Happy Birthday Jane Austen

Today is Jane Austen’s 239th birthday.  Some time ago, my mom set forth to read all of her novels and completed it quite easily.  I have not read any, but have seen “Lost in Austen” and it did spark my interest in her writing.  I am not the only one that is late to the party, the popularity of her writing didn’t hit it’s stride until over on hundred years after her death.  The world is a better place because Jane was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.

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NAME: Jane Austen
OCCUPATION: Writer
BIRTH DATE: December 16, 1775
DEATH DATE: July 18, 1817
PLACE OF BIRTH: Steventon, Hampshire, England, United Kingdom
PLACE OF DEATH: Winchester, Hampshire, England, United Kingdom
FULL NAME: Jane Austen

BEST KNOWN FOR:  Jane Austen was a Georgian era author, best known for her social commentary in novels including Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Emma.

The seventh child and second daughter of Cassandra and George Austen, Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775, in Steventon, Hampshire, England. Jane’s parents were well-respected community members. Her father served as the Oxford-educated rector for a nearby Anglican parish. The family was close and the children grew up in an environment that stressed learning and creative thinking. When Jane was young, she and her siblings were encouraged to read from their father’s extensive library. The children also authored and put on plays and charades.

Over the span of her life, Jane would become especially close to her father and older sister, Cassandra. Indeed, she and Cassandra would one day collaborate on a published work.

In order to acquire a more formal education, Jane and Cassandra were sent to boarding schools during Jane’s pre-adolescence. During this time, Jane and her sister caught typhus, with Jane nearly succumbing to the illness. After a short period of formal education cut short by financial constraints, they returned home and lived with the family from that time forward.

Ever fascinated by the world of stories, Jane began to write in bound notebooks. In the 1790s, during her adolescence, she started to craft her own novels and wrote Love and Friendship, a parody of romantic fiction organized as a series of love letters. Using that framework, she unveiled her wit and dislike of sensibility, or romantic hysteria, a distinct perspective that would eventually characterize much of her later writing. The next year she wrote The History of England…, a 34-page parody of historical writing that included illustrations drawn by Cassandra. These notebooks, encompassing the novels as well as short stories, poems and plays, are now referred to as Jane’s Juvenilia.

Jane spent much of her early adulthood helping run the family home, playing piano, attending church, and socializing with neighbors. Her nights and weekends often involved cotillions, and as a result, she became an accomplished dancer. On other evenings, she would choose a novel from the shelf and read it aloud to her family, occasionally one she had written herself. She continued to write, developing her style in more ambitious works such as Lady Susan, another epistolary story about a manipulative woman who uses her sexuality, intelligence and charm to have her way with others. Jane also started to write some of her future major works, the first called Elinor and Marianne, another story told as a series of letters, which would eventually be published as Sense and Sensibility.

She began drafts of First Impressions, which would later be published as Pride and Prejudice, and Susan, later published as Northanger Abbey by Jane’s brother, Henry, following Jane’s death.

In 1801, Jane moved to Bath with her father, mother and Cassandra. Then, in 1805, her father died after a short illness. As a result, the family was thrust into financial straits; the three women moved from place to place, skipping between the homes of various family members to rented flats. It was not until 1809 that they were able to settle into a stable living situation at Jane’s brother Edward’s cottage in Chawton.

Now in her 30s, Jane started to anonymously publish her works. In the period spanning 1811-16, she pseudonymously published Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice (a work she referred to as her “darling child,” which also received critical acclaim), Mansfield Park and Emma.

In 1816, at the age of 41, Jane started to become ill with what some say might have been Addison’s disease. She made impressive efforts to continue working at a normal pace, editing older works as well as starting a new novel called The Brothers, which would be published after her death as Sandition. At some point, Jane’s condition deteriorated to such a degree that she ceased writing. She died on July 18, 1817, in Winchester, Hampshire, England.

While Austen received some accolades for her works while still alive, with her first three novels garnering critical attention and increasing financial reward, it was not until after her death that her brother Henry revealed to the public that she was an author.

Today, Austen is considered one of the greatest writers in English history, both by academics and the general public. In 2002, as part of a BBC poll, the British public voted her No. 70 on a list of “100 Most Famous Britons of All Time.” Austen’s transformation from little-known to internationally renowned author began in the 1920s, when scholars began to recognize her works as masterpieces, thus increasing her general popularity. The Janeites, a Jane Austen fan club, eventually began to take on wider significance, similar to the Trekkie phenomenon that characterizes fans of the Star Trek franchise. The popularity of her work is also evident in the many film and TV adaptations of Emma, Mansfield Park, Pride and Prejudice, and Sense and Sensibility, as well as the TV series and film Clueless, which was based on Emma.

Austen was in the worldwide news in 2007, when author David Lassman submitted to several publishing houses a few of her manuscripts with slight revisions under a different name, and they were routinely rejected. He chronicled the experience in an article titled “Rejecting Jane,” a fitting tribute to an author who could appreciate humor and wit.

Holstee Manifesto – Words To Live By

 

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This is your life.  Do what you love, and do it often.  If you don’t like something, change it.  If you don’t like your job, quit.  If you don’t have enough time, stop watching TV.  If you are looking for the love of your life, stop; they will be waiting for you when you start doing the things you love.  Stop over analyzing, all emotions are beautiful.  Life is simple.  When you eat, appreciate every last bite.  Open your mind, arms, and heart to new things and people, we are united in our differences.  Ask the next person you see what their passion is, and share your inspiring dream with them.  Travel often; getting lost will help you find yourself.  Some opportunities only come once, seize them.  Life is about the people you meet, and the things you create with them so go out and start creating.  Life is short.  Life your dream and share your passion.

 

**My mother gave me this manifesto in a black frame this past Christmas.  I hung it in the upstairs bathroom and see it every morning.  I try my hardest to remember it, to remind myself of it’s message.  I want to live it.  I need to live it.  We all do.  Copy/re-post/tweet/print this as a reminder to yourself and maybe an inspiration to others.**

Buy your own copy of the Holstee Manifesto here:  Manifesto – HOLSTEE.

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To Catch a Preditor: Easter Bunny Edition

Tomorrow is Easter, the day I celebrate horrible Easter Bunny photos and tell myself that this year, I will not eat another jelly bean until Halloween.  So let’s fire this up.  The Easter Bunny or Easter Rabbit is a character depicted as a rabbit bringing Easter eggs. The Easter Bunny is sometimes depicted with clothes. In legend, the creature carries colored eggs in his basket, candy and sometimes also toys to the homes of children, and as such shows similarities to Santa Claus, as they both bring gifts to children on the night before their respective holiday. It was first mentioned in Georg Franck von Frankenau‘s De ovis paschalibus (About Easter Eggs) in 1682 referring to an Alsace tradition of an Easter Hare bringing Easter Eggs.

These Easter Bunnies are not that kind.  The Easter Bunnies pictured below are of the half-assed shopping mall or pastor’s son in a rented costume variety.  Some are frighteningly sinister, some do not even appear to be any sort of rabbit, and some are so pathetically bad, they get and F for effort because there was none.

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It is quite possible that this Easter Bunny was out late the night before, if those circles around his eyes are any indication.

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Granny Easter Bunny is killing it with this empire waist apron.

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I do wish parents would stop doing that to their children’s hair.  Have we learned nothing from our own bowl-cut photographs?

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That’s a pink chipmunk.

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What the hell?  Is that a cat in a bunny costume?

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Are they all screaming?  Are the bunnies laughing that the girl is crying?  It looks like they are on a roller coaster.

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That bunny is so high.

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I love how the little girl is pleading with the photographer “Save yourself, tell our story!”

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The black background is a brave choice.  It lets the viewer imagine the setting for himself:  middle of a shopping mall or kidnappers secret dungeon?

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This is a suppressed memory I hope that little girl never recovers.  I am not even sure that is a bunny, it looks like a fucked up melted clown candle.

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What?  I am uncomfortable just looking at this “bunny.”  I think it is a woman in a pink union suit with a pair of long underwear bottoms on her head.  Or a man.   I don’t know.

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Little kids eat the heads off chocolate bunnies first, why would we think any different if the roles were reversed?

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Easter Bunny says “HEEEEYYYYYY!”

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It is true, a picture does say a thousand words, but in this case, most of them have a question mark after them.  What?  Why?  Huh?  Did I just witness something?

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Again, not a bunny.

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The latest casualty from the “Stand Your Ground” legislation.

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That is a healthy suspicion, little lady.  Extra points for the protection and skates (for a fast get away) if that sloppy-eyed creep tries anything.

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You know that thing where people kinda look like their pets?

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Gesundheit!

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How is it that most Easter Bunny mask parts have the same sort of open-mouthed expressions and it can sometimes look like they are laughing, sometimes screaming, sometimes sneezing, and sometimes really enjoying some Easter-Bunny-on-Greyhound love.  Unfortunately, from now on, I will probably only ever see the “Easter Bunny Sex Face,” if you don’t believe me, scroll back up and take another look at the photos.  Ya, sorry about that.

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Take Your Own Advice

I wrote this last year and it works for me, maybe it will work for you too?  I think about it from time to time and even just typing little notes on my phone and saving them for later seems to work for me.

Advice From Yourself

For this exercise, you are going to need a piece of paper, a pen, and some free time to think. You will need the free time first, I suggest you noodle on it while you are doing your daily thirty minutes of cardio. (You are doing thirty minutes of cardio every day, aren’t you? I’m not interested in your excuses.) Ask yourself this question:

If you could use a time machine just once to travel back and tell yourself one sentence, what age would you travel back to and what would you say?

If we had a month to go back in time and be the guidance counselors to our younger versions, I would let you write paragraphs with bullet points. I would let you outline a schedule of future events and how you should handle them. You only have a couple minutes to give yourself one sentence of advice and it should be in the form of advice. I am the first to admit that if I could, I would go back to 1985 and whisper in my ear to buy Microsoft stock when it goes public, but that really isn’t what this exercise is about.

Mine would be 14 years old and I would say “Hi, I’m you in the future, I came back to tell you that there is an amazing life for you with limitless possibilities out there, you just need to be fearless and know that you can do absolutely anything you put your mind to.”

Now that you have had time to think about it and come up with one sentence that you would want to tell the younger you, write it down on a piece of paper. I know one sentence is hard no one is going to make you diagram it if it turns out to be a bit of a run on, but try to keep it to one sentence.

You are all ready to go back in time, you have your one sentence script, you know exactly what you want to tell yourself. Go to your bathroom mirror. Read the sentence.

You can’t go back in time, but it is never too late. Life has not passed you by, it may be passing you by, it it is never too late. If you went back in time and whispered to yourself to become a teen pop star, that may not have been the best use of your one trip in a time machine, but you can still adapt it to your life today. Take singing lessons, surround yourself with kids, take hip hop dance lessons. It is never too late for hip hop dance lessons.

My guess is that most of you gave yourself advice similar to mine, to stand up, stand out, not be afraid of going after your dreams, grasp for the brass ring, to love hard and fearlessly, and to wring every ounce of juice out of life.

Tape that piece of paper to your bathroom mirror, read it every morning and honor that younger you by making up for lost time. You can’t go back in time, but it’s never too late.

Know Jack – Words To Live By

It is easy to say, difficult to try, and very hard to recognize in others, but it can be done, horizons can expand, thoughts can evolve, as long as there is life, there is potential for growth.

“Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion.” – Jack Kerouac

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My Christmas 12K

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I am in New York City until Sunday, the 29th and spent Christmas alone today.  I woke up a bit later than normal, had a few cups of coffee, and took the train into the city.  I walked from Penn Station to the beginning of the High Line Park, a mile long park built on a section of the elevated former New York Central Railroad spur called the West Side Line.  It’s like walking through a skinny park in the sky.  The park goes all the way down the lower west side to the Meatpacking District.

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From there, I got a coffee and walked about three and a half miles to the former townhouse owned by Katharine Hepburn in Turtle Bay on the east side.  I passed through Korea Town, Grand Central Station, I then accidentally walked by Rockefeller Center with the tree and the ice skating and the throngs of people looking at their iPhones.  In an over-reacted effort to remove myself from the crowds, I walked up to Carnegie Hall and then walked down to Port Authority and took a bus back to the hotel.

The whole way, I listened to David Rakoff‘s last novel “Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish.”  He finished recording the audio book 13 days before he died and I finished it as I was walking through the Port Authority.  I adore David Rakoff and thought there was nothing better to listen to than him while I walk around NYC.  The book is absolutely brilliantly written entirely in verse.  The novel leaps through cities and decades, all the while linking the characters together by acts of generosity or cruelty.  I will listen to it again tomorrow.

I don’t have a lot more to say.  I will just leave you with one of my very favorite Christmas songs:

This Is How It Is

So this is how it is:  the innocent suffer, the guilty go free, and truth and fiction are pretty much interchangeable. There is neither a Santa Claus nor an Easter Bunny, and there are no angels watching over us. Things just happen for no reason. And nothing makes any sense.