Single-minded to the Point of Recklessness: A Brief Character Study On Bridget Vreeland

Okay, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants has always been one of my favorite series. I’m not ashamed to admit it. Sappy as it is, the books (and movies) have a good message. One of the four teenage girls, a “fairy tale” blonde-haired beauty named Bridget, has a mother who committed suicide sometime prior to the beginning of the first book. She never allows herself to properly mourn her mother’s death, choosing instead to run away from her funeral (as shown in the first three minutes of the movie) and act as if there’s nothing wrong (when asked if she’s okay, she replies, “Yeah, I will be as soon as I get out of these stupid heels. Hold ’em for me, will ya? Think I’ll run home!”). So when Bee arrives at soccer camp in New Mexico four years later, she falls head over heels in deep attraction/lust to one of the older soccer coaches. Though I’m not sure how old he actually is (in the book he’s nineteen, and in the movie he goes to Columbia and is old enough to drink at the bar), I thought their back-and-forth relationship was entertaining and sweet.

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Bee is an incredible soccer player. Like, good enough to make the other girls on the team fall to their knees in a breathless chant: “We’re not worthy, we’re not worthy!” (I’m not kidding.) So hot soccer coach watches her from a side-eye view, trying and failing to ignore her. Later that day on the beach, she approaches him and begins to flirt once again. He tells her that she scares the hell out of him with her intensity. Bee replies, “Single-minded to the point of recklessness. It’s what the school shrink said about me after my mom died.”
Well, this isn’t hard to see. Bee lies about her age, flips her long blonde hair around Eric to grab his attention, and dresses in a provocative manner, even showing up at a bar party after overhearing that he would be there. She tells her friend Lena in a letter that she’s “obsessed,” and that she cannot be held responsible for her actions. Though soccer coach guy tries repeatedly to resist her charm, he eventually falls for it, and they end up hooking up on the beach.

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Then comes the crash. After she loses her virginity, Bridget falls apart. She goes into somewhat of an existential crisis missing her mother and gives up on playing soccer for the rest of summer. It’s obvious to everyone, coach included, that something is seriously wrong with her. An alternate theory suggests the Bee has bipolar disorder, which would explain her manic intensity and shameless self-confidence – and the later crash into crippling depression. The second book highlights this point further, as Bee gains weight, quits soccer, and dyes her beloved miles-long sunshine blonde hair an ashy brown color. In the movie, after her encounter with Eric she sends a letter to Lena, who contacts Tibby and Carmen to help her. When they arrive, she finally breaks down over her mother after recalling a memory of making pizza with her.

The second book in this series is one of my favorites. After Bridget disguises her hair under brown dye and her body under lack of care, she travels to Alabama to see her grandmother under a faux-name and offers to clean up her house. Her grandmother pretends that she doesn’t realize who it is and accepts the offer. Bee uses this facade to find out more about her mother, who is said to have been a popular, beautiful debutante from southern Alabama in her twenties. However, her mother at a point had been sent to a psychiatric facility and “diagnosed with a mental disease and prescribed a medication called lithium” (alluding entirely to bipolar disorder, even more so when Bee’s grandmother describes her as “real moody–high as a kite one day, couldn’t get out of bed the next”). It makes sense that Bee would have inherited this disorder from her mother.
It is implied that she spends most of her time in a manic state, and in Mexico with no one who understood how serious her condition was to stop her, she went a little crazy.

Bee is my favorite character in this series (partly because I love Blake Lively in the movies), and one that I relate to a lot. I fit single-minded to the point of recklessness as well as chasing a guy just because you’re in the middle of a manic episode, and the consequent crash that comes after. I recommend this movie/book series to everyone–it’s more than a chick flick, I promise.


Operation Pied Piper, Mixed Feelings, & Lack of Poetic Voice

On a glum Saturday in summer of 1938, with the threat of rain tinting the clouds a ghostly gray and the people of England coating their windows in scarlet sheets in hopes of catching some of the flooding, word came in that the German air raids would be back. In 1939, London’s City Council began making requests for buses and trains. The plan was to evacuate all of the British children to open homes in the countryside to evacuate the blitzkrieg — massive warfare. September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland, marking the beginning of history’s second world war. While the German planes were opening fire on the dark, small homes of England, hundreds of thousands of British children were boarding trains, bidding farewell to their mothers, and curling up on the hard seats of the trains, leather-bound books in hand, praying that they would return to their families. The children were marked with little white cards, and around their necks, a tiny cardboard box containing a gas mask. It’s been written that the brothers and sisters clung to each other while in line, hand in hand, “like grim death, refusing to be parted.” Think Chronicles of Narnia; the Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe. That’s what was going on here. This massive evacuation of more than 3.5 million children–the largest in history to date– ultimately turned out to be somewhat a false alarm; the threat of German air raids had subsided in the few years after the children’s traumatic separation from their parents, and they were ordered to return.
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If you’re wondering why I’m giving a historical lecture on this blog, well, I’m not really sure either. This is one of the most fascinating pieces of history to me, and one that I like to reference in some of my poems. Something about the urgency of it all, the way those poor children had to pack their lives in a brown box and flee their home in an instant gives me chills. That, and Narnia is one of my favorite movies of all time.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about poetic voices — the unique tone a writer incorporates in his/her writing to give it an extra flair, a tint of familiarity. I don’t know what my writer’s tone is yet. Maybe I already have one. I know that I tend to overuse words like “melancholy” (it rings in my head. Beauty in a word) and “baby’s-breath” (not that pretty of a plant, but the most beautiful phrase I’ve ever heard, and I can also thank Nirvana for that), and oceans (don’t hate me for this, I know it’s riddled with cliches). I’ve been so overwhelmed with catching up on the tons (tons) of schoolwork I’ve missed and packing my things up for this Florida move in June, I haven’t had time to collect my thoughts enough to write a coherent poem. My journal lately has been a nearly-indecipherable ramble of out-of-place words and half-poems. I don’t know how to turn my feelings into something that will make sense on paper. I’ve never had this problem before, and it’s scary to me.
I’m constantly worrying that one day I will suddenly lose this innate ability I seem to have to dictate language in a way that sings. An old English teacher once told my dad that I seem to have complete control over the English language in a way that’s fascinating to her. That’s one of the best compliments I’ve received.

So I don’t know. I’m all caught up in regrets and hazy memories with no place to store it. I’ve been writing a short story lately, nearly ten thousand words in. I’m quite proud of it. That’s the only writing accomplishment I have to say for myself lately.
Tell me your thoughts.