Sunday, February 26, 2012

a month of Sundays

What happened to january, and then february? the first was a blur of loss and worry and work, Food Network and Glee. my brother made me swear i wouldn't write about him, and he is one of the reasons january was said blur. (don't worry grubby, your time will come.) i can't blame him for the february thing though. but maybe i can blame that on a book i was reading for my book club. dragged me right down into it, that story did, and just like more than one of the characters in it, i was at a loss to get out until, well, i'd read the last word. i have that tendency with books. give me a dreary winter day and my reading couch and there i selfishly sit, closing off the cluttered kitchen, the laundry and the skipper — who himself has been far too landlocked for either of our goods this winter, rainy weekends being what they have been and all.

from Google Images
and then there was of course, Downton Abbey to distract me from keeping these particular pages full.

on the way to church last Sunday, the commentator on our local PBS affiliate that they'd be running a marathon all afternoon of season 2 of DOWN-TOWN Abbey. This incensed my husband, who has been watching right along with me as Lady Mary hides her true feelings for Matthew, as Bates and Anna sort out the whole ex-wife thing, as dear Sybil fights for independence from family and circumstance dictated not by her dreams but by her gender, and as Lord Grantham struggles with all that it means to be the master of his domain.

that afternoon i discovered in my e-box an invitation from my good friend ABSU who lives on a farm in a sort of manor house — though a few bedrooms short of the real Downton's 70 or 80. (the lady of that manor house does not even know the exact number)

lady anne invited me to take the carriage (or would it be the Renault?) over and watch the season finale by the fire. lady anne and her husband, the Earl of Edgecombe, would be dressing for dinner, even though apparently the prefers Texas Hold 'em to playing the Ouiji board with the downstairs Downton gang. but alas, snow threatened, and so the Viscount of Vestavia and i chose to stay in our humble hovel alone. and without a fire. (said Viscount absolutely hates building a fire. Sybil prompted me to build my own fire, but i chose instead to don my best Edith persona and pout.

downton has all the trappings of the finest of kind of guiding light — murder and mystery, lies and seduction, love and lugubriousness (oh, go ahead and look it up if you have to) — not to mention corsets (in the first season, Lady Mary should have kept hers on.)

confession: my lifelong goal when was 15 was to write for Guiding Light. i'd already been watching for a few years by that time, and i knew i could tell the story of reva and josh way better than the highly paid city writers because weren't the characters acting like a bunch of adolescents on every episode? as the years passed, i tuned in every day at 3, swearing at the writers' choices knowing reva as written by me would have never have cloned herself. and josh would never have married four for five women he didn't love if i had control of his words. funny thing though, not once did they face the tv and invite me to join them on the set.

though i would quit cold turkey 15 years later when my two-year-old wondered one afternoon what reva and josh were up to, i came back to it for a few years when i was in between jobs, and wouldn't you know, reva and josh were still up to it. (i did watch the finale a couple of years ago, weeping in the end.)

and now, there is downton.

i've read lots of commentary as to why it's so popular with friends of mine i wouldn't even think would care. and as i watched the final scenes on sunday night (no spoiler here for anyone who hasn't seen it) i found myself wondering not at all what plotline i might write, but just who i would be in this story, if somehow they would let me in.

i should have known an internet test would show up a day later to tell me. though i have taken the test a number of ways, i never end up as sybil. or anna, though i suspect anna isn't one of the answers. no way i could be sybil because i really don't like politics at all, and history has shown that though i come from a family of medical people, i will never make a good nurse no matter how much the country might need me. (though i do like very much the young Tom Branson.)

truth is, i can see a bit of myself in almost everybody, even the despicable Thomas and the disapproving O'Brien. (now admit it, wouldn't you be a little sour if your employers referred to you only by your last name?) 

i can be as sullen as Matthew when he takes one for the team and accepts his fate, though i'd like to think i would be stoic like Bates. i have been known to be the vengeful little sister, though i have hoped, at times, to be known as kind as Anna. I am often as judgmental as Lady Violet, but i wish i was more accepting of all, no matter the circumstance, like Sybil. i can be as bossy as Mrs. Patmore, as particular as Carson, though i don't think i will ever be as altruistic as Isobel.

in the last few minutes of the season finale, i couldn't help but wonder if i'd gone through the last couple of months scowling at the world, just like Mary. many days in the past couple of months i have felt that scowl and i know it's not becoming.

suddenly, Mary smiles in such a way that lights her entire face, and there i was smiling with her, knowing how much prettier we all could be if we just wore a little happiness on our faces more often.

maybe that's why it's so popular across the pond and here at home. because we are in there, bits of us in all the folks who inhabit Downton, their deception, nobility, even lugubriousness making us feel a little less uncomfortable with our own.

this week, the associate rector at my church — a bonafide anglophile — left me a present in my mailbox. an entire book about the downton clan. (well, she loaned it to me, and i'm to hand it off to the next office downtonphile when i'm done.)

but an entire book? about a tv show? and after just two seasons? yes, yes and yes.

wouldn't you know that another book would keep me up at night.

but now that i'm finished with that, what's a girl to do? the silver is polished and the laundry done (and put away mind you), though i do have some pillowcases to press while i watch the Oscars tonight. but without Downton, my month of Sundays will be missing something.

and then i remembered: Mad Men. turns out i have just a month to wait until my new month of Sundays begins.

writemuch.blogspot is the original work of author susan byrum rountree. all written work and photography is copyright protected and can only be used with written permission of the author.