Archive | August 2012

Old Friends in New Places

This week I’ve been visiting my friend Jess in her new grad school town.  She had just moved down here and spent the previous week getting the apartment set up with the help of her wonderful family.  I was lucky enough to be free just after her family departed and before my fall classes began.  So we planned it, and we followed through on our plan!  Very exciting.  We’ve been doing that all week. 

The first night she made me a delicious chicken dinner with spinach and a glass of wine.  We stayed up way too late talking because of course we hadn’t seen each other in way too long.  But it was awesome.  Then the next day we went to campus to meet up with some of her new classmates and do new-student-type errands.  And then we ended up spending the afternoon with them walking around campus and making a stop at Sweet Frog.  Both to and from campus, we took the very efficient (and free!) bus system.  It was only about 10 minutes each way, so as long as you time the bus arrivals, it’s quite quick to get to campus.  Later that evening, we met up with a fellow sorority sister, Kaitlyn, to grab dinner.  We ended up exploring the really nice mall one town over and having delicious dinner and drinks over there.

The next day we got kind of a late start as we browsed pictures and did around-the-house errands.  We headed out to another nearby town to check out a Kirkland’s for some over-the-sofa artwork.  Luckily, we found a piece that works quite well and (much to my surprise) fit in Jess’s car.  In the afternoon, we went to go get pedicures at a place around the corner.  Unfortunately, the first place we went had a funny smell and wouldn’t take us for an hour, so we moved on.  The second place was quite nice.  Jess used one of her own nail colors (a shade of red) and I got my nails painted a bright orange (because…why not?). 

In the evening, our main task was hanging the picture, which we accomplished with the advice of Jess’s dad (over the phone), a little luck, and a lot of pure awesomeness and teamwork!  I mean, come on, how often do two gals get a huge 4’x4′ picture hung perfectly straight on the first try!??  Then we moved on to more important adult-like activities such as watching Toy Story, making cookies, and drinking daiquiris.  That’s where we are right now, so I’ll get back to it!  Having a great visit and heading home tomorrow.

Bunheads or Boneheads?

I think I might just be the only person on the internet who is willing to publish a review of ABC Family’s new show Bunheads that is 100% critical.  I’m not willing to go so far as to say that it’s the worst show I’ve ever seen, but I find it to be quite awful considering the credentials it boasts.  Its producer, Amy Sherman-Palladino, is the famed writer of Gilmore Girls, which had 6 wonderful seasons and 1 terrible one (after she left).  Its star, Sutton Foster, is a renowned Broadway star.  And its premise could not be better timed, considering the national dance craze that we are experiencing right now (9th season of So You Think You Can Dance, Breaking Pointe, Dance Moms, Step Up: Revolution, etc).  And yet, I find myself thinking, after each episode I watch, why should I care about these characters exactly?

But before I get to that, can I just express my desire that the actors on Bunheads not ALL come to the show with Gilmore Girls on their Filmography?  The crossover between Gilmore Girls and Bunheads actors is truly shocking.  The most obvious example is Kelly Bishop, who is co-starring with Foster as Fanny Flowers, a slightly more eccentric and artsy version of Emily Gilmore.  I liked the Emily character because she was both witty and cut-throat, but the Fanny character is crazy and more than a little bit washed-up.  But it doesn’t stop there: Gilmore Girls’ Gypsy is reincarnated as Sam, Jason Stiles comes back as director Connor, Zach plays Davis the plumber, and Mitchum Huntzberger appears as Rico.  The comparisons don’t even stop with the actors; the setting of the show (small, impossibly quirky) is a California-fied version of Stars Hollow, and even the musical interludes are quite similar (not surprising, because the composer is, you guessed it, from Gilmore Girls).

The Michelle character is what I imagine Lorelai would have become if she hadn’t gotten pregnant at 16 and had instead dropped out of high school to pursue a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, winding up as a Vegas showgirl who’s pushing 40 with nothing much to show for her life.  But perhaps it’s unfair to criticize Michelle, because she’s clearly meant to be a broken, run-down character; why else would she agree to marry a man she doesn’t even like and run away in the middle of the night to escape her life?  However, that doesn’t really fit in well with her role as a mentor and teacher of the four main teenage ballerinas.  Michelle acts shockingly emotionless when her whole life is uprooted and her new husband is killed (in a surprising twist of events).  I think I would have liked the show a whole lot better if it had featured Hubble and Michelle trying to build a life together.

The Fanny character is old.  And crazy.  I think Bishop is past her acting prime.  But my major complaint with Fanny is that she’s too much like Emily Gilmore, and yet somehow not as entertaining.

The four main bunheads are nothing more than stereotypes.  Sasha is a bullying rebel.  Boo is an insecure, good girl.  And the other two barely get enough story arcs or lines to be worth mentioning (I can’t even remember their names without checking IMDb, to be honest).  It’s difficult for me to imagine why the four of them are even friends, aside from the fact that they are so obsessed with dance that they have no other free time to develop friendships.  The lack of friend-chemistry I see is almost as bad as certain friendship pairings on Glee (like when Rachel and Quinn are suddenly friends at graduation, having spent most of high school competing over the same men, solos, and other achievements).  I do see why the four of them might be fascinated by Michelle, but why they would follow her after their strict education from Fanny is beyond me.

Finally, the supporting characters are either played by actors directly from Gilmore Girls (as I mentioned above), or are so off-the-wall that it makes them completely unlikeable.  My primary example of this is Truly Stone, former lover of Hubble and all-around nut job, but Nanette Jordan, Boo’s absent-minded and nutritionally oblivious mother, is a close second.  I just don’t understand how they’re all related to the show, because they certainly don’t make it more amusing.

Perhaps the show has some potential, but so far I haven’t been given any evidence that it’s going in a direction that I would enjoy watching.  Still, the most surprising part about it is how many positive reviews there are on the internet.  I can’t seem to find a single truly critical review, so I thought I’d write one.

 

Independence

Does our society revere independence, or scorn it?  To begin, this really isn’t a fair question, because I’m creating a false dichotomy.  I’m sure that the overall attitude of ‘society’ towards ‘independence’ is not only moderate, but that individual members of our society view independence differently depending on its circumstances.

However, the reason I’ve been thinking about this recently is that I am a 24-year-old, single, independent woman.  Due to unfortunate circumstances, I have no immediate family on which I could rely, so familial independence is not a choice.  However, I have always decided, whether directly or indirectly, not to rely on a man to provide for me.  I use the word provide here in generalized terms to indicate support in all realms – emotional, financial, social, etc.  I can’t put my finger on exactly why it never seems to click (though sometimes it’s not for lack of trying on my end), but I can make the observation that because I’ve been single (except for 2 relationships) most of my life, I have learned not to rely on anyone other than myself.

The truth is that I’m not sure I like that quality about myself.  Admittedly, it comes in handy given my circumstances.  However, I worry that the tools I’ve forged to protect myself will prove to be an insurmountable barrier to letting anyone else into my life.  I think that despite how well-prepared I am to live independently, I ultimately want to share my life with someone else.  I just don’t quite know how.

But I do know one thing: my deep-seated desire for a husband and a family is partially seated in societal expectations.  How can it not be?  At a certain point, societal events only have room for couples, and singles are pushed to the fringes.  I perceive it as an exclusive couples-only club, and singles are left wandering the grounds in the dark, hoping for refuge.  Sure, I’m not that worried about being ‘single forever’ right now, but I was LESS worried two years ago, which leads me to believe that I’ll be even more worried two years from now.

So many of my friends are joining the couples club and getting engrossed in their relationship with their significant other, and while I am ultimately happy for them, a small part of me feels self-pity.  But why?  What’s so pitiable about being a single, independent woman?  Without a spouse, am I less of a person?  I know that when I was 15, society was fine that I was single, but at 25 the tune inevitably changes.  The way I see it, successful singles have an expiration date.  The time limit may vary culturally, but it is an inescapable fact that society judges those individuals (I think women especially) who are still single after a certain age.

So how can I be proud of my independence as I approach my societal expiration date?  I feel that it’s important to be proud because like it or not, this is who I am.  And this is who I’ll be until, if ever, I meet someone.  One thing I know for sure is that self-pity isn’t going to get me anywhere.  I guess the one remaining question I have is this: Is marriage and family my ultimate goal in life?  Will I consider myself to have failed if I don’t find it?  If it is, then I better start taking some drastic steps in that direction.  And if it’s not, then what am I worried about?  I could spend my whole life trying to swim against the current of society, or I could swim to the edge, get out, and walk my own path.  But would I regret it if I did?

Sensitivity: My SAL

So I’ve become aware of something about myself that I believe can be generalized to most people.  Perhaps this goes without saying, but there are some topics, actions, and specific entities to which I am more sensitive than others.  This list of ‘Sensitive Areas,’ which I’ll talk about further down in more detail, is specific to me; however, I believe that most people could compose a list of their own, filled with topics that could be described as ‘hot button’ or ‘dear to the heart.’  While the contents of everyone’s ‘Sensitive Areas List’ (I’ll shorten to SAL from here forward) would vary greatly, the one thing they all have in common is that they’re areas that we as individuals relate to on a personal or emotional level.  In my case, my SAL is composed of things that I care very much about, topics that I’ve researched extensively, or subjects that are related to my core values.

The reason I wanted to talk about this is that knowing the details of someone’s SAL is integral to really knowing a person.  And as you are getting to know a new person, discovering their SAL can be quite an interesting journey.  I don’t mean to imply that every person is rife with ‘danger zones’ that you need to watch out for, but I do think that as you develop a more intimate relationship, it’s important to take the SAL into account when dealing with that individual.  I think this will make more sense once I start discussing my own SAL.

When I started to think about the topics that would make up my SAL, I immediately recognized that there are certain things that would belong in a ‘hyper-sensitive’ subcategory, while others would only fit into a ‘moderately sensitive’ subcategory.  If I am hyper-sensitive to something, that means the issue is integral to how I define myself as a person, and I am likely to take negative comments or actions personally.  If I am only moderately sensitive, this means that I am likely to take special notice of that subject and can have an objective conversation about my knowledge and/or beliefs.

I’ll be curious to know if the way I categorize my personal SAL surprises anyone.  This list may not be inclusive, and as I grow as a person, it is subject to change, but here’s the start.

SAL: Hyper-Sensitive
– Wastefulness/Recycling
– Intrinsic value of the environment
– Tolerance/freedom of all religions or lack thereof

SAL: Sensitive
– GLTB equal rights
– Women’s rights (especially related to health)
– WalMart (Side note: it’s been over 7 years since I’ve set foot inside one)

SAL: Moderately Sensitive
– Proper grammar
– Makeup and superficial beauty (I’ve blogged about this before…)
– Healthy nutritional principles (admittedly, I’m a newly-converted novice)

I could go into some of these topics in more detail, but I don’t think now is the right time.  Suffice it to say that there are specific reasons that each of these items made it onto my list.  For those of you who know me well, the list is probably not that surprising.  But it’s not something anyone can learn about me overnight.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that it’s not something everyone NEEDS to know about me.  I find it difficult to talk about some of these topics rationally, because they are so important to me.  And getting into an argument with a new friend about a topic listed above is a good way to damage the newly formed friendship foundation.

The friends that know me well probably know to tread carefully around some of these topics where I am concerned.  I have a few friends who jokingly refer to WalMart only in euphemisms,  much like Voldemort was introduced to Harry Potter as ‘You Know Who’ by Hagrid.  I have even more friends who make an extra effort to recycle when we are together, which I really appreciate.  That actually brings me to my main point…

Knowing the areas that a person may be sensitive about is not only a key to avoiding arguments and potential hurt feelings, it is also a way to get closer to that individual.  I just mentioned how it warms my heart when someone shows me how they recycle.  I find great comfort knowing that my friends know some of the things I care deeply about, and that they care enough about me to support me in my areas of focus.

I would even go so far as to say that I find it easier to be close with some of my friends who share many of my SAL beliefs.  I have just as many friends with completely different focus, or opposite views on my SAL topics.  That being said, the only way that these friends with opposite beliefs can remain close is if we have a mutual respect for one another’s SALs.  It’s not always easy, but the best things in life never are.  I do appreciate my friends who have vastly different perspectives on life because they have a lot to teach me, and I hope that they appreciate me as well.

So, I would recommend that you take some time to think about the things that are important to your close friends and loved ones, and maybe make an extra effort to let them know you support them.  For new friends, this is part of the friendship journey that can have some ups and downs; but while a SAL-related argument can damage a friendship, a SAL-kindness can form bonds more closely.

And that’s all I’ve got to say about that.  For now.