The Love of Emily Dickinson

I read the complete collection of Emily Dickinson’s poems as well as her letters to her sister-in-law, Sue – all while re-watching the AppleTV show, “Dickinson”. I was able to finish in line with the end of the third and final season, meaning that it takes about 15 hours to read through all of Emily’s letters and poems. I absolutely loved the show, specifically its wittiness and the juxtaposition of modern music with the vintage visuals. Reading her work of course gave me new insight, which made the show even more enjoyable.

The poems were edited by Cristianne Miller to be as Emily preserved them, which included 40 bounded collections that were called fascicles, as well as hundreds of loose and unbound poems. Emily was often known for her odd use of punctuation, indentation, and capitalizations, as well as her vivid imagery and philosophical themes. Her poetry is of course beautiful, but you need to know more about Emily to really understand the meaning behind her words.  

Emily was a misunderstood lesbian, or more accurately was likely bisexual, and was in love with her best friend, Susan. Both Emily and her brother, Austin, were interested in Sue, and of course this was the 1870’s so Sue and Austin got married. Despite their marriage, Emily and Sue remained close and their relationship had a timeline completely separate from their relationships with men.

In addition to her preserved poetry, Emily’s letters written to Sue were also saved. Many of Sue’s responses were not kept, however, due to a tradition from that time period to burn or get rid of certain items upon one’s death. The letters saved were very intimate and loving and proved that the women were romantically involved all throughout their lives.

What’s unfortunate is that their relationship was not properly portrayed after Emily’s death due to several reasons. Austin went on to have a very public affair after Emily’s death with a women named Mabel Loomis Todd, which deeply upset Sue. Sue busied herself with editing Emily’s poems, but was taking a long time and Emily’s sister Lavinia asked for the collection back. Sue handed them over, and Lavinia turned the collection over to Mabel Loomis Todd to edit. Mabel erased much of the connection to Sue in Emily’s writing, including ripping off pieces of letters to Sue to have Emily’s words appear as standalone poems rather than love letters.

For this reason, I enjoyed reading the book Open Me Carefully, which is the intimate collection of letters that Emily sent Sue (edited by Ellen Louise Hart and Martha Nell Smith). This included information about which poems had signatures and pieces torn off as well as background information on their relationship during different periods of their lives.

Their relationship did have rocky points, but remained a prominent part of both of their lives until their deaths. The most distance between them came after Sue and Austin’s marriage, when Sue became quite the socialite. She was hosting lavish parties with famous and up and coming literary icons, which would be the equivalent of Sue throwing celebrity parties. Basically, Sue became an 1800’s social influencer. Emily did attend some parties, but their correspondence decreased in frequency during this time period.

They never stayed apart for long though and Susan was with Emily upon her death. Sue even dressed her for burial, made the funeral arrangements, and wrote her a loving obituary that was published in the Springfield Republican. The rest of Sue’s life was left keeping a memory of Emily, which is a painfully beautiful end to a tragically poetic love story.

So here is to the immense love of Emily Dickinson and Sue Huntington Gilbert Dickinson. ♥

Thanks for reading.

Diverse Love Story Books

Enough of the standard, predictable, rom-com, overplayed, typical love story. I want queer couples, diverse couples, and stories that break the mold. So, here are 3 books I read that do just that:

1. Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson
This has quickly become one of my all time favorite books ever ever ever ever ever. It’s written so beautifully, so poetically and lyrically, which was a lovely after I had just finished some poetry books and was coming back to novels. As a reader, you really get a unique perspective into the characters’ thought paths and experiences. The rhythm of these words was so incredibly special and unusual in the best way. The ups and downs of this story, however big or small, tugged at my heart strings in a way I was not expecting. It also gave me a unique perspective on the anxieties that black people face in this America. The heartbreak that the main character feels after an unjust tragedy strikes yet again is prominent and impactful, and the story is important, significant, and realistic. I’m seriously still obsessed with the way this was written – I’ve never read anything like it and I already can’t wait to read it again. Update: I read it again, and it was still just as wonderful as the first time.

2. Written In The Stars by Alexandra Bellefleur
I will say this – this story is very much a typical romantic comedy. It was predictable, cheesy, and hardly really broke the mold at all. The only way that this differs from every other rom-com ever created – the story is about a lesbian couple. Within 10 pages into the book, I correctly predicted the entire plotlines and ending of the book. However, I still couldn’t stop reading and I had to see for myself. Yes, it all played out the way I was expecting it to – but hey, it was lesbians, so I had to finish the story. I will say that the characters are interesting, and even us queer women deserve to read cheesy romantic comedies that we can relate to and dream about. I would recommend this book to young adults who are looking for that typical silly love story, but queer.

3. One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
When I first heard that this was a lesbian subway time-travel love story, I have to admit that I was weary. However, this ended up being super enjoyable and not as predictable as I had imagined. It was written very well, there were connections I was not expecting, and it was queer queer queer queer QUEER. It felt super relatable and familiar… besides the sci-fi aspects of course. It’s all done in a way that I really loved reading, and I appreciated how much diversity and representation that was included. I’d honestly recommend this to anybody who is open to a love story with a small sci-fi twist – and even if you aren’t at first, still consider giving this a try!

If I choose to continue my endeavors with reading love stories, I’d definitely like to keep it diverse.

Thanks for reading!

Love More, Stress Less: Paired

Love More, Stress Less: A happier relationship starts with Paired.

CLICK HERE FOR 20% OFF YOUR PAIRED PREMIUM SUBSCRIPTION.

(Your subscription covers you AND your partner!)

Paired’s mission is to make couple relationships happier and healthier. Romantic relationship with our partner is one of the most important parts of our lives, but building and maintaining a happy relationship over time can be challenging. Paired wants to make that easier.

Paired prompts you with fun and useful conversations between you and your partner. Every great relationship is an ongoing conversation. Whether you’re already in a long-term relationship or just starting one, Paired helps to make these conversations fun and useful.

With the daily questions feature you get a fun question to answer every day with your partner. Only by answering the question yourself can you unlock your partner’s answer, and each question comes with a research-based fact of why answering it will help your relationship. Paired has couples quizzes to help identify your relationship strength and growth areas, and each week the quiz is on a different aspect of your relationship.

Features Include:

  • Fun, research-based questions to answer with your partner each day to bring you closer together
  • Couple games and quizzes to test and further your knowledge of your partner
  • Bite-sized tips on various topics written by the world’s top relationship academics and therapists
  • Compare and discuss answers with the help of expert tips and conversation starters
  • New questions, quizzes and games available daily

Paired is written by the world’s top couple therapists and academics that drew on decades of research to help you understand what works and what doesn’t in a relationship. An independent study conducted in March of 2021 found that couples who use Paired for 3 months see a 36% increase in the quality of their relationship. Can an app improve your relationship?

Paired is your guide to improve communication, stay connected, and deepen intimacy as a couple. Suggest Paired to your partner to join the community of people around the world building lasting love with Paired today.

Love More, Stress Less. Paired.

Thanks for reading!

Quarantine Diaries: At-Home Dates

31It’s easy for romance to get lost during the quarantine, especially since most days are probably spent with you and your partner both looking at the TV, computers, or your phones. I’ve found that it’s really important for me to still feel close to my girlfriend during the quarantine, so I’ve made sure that our relationship is a priority for us both. Part of this included me planning a few of what I call “at-home dates”. No, we didn’t leave the house. But I went out of my way to make things special and different during a time of monotony. I’ve only done two dates so far (roughly one per month), and I’d like to continue this and have a few more coming up if I can get creative again. Here’s what we’ve done so far:

32

Date 1: So around 3 PM, I told Vanessa to go to her room and I would pick her up for our date at 5 PM. We hadn’t had any real reason to dressed up in a while, so we decided to go a little fancy. I set up a nice little picnic are3a out back with decorations, pillow and lights where we would eat dinner, and cooked while she was sequestered in her room. After I picked her up, we went and had a lovely dinner outside. I made sure that we didn’t use 36our phones and really just took a nice pause to connect. After dinner we had tickets for a show, which was one of the digital drag shows. Raja was performing, and I had set up the computer area to be a fancy at-home theater. We drank some wine while watching the show, and once it was over we changed into our pajamas and continued to get drunk while on the couch watching Drag Race. It was seriously such a fun night from start to finish and was a great way to do something new while still at home. 

34

Date 2: This date was definitely not as full-out as the first one, but I still told Vanessa to go to her room for a bit to get dressed up while I cooked. It was a bit more casual this time, so it wasn’t quite as fancy as the first date. I set up a nice space for us to have dinner outside, and we again focused on each other rather than our electronic devices. We also shared a hookah at table after, which I had recently ordered on Amazon so it was fun to use my new toy. We then went inside to watch a movie and snuggle up on the couch together.

We are all trying to stay sane during this weird time – so don’t let your relationship fall by the wayside! Offer to cook a special dinner one night, find new ways to connect, or have full out dates like I did. But either way, make sure to keep love a priority.

More to come in the “Quarantine Diaries” series tomorrow!

Thanks for reading.

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

51ItBwnbJ6L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_

READ THIS BOOK. Take the quiz. And read this book.

This book addresses the fact that different things hold different levels of importance to different people. An act that you consider small may be monumental to your partner. There are so many different ways to communicate, and its important to understand which languages means the most to both you and the person that you love.

5 Love Languages:

Words of Affirmation

Quality Time

Acts of Service

Physical Touch

Giving Gifts

I took the quiz and made Ryan (my boyfriend) take it as well prior to reading the book. Just looking at the five love languages, I could spot mine right away: Words of Affirmation. I mean, I was a Communications major… words are important to me. Still, I took the quiz and was validated in my suspicions. Ryan’s answers were surprising in some ways.

My Responses:                          Ryan’s Responses:

9 Words of Affirmation           8 Quality Time

7 Physical Touch                       8 Words of Affirmation

7 Quality Time                           7 Acts of Service

6 Acts of Service                        4 Physical Touch

1 Receiving Gifts                       3 Receiving Gifts

The book speaks about spouses, but I don’t think this applies only to married people, or even just people in relationships. I think that the way you communicate in love says a lot about who you are and can help you to learn more about yourself and your relationships.

I’ve learned that I am extremely sensitive to words. When Ryan and I are able to communicate well and tell each other all these nice things, I feel good. And on the flip side, if words exchanged are negative, I hold onto them for a long time. Luckily, my need for Words of Affirmation is frequently met through meaningful text messages, small notes, and daily “I love you”s. I still think it’s important for Ryan to recognize that Words of Affirmation is my primary love language for whenever we get into fights or arguments. Knowing that words are important to me means that he can say things like “I’m sorry” and “Everything is fine” a few times and my demeanor will drastically change. I am definitely influenced largely by what is said to me.

Even though Ryan’s top two are tied, I think that Quality Time suits him best. It means a lot to him when we share experiences together or spend time doing things at home. Since Receiving Gifts clearly doesn’t hold a lot of significance to either of us, a lot of my birthday and Christmas presents involved tickets to something. We also enjoy doing small, cheap dates on Friday nights such as dinner and/or the movies. I know that planning and spending time together is something that means a lot to him (and myself as well). On the flip side, he gets upset when we are together but I am not present. There are nights where I will fall asleep early, and the next day he will tell me that I was a zombie. I try not to spend too much time on my phone when we are out or on a date, except for taking a couple pictures for Snapchat.

I would love to dive more into what makes Ryan happy after he reads the book. He doesn’t enjoy reading as much as I do, but has agreed to read sections of the book that I block off for him.

What’s important to remember is that what will make a difference in a relationship is effort. Ross Mathews has a theory about relationships, saying, “You need to meet me 100% at the 50 yard line.” Both parties need to be willing to say, Hey, I care about you and our relationship and doing what I can to make it a good one. I’m lucky to have this, but the author of the book is a marriage counselor and often talks about his theories saving marriages. I definitely think it’s possible to apply his theories to positively influence your relationship (or marriage, or love life or whatever), but only if both parties are willing to put in the effort.

Once the effort is there, a little goes a long way. 

More to come after I block of sections for Ryan and get his feedback. Thanks for reading.