelly as Jenny is fantastic in this episode, displaying a complex character juggling family issues, trauma, and essentially running a business. When Jamie first sees his sister after four years of being assumed dead and accuses her of having two bastard children and punishing him by naming one Jamie (uhhhh Jamie, bro, this isn’t actually all about you), she fights back and stands up for herself and her family.

In a powerful scene, Jenny tells what really did happen with Captain Randall. After Jamie is knocked unconscious, Randall took Jenny upstairs to assault her. As he attempted to rape her, Jenny laughed at him. Rape scenes on TV have become a cliched shorthand to show women’s trauma, but this scene is like nothing I’ve seen before on television.

This story, like so much of what happens at Lallybroch, shows Claire and Jamie that things aren’t always what they look like at first glance, and that the both of them should stop to think and listen before they do things they can’t take back. (Though I’m going to go on record and say that even if Jenny was raped and did have two bastard children, Jamie still owed her an apology and shouldn’t have acted that way.)

Hopefully Jamie and Claire remember the lessons they learned this week because next week it looks like they will be back to fighting for their lives, and the consequences will be much higher than a familial spat.

outlander s1e9: the reckoning

(I’m trying some new things with writing, and I’ll also be writing about some new things. I’m a big fan of the TV show Outlander, and what follows is a recap of the newest episode that aired last night in the U.S. It assumes you’ve seen it, so there are some spoilers, FYI.) 

After a long dry spell waiting for Outlander to start again, Claire and Jamie are finally reunited. And the first thing they do after escaping the British is not have super sexy Outlander sex, it’s have a horrible fight.

It’s an ugly fight, but it seems real to me. Their hearts have been torn open and ripped out, and terrible truths fly out from the depths of the cracks. A part of them means every word they said. But as Jamie says in his opening monologue, the first time we are privy to his point of view, life is a series of choices–to forgive or hold anger, to love or to hate, to live or to die. Claire and Jamie’s choices in this episode begin to shape their life together. 

The midseason finale left us with Black Jack attacking and almost raping Claire when Jamie appears in the window, her knight in shining armor…kind of. Turns out, his gun isn’t loaded and he bluffs his way into the room hoping for the best. He rescues Claire, leaving Jack alive, and the two head off into the sunset…kind of. 

Turns out Jamie is mad as hell that Claire disobeyed his orders to stay put, and he blames her for getting kidnapped. The fight they have, and Jamie’s quiet admission of fear that followed on what it cost to go after her with an unloaded gun and his bare hands, was a raw moment that showed the other side of the gentle romance and dashing heroics we are used to seeing from the couple. 

Both Jamie and Claire can encompass all of that fear, love, bravery, naivete, arrogance, ugliness, and beauty because they are both complex humans who feel all those things. And their marriage and their life together is born out of what they choose to do with those real, conflicting emotions.

These contradictions lead to mistakes, of course, but also to course corrections. 

Jamie has been so kind to Claire and has been such a bright spot in an unfamiliar place that I wanted him to continue being that heroic, perfect man. But he isn’t perfect, and the ugly things he spits at Claire reminds us he is a product of his time and experiences–as anybody is. 

Which leads him to handle Claire’s disobedience in the way he knows, and the way he thinks is right. In a horrifying scene, Jamie lectures Claire once again, and then removes his belt to HIT HER WITH IT to be sure she will never disobey him again. Claire obviously does not agree to this, so Jamie CHASES HER AND HOLDS HER DOWN. No, in this episode Jamie is not exactly a hero. Not even close.

When he says he is going to hit her, Claire says no and he actively ignores her lack of consent and violently holds her down. It’s a disturbing scene, perhaps coming across a little too lightly on the show, and it leads to the first real struggle in their marriage.

Lucky for Claire, and for us, Jamie is open to changing the status quo, and after seeing compromise play out in his clan, he realizes he should bring a more open mindset to his wife as well. So he pledges fealty to Claire and swears to never hit her again. But maybe more importantly, he shows he means it by waiting for her verbal yes before finally having that sexy sex. Listening for consent respects someone else’s agency, and Jamie is learning how to respect Claire. 

(btw I love Claire’s angry hairbrushing before Jamie apologizes. When women lose control in other aspects of their life, they can often turn to “women’s things” like hair and clothes, to assert themselves and take back a little bit of self. So you brush that hair, Claire, you keep brushing it. Also note how the camera views Jamie in the mirror–how does the way he sees himself compare with how Claire sees him right now?) 

Jamie thought men should always beat their wives because that is all he has seen and all he had known. He also thought husbands and wives only had sex like horses. Lucky for Claire and for us, he lets Claire help him form a new worldview, one where your wife’s personhood matters. 

After Claire and Jamie find their way back to each other, they finally have that sexy sex we’d all been waiting for…kind of. Claire shows once again she is no obedient pushover by PULLING A KNIFE on Jamie WHILE THEY ARE HAVING SEX and threatens that if he ever hurts her again she will cut his heart out (I’m guessing she doesn’t mean metaphorically). But I guess it all worked out because Jamie and Claire reconnect and both seem to have reached a greater understanding of each other. 

They seemed to have passed the first test in their marriage, but the repercussions from their choices may only be just beginning.

The other members of Jamie’s clan are laying some (admittedly less sexy) groundwork themselves. Jamie’s marriage to an Englishwoman and Dougal’s fundraising for a Jacobite army are not exactly easy pills for their laird to swallow. Loyalty and tradition are no. 1 for the MacKenzie clan, and Claire and Jamie are breaking down tradition one tiny step at a time. 

Next week, I hope we see more Claire, I missed her a lot this episode. And where is Geillis???

goals for 2015

I’ve had a crazy busy December and then some crazy busy (and crazy cool) traveling, so I’m a little bit behind on some regular life stuff. Like laundry. And doctor’s appointments. And thinking about the year ahead, or reflecting on the year that ended.

2014 was a huge year for me. I ended the year in a new city and said goodbye to #fatcat, and a million other things that I haven’t processed yet because I’m still handling the first two. But I am happy and grateful to be where I am, and for now, that’s enough reflecting for me. So on to 2015, and the cool stuff I hope to do, try, and continue.

Drink more water. I already drink a lot of water, and this is the boringest of resolutions, but damn if I don’t believe it really helps quality of life.

Read books written by women and/or with a woman as a main character. This is more than just the Bechdel test–I want women to be front and center in my reading this year. I’ve talked a little bit about this in comics already, but I am ready to commit and see how this changes my reading habits, if I feel like I’m missing out on any stories/books everyone else is reading, and how it will change my perspective on life and reading. I have started my year off very well with Mistborn (written by Brandon Sanderson, with the super cool Vin as the main character), and I can’t wait to read more in that series. I won’t say I’ll stick to this for 100% of my books, but it will be a big focus for me this year.

Pare down. I have way too much stuff and too many clothes. So I’d like to keep editing my closet and my things, so I’m just left with what I really want and what really adds value to my life.

Sketch every day. I have already missed two days this year, but I’ll aim to sketch every day at least a little bit, and not to beat myself up if I miss it. You can follow along on Instagram or Twitter.

Have [redacted] amount of money saved by the end of the year. Money is usually on my list of goals for the year, but I’d like to try to save for a concrete amount. (I know what the amount is, just keeping it private for now.)

Go to the dentist and stop being a baby about it. I mean, really.

Continue to reach out to people on the internet and in real life. Last year I started (respectfully, I hope) emailing cool people I saw on the internet to talk about cool things, and it’s allowed me to chat with some wonderful, smart people I admire. It’s not as scary as you think it’s going to be, and it’s stretched my brain in the best ways.

So here’s to a great 2015. Thanks for reading and sharing this truly bananas year with me.

end of the month review: june

st louis arch(Scenes from on the road to vacation.)

Summer is flying by–but I say that every year, don’t I? June was a blast. I turned 27, went on vacation and practiced figure drawing. July is going to start off with a bang when we have company for the Fourth and I am so excited! The top viewed posts of the month were:

I hope everyone has a great (and hopefully short) week!

my small cool space 2014

rae's small cool space #smallcool

As I did last year and in 2011, I entered Apartment Therapy’s Small Cool Spaces Contest. I think I’ve stepped up my game this year, and I’m so glad it’s ready to show off. If you have a minute, step over to the contest page and vote for me! (You know, if you feel like it.) I believe you have to register for Apartment Therapy, but it is free.

This is one of my favorite times of the year on the Internet. It’s so fun to see all these different homes and how they are designed. I really really enjoy checking it out. And I also enjoy sharing my own home.

living room #smallcool

This is the other side of the living room, across from the couch. I love having my pictures framed and on the wall. Each year I try to make my apartment a bit more grown up, and having things framed and properly on the wall definitely was a step in that direction for me. Things can absolutely look sophisticated and nice without a frame–I just couldn’t figure how to do that in this space.

I am also pretty excited about this big fake tree I have in the corner. I think it looks pretty good and not too fake, and it’s safer for #fatcat because he tends to eat real plants.

craft space #smallcool

This is my sewing area, which you’ve seen before. I added an embroidery, and of course you can see the lamp and pictures on the wall next to it. It leads to my kitchen and dining area.

dining room #smallcool

Which I love. It of course has the table and chairs that I redid and the mirror that I spray painted. I like the bright primary colors, it’s just a happy space. But my favorite detail might be the shark coming out of the kitchen table. (It’s a piggy bank I got from Target. To put money in, you have to reach into the shark’s mouth.)

bedroom #smallcool

I really like my bedroom in this apartment. It’s got great windows and a ceiling fan. I have a new headboard, which also feels more grown up to me. And I really like having the shutters and mirrors on the side of the bed.

bedroom #smallcool

There’s room for a few dressers, and the jewelry rack I made by painting another one of those wooden racks–the same kind you see in the sewing area.

There’s still projects that I want to do, but I’m really excited for my apartment. I like spending time here, and I can’t wait to have people over. It makes me really proud to come home to something that I love and a space I created (with lots of help, of course). Don’t forget to stop by the Small Cool Contest!

easy project friday: spray-painted mirror

I have this mirror that I really like. It’s from Ikea–you’ve probably seen it before. I love that the frame is sort of ornate, but it’s small and different enough that it seems modern and fun. I like the black and I had it on my wall in black in my old apartment.


In this new place, I had just the right place to hang it, but the black wasn’t what I wanted. I have bold primary colors in this kitchen, so I tried to keep things light.

I covered the mirror with newspapers and used the same yellow spray paint I used when I spray painted a shelf last year–which I am now using in my bathroom. (It’s still yellow.)

spray painted mirror

And it’s like I have a whole new mirror.

dining area with spray painted mirror

I can’t afford to replace everything every time I change my mind or my apartment, even though I’m tempted to. But with some work and creativity, I really think you can make your home reflect your changing style. Even if it’s just details, like the color of a mirror.


titiana’s outfit from the haunted bookshop

titiana outfit from the haunted bookshop

Like everyone else who shopped at the haunted bookshop, Titiana charmed me. I wasn’t sure about her in the beginning. The 18-year-old arrives to her bookshop apprenticeship in a fur stole, after all, so can you really blame me–or her father–for making the mistake of thinking her frivolous?

But you learn in The Haunted Bookshop (by Christopher Morley) (Kindle here) not to judge a book by its cover. Things are not as they seem and the bookshop may be haunted by more than the spirits of great literature.

Mr. and Mrs. Mifflin run the store, called Parnassus at Home, and live above the second-hand shop. Roger Mifflin is as passionate about books as Titiana is beautiful, and he is delighted to take her on as an apprentice at the behest of Titiana’s father. Her father wants to get some of the finishing school nonsense out of Titiana’s head and fill it with books and hard work instead. An admirable goal, and Roger and Titiana are both excited to teach and be taught.

But even before Titiana arrives, things are strange in the little, crowded shop. An advertising man, Aubrey, stops in to meet Roger and ask for a chance at his business, and the two quickly become friendly. But after a particular book disappears and reappears from Roger’s shelves, Aubrey begins to suspect foul play in this queer place.

Although most of Brooklyn is basking in the peace after World War I ends, Aubrey, Titiana, and the Mifflins become caught up in mystery after mystery. Every character is delightful to spend time with, even Bock, the Mifflins’ terrier. Roger’s passion for books is contagious, and at less than 200 pages it was the perfect easy read as things settle down for me in Chicago.

I drew Titiana as she arrives for the first time to meet the Mifflins. She is much wealthier than her bookstore benefactors, and her expertly tailored clothes show off her figure and complement her coloring. She is wearing brown tweed, a fur stole, and tan spats–like a boss.

titiana from the haunted bookshop outfit painting

(I picked out this book on my own and wasn’t paid to write about it. The links are affiliate, though, so if you buy through my links I’ll receive a little bit of money.)

ms. marvel

ms marvel

Every girl, every teen, every person has felt out of place. The things that connect us all, especially in superhero comics, are feelings of loneliness, wanting to fit in, and wanting to be a part of something bigger. That’s not a man thing or a woman thing; that’s a person thing. And that’s what Ms. Marvel is about.

Ms. Marvel is a Marvel comic book series written by G. Willow Wilson and illustrated by Adrian Alphona. I heard the buzz when it was announced the new Ms. Marvel would be a Muslim American woman, and an interview in Vulture with Wilson especially piqued my interest. I’m two issues in and the storytelling is charming and relatable–which is what makes it so refreshing. The third issue of the monthly comic comes out today. (I buy a lot of comics electronically through Comixology, but you should also definitely check out your local comic book store.)

Kamala, a 16-year-old who lives in Jersey City, wants to go to a party, and her parents won’t let her. She looks up to the popular girls while feeling small and embarrassed when they are around. She wants great hair and killer boots. Her problems are my problems. Her emotions are all of our emotions–or have been, at some point.

We learn when we are young to copy people who look like us, maybe by emulating a big brother or your cool next door neighbor. More voices and more variety in comics (and movies and TV and at work and school and everywhere) isn’t just a suggestion, it is critical. When we see all kinds of people in our stories, it let’s us know that we can do it, too. That we can live, that we can have goals and interests, that we can connect with other people and thrive because someone else did it, and they are like us.

But Ms. Marvel doesn’t make the story about Kamala’s religion or that she’s a woman. It tells the story of regular teen angst, of sneaking out and getting caught. Of what to do at a party, and how to deal with going through a lot of change.

I’m not totally sure what I think about Kamala turning blond to be her superself, but that’s part of the point. She thinks blond hair and some thigh-high boots would solve her insecurities (who hasn’t thought that once or twice?), but Kamala feels just as out of place in a different body.

Kamala learns quickly that it’s not what you look like that makes you a superhero. Here’s hoping the rest of the industry learns this, too. And quickly.

bedroom inspiration

I am still trying to get my life in order. (How long can I use moving as an excuse?) It feels like I’ll be catching up for weeks. My new neighborhood is delightful, as is my new premium cable. But I’m getting a little tired of stepping through boxes in the living room. (#Fatcat, however, is very much enjoying climbing up and around the mess.)

So when I’m not catching up on laundry or sleep, I’m dreaming of what my new place will look like once the dust settles. I feel like I change my mind every few minutes but I am into this blue and yellow.

bedroom inspiration from polyvore

And here’s a peek at a rug I bought completely on a whim.

rug from target

What do you think? I hope my planning and scheming and impulse buying all comes together. For now, I’ll keep enjoying the neighborhood and learning about the city. I’m totally in love with the Jewel grocery store around the block. And tonight I’m going to a Cubs game! Wrigley Field is just down the street. So far, so good, Chicago.

I’ll be back to reading and crafting and outfitting as soon as I get my head back on straight. So…any day now.

almost royalty

almost royalty

Courtney, The main character in Courtney Hamilton’s Almost Royalty, is on my level. I have no idea what level that is on the L.A. Eco-Chain of Dating, but I think I’ll be ok if I never find out.

Almost Royalty tells stories throughout Courtney’s time in L.A. right after she broke up with her second fiancé. It’s a romantic comedy of sorts, but with a dark side. Luckily, though, that dark side is real and funny.

Courtney and I live in the same reality, which appears to be on a different plane than most of Courtney’s friends and suitors. Marcie and Bettina are the best friends you never asked for–because it’s too exhausting to deal with their backhanded compliments and social rules. And Courtney’s dates may be cute (even if her fiancés aren’t), but they are more concerned with their reflection than her happiness. Where Courtney works to pay the bills and takes comfort in junk food, her friends take on debt to fit in with the Ivy Elite and wouldn’t be caught dead eating anything heavier than a salad.

Almost Royalty may exaggerate some of their worst qualities, but I recognize features of Courtney’s friends in some people from my own life. Haven’t we all met these insecure, social status climbing, sometimes hilarious people? I have, and like Courtney, eventually it made me weary.

Like the rest of us, Courtney is trying to figure it all out. Because she’s grounded in reality, her point of view is a bit different than her social status conscious pals. This contrast is also why Courtney hits on some hilarious truths:

However, Andre’s revenge techniques were the classic male pattern. His intention was to make me believe I was a mess.

“You still think too much,” he said. If that wasn’t the classic line that every guy used when his attempt to hustle a girl were going south.

And when did you decide that your help included ignoring my feelings, pushing me to date stalkers, or celebrating my perceived inadequacies?

Courtney’s struggle to find her way resonates. Her people might be worse than mine (thank god) but the mistakes she makes are all too familiar. It’s a fun ride (for the reader at least, maybe not for Courtney), and when she starts to get things together, I’m cheering for her.

Almost Royalty, by Courtney Hamilton, comes out May 29, just in time to become your next beach read.

I got a copy of this book from the publisher; words are my own.