For a Queen’s Love: The Story of the Royal Wives of Philip II Book Review

At a glance, For a Queen’s Love sets itself up as an amazing book. Having made the story’s focus on the lives of the wives of Philip II of Spain and monarch himself, historical fiction writer Jean Plaidy should’ve had a royal flush. Instead, she presented the world with a lukewarm, overly dry view of one of Spain’s greatest monarchs.

Originally titled The Spanish Bridegroom, the novel falls flat with the simplest thing when it comes to writing and research—language. Firstly, the king was named Felipe, not “Philip,” the latter of which is the Anglicized version of the former. Therefore, since he is the king of Spain, it is best to refer to him as “Felipe,” though most English speaking writers don’t understand this. Yet this insult is but the first throughout the book that demonstrates the fact that Ms. Plaidy had no concept of the Spanish language. In a later chapter, Felipe’s son, Don Carlos—one of the few characters who is addressed by the correct name—is fawning over his fiancée later turned stepmother, Elisabeth of Valois. He decides to call her Isabella “because that’s the Spanish version of her name.” However, the Spanish version of Elisabeth is Isabèl—Isabella is Italian, not Spanish. Coupled with the fact that Isabèl of Portugal is also referred to as Isabella when it was Isabèl in her native land and adopted one, along with Maria Manuela being called “Maria Maneola,” Ms. Plaidy neglected to do basic research on the character’s names and their language of origin. Therefore, this erroneous decision on the part of the author and the editors prevented me from fully enjoying this book.

Yet I must confess that with the exception of names and their language of origin, the rest of the research was good. I enjoyed Ms. Plaidy’s elaboration on Felipe’s relationship with his duenna, Leonor, and his mistress, Isabèl Osorio, which she kept close to history. Additionally, I liked how she portrayed the infamous Juana la Loca by giving her a relationship with her great-grandson, Don Carlos, and how she showed his upbringing alongside his half-uncle, Don Juan de Austria, and half-cousin, Alessandro Farnese. Moreover, it was good to see that Mary Tudor, aka Mary I of England, was not made out to be the cartoon villain that most writers have made her into. Instead, England’s first female sovereign is presented as a sad figure whose physical appearance reflected the anxieties and frustrations that she faced internally. Despite her success in obtaining a husband, the tragic Mary could not fully have him due to her eagerness to rule and “cleanse” a land that had already slipped away from her long before her hysterical pregnancies and burning of “heretics.” Therefore, I commend Ms. Plaidy in these areas.

Yet the book’s title is misleading—it is about “the royal wives” of Felipe, but the last and perhaps most important one is left out—Anna of Austria. The story concludes with Elisabeth of Valois dying in childbirth, completely omits the temporary falling out of Felipe and Don Juan, and forgets to mention Felipe’s most well-matched and notorious wife. Felipe’s marriage to Anna was his longest, and they had numerous, though mostly short-lived, children, including the future Felipe III of Spain. Most importantly, Anna died in childbed in a similar, eerie pattern in the demises of Felipe’s wives, with the exception of Mary Tudor.

History notes Anna as a good queen, a loving stepmother to Felipe’s daughters, and a devoted mother to their children. Yet it is impossible to ignore the juiciest detail of all—Anna of Austria was Felipe’s niece and cousin. Her parents, Holy Roman Emperor Maximillian II and Maria of Austria—Felipe’s cousin and sister—were also first cousins. Therefore, this marriage was the latest and most defining moment in the inbreeding of the the Habsburg dynasty. The pattern of niece/uncle/cousin marriages would continue for another century, ending the Spanish line with Carlos II “the Bewitched.” Carlos II is Felipe’s great-grandson, and it would’ve been great if Ms. Plaidy could have foreshadowed the downfall of the Spanish Habsburgs with the poor health and deaths of Felipe and Anna’s young sons from epilepsy, a common complication from inbreeding. She missed a great opportunity to close on a riveting chapter and final note for Felipe. As a result, the character of the historical Felipe II—and the readers—were cheated of a decent ending and instead subjected to an overly rushed, uneventful death of his third, but certainly not final, wife.

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Awake

I am finally learning the difference as to why

we are led to paradise and astray by people’s

stories, who are they, and where they came. A wise

person at last explained it all, telling

me this–Victims can be good or

evil. Whether you are Sissi or Stalin, we

have all been there–outcast,

used up, misunderstood.

Something is always amiss–I

am awake.

– Julia St. Clair, © 2018, 8:08 p.m.

Isabel of Portugal, Day 5 — Queen Leonor

In this expert from one of the several projects I am currently working on, Isabel reflects on the arrival of Leonor of Austria into Portugal and her early marriage to Isabel’s father, King Manuel I of Portugal. Isabel and Leonor have struck up a friendship, possessing an almost sister-like bond, as they discuss family and the past, and how that translates into now.

Leonor de Austria arrived from her land onto ours in July, and married Papa within two weeks. As a child, I recall Mamae describing the physicality of Queen Juana–Leonor fits the bill. She posses a fragile, slim figure, and her auburn hair contrasts perfectly against her pale skin. She also possess the brown eyes of Fernando de Aragon, but her smile is that of her father, Felipe el Hermoso. A handsome man and a beautiful woman created a gorgeous first child–I wonder if Carlos posses beauty, also.

This new stepmother is old enough to be my sister, and she serves as the elder sister I never had. Leonor is warm, welcoming, and kind, which is rather ironic, giving that she is the one who was plucked from her lands and given away as a bride to a strange kingdom. She always includes myself and the older children with her household and advising Papa on matters of state affairs. Happily, the younger ones who spent the least time with Mamae now have Leonor to look up to. She loves the children as if they were her own.

As for her and Papa, I know not whether or not they have consummated their marriage. I can see that my stepmother loves him, but is not in love with him. There were rumors that she loved another, and that was the true reason why Carlos sent her here. This unrequited love proved as a bonding point with my father, who, as much as he hides his grief, continues to mourn Mamae each and every day. In the end, Papa embraces Leonor with a warm affection, but it is not the same love he shared with my mother.

When we are alone, Leonor and I speak of many things– our grandparents, our aunt, Queen Catherine, and our own parents, more specifically, our mothers. She asks me about mine, and I of hers. She smiles and holds back tears as I recount the days of my parents’ happy union, and how she oversaw my and my siblings’ upbringings. Leonor becomes especially emotional when I disclose the smallest of details, like how Mamae would tuck us in and kiss us on the cheeks every night.

Los amo a todos,” she’d tell us in her native Spanish–I love you all.

“How beautiful,” Leonor responds, while putting her handkerchief slightly towards her eyes. “She had so much love and grace within her. I would’ve loved to have met her.”

“And she would have been delighted to have greeted you,” I exclaim, taking hold of her hand. “You look so much like yours, from what Mamae would tell us of her.”

A nervous look glanced forth from Leonor’s face. She looked as though she was about to pull back, but she grasped my hands firmer. It was as if she were afraid.

“You don’t think I look like her, do you?” she asks in fear.

“From what I have heard, yes,” I respond. “But you are so beautiful, Leonor, you have nothing to fret over.”

“Isabel, I have everything to fret over,” she responds, pulling back. “My parents were physically attractive people, but inwardly repulsive. We speak not of the damage they have done, especially towards our grandparents’ kingdoms.”

We both wisely at this point chose to remain silent. As soon as Juan’s widow, Margaret, gave birth to stillborn heir, Juana and Felipe sent word from Flanders immediately declaring themselves Prince and Princess of the Asturias. All the European monarchs-especially my grandparents–were both horrified and disgusted. Not only had they had no respect for their brother and niece or nephew’s soul, but they also completely disregarded the fact that they were not the true heirs–it was their sister, Isabel, mother of my late half-brother, Miguel de Paz, and my father who were the newest heirs to Castile. Only Isabel and Miguel’s deaths would solidify their claim–and that they did, nearly three years later. Things would only grow worse from there.

“But you are not inwardly corrupt,” I interject, seizing the opportunity to ease this newly formed tension. “The kindness that you have shown upon myself and my siblings since your arrival cannot be matched.”

“When I heard that I was to marry into your family, first to your brother, and then your father, I knew I was walking into a newly motherless clan,” she explains. “Some of the fondest memories of my childhood involve my great-grandmother, the Duchess of Burgundy. She was poised, elegant, and charming, a force to be reckoned with. But behind closed doors, she and my aunt, our aunt, Margaret, were the only mothers Carlos, Isabella, and I came to have. Yet, according to blood, the duchess was really our great-grandmother–she was our step-great-grandmother. She would’ve murdered the man who’d remind her of that.”

“I have heard stories about her a lot,” I say. “Your grandmother, Mary of Burgundy, she–”

“She was more her daughter then her stepdaughter,” Leonor beckons with a smile. “And the love she felt was so deep that a part of her died when my grandmother did. She refused to let my grandmother, the Emperor, raised my father and our aunt. She reared their upbringing herself. She loved them so much that she refused to die until my father came back from Castile, the one thing he actually did right.”

 
“You want to be like her, don’t you?” I ask.

“Oh yes,” she responds, taking hold of my hand again. “And I am grateful to assume the position she held in my family’s life for that of yours.”

We hold each other in a warm embrace, and I thank God for having sent this kind, loving angel to our kingdom. If only he would do the same for me with hers.

  • Julia St. Clair© 2017

    *Image is of Marina Salas as Leonor de Austria in TVE’s Carols, Rey Emperador

Isabel of Portugal, Day 3 — An Unsuccessful Replacement

In this expert from one of the several projects I am currently working on, Isabel of Portugal continues to converse with her father, Manuel I of Portugal, on her future marriage to Carlos, King of Spain and future Holy Roman Emperor. She is disgusted by the possible validity of the rumors of his true relationship with their step-grandmother, Germaine de Foix, and her father tries to have her understand how fate leads us towards the present moment.

Carlos–el Habsburgo. Carlos–my cousin. Carlos–Rey Emperador–King of Spain, future Holy Roman Emperor. Carlos–my fiancee. Carlos–my beloved. I have had my eye on the prize Papa could not have chosen a better man, nor have fully read my mind. I have know that I was meant to be with Carlos since I was a little girl. Age matters not–I knew in my heart who I was, whom I wanted, what I was destined to be. Isabel de Portugal–Reina Emprezza. I was to be Queen and Empress, and already had my own personal motto mapped out. Yes, I thought with a smile, this young girl’s silly dreams are at last coming to fruition.

Yet there is a hint of pain in Papa’s face. “Hija,” he utters, lowering his head. “I do not deny the love your mother and I shared, may she rest in heaven’s grace with God. But that was us–you are not your mother. You are bolder, sharper, more headstrong–you are la Reina Catolica’s granddaughter. And but I am not Carlos–while I do not deny his blessings and power, his piety is, shall we say, lacking.”

“Oh?” I whimper, my face striking off concern.

“They speak things of this man, of the relations that he has possessed,” Papa begins.

Suddenly, I realize the rumors that were utters throughout the halls were true. At first, I thought them to be merely court gossip, dismissing them as rubbish. No, I made up my mind. It can’t be true–anyone but her. Yet God would not let me live in ignorance–not that day.

“Of course, I know not of the valdities of the claim, but there are rumors, whispers throughout our kingdoms,” Papa chokes. “They say that he has lain with a woman since he first step foot on Castilian soil. He has desecrated your grandmother’s land, along with that of Aragon, with an older woman– an unsuccessful replacement.”

“You mean?”

“Yes, minha filha,” he confessed. “I am afraid he has taken a woman as his mistress. That woman is his step grandmother–and yours. La Reina–”

“Stop,” I declare. I can no longer take the pain “Do not speak her name. Never speak of that name.”

My grandfather broke the promise he made to my grandmother on her deathbed. It was the sole reason their union occurred at all– to unite Castile and Aragon into a united Kingdom of Spain. He swore to uphold their mission in life after her death, even though God had taken their only son and wiped out the male Trastamara line along with him. That vow, the lasting legacy which the Catholic Kings made he nearly threw out the window in an act of pride and shame– he remarried.
For his bride, Fernando de Aragon chose no one of importance to us or Spain– it would’ve been less insulting if he had. Instead, my grandfather took a fat little French girl, Germaine de Foix, as his unlucky bride. His inability to control the little head that danced in his pants led him to nearly destroy the union of Castile and Aragon. God forgive me, but never was I ever so satisfied to hear of a innocent’s death as I was upon hearing the news their son died after birth. He had no business being alive, not even in the womb. His whore mother also had no cause to set in my grandmother’s throne–and none staying in her lands, either.

“Isabel,” Papa soothes, moving to hold my hands for comfort. “I know the pain you inherited from your mother about what the Catholic king did. My daughter, you are wise, but still so very young. In time, you shall learn. There are choices that one must make for the good of his kingdom, even if they destroy his original plans.”

“Like how you expanded the Inquisition to marry Isabel of Aragon?”

Papa sighs, his breath having decreased. Its no secret how badly he wanted to marry my aunt–he backed out of his promise of religious freedom to obtain her hand. Yet both knew in their hearts it was not the right action to take. By the time they realize their grievous error in judgment, it was too late–God had already begun to strike back.

“No ruler is perfect, Isabel,” he replies. “By the time your aunt and I realized our mistake, all hope of repairing or reconciling the damage which our union had caused was gone.”

Gone it was indeed, for nothing but heartache and tragedy befell my mother’s house until her brother, Isabel, and Isabel’s son were gone, leaving Spain for the reaping in the shadows of their memories, and that of their house. Castile and Aragon–Spain–was now the Habsburg inheritance, another kingdom dominated by the empire, and by the House of Austria.

“In life, though, we must have no regrets,” Papa declares in his wisdom. “For if I had the chance to retract my actions, I never would. The past leads to the present–we are where we are. If I never went through what I did with your Tia Isabel, I never would’ve had you or your brothers and sisters. Minha filha, you know what they call me.”

O Fortunado.”

“Yes,” he beams “O Fortunado–the Fortunate. I was fortunate to have your aunt, your mother, and you, Isabel.”

He takes my hand, holding it like when I was a little girl. I welcome my father’s affection and council, as he gazes into my eyes, having seen my fate before I could.

“You are going to be a magnificent queen,” Papa utters. “Never doubt before or after then that you have made your father very proud.”

  • Julia St. Clair© 2017

    *Image is of Blanca Suarez as Isabel de Portugal and Joan Crosas as Manuel I de Portugal in TVE’s Carols, Rey Emperador

Isabel of Portugal, Day 2 — The Model Marriage

In this expert from one of the several projects I am currently working on, Isabel of Portugal reflects on her the marriage of her parents, Manuel I of Portugal and the late Maria of Aragon, along with the memory of her aunt and namesake, Isabel of Aragon, Princess of the Asturias and Queen Consort of Portugal. She also comforts her father as they realize her marriage plans with Carlos I of Spain, later Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, will soon come into play.

I long for a spouse to provide me with the what Papa gave to Mamae–adoration. Despite being a mere constant, Papa listened to her as our kingdom underwent negotiations with my grandfather, Rey Fernando de Aragon. They were more than just husband and wife — Mamae was Papa’s best friend. He came to her room every night, even breaking protocol to see her in confinement, as he never wished to spend a moment without her. Mamae gave her undying love to Papa, and as did he towards her. Unlike most kings, such Tia Catalina’s husband, King Henry, Papa never took a mistress, even after Mamae’s death. To me, Papa is more than merely a king–he is also a saint.

Papa is the most pious man I have ever known. His piety has touched Joao and I since we were children. Out of my large array of siblings, it is my elder brother with whom I am closest, as we were born barely a year apart. Our whole lives were modeled upon our parents and the happiness they had. We thank God that we were raised in a loving, peaceful home, and that Mamae had escaped the melancholy that shadowed Tia Catalina and Tia Isabel’s lives.

Isabel–Mamae’s oldest sister. Isabel–Papa’s first bride. Isabel–my namesake.
Out of all the Catholic Kings’ daughters, she was the most beautiful. No man who remembered her could ever deny that. Her grace and beauty would leave the world barely a year after her brother, and oh so young — she was 28.

“How much you look like her,” Papa tells me as I walk with him in the gardens, “Not only in beauty, but in disposition also.”

“You really think so, Papa?” I ask with modest excitement. “Do I have such a resemblance to Tia Isabel?”

“You have the same hints of gold in your hair,” he explains. “Though you have inherited the Aviz hazel eyes compared to the blue-green beauties of her and your mother, and your skin alabaster is as dark as a Moor compared to her pale complexion. But I cannot deny the proof of the Trastamara blood that flows through your veins whenever I look at you, hija mia.”

“Nor my Aviz blood, given to me by the greatest king of Portugal,” I reply.

“Oh my darling daughter. How you honor me so,” Papa says gently with a smiles, as he slides my hand beneath his arm. “And how I beg God to forgive me for the sadness which awaits me when you must leave to your new kingdom and home.”

I beam with pride, yet make sure to comfort my darling father. Poor Papa– his grief is fairly fresh from having lost his wife, and soon he must bid his daughter goodbye. As these change in barely two years’ time is not good for an old man. Yet this was what I’ve prepared for my whole life. I cannot let anyone or anything sour the mood, not even my dearest king and father.

“Don’t worry, Papa,” I assure him. “I am ready, willing, and strong. I have had much preparation for such a role throughout the entire course of my life, and learned how to perform my duty from the very best and wisest of consorts. When Mamae was younger than I, she came to this land and married you, a man much older and wiser than she was. As time went on and God blessed you both so, you two grew to love another. And by Christ, I swear the same will be true for me and Carlos.”

  • Julia St. Clair© 2017

    *Image is of Blanca Suarez as Isabel de Portugal in TVE’s Carols, Rey Emperador

Isabel of Portugal, Day 1 — Mamae

In this expert from one of the several projects I am currently working on, Isabel of Portugal reflects on her late mother, Maria of Aragon, and the impact that her parent’s loving marriage had on her and her siblings.

“I miss Mama.”

Little Henrique cries almost every night since she passed. Mamae. The queen whom birthed us. Mamae. The woman who raised us. Mamae–the wife who advised her husband, the mother who sought equal education for their children, regardless of gender. Mamae–the first of the last surviving daughters of Isabel and Fernando to follow their mother to the grave.

Maria of Aragon was the fifth child and third daughter of those great rulers of Spain. Their union united the Kingdoms of Castile and Aragon, and she and her siblings were living embodiments of that merger. Despite growing up in the shadow of her prettier sisters and sole surviving brother, they all adored Mamae, and she felt the same way. That love would be tested by the bonds of time, fate, and tragedy, as two of Mamae’s beloved siblings, Juan and Isabel, would beat their parents to the grave, and their children with them. These tragedies set off the power keg between my grandfather and Philip of Habsburg, my aunt, Queen Juana’s, husband that would drive the formidable Catholic queen into an early grave. While one might not know how my unbalanced, foolish aunt might have fight, I know for a fact that Mamae and her youngest sister, England’s Queen Catherine, were heartbroken.

The world forgets about this daughter of Spain, but the Aviz family and Portugal do not. Mamae was the perfect woman, wife, mother, and queen to Papa and me. Elegant, radiant, calm, composes, patient–the exact opposite of the madness that haunts Queen Juana. Although the marriage was arranged by politics rather than personal choice and a previous engagement was called off, Papa and Mamae ultimately married, producing an army of children started by my brother, Joao, and I. I am the second child and eldest daughter–therefore, when Mamae died, it fell upon me to assume her queenly duties and serve as Father’s foremost companion and advisor until he takes another bride. But poor Papa cannot fathom that at the moment, for he continues to reel everyday from the consequences of having lost the love of his life.

Although they married to maintain alliance in all the kingdoms held within the Iberian peninsula, my parents fell in love, deep, passionate love. This love bonded them forever to one another, and conceived myself and all of my siblings in it. Mamae bore 10 of us–Joao, myself, Beatriz, Luis, Fernando, Afonso, Henrique, Maria, Duarte, and Antonio. Out of the 10 who were born, 8 of us survived, as the unfortunate babies Maria and Antonio died at birth. This was a huge accomplishment for Mamae, Having provided Portugal with an heir and many spares was the ultimate success for Mamae, who, like Queen Juana, was viewed as the paragon of fertility. Sadly, their childbearing was the polar opposite of Catalina, Queen of England, who bore 6 children, most of them stillborn or dying in infancy. Only one, a girl, my cousin, Mary, survived past birth and the basic infant months. How terrifying it must be to bury a child! My parents went through it twice, the last one having led my beautiful mother to her early grave. I, therefore, cannot think of Tia Catalina or her husband’s anguish, and I pray to never suffer as such.

  • Julia St. Clair© 2017

    *Image is of Blanca Suarez as Isabel de Portugal in TVE’s Carols, Rey Emperador

Separate Ways

Two little girls sit one by one, two

little girls; only one is the star. A star

of a show of her brand new life, while

little one falls on her knee and cries. Now

she climbs, she rumbles, getting herself

back up. As she rises, that little one comes

tumbling down. And like God and Adam, they

reach their chubby little fingers towards each

other, one to help the other up, until both little

cherubs like Zeus in Alexandria are standing

tall. But soon the path widens, and one little

girl with indifference cries, while the other

packs up, says her goodbye. “Fare thee well,

sweet sister, fare thee well,” she replies. “We

are on the same journey, but different roads. We’ll

meet again, as time due flies.”

  • Julia St. Clair, ©2017, 4:40 p.m.

Growing Apart

Day by day, hour by hour. Time

sits patiently yet races like a

thoroughbred all at once. And our

lives slip from each other, growing apart.

Single vs. married, homeowner vs. wanderlust,

Homemaker vs. writer, Settled vs. figuring out,

 

You pressure me so — to swallow my pride, settle

for less. How many years have our lives intertwined

and you still think I must accept second best? You

advise not to look at appearances, but your spouse is Khal

Drogo, so from experience you cannot speak. For

you above all know though the spirit is willing, my

thirst for pure flesh is weak. I lost myself, surrendered

all pride for a man who I loved years ago — why force

what isn’t there with losers and sigh?

 

And there it is again, you chastise me. But sorella mia,

do you remember not what I told you year ago? Don’t

set me up nor force me to settle; do not stir the pot,

make haste not to break the kettle.

Don’t you see I am a bird who refuses to be

caged? And yet you make me feel guilty for being

true to myself, day by day. So I accept this distance,

this growing apart. We will always have each other,

we’re just at different points in our lives. We possess

opposing characteristics, conflicting outlooks, different

hearts.

  • Julia St. Clair, ©2017, 1:09 p.m.

Thursday, August 31, 2017: Quote of the Day, Meaning & Reflection – Positivity & Light

We boil at different degrees. - Clint Eastwood
“We boil at different degrees” — this means that everyone grows and matures at their own pace. Perhaps you feel different and disconnected from people, places, and things whom you love, but have evolved from. Maybe you’re deciding to build a new life for yourself and your family and friends think differently on it. It could be you or someone else has yet to move on from a traumatic event or want to break free. The message? Descansar — rest, don’t tire yourself. If you’re feeling down because your moment has yet to come, fear not; your time is coming, all you need do is have patience and wait.

I’m one of the most impatient people I know of and can vouch for that. A year ago, I was working in a position that I knew I wanted to get out of when my supervisor informed me that my co-worker and I were getting let go in a month; our department moved to another division, and the funding was no longer available to pay part-time employees. I put on a brave face (I felt worse for my boss than he felt for me, since I could see how upset he was and was more than thankful he was telling me ahead of time), and continued doing what I did the whole summer, going on interviews and scramming to find a position. Words alone cannot express how grateful I was when my present job opened up in the HR division I worked in since I was a student and my boss brought me on board. For the first time in months, I felt like I could finally breathe.

My job in HRIS ended on a Friday, and I started working in Benefits the following Tuesday. Although I was still part-time, I told advantage of my role by getting in as much into our processing and repository systems as possible, including over 600 files at one point, assisting with special events and classes for all the HR departments, and even taking an HR Generalist Certification course in Midtown. I achieved a lot for my co-workers and myself. However, at times, I felt very upset and down when I saw people I knew and went to school with getting full-time jobs, whether in their desired fields or not, and going on to work in big cities and do great things while I was still stuck. It wasn’t that I was doing the wrong thing; after taking 2 and a half months off to think, I started applying to positions galore in November-December (I actually put in my cover letters “getting this job would be the perfect Christmas present”) and went on more interviews, half good, half “eh” to bad. Yet none of these opportunities worked out, and it hurt me a lot, even the ones that I knew wouldn’t have worked out. I had yet to realize that the water wasn’t yet boiled; it simply wasn’t my time.

During the course of this year, I competed in the official Miss New York USA pageant and did background acting on Homeland and an Untitled HBO Project while working part-time. I also went on vacation twice, with my best friend to Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Miami Beach and South Beach, Florida and with my family to Rhode Island. I took advantage of every opportunity that came my way and made the most of it. While I can still complete in the pageant again next January (and its official, I am) and go on vacation so long as I double check and use a personal day and vacations days, I know I wouldn’t have been able to do the acting again, and for that I’m truly grateful. The past year and four months have been a time of tremendous growth that I needed to undergo and appreciate before I started working full-time — and “at last” the day came.

“At last” for this is a two-part process; today is my last day in HR, Tuesday I’ll start over in Development and Alumni Relations downtown. I’m still working at the university, with is a dream come true on the HR end since most of my stuff is already in the system, but will be in the city and writing so much more, two important things that I wanted to accomplish when pursuing something full-time. I also get to draft proposals, ghostwrite for the university higher ups, interview and do write-ups on donors of the month. Its everything I loved about journalism before I switched out into communications! Although I have to work evening and weekends for busy times and special events, one of said events is an awards dinner at the American Museum of Natural History — need I say more.

This is a great chance to make a fresh start and begin my writing career full-time — during the day as a development associate, and still in my spare time as a creative writer and screenwriter. Yet now is the perfect time for this all is be working out; a year ago I was too closed minded to think outside the box, refusing to apply to positions that didn’t have “writer/editor” in the job title, yet got interviews for even intern and secretary roles at casting and production companies, and the one time I did get an interview for an “Publishing Assistant” role, it was basically a data entry clerk with a fancy title and little to no writing involved. Forget about creative growth, there wasn’t even room for writing official letters. That experience was a big eye opener for me, since it taught me to 1.) investigate companies further (the HR contact assured me it was a “creative role” prior to my interview, and I had a weird experience before then where they wanted to illegally pay me under the minimum wage on the books — a huge hell no and also begging to get shut down) and 2.) read job descriptions thoroughly with attention to every detail. Its like my favorite Dead lyrics of all time, “once in awhile you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.” Sometimes positions may not seem what you’re looking for by their title, but if you read between the lines and look past the surface, you soon realize that the show might fit. The same can be said with searching for a home, car, or partner. This is a part of life and growing and developing as an individual and intellectual as a whole.

Speaking of “boiling at different degrees,” I’m learning to boil out of my “laissez-faire” (as in translation of “hands off”) romantic dreams and facing reality. I had to fully let go and make peace with my past, and did so the other day; I haven’t heard anything yet. I may or may not, but that doesn’t matter. What counts is that I said everything I needed to say and was aching to get out for years, not placing blame, but instead apologizing on my end, saying there is nothing to forgive because I forgave him a long time ago, and thanking him for all the fun times we had. I was also friendly and invited him to reach out, but if he doesn’t I understand. I feel like years of guilt and doubt are finally lifted off my shoulders, and I’m fully ready for what’s coming. I know now that I need to start dating again — not dating every six months or so and cancelling each other because I don’t want to “waste my time,” but actively going on dates anywhere from every week or so to once a month. Though I’ve dated since my breakup, I’ve only had one official sit down date since then, and nearly five years have gone by; I need to give my potential suitors a chance, just like my ex gave me. We were friends before we started dating, I liking him first and him not reciprocating the feelings, but in time, ironically around the point where I gave up all hope, he told me of his growing feelings and how he wanted us to go out. We didn’t even have our first date when we started dating; all I thought was he was giving me a chance to go out, and the next day he asked me over the phone, “So how was your first day of having a boyfriend?” What? We’re dating already? It was shocking, but great! Yet blurred my mind as I got older, since I saw people dating around, seeing different people at the same time and struggled to differentiate the difference between that and cheating. It took me until this weekend talking with my aunt and best friend to realize that I can date a few guys at the same time and it doesn’t mean I have multiple boyfriends or a boyfriend in general — its ok to have fun and play chess with fate. Not every guy is gonna be like my ex and put the label of “together” on that quick; and that’s a good thing!

So Clint Eastwood’s right — “we boil at different degrees.” Sometimes we make it before others or vice versa. All our friends are in relationships and we’re the only single person in the group or vice versa. Some of them move on faster after a breakup than us or vice versa. The point is what works for us works for us; it might not work for others, but it’s ok. This is all part of the journey of growing up and trusting in the universe and God’s Divine Timing, or whatever you choose to believe in. Everyone moves at their own pace — so let’s move on and take it one step at a time.

For more job searching articles, be sure to check these out!

The 7 Most Disrespectful Things Prospective Employers Do From a Candidate’s Point of View

A Word of Advice to Students and Recent Graduates Going on Interviews

An Epiphany

Also be sure to view these articles on dating and “the single life!”

12 Things I’ve Learned While Being Single for 4 Years
Changes in Self-Discovery and Realization: The Single Life, Good Friends & Tiempo per me
Pursuing the Self: May 2017 Update
Tanto monta, Monta Tanto: The Search for the “Perfect” Partner