The Difference Between Gaston And Beast

We watched Beauty and the Beast last night in honor of the 25th anniversary and because we bought a new DVD player. This movie is a part of my childhood. Like baking cookies, swimming in the river, and jumping on the trampoline, I watched Beauty and the Beast with a zealous obsession.

The first time I watched Beauty and the Beast I must have been five or six-years-old. I was enchanted by the music, Belle’s passion for books, and I loved Beast. I knew Gaston was the bad guy, he was the villain. I thought that the moral of the story was to love someone based on who they were on the inside vs. what they looked like on the outside. Gaston was ugly on the inside and beautiful on the outside. Beast was ugly on the outside and beautiful on the inside. (I understand that these are objective statements, but I think we can agree that this was the allegory that Disney was going for when they created these characters.)

Watching the movie as an adult, the enchantment was still there, but it was accompanied by a critical eye. I was disturbed by the scene where Gaston proposes to Belle. Gaston stalked Belle across her living room and she made a point to keep furniture between the two of them. He pinned her against the front door and she squirms away to avoid his kiss. She was at his mercy. She was his prisoner.

While watching that scene as an adult, I realized that even my six-year-old self empathized with Belle. This scene made me uncomfortable as a young girl. I felt Belle’s fear and vulnerability in that moment.

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I then scrutinized Beast’s behavior and I thought why is he any better? Why did I not fear Beast the same way I feared Gaston? I had every reason to dislike him as much as I did Gaston. Beast imprisons kind, little old Maurice. He then keeps Belle prisoner. He shouts at her and bosses her around.

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Beast and Gaston were both really quite awful. They both wanted Belle for different selfish reasons. Gaston wanted a beautiful breeder wife. Beast wanted to use her to break the spell. Beast was Gaston and Gaston was Beast.

My interpretation and the moral of Beauty and the Beast just went up in flames. The foundation of my childhood just crumbled. Both “men” were ugly.

Well, we all know that Beast softens. He protected her from the wolves, gave her the most envy-inducing library, and he waltzed her around a stunning ballroom, but don’t forget that she was still his prisoner while all of this took place. (Belle may have showed signs of Stockholm syndrome when she didn’t jump on Phillip and ride away after the Beast was down after the wolf fight.)

Beast was Gaston before the spell was cast. He was Gaston when he turned the witch away who was disguised as a poor beggar woman. He was Gaston while he kept Belle prisoner. He thought the world owed him everything.

So what is the difference between Gaston and Beast? What is the actual moral of the story? REDEMPTION.

The major shift towards Beast’s redemption happened when he set Belle free and  sacrificed the chance to break the spell and regain his former life.

The second major act that showed his character change was the fight scene between Gaston and Beast. The fight was really an allegory to Beast’s inner struggle. By showing mercy to Gaston, he proved his redemption again. When Gaston falls to his death that same selfish part of Beast died with him. That was when Belle realized her love and the spell was broken.

I would love to hear your thoughts and comments on Beauty and the Beast and what the movie meant to you.

-Rachel McKee

Thankful

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I am so incredibly thankful for you, dear readers. For encouraging me, challenging me, and helping me grow. As you all know, blogging can be a scary thing. Blogging is like attending an international dinner party filled with millions of people. It can be intimidating. You never know how you will be received.

But here, on this blog, I’ve met some of the most incredible people. You passion, talent, and kindness inspires me. I feel so fortunate that you share this piece of your life with me.

Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not, just know that I am very grateful for you.

Have a wonderful day.

-Rachel McKee

Cover image found at The Shabby Chic Art Boutique.

 

How To Help Syria

I’m sobbing while staring at my computer screen as I read another article about the children’s hospital that was bombed in Aleppo, Syria on 11/17/2016. Babies had to be removed from incubators and moved to shelters not equipped for their care.

Children were killed. Is there a more devastating sentence?

According to Time, “There are no functioning hospitals in Aleppo.”

Can you imagine having a sick child and being robbed of the one place that could treat them? I can’t think of a more harsh or cruel reality.

I understand how it feels to have a baby that isn’t medically perfect. My son has a congenital heart defect. When I received the news that he had aortic stenosis due to his heart condition, my world stopped. It was the worst day of my life and I was terrified. My son had three echocardiograms his first year, and was seen by one of the top pediatric cardiology teams in the nation. His specialists were less-than an hour away. I was still terrified. We were blessed that he didn’t need any surgical intervention, but I was truly grateful that he had a team of top specialists that were watching him. His condition will be monitored for the rest of his life. I don’t take for granted the privilege of having Seattle Children’s Hospital close by.

I can’t even fathom what these parents must be going through. Not only do they have children with medical needs, but they can’t obtain the help they require.

All the while I keep asking, “What can I do?

Today I made a small step in answering that question. I researched how to help and donate to Aleppo, Syria. I read a great article by The World Post that gave a few examples of organizations where people can donate to help Syria. I chose International Rescue Committee. More than .90 cents of every dollar go toward helping refugees and others in need. You can read how the IRC is helping Aleppo here.

Please consider donating today.

-Rachel McKee

Cover Image found here.

Five Famous Writers Who Were (Harshly) Rejected

Here is a list of five famous authors who felt the harsh smack of the “Rejected” stamp.

As I’m getting closer to my spring/summer deadline, I keep praying for thicker skin for when those rejection emails come pouring in. I have a lot of fellow writers who follow my blog, but I think everyone could use a little reminder that all great people have faced rejection at some point.

James Baldwin: Author of Go Tell It On The Mountain, Giovanni’s Room, The Fire Next Time.

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Source: Click Hole

J.K. Rowling: Author of the Harry Potter Series.

Rowling was rejected from 12 publishing houses before she landed at Bloomsbury In June 1997.

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Source: Wikipedia

Louisa May Alcott: Author of Little Women, Little Men

Alcott was rejected by publisher James T. Fields who said, ““Stick to your teaching, Miss Alcott. You can’t write.”

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Source: Boston Women’s Heritage Trail.

Sylvia Plath: Author of The Bell Jar

A harsh comment on the rejection letter Plath received in regards to The Bell Jar:

“I’m not sure what Heinemann’s sees in this first novel unless it is a kind of youthful American female brashnaess. But there certainly isn’t enough genuine talent for us to take notice.”

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Source: FlavorWire  Image found here:We Love It

Charles Dickens: Author of Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, A Christmas Carol

Dickens didn’t tell his friends that he was mailing off his manuscript to publishers because he was afraid that they would make fun of him. Here is part of the rejection letter he received from one publisher for A Christmas Carol:

“Our primary issue is its preposterous main premise. We will grant that readers may indeed be willing to accept the idea of four omnipotent ghosts returning to Earth to do good for the betterment of mankind. However, it stretches the boundaries of credibility to their very limits to expect anyone to believe a CEO would repent his ways via voluntary monetary penance. Pay his secretary’s mortgage? Double his salary? Are you certain, Mr. Dickens, that you did not intend to submit this manuscript to our humor publishing subsidiary?”

Ouch.

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Sources: Writer’s Digest and USA Today.

-Rachel McKee

Picture Pick FriYAY: Around the Home

Happy FriYAY!  I hope everyone has something they look forward to this weekend. Whether that be time with friends, family, or a good book savor the moment. Here is a collection of random images from around our home.

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Irish Hot Cocoa. Yum!
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Queen Keke.
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I just finished reading The Witch’s Boy.
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My Great Grandmother made me this angel figurine for my 5th birthday.

-Rachel McKee

When I Realized I Couldn’t Fix His Mental Illness

I posted a poem last week called Everywhere I Go You Follow. I wrote the poem when I was nineteen years old and experiencing a rough relationship. Daley over at The Invisible Moth asked who the poem was about and I told her to stay-tuned and that I’d answer with a follow-up essay.

I wrote the essay, When I Realized I Couldn’t Fix His Mental Illness at the beginning of this year and XONecole published it on their site in March. Even though this breakup story is far in my past, and I’m very happily married nowas you all know. I’m so grateful for this relationship and all that it taught me. Writing this essay cleared my creative voice that had taken me years to rediscover.

Here is the link to the original article.

When I Realized I Couldn’t Fix His Mental Illness

Loving someone with mental illness is driving through mountain passes at 2AM in early spring.

Climbing up switchbacks and taking hair-pin turns way too quickly and listening to The Beatles’ White Album. It’s nurturing someone who is running from their demons–holding them on the side of the road while you huddle under a blanket and look at the stars on the edge of a mountain lake, and concurring the darkness and greeting the morning sun while inhaling your victory into burning lungs and gazing into sleepy eyes that radiate relief that the night is over, only to take a new adventure the next night to divert the memories again.

I fell in love with a boy who was officially diagnosed with extreme bipolar disorder, but it took two years to get a diagnosis. We were both 19, young, selfish, and ignorant to the details of mental illness. There were numerous nights when I would get a phone call and the only sound on the other line would be heavy breathing and a shaky, “Help…me.” I would instantly jump out of bed and drive to his apartment and find him in a puddle of puke and reeking of alcohol. I would clean him up and put him to bed and pray that he would be “better” in the morning.

I continuously told myself that I could fix him. My touch would erase the dark circles that formed under his eyes from the impossibly long nights that he couldn’t sleep. If I held him long enough his anxious, tight, wiry muscles would relax. If we partied and had fun we could be a normal couple like the rest of our friends. We could laugh and drink and be silly, not everything had to be so dark and dramatic. I did not understand that when he was on a manic high that it was not his “normal” self. The extreme happiness would not last and inevitably the other ball of fear and anxiety would swing and the Newton’s Cradle that was his personality would slam back down again. The constant swing of emotion was torturing him. I was in a perpetual state of fear that he would die and I was frustrated because I knew that I was not helping him.

He was constantly self-medicating. He drank… a lot. He cheated on me multiple times. Our relationship was crushing me and I was already working and attending school full-time. During the year and a half we were together he ran away more times than I can count, stopping all contact completely. His illness was causing me to have severe anxiety and there were days when I desperately wanted to ignore him, leave him, and forget about him. But then he would call and I would criticize myself for being so selfish. I could never voice my worst fear out loud, especially to him:

What if I’m not there and he dies…

He was finally brought to a rehabilitation center where he was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The words schizophrenia, manic, and depressed, were tossed around like common cold and a possible ear infection. The smell of bleach and ammonia was such a sterile contradiction to the moldy, dusty appearance of the neglected building. There were cracks on the tiled floor and an eerie silence that trailed behind my reluctant footsteps as I followed a nurse to see him. I walked into a fluorescent cafeteria and to tell you the truth, I don’t remember a single word we said. I know, I’m sorry for the let down, but I honestly can’t think of what we said to each other. I remember him being very sedative and his eyes were incredibly sad. I distinctly remember going home and eating some banana cream pie only to expel it into the toilet 15 minutes later. I still can’t eat banana cream pie.

Shortly after, I went off to Western Washington University to finish my four-year degree. He went through more rehabilitation. We began to drift apart. I went to visit him at one more facility that was much nicer than the last. I didn’t know how to tell him that I had found someone else. We weren’t together, but I still felt heavy with a guilty heart that I was moving on. I made the incredibly cruel and stupid decision to tell him the day he was sent home that I was dropping out of our relationship. I will never forget the sound of his voice when he whispered in an exhausted tone, “Why would you tell me that today, the day I get to go home?” I selfishly decided that day that I was done; I wanted to leave our relationship in the past. I was bailing hard because I wanted to enjoy my two years of university life.

We have hardly spoken since that final goodbye where we literally hung up the phone and ended the conversation of “us.” From our brief interactions following our breakup, and the gossip mill of Facebook, it sounds like he is doing incredibly well for himself. He went back to school and we now share the same alma mater. Without my help or influence he picked himself up and made a new life. In my vanity I thought it was me that was holding him together when ultimately he was always in control of his own life and didn’t need me backseat-driving for him. His battle ultimately had to be fought with the aid of professionals and a loving family.

He has a new shotgun partner now. When I think of them driving through life together I feel a surge of emotion that hurls itself through the timeline of “us”. I fiercely want her to be the one for him. I want her to stand strong where I crumbled under the weight of his illness. I won’t ever get a chance to tell him that I am proud of him. Even though we shared soul-wrenching truths about ourselves, there is the ever-present barrier that holds steady when lovers decide to take different directions. After speeding through the dark tunnel of time that was “us” and the discovery of illness, I hope he basks in the light on the other side.

-Rachel McKee

Same Poet, Different Name

I wrote this poem when I was still Rachel Carroll.  I was new to womanhood, heartache, and poetry. While reading this poem I’m reminded of a different time in my lifeone that shaped me to be the person I am today.

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-Rachel McKee

 

Geeking Out Over Titles: Shall We?

Does a great title make your heart say , “Whoopey!” and add sugar to your bloodstream? You are not alone.

I’m a sucker for a great title. Whether it’s the name of a book, blog, or movie, a strong title goes a long way. I agonized over the title of my book for months and I’m still not 100% certain that it will stick.

This post is all about my favorite titles.

What makes a title great? When it makes me wonder, when it prompts questions. Or when it flows or is just beautiful.

Books First (Because Duh!) Favorite Book Titles

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo by Oscar Zeta Acosta

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

Favorite Blog Titles

A Journal For Damned Lovers (Now a book title as well.)

What is a damned lover? What do they write about? I GOTS TO KNOW!

The Invisible Moth

Why can’t I see the moth? How is an invisible moth different from the other (visible) moths?

If Mermaids Wore Suspenders

What if they wore suspenders? And why do I picture them the color red?

The Inked Autist

So specific to his blog, also it just flows so nicely.

Fiction Is Food

I mean yeah, I’m pretty sure I could survive off of books. I’d keep the good ones to read and just eat the bad ones.

Wind Blown Words

Isn’t that just a lovely image. I picture them going POOF! Blowing off the page.

A Note To Hugette

Who is Hugette?! What does the note say?!

*If your blog didn’t make the list of my favorite blog titles don’t feel bad. Mine didn’t make the list either.

Favorite Movie Titles

It’s a Wonderful Life

Steel Magnolias

101 Dalmatians

The Parent Trap

A Beautiful Mind

The Nightmare Before Christmas

There Will Be Blood

The River of No Return

The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas

The Wizard of Oz

*I have a feeling some of these may have been books first. I didn’t research this point too thoroughly but please don’t skewer me in the comments.

I know I’m going to be sitting here after posting this and kicking myself for not adding more amazing titles to my list.

What are some of your favorite titles?

-Rachel McKee

Cover Image Found Here.

Picture Pick FriYAY: Bookstore

I visited a cute bookstore in Snohomish, Washington yesterday called Upper Case Book Shop. I love bookstores. (Shocking!) The air hums and vibrates with the power from hundreds of books. Now that I’m writing my own book, I’m amazed by how many manuscripts actually make it to the book store. Writing a book is an enormous endeavor and then actually selling your book is an entirely different mountain to climb.

Harry Potter Bookshelf

I like to envision my manuscript making it to the shelves. Will I ever see it there? Guess I’ll have to keep writing and find out.

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Sometimes I feel so close to making my dream come true. Then dark thoughts cloud my mind and I wonder if I’m living in a fantasy.

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Bookstores inspire me. So many authors have made it happen, surely I can too.

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There is no time like the present. So I’ll keep writing. I’ll keep editing. I’ll keep dreaming of walking past a bookstore and seeing my book on their shelf.

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I’d love to hear about your greatest dreams. Please comment below if you’d like to share. Sometimes saying your dreams outloud or even just writing them down is powerful visulaization.

Happy FriYAY!

-Rachel McKee

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