And Then It Continued

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First part of the story here.

Today is the anniversary of Janine‘s initial encounter with John Thornton, and now the rest of her story:


Days passed. The letter became a being, existing with an accusatory bent. I was determined not to mail it.

My birthday arrived. I took the day off from work, and as I wandered about my favorite coastal town in the peace of being alone with the sea and sun, I was able to breathe. At dinner, I sat on the wharf with a copy of ‘North and South’ in my hands and read the first chapters of the story that had somehow brought such change into my life.

That night I copied the letter onto some stationery and found an address for Richard. It felt right. So what if I was a blathering idiot in my prose to him? I had written what I felt. I mailed it.

Nope. It didn’t help.

My family went away for a few days. I stayed home with the pets and the vegetable garden. And the entire DVD set of Robin Hood. I watched the first two series over again.

Work and the family returned. I kept hurtling toward something. It felt like that.

And one day my access to one of the unofficial RA sites went AWOL. I couldn’t figure it out and being denied access for some random reason was a most cruel joke.

I contacted the owner. It was my first contact with someone over Richard. I felt odd. Who did this? Not me. Not ever. Not practical, no-nonsense me.

We never did figure out why I couldn’t connect. But I had made a personal connection with someone who was kind, smart and didn’t treat me like I was a nutjob because I was reading interviews and looking up information about an actor.

That exchange launched me into the land of Twitter and contact of an instanteous nature with other admirers of Richard Armitage. One by one I found or was found. And I started twittering away, finding myself swept up into another crazed frenzy.

There were moments I actually felt giddy.

And it was there that I had my first exhilirating exchange with the writer of this blog, Frenz. I’d read a lot of her posts over the months since discovering Richard. I liked her voice as a writer. I appreciated her self-deprecation. And suddenly here we were in some sort of DM Twitterfest that lasted more than two hours.

She was relentless in her questions to me but also in revealing pieces of herself. It was a unique exchange that did many things that night. But the important one is that it forced me to yet another level of awareness about myself.

Three months and two days after writing that letter to Richard, I was writing a letter to me.

The next day, it took about nine hours with a few breaks, for the first time in my life, I sat there and let my heart — my battered, suppressed heart — rage.

Because once upon a time, I had imagination. I had that joy in creating. I had that feeling anything was possible.

What happened?

What happened.

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I held nothing back. I was brutally honest as I typed, admitting my failures. Admitting other people’s failures to me. From childhood to adulthood I roamed.

I didn’t edit. I just typed. I cried. There were moments I thought I might break.

So I cried some more.

I could feel myself emerge as I neared the end. And as I typed the final few sentences, I was sobbing. I thought I could paraphrase what I was writing to Frenz but I cannot, so here it is, raw and unedited.

——
As I have been writing this for about 8 hours, I have been hurtling toward the end not knowing what to say. But it hit me a little while back.
I think you asked why Richard – was it just last night?
I didn’t think I had an answer. I find I do. At this moment in time, after just giving you the abbreviated version of my life, I do have an answer that makes sense.
He dares.
But me, surrounded by all that you have just read, I do not. Not really. And I want to. I want to break free and dare. Truly dare.
I need to. I need to believe I could play Thorin, that I am finally good enough. I need to have those doubts and slay them.
In my case, I need to believe I can build my own business and be a success. That I have learned in 25 years of working and 45 years of living that I am good enough to have something of my own. That I can have a dream I can fulfill. I know I have the skills. Because in this very moment I have realized that I have always put my dreams aside. Always. Always. I admit it. Finally.
And I am crying so hard I can barely see.
I need a champion. That would be Richard. The man who dared. Who is inspiring me to dare. Who gives me hope that nice people do achieve great things through hard work and because they dare.
For a while now, I have been thinking this: Richard makes me want things I can never have.
So negative. But how could I not be because he does make me yearn for so much more than what I have in my existence. I couldn’t see past the negative because it was so massive.
And now, because I have said this I need to think differently.
Richard makes me want things I will dare to have.
——

I can safely admit that since I had that moment at the end of last October, everything has changed.

I now have a world full of people who share at least one commonality: an admiration for Richard Armitage. And it turns out we share so much more. Of course we do. I have slowly gotten to know person after person, and I am in a world so rich with possibility because of them that my heart nearly bursts some days from the sheer joy in being alive.

I have done silly things. I have done fun things. I have done serious things. I expect to keep repeating this pattern for some time.

In return I have been given the gift of friendship. When I am troubled – again, life doesn’t happen in a vacuum – a tidal wave of support flows over then buoys me so I won’t flounder. Well, at least not for long.

Frenz asked, quite some time ago, if I would write about inspiration and Richard.

In the end, it was never about Richard Armitage. Not at all.

He is the catalyst.

I am my inspiration.

Because I dare.

Yes, you, do, Janine, and we all love it.

And me, relentless? I’m a pussycat. :D

Screencap courtesy of Gallicka.com

What Just Happened?

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Janine‘s account of Richard Armitage hitting her world:

Sometimes life hands you something you didn’t know you needed.

Or even were looking for.

Richard Armitage. It is a name that a year ago I would have said, “Who, the politician guy?” and Googled him to check. The actor’s name would have meant nothing. Now? I do not know enough words to express all that I feel for the actor guy. I still would need to Google the politician.

What I have been pondering and mulling this past year is simple — and complicated. Why Richard? Why me? What just happened?

Mid-March of 2012 found me with the Netflix DVD of ‘North and South.’ It had been in my queue for probably two years, but I never made a move to watch it. While the story sounded slightly depressing, it was there because it was Elizabeth Gaskell. A drought in British period dramas brought it to my house. I hate to say that my viewing of this was with “the family.” That is never a good idea with period pieces, which do not hold the attention of a large portion of the inmates.

But I remember the first moment I saw Richard on screen. And while I know this is not true, there was complete silence, at least in my head.

I don’t remember coherent thoughts. It was more a wordless recognition. Just … there.

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The voice hit me next. It was so much to process that it was only later when my head said, “Chocolate.” And for me, it wasn’t just any kind, but this particular mocha buttercream I make for the yule log each year: rich, a little sweet, smooth as silk.

Since the show was divided over two discs, I had to wait an entire week to get the second half.

I know.

By the time I got to the kiss to end all kisses in the history of romance, not to mention the future into all of eternity or any parallel universe, I was attempting to remain sensible. This was assisted by the presence of “the family.” After they toddled off to bed, I replayed that scene a shocking number of times.

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Somehow I was able to stop myself, only to go to the DVD extras to watch the man who played John Thornton masterfully and with such nuance.

Awkward. Uncomfortable. Stumbling over his words a bit. This was the man who just made John Thornton tear a hole in the space-time continuum?

I found him endearing. Sincere. Real. And when he started to discuss the responsibility of playing his character, he said a few fateful words that stopped me short. He talked about his character living for 150 years on the page.

Ah. Imagination. Richard Armitage had imagination.

I am not sure how the craziness played out over the next few weeks. It is a bit of a blur. I decided to watch his work chronologically if I could find it. That meant “Robin Hood” was up next (what? a bad boy? conflicted? smirking?). I found myself overwhelmed by the sheer volume of content on the Internet: fan sites, blogs and everything in between. I darted about when I had time, hearing echoes of my own reactions wherever I went.

Did I say echoes? I meant the keening cry of a siren’s call. I was Odysseus floating on a sea called denial.

Around June I was starting to question my sanity. What was I doing? I felt an incredible need to watch this man work, crafting characters where Richard disappeared. He was a chameleon, shifting in and out of roles where he looked remarkably different from himself, and it wasn’t due to makeup or prosthetics.

Eclipsing that need, however, was a desire to understand his motivation. Almost daily I was looking up interviews, scattered at first, but then starting with the earliest and moving ahead, wanting to see how he grew and changed in those years between ‘North and South’ and now.

It was those interviews and commentaries — along with the letters to his fans — that brought me to the conclusion that this was a decent guy with a wicked sense of humor, a man who embodied a lot of my ideals. Much of the time, I felt as if he reflected me: staying in the background, giving praise but not comfortable getting it, working hard to do the job not just well but excellently, living honorably. The list only grew.

It all made me admire him more.

None of this happened in a vacuum. Life was swirling madly about just like always. Family was crazy, work actually went to an even crazier place in May, June and July, and I was working on my own web-based garden site that I launched in December 2011. There was a dog to keep entertained, a vegetable garden to tend, summer projects to start, friends to visit …. The list was always endless. The majority of my entertainment was watching shows with Richard in them.

In July I started to examine what I was doing. Why? That is forever the question I ask. Who, what, where, when and even the how are just facts. It’s the why that tells the story. Why Richard? Why me? Why all of this here and now and in such an intensity that, I now admit, frightened me?

I needed to write something. Anything. It took a form of a letter to Richard in my head. It morphed and changed. Edited, rewritten and edited again. Then Comic-Con happened. In nearly real time, I saw Richard giving interviews and being wholly charming. There was a twinkle in his eyes that his beard only emphasized. He was articulate and again earnest in his unmistakable love for what he was doing.

Warner Bros. Pictures And Legendary Pictures Preview - "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"  - Comic-Con International 2012

At that point, the urge to write was overwhelming. I write. It’s what I do. It’s the place where I can be honest to myself about everything. And why I was denying myself that was because it was important. I knew in my soul it was important. Either I couldn’t admit to the why or I didn’t know the answer myself yet.

Eleven days later, after a long day taking care of my grandmother who had cataract surgery early that morning, I wrote. Longhand. And wrote and wrote. Several hours later I had a letter to Richard. I tucked it away and actually believed that had done it, that I would wake up the next morning and be able to let this go.

No.

It only intensified.

More tomorrow.

Screencaps courtesy of RichardArmitageNet

The Zeitgeist of Richard Armitage Universe

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We are not all the same and of course how Richard Armitage has affected each of us is not going to always be similar. So this series of posts “Why Richard?” is not designed to speak to every reaction but to perhaps capture some of the spirit of the RA Universe.

Some have been able to easily sum up the effect of the experience. They just nail it for themselves without seeming to meander around in their heads in an attempt to cover every little aspect. That’s not to say one way is better than another. I like meandering, and I’m going to keep at it. But I do marvel that it took another fan just a few months or less to conclude what took me from the beginning of 2008 and through most of 2009 to even come close to verbalizing (more on this later).

Remarks from the aptly named Armitage Besotted:


It’s been five months and counting since I first stumbled upon “North & South” and began my personal Armitage mania. (Definition of mania, per freedictionary.com: An excessively intense enthusiasm, interest, or desire; a craze.)

Why Richard?

Because in North & South he makes manifest the hopelessly romantic (by today’s cynical standards) notion that someone could notice you, “discover” you, choose you and decide to love you just for who you are, without you “going after him” at all. You just go about your business, and a gorgeous hunk finds you. In an age of “hooking up” and trying to divine if someone’s interested or “just not that into you,” who could resist this delicious fantasy?

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So it’s projection. Total projection.

And yet….

I find myself changing my behavior, thinking, “I could be a little more open, and maybe new, good things will come to me.” Or, “Instead of reading my book, I could strike up a conversation with the person next to me on the train about their book.” Or “Yessiree, I COULD post my thoughts on a blog, and see what kind of creative, funny new people I meet.”

Something that touches you enough to change your thoughts and behavior is called…art. And the person who creates art is…an artist. He’s an Artist, people. And he’s changing our lives.

I just love this write-up. It was like a breath of fresh air when I read it!

More coming up on people changing their thoughts and behaviors.

Screencap courtesy of RichardArmitageNet

Why Richard?

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A couple of months ago I passed the five year milestone as a Richard Armitage fan, and I’m satisfied as to why Richard became such an obsession for me. I’m sharing the discovery in my diary entries, which I started because this is a common question among people who aren’t fanatics one moment and a little while later, they are.

This week during FanstRAvaganza, I’m exploring the subject a little more and talking to new and not so new fans about it, and hopefully catching up with where they are in their lives. So hang on while I get my act together, and I’ll be back to share with you.

For now the screencap of one of the scenes that got me started:

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Screencap courtesy of RichardArmitageNet

Mining Gold

Last post about my reading of this year’s FanstRAvaganza.

Many times I’m tempted to turn serious on this blog. The few times I have are unsatisfying because I lack skills, but I press on, and one of the things that inspires me to do so is the rich application of Servetus’ skills to her pieces. I’ve often thought how rewarding it would be to be one of her students, and in a way I am already. Certainly when she deigns to share something of how she does what she does (scroll down to ‘Another Kind of Creativity’), I listen.

Once you’ve read that piece, go on and read the rest: the insinuation of North and South into her classroom, illusions of Richard III, the assessment of RichardArmitageOnline as a great site, the discussion of Guy’s durability, and the two interviews with fans.

All serve as a reminder that with a little investment of time, we’re getting what others are paying big bucks to receive.

Almost Done

My continuation of reading FanstRAvaganza posts.

Fanny (aka Iz4blue or Sinjoor) has a wonderful series of conversations with various fan fiction authors. If you like fan fic, are thinking about reading fan fic, have read fan fic and want to read some more or you’re thinking about writing your own fan fic, check out this series which begins here.

I love the way Jonia has divided her posts into academic subjects — math, science, psychology, etc. I’ve always been a math and science girl, so the post on his legs and feet were of particular interest. :D

Nat had some fun stuff as usual with her games, but she also has a way of making connections with people, which obviously resulted in a lovely series of guest posts from SiouxsieSioux to Liza aka LonghairedToad to Phoebe (one of my favorite fans) to a newcomer that is a total delight, Mary! Funny and packed with a lot of truth. LOL!

Then there’s Traxy, who usually has something entertaining and provoking to say. No disappointments this year either. She asks the question I’ve been trying to articulate an answer to but not sure I have quite yet. And concerning RA, are we looking for a hero?. Or is it our admiration of his passion for his art? Or maybe because he’s a loyal guy? Or do some of us just love to love him? As for Traxy’s other two questions, I’m not sure of the answers but probably have a lot more to say on it later.

That’s all for today. One more blogger tomorrow.

Can I Take It All In?

Moving onto the FanstRAvaganza posts for what is known as the anchor or core — bloggers who posted each day of the event. Just to be clear, my intent is not to highlight every post I’ve read. That would defeat the purpose of this exercise, which is to share what struck me enough to make me write something about it, and yes, in hope that this might send you there to check it out and read the rest of their wonderful posts. :D

Mulubinba is up first. The thing to remember with her blog pieces is they are not little bits to be eaten like cotton candy which evaporates almost immediately in your mouth. These pieces are to be savored and also made a reference point. This makes it difficult to just highlight one of these, but I’m going to list the one or two I would read if there’s no time to read anything else. Given her investment in ‘The Hobbit’, I had to read her detailed piece on Thorin’s costume and props as well as her piece about visiting the ‘The Hobbit’ locations. But also check out the post about an actor’s physical preparation for roles and how this relates to avoiding injury. Okay, that was three. LOL!

Bccmee is known for being prolific with her graphics, and she doesn’t disappoint during FanstRAvaganza, but she’s also becoming known for her being interactive with the fans, and that was certainly the hallmark of her FanstRA postings. I loved the drag and drop magazines but also be sure to check out her interview with the dad of the boy who had scenes with RA in ‘Captain America’.

Christine or CDoart has a thoughtful piece about men who are into history. Maybe I should cut SO a break every now and then since he’s a man who is enormously interested in history. LOL! And I adored the piece on history and fantasy and how they may relate to Richard Armitage.

On this next blog, you get two great writers, Judiang and Fitzg, in one place. Judi comes clean about where she’s headed, and the tale begins here (don’t peek at the ending!) Judi, I’m still laughing as I write this. :D
And then there’s Fitz, who honestly needs a blog. The woman has a lot of interesting things to say, and she may yet turn me into a Richard III zealot. LOL!

Okay, that’s it for today; more tomorrow.