Friday, December 13, 2013

Ready, Set, BREAK

And just like that, as sure as the sun rises over the east and sets in the golden melted pools of western skies, I am done.  

One semester of grad school annihilated, two more to go.

Now on to one month of blessed rest.

Truth be told, I'm pretty proud of how this last semester passed.  Yes, moving here has been hard, and yes, I still had more annoying student habits than I wanted, but for the most part I was able to defeat the worst of my under-achieving demons.  True, my nasty procrastination habit is not completely gone. But I did kick it into submission about eighty percent of the time (the less said about that other twenty percent, the better).  Most importantly, I was able to finish finals with less stress and in a more timely fashion than ever before.  No last minute cramming for me this semester!  As an undergrad, I would usually frantically write my papers the morning they were due, finishing them with fifteen minutes to run to campus, print, and hand them in.  I am not lying when I say I was a lazy student.

So this is a pretty big deal.

This semester, every paper was finished at least by the night before class, and sometimes with a wider margin than that.  Let's check the timer and see how much time I granted myself, shall we?

Principles and Techniques of Journalism: 14.5 hours
Journalism Research: 18 hours
Arts Criticism: 29.5 hours
Media Law and Ethics: 66 hours

Might not seem like much, but to me that's solid progress.  Actual growth.  So eat that, all those people who stood up to violence or proved the Higgs boson particle or what have you.  I decreased my procrastination!  Victory is mine!

And now I can curl up and spend my break doing all those things I've wanted to do for weeks but have been delaying in favor of doing my work.  So over the next month, I'll be....

Reading these books:

Watching these TV shows:

And these movies:

And writing more on here (shameless plugging):

LIGHTBOX HEROES, a blog dedicated to reviewing new network TV shows.
Check us out at:

I have a new project coming up.  Stay tuned.

And last but not least, doing LOTS of this:

Garfield is my spirit animal

Have a wonderful holiday season, dear world.  Enjoy the rest of this year.  I know I will.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Same As It Ever Was

So, yesterday was fun.  If the looming terror and guilt about this wretched place and my wretched reasons for being here hitting me in one fell swoop can be termed as fun.

The worst of it happened right before church, and I felt so bad for the Primary class I teach.  I wonder if those five-year-old boys noticed their teacher staring out the window in a catatonic state.   I can imagine it now: "Hey, Sister McCarrey, are you going to teach us about not taking the name of the Lord in vain?"  "There is no hope or justice in this world, little ones.  Only darkness and loneliness forever.  So give up now, because nothing good will ever happen to you, and the more you work for something the worse your life will be.  Leave me to my solitude, small creatures."

But in all honesty, I hit a wall yesterday.  I've basically decided where I want to end up, and what I want to be doing, and how to get there.  And now that I see a clearer picture of my future, a picture un-tinged by romanticized filters, I just want it NOW.  Don't care how.  Just now.  Except that's impossible.  The soonest I can get what I want is in a year.  That makes the youngest child in me want to scream and kick my feet (acceptable behavior?  I'm still weighing my options...).

But last night, after the weight of it all had dissolved into exhaustion and a tears-induced headache, I remembered something.  I remembered David Byrne.

I have listened to this song an embarrassing amount of times since last night.

It struck something.  This knot of frustration and anger that had been twisting inside of me just snapped.  TWANG.  Gone.

There's this moment, when Byrne is questioning different things, when he throws his fists in the air, shouting:

"You may ask yourself, am I right, am I wrong? 
You may say to yourself, my god, what have I done?

Chills.  It's as if my entire experience was wrapped up in twenty-one words.  And suddenly, I was not alone.  This experience was not unique. Logically, I knew that.  I mean, it makes sense.  Everyone has difficulties, everyone has doubts. People have done this before.  And so will I.  And I know that.

But it felt good to have Talking Heads remind me of that.  It felt good to listen to David Byrne describing the slip underwater.  Joining the current, not to drown but to enter the constant stream and flow of humanity.  To know that this too will pass.

Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down 
Letting the days go by, water flowing underground 
Into the blue again, after the money's gone 
Once in a lifetime, water flowing underground 
Into the blue again, into silent water 
Under the rocks and stones, there is water underground 
Letting the days go by, into silent water 
Once in a lifetime, water flowing underground 
Same as it ever was, same as it ever was, same as it ever was, same as it ever was 
Same as it ever was, same as it ever was, same as it ever was, same as it ever was 

Time isn't holding us, time isn't after us 
Time isn't holding us, time doesn't hold you back 
Time isn't holding us, time isn't after us 
Time isn't holding us... 
Letting the days go by, letting the days go by, letting the days go by, once in a lifetime  
Letting the days go by, letting the days go by, letting the days go by, once in a lifetime

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

2007 Freshman

I recently wrote a personal essay for one of my classes.  What originally started as a glimpse into strange way the LDS church views chastity (launching from an awkward canoe metaphor my first college bishop gave me) soon morphed into a short examination of how I first started to accept my body.  My body, which I actively hated throughout jr. high and high school.  It made me wonder if there really is any way to talk about body hate, body acceptance, and the role that romantic attention  plays in that without sounding like an angsty teenage girl.  Though I suppose, considering the name of this blog, angst would be appropriate.

Anyway, here it is.  I'm considering making this a series.  As Taylor rightly pointed out when he read this, there is so much more between that moment and the place I am now.  I actually do want to explore that in the future.  We'll see if I ever have time (or the lack of pride) to talk about those things.

Freshman year my roommate Allison, the adorable one with silky golden curls, attracted guys like butterflies over a corpse.  That summer she chose to date David, a ballroom dancer five years her senior.  At 23, he was almost disgustingly ancient.  He smelled too nice, dressed too well, and spiked his hair too perfectly.  I didn’t trust him.  One night Allison burst in to proudly show us the five finger-shaped bruises on her arm, trophies of a vigorous make-out session in the bushes below our apartment door.  I gaped at the marks, half-fascinated, half-confused.

As for me, I went on one date that summer, with my friend Derek.  It was a set-up, a scheme to help our friend Charlene, who had never been on a date.  We all went bowling.  We ate pizza.  I hugged him at the door—a step up from the high school dances of yore, where guys were lucky to get a high-five.  Other than that, I stayed aloof from boys.  I took the freedom of the summer for granted, playing with these roommates who were the first girls to accept me, wearing sweatpants to class and staying up late.
I started wearing T-shirts.

My button-up blouses were donated to thrift shops.  Gone were those shapeless bags meant to hide away my curves.  The bulge of my stomach and the more obvious bulges of my breasts had been covered by pastel sacks bought at mom-stores like Lane Bryant and Ann Taylor.  I could not be as pure and unsexed as the sticks I went to high school with, so my only choice was to mask my disgustingly womanly body.  But that mindset disappeared in college, where my roommates were tall, big-boned, short, fat, muscular, and yet still had gentlemen callers.  If they could show themselves, so could I.

That fall, after the girl group of summer had left me in the dust, I sat in a lonely apartment with two strangers.  They were Idaho beauty queens, the type that kept tiaras in their closet and left the apartment shrouded in the stink of cheap hair spray.  Sometimes they would don their sashes and model in the living room, parading about for the slew of boys that plagued our couches, man-children with popped collars, too much cologne, and pillows placed oh-so-precisely over their crotches.

I needed to get away from the loneliness, and found myself escaping home.  I would beg rides back to Davis County, or take the two-hour bus ride to my front door.  Weekends would be spent with my best friend Andy, driving around listening to music and talking.  I still wore T-shirts.  He wore them too.
One October night we sat on the lawn outside the church building by Main Street, looking up at my old friend Orion, debating about the movies that meant something to us.  The stars were bright.  I shivered.  The grass was a dusky silver in the midnight light.
“It might be warmer if we were closer together,” Andy said.
I looked at him, my lovely friend with the red afro and the freckled arms. My friend, whose typed-out words through desolate college nights had kept me going.  He looked at me.  Not my clothes, not my skin, not the carefully hidden curves.  I scooted towards him.  I was still shivering, but this time from excitement, from disbelief.  He merely took that as a cue to hold me tighter.
Two weeks later, we sat on his parent’s couch, tracing each other’s arms with our fingertips.  He encircled my wrist with his fingers, the middle and thumb over-lapping.  His hands were a mass of white skin and brown freckles, giant, rough, and warm.
“Your wrists.  They’re so small.”
He hesitantly lifted my wrist and kissed it.
I looked at my wrist.  It was bare.  It was warm and white, bisected with the thinnest blue lines of veins.  For the first time, I thought my body was beautiful.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Floating in the Dark, Temporary Scars

Clearly, I'm not always full of sunshine and rainbows about my move back east.

But Boston has one thing.

Nearly every night when I walk home in the oppressive dark, I look up.

And there, beyond the tree-lined edges of my view, are stars.

After almost two years without, stars are a welcome presence.  I've missed my friend Orion, and Cassiopeia's regal throne.  I see the chained Andromeda, and I feel free.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

More than a Feeling

When Taylor and I were preparing to come to Boston, it was with the giddy excitement of children waiting for Christmas.  Look at all those brick buildings!  Look at how palpable the history is!  Look at the leaves, the seasons, the air, that crisp East Coast feeling we've created from books and songs and movies!

When we got to Boston, that blown-glass image shattered fairly quickly.  The apartment full of light and hope wasn't ready for us when we got there, and instead we were greeted with paint cans and drop cloths and an infestation of crickets.  We slept on an air mattress, dying in the heat, lost and confused in a city that was much further from our dream than we had realized.

That was two months ago, and while we've gotten our bearings a little, it's come at a cost.  The autumnal spirit here is as beautiful as we imagined, but we can't enjoy it.  School started quickly and fiercely, and my life has become a long line of T rides to the COM building and back to the little house in the suburbs, removed from the bustling, shining city of promise.  Taylor's life I can only imagine, after spending a month in a ridiculously oppressive work environment, and now returned to long, empty days in a long, empty apartment.

There are days where I love Boston.  Where I look at my "Why I Like it Here" list and feel calm, remembering the large rocks at my T station, the smushed, Irish-looking faces of Southies on the street, the bookstores and cobblestones and abundance of graveyards Downtown and in Cambridge, the trees that create tunnels of orange and red.

But far more often are the days when I think I won't ever stop hating myself for bringing us here.

Education is a terribly selfish thing.  When I was doing my undergrad, I used my selfishness like a badge of honor.  I would look at all those poor little engaged girls I knew with pity.  They were squandering a prime opportunity in their life. When else would you have an excuse to just be concerned with yourself?  When else can a person be wholly self-absorbed in their own learning and growth?

When I decided to go back to school, it was after I'd gotten married and had halfway tried on a career for size.  It seemed like the time to do this.  I had always wanted a masters, I felt like I had to give this writing thing a try, and it was now or never.  Taylor was more supportive than I could imagine, pushing me to make this decision for me and for me alone, assuring me that he would follow me anywhere and that our family would flourish wherever I chose to go.

I don't think he knew what that was implying.  I don't think either of us did.

He couldn't have seen the gut-wrenching loneliness that would occur.  While we knew moving was hard--the first time we moved to Seattle almost destroyed us--I think we thought we had grown.  We had each other now.  We knew how to work as a team.  We had qualifications and life would happen quickly.   Ha.  How naive.

Instead, I found myself regressing into the selfishness of schooling.  This grad school experience was a chance to redeem myself as a student.  It was a chance to finally push myself, to stop being lazy and see what happens when I exhaust all my potential.  Even though I'm studenting better than ever, the extreme soul-crushing guilt that I inflict upon myself when I don't live up to the impossible standard I'm aiming for is incredibly destructive.  It leads to a weariness and disappointment I couldn't have foreseen. And while I'm concentrating on how to school better, I can't ignore the fact that the house is in disarray, that I'm cooking dinner less, that I'm not being as caring and tender with Taylor's emotional needs.

Which makes me feel even worse.  Thinking about what I've done to Taylor.  I can't help but think about what life would be like if we stayed in Seattle.  Seattle, the gloomy, wonderful jewel of a city that we idiotically couldn't get away from fast enough.  If we were in Seattle right now, I would be teaching.  And I would probably be loving it.  If we were in Seattle, Taylor would have a job.  He'd be able to practice, he'd have spent the past two months making money and ticking off licensure hours, each week coming closer to the dream he's harbored.

Instead, I took us away from financial and job security, and dragged us across the country, to a place that might be breaking us.  That's a whole ton of guilt to be living with.  The dream of Boston has shattered, and now I'm wondering how to make the pieces fit together again.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Raging Writers

I am an incredibly spiteful person.  This might come as a shock (or not), but I'm stubborn.  Blame the Scot in me.

Thanks to this stubbornness, I've rage begun books several times.  I read The Fountainhead in high school just to beat one of my friends.  I knew full well that I hated the World According to Ayn Rand, but my friend Jeff was a true believer in Randism.  I read the book, finished it before him, and delighted in not only ruining plot points but also in ripping apart their flawed logic.

So yes.  I'm the most kind and benevolent person ever, obviously.

In college, I had to read Persuasion not once, but twice.  The first time I was still young and trying to do well in school.  The second time I had to read it because it was the only book we read all semester.  Really.  I've said it before, but I'll say it again--Persuasion is neither weighty nor interesting enough to study for four months straight.

Clearly, I'm no stranger to the unwilling reading.  I've had the experience of reading through sweat and willpower, forcing my way through a book despite repeated throwings of it across the room (aside from the mentioned offenders, Paradise and Herland can join this club).  But last night, for the first time I can remember, I rage quit a book.  I got through the first forty pages, I overlooked several instances of concern, but after a while it was just not worth my time.  So, officially entering the Not Worth My Brain Space arena, I present Hillary Jordan and her novel, When She Woke.

This book violated several of my cardinal sins.  It was unoriginal.  The writing was eye-gougingly awful.  She had no faith in her readers to make connections.  And it's dystopian, anti-religious themes were handled so overtly that they made a mockery of the genre.

When She Woke reads like a futuristic The Scarlet Letter.  Instead of having a baby out of wedlock, Hannah Pryce has an abortion.  In doing such, she commits the crimes of murder and premarital sex, actions that are among the highest of misdemeanors in a world where church and state have become synonymous.  Her punishment is having her skin dyed red, marking her as an abortionist murderer in an intolerant religious community.  She struggles to adjust to her new life, all the while pining after the married father of her child, pastor Aiden Dale.

First off, I do love a nice literary homage.  But I do not love being bludgeoned with a reference.  Doesn't Hannah Pryce look and sound a lot like Hester Prynne?  And Aiden Dale...hmm, that couldn't be a nod to Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, now could it?  Listen.  I'm all for being inspired by another work, and I'm all for wanting to pay tribute to it.  But there comes a point where laziness comes into play, and if a writer is so overtly naming characters and building situations around another novel, at some point they lose control  over their own writing.  The characters aren't theirs, and so the power the writer has over them is limited, making the text feel false and forced.

And a story that is limited by another work gets tedious.  Jordan was doomed from the start.  But it's as if she knew that she couldn't write a nuanced work, so she just threw up her hands and went for the most overt and simplistic storytelling possible.  Why let a reader guess character motivation when it can be bludgeoned over their head?  And let's not stop when the reader's soul is bleeding from the lack of subtlety.  Subtlety is hard.  It's so much easier to spell out actions and thoughts 20-40 times a page.  Besides, readers won't catch on to the depth of the story and how inspired it is unless there are quotes from Hawthorne and multiple references to how unwavering and judgmental the society is.

Which brings us to the religious commentary in the novel.  Even though I am a Christian, I am (gasp!) perfectly OK reading novels that criticize Christian society.  I'm a complete dystopian junkie, and that genre often uses a conservative, overly vigilant religious government as the instigator for loss of freedom.  And I get it.  On some level, I even agree with that ruling.  It's a gentle balance believing in a greater power and wanting to share it, versus believing in one chosen path and thinking that everyone, whether believer or not, needs to walk that way.  The prevalence of judgment is a danger when religion's focus goes from worship to the need to force standards on the populace.  And I believe that type of behavior isn't inherent in religion, but is a distinctly human trait.  People are fallible.  We are weak.  And in my mind, the best dystopian books point out those features.  The desire of man to want power.  Whether humanity is born good, or if goodness is a conscious choice.  The focus on the nature of man, not the nature of God, makes for a more interesting story.

And that is where When She Woke loses me.  The big bad is not a person, but is the Christian institution.  Jordan writes like a spurned lover, the book acting as a reactionary diatribe against religion as a whole.  I kept waiting for it to gain some shades of gray, waiting for the overblown preacher man to appear and take on the questionable (but enthralling) shades of religious fascism.  But no.  There was no hint towards nuance in the character of man.  It was the constant criticism of faith.  A constant stream of insistence that belief in God equals disdain for mankind and hatred in your heart.  Because clearly, the number one commandment is to hate without question and destroy all opposition.  Naturally.

Jordan's narrow focus was offensive, not just for me as a Christian but mostly for me as a writer.  As a lover of the written word and the power of story.  As someone capable of intelligence and discernment.  Critical thinking and examination doesn't mean one-note writing.  It means exploring possibilities, settling into the cracks and crannies of thought and human conscious.  The fact that When She Woke ignores sophistication in favor of freight train storytelling angered me.  The message was insulting, the writing was insufferable, and I can see no value in indulging the book further.

Across the room and into the reject pile it goes.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

But Seriously, This Week

This Onion article* has it right.  This week is yet another time where my country has been put through the wringer.  Boston, my future town, in fear and upheaval.  A city-wide lockdown.  Rumors flying around, unsubstantiated claims.  Talking to twenty sixth-graders about current events has proven the existence of mob mentality, has been the face of the vulture media, desperate to feed on the flesh of sensationalism.  Might sound like overkill, but the amount of enjoyment these kids get out of telling a story that their uncle told them where this dark-skinned, accented guy was seen walking on rooftops and was taken into custody, well.  That kind of makes me ill.

And it's not just the kids.  It's the journalism this morning, the masses of people hankering for sound clips from estranged uncles and random classmates, touting high school students (who willingly say that they didn't know the suspects well!) as "friends of the suspects."  Networks bringing in terrorism experts--experts who, to their credit, have been trying to diffuse any shocking Al Qaeda and jihadist claims--just so that they can dedicate hours to discussing this intense Islamic plot.  It's more than depressing, it's frustrating.

Add that on top of events like the explosion at Waco, and the failure of the Senate to vote on gun control (not so much a because of the legislation not passing [even though come on], but because it exhibited the extent of our corrupt government, especially when you factor in quotes like this one from Richard Feldman), and you could say my faith in this nation has been shaken.  Suddenly, this world isn't a complex sphere full of sorrow and happiness, it's just a straight up scary place.

So yeah.  I spent most of this week feeling sad, and then indescribably angry, and now I'm just exhausted.

Just like the first article said, this week is done.  I'm done.

As a collective, can we agree to sit on the couch, cry, and watch happy videos until the world goes away?

Sounds good to me.

*Incredibly strong language.  Be ye warned, sensitive souls.  But if you like, the Onion has rocked it with their coverage this week.  Find all the Boston articles HERE.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Golden Years

If this isn't in your head right now, you are fired.

My birthday is coming up.  Not just any birthday.  My GOLDEN birthday.  The one where I turn 24 on the 24th.  And maybe it's the youngest child in me, but I'm excited for it.  I love occasion.  I completely relish feeling special.  Maybe that's childish, and maybe it shows a lack of humility, but dang-it-all, it's my birthday! If not now, when?  When else is there an excuse for circumstance and pomp?  Especially on this, the one and only Golden Birthday!

So, just in case you feel inclined to celebrate in the joy with me, here are some things to spark gift-giving inspiration.  I'll just leave this here:

This took me a while, and I'm inordinately proud of it.  I should take a class to be artsy and design-y.

2- The City of Owls and Night of the Owls, by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo

3- The Revolution was Televised, by Alan Sepinwall

4- RKives, by Rilo Kiley

5- Hands of Glory, by Andrew Bird

6- YOU.  I don't care if it's letters, cards, Facebook messages, carrier pigeons, whatever-it-is, I want to hear from you.  Since moving to Seattle I've learned to value friendships on a deeper level.  And I'm trying to be a better friend, and to show those people that I care.  Because guess what?  I know a ton of incredible people.  And often, I miss them (by the way, those people? It's you. It's definitely you).  I've carved out a great little niche here in Seattle, and I'm optimistic for Boston, but that doesn't mean I sometimes ache with all the missing of my gangs, roomies, crews and pals.  My homies, if you will.  With everything going on right now, and today in particular, I just want to hold you close, hold those magical connections near and dear.  And while these books and musics have been bouncing around in my head for a while, what would really make my Golden Birthday super golden is hearing from the people I love. 

So. 7101 Roosevelt Way NE, #206.  Seattle, WA 98115.

Nine days and counting.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Trying my Heart Out

Yesterday, the official School Spelling Bee was held in my classroom.  All three participants were there.

Clearly, it was thrilling.

Afterwards, I sat and watched the third place girl with the shiny eyes and the quivering lip. A nine year old at a school desk, body shaking with the pressure of holding back sobs.  Elementary life is awful.  To a child, life is black and white.  How can they understand losing not because they were bad, but just because someone else was better?  To them, it's only interpreted as one thing: ultimate failure.

One co-worker went up to her. Instead of sympathetic hugs and empty words of "you did great!," this teacher offered a firm handshake and some wise words:

If we don't try, then we don't know what we can do.

Never trying is as tempting option. No criticism.  No defeat.  No disappointment.

But there's the other side of the coin. No admiration.  No victory.  No success.

My own decision to try has led me here:

There might be tea in that harbor!*
*note: that is not "Boston Harbor."  There is no tea.  Don't be ridiculous. 

Behold.  As of this August, that dreamscape of history and culture will be my home.  And this lovely institution will be my new alma mater:

Boston University, baby!

It's exhilarating.  It's terrifying.  I'm gearing myself up for the greatest failures, criticisms, and embarrassments I've ever had.    But I'm also ready to work harder, be more passionate, and experience the fruition of my dreams more than I imagined possible.  It's all going to happen.

In preparing for the world of Boston, I've started making a Boston movie playlist, something I can chip away at over the summer months.  It's surprising how many Boston-set movies revolve around crime and despair.  Is there something in the water?  Does the Revolution-inspired air of freedom encourage people to flout societal laws?  I mean, I know that I'm planning on joining the Irish mob and causing some mayhem once I get there, but I didn't think that was the norm.  I just thought Boston was full of preppy Harvard types and tweed-clad intellectuals.

"Happy" Boston Movies
Fever Pitch
Legally Blonde

"Depressing, Gritty, often Crime-related" Boston Movies
The Departed
The Social Network
The Town
Boondock Saints
Gone Baby Gone
Mystic River
Shutter Island

Does my quest to watch Boston movies mean I'm relegating myself to a summer of drama?  Or are there quality offerings that make the city sparkle?  You know, other than things like 1776, because I seriously cannot handle any more Revolutionary War songs.  Leave our Founding Fathers and their vocal chords alone.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

My Kind of Valentine

Behold, the fruits of my morning's labors:

To you, dear blog world, with all the sincere love I can muster.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Butterfly Wings

According to chaos theory, even the slightest diversion off a course can spiral, leading to completely unforeseen results.  I'm no mathematician--far from it, with my love of words and fear of numbers--but the theory makes sense.  I've had too many math problems go awry depending on where I put a negative, or whether I inverted such and such fraction.  After that, it becomes a matter of carefully hunting, tracking down the one moment that set it all off.

Too confusing?  Try history.  One of Ben Franklin's maxims states that, "little strokes fell great oaks."  What seems like a small start can blossom into something magnificent.  While it may feel inconsequential at the time, sooner or later that tree will be felled.  The mighty task will be finished.  Those results?  Bigger than thought possible.

Two years ago today, I unknowingly tested those theories.  Like the proverbial butterfly in Brazil, I fluttered my wings.  Thirteen months and six days later, a tornado happened.  In a small white room in Bountiful, that tornado picked me up and transported me to the Oz-like wonderland I now inhabit.

I didn't know that this is where my life would lead.  If I had known, I probably wouldn't have made that phone call, watched that movie, or let my heart move on.  How was I to know that the vastness of the world was so comfortable?  How was I to know that I would be safe and warm, as long as he was there?

But now.  Now I know.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

I Don't Date Often...

...but when I do, it's a smashing success.

Nothing like wool pea coats, the perfect drink from Starbucks (raspberry white hot chocolate with soy), Queen Anne, and Groundhog's Day at the Uptown with guest Stephen Tobolowsky to make a girl feel special.  Oh, and the perfect date, of course.  Taylor is pretty rad.


"That's what film is--a visual poem."  -Stephen Tobolowsky

Shut it Down!

30 Rock is not the show it once was.  In fact, it hasn't even been a ghost of the show it was.  Season six was downright cringe-worthy, and while season seven has been slightly better, it's still only provided a few weak smiles instead of the belly laughs of old.

But I have to admit.  That finale.  It blew me out of the water, sucking me into the Rock hilarity of olden days.  

For the first time in a while, it didn't feel forced.  The show didn't feel like they were trying to betray characters, or build up to something, or change focus.  It felt honest.  They touched on all the greats--the crazy catch phrases, the dynamic in the writer's room (something I have sorely missed over the past couple of seasons), Jenna's insecurity and Tracy's insanity, the sudden reappearance of Pete (PETE!  How I've missed thee), and a return to NBC power dynamics, this time with Kenneth in a new role.  30 Rock was always at it's finest when it was grounded in reality, and somehow, inconceivably, it regained that dynamic in this last episode.  Whether it was dealing with the difficulties in negotiating with networks or the struggles in producing a workable show, Fey was at her best when the madcap moments had a logical jumping off point.  But that same madcappery took over the show as of late, making it almost a chore to watch.

And I felt that way through most of this last, fateful season.  I could not have cared less about Jenna's unwindulaxing, or if Jack was going to tank NBC.  There was no reality in it, so there was no investment.  And of all the insane plot devices, nothing was more irksome than Liz's relationship with Criss.  As played by James Marsden, Criss came off as a completely false character.  It was difficult to believe that his relationship with Liz even happened, and not only because Tina Fey and Marsden had absolutely no chemistry.

And then they got married.  And for the first 75% of the episode, I was a seething ball of rage.  This made no sense!  What a lazy way to get a point across!  What betrayal, to take the depth that was once Liz Lemon and make her into this harp-tastic poster model for the worst kind of feminist, the kind who kicked against all typical gender roles in an attempt to make the playing field more even.  And as I rolled my own eyes at her sweatshirt wedding, with it's overly-conscientious rebuttal against tradition, something unexpected happened. 

Liz softened, bending to the fairy tale, but wishing to make it uniquely hers.  She realized that she wanted something that spoke to her, that didn't celebrate her as a bride, but her as a wonderful beautiful person that was making a significant change in her life.  She looked at Criss with questioning in her eyes, until he said, “Liz, it’s okay to be a human woman!”  I cheered.  I might have teared up a little bit.  I definitely was won back over to the 30 Rock side of life.  Finally, after too long in the world of the bizarre, it was back with some truth.  Some plain, unforced truth that made me fall in love with Tina Fey all over again.

After that, it was easier to say goodbye.  There was no longer bitterness about the show that had once been, but only fond memories of what it was and how it ended.  Perfectly, drifting on a boat to find itself, but back again in those last few moments.  Wrapped up neatly, but with loving nods to what came before.  Just like Fey herself, the finale carved out it's own niche while retaining a respect for the medium, but all while acknowledging the things that made it great--both in the greater TV sphere (snow globe, anyone?) and in it's own unique mythology (Rural Juror!).  Well done, 30 Rock.  I'll slow clap that ending out.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

It's Okay

"I think that if I ever have kids, and they are upset, I won't tell them that people are starving in China or anything like that because it wouldn't change the fact that they were upset.  And even if somebody else has it much worse, that doesn't really change the fact that you have what you have.  Good and bad.  Just like what my sister said when I had been in the hospital for a while.  She said that she was really worried about going to college, and considering what I was going through, she felt really dumb about it.  But I don't know why she would feel dumb.  I'd be worried, too.  And really, I don't think I have it any better or worse than she does.  I don't know.  It's just different.  Maybe it's good to put things in perspective, but sometimes, I think that the only perspective is to really be there.  Like Sam said.  Because it's okay to feel things.  And be who you are about them."

-Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, pg. 211-212

Caspar David Friedrich, Wanderer above the Sea of Fog

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Over the Whelm

While carpooling to work today, I became embroiled in one of those retrospective conversations.  The topic on today's menu?  College.  As my carpooling compatriot and I swapped stories from the underbelly of our undergraduate years, told stories of nightmare professors and all-nighters, something happened.  My heart gained weight, became a grenade with the pin half-pulled, ready to either explode or lie dormant.

I'm pretty sure this image is from Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life, the first book in the series.

The wheels are in motion for me to go to grad school.  Applications are in order or almost in order. I've detached from Seattle and allowed myself to experience the sweet taste of wanderlust, my feet and possessions becoming eager to see a new location.  I've made my intentions clear at work, gently side-stepping possible/likely job advancements.  And I'm ready.  I'm ready to push my life further.

But then.  The memories of being a student.  The apathetic lethargy that came with my university experience. The feelings of being drained, being frustrated, being uninspired.  One of the things that encouraged me to return to school was a recent burst of inspiration, a desire to investigate things, to create things.  I'm starting to worry that school will once again sap me of passion.

So yeah.  Tl;dr (which means too long; didn't read for all you non-Reddit initiated folk)(I learned Reddit abbreviations recently and I'm really excited about it, that's all)(no judgement)?  Blah blah blah nervous fear blah.

Luckily I've found solace by looking at pictures of deserts, listening to this ad nauseum, and watching a whole ton of this:

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

One of THOSE Things

I fought against doing a "year wrap up" post.  And I'm not sure you can call this one, considering that January is halfway over.  But after doing some kind of glance back for the past two years (2010 and 2011), I've decided I like the closure.  I have always enjoyed looking at my yearly progression, and although the urge to look towards the past typically comes to me in the fall, the start of a new year is just too crisp and clear and convenient to resist.

Typically, I hate Christmas and December with the fury of five thousand burning meteors.  Want proof?  Try this article, written for my high school newspaper:
Behold, the cleverness of high school Cat.

That writing is so convincing I almost hate Christmas again.  But not this year!  This year was full of warmth and joy and muppets and happiness and the first real Christmas tree I've had in years.  I even had a nephew in town to help decorate it.  That seemed to start the holiday off right, and it just snowballed from there.

See what I did with the word "snowballed"?  So holiday appropriate!  And punny.

So final verdict:  Good on ya, Christmas.  I'll keep you around for now.

And now, a rundown of stuff I did in 2012:
  • Moved to Seattle.  Fell in love with Seattle.  Became very snooty about how awesome Seattle is.
  • GOT MARRIED.  Yep,  That's right.  You can just go home everyone, I win.  No one else did anything as impressive or monumental or as fulfilling of life as I have, now that I have my very own person trapped with me forever.  Though, in all honesty, marriage is awesome and I highly recommend it.
  • Applied for a ton of jobs.
  • Was hired and worked at two different jobs: first as a tutor at a company that may or may not have made me racist, second at a private school that has helped me learn what I want to do with my life.
  • Rediscovered my love of cooking, especially in finding and trying out new recipes.  Ask me about what I can do with a sweet potato.
  • Turned 23, going on 35.  I still can't believe I'm that young.
  • Used my Batman lunchbox.
  • Watched waaaay too many Rifftrax.  My favorites are this, this and this.
  • Went to a select few, quality concerts: Andrew Bird, Jack White, and the most delightfully intimate house show with Jeremy Messersmith.
  • Made my own family traditions.  That's pretty neat.
  • Ate cupcakes.  Am still undecided between Trophy Cupcakes and Cupcake Royale.
  • Went to Spiral Jetty FINALLY.  And with some delightful Mary and Rosemary.
  • Had a dream vacation with Taylor, visiting family in New York, then hopping over to the Baltic's to see Taylor's mission in Latvia and Estonia, and rounding it all out with some time in St. Petersburg.
  • Started a new Thanksgiving tradition--watching The Crucible.
  • Read many, many comic books.  My favorites are American Vampire, Batman: The Black Mirror (both by Scott Snyder), and Blankets by Craig Thompson. 
  • Dyed my hair!  And not just the couple streaks, like last year.  The whole, entire head of hair a burgundy color.  It's pretty hardcore--I look like I should be wearing black leather and hunting vampires.  Which is one of my dream jobs, so I suppose it fits.
  • Decided to go to graduate school fall 2013.
It was a wonderful year. One of the best in recent memory.  That's really all I have to say about that.

It's not a new year unless I make progress, and I want to track that progress.  A few months ago, I had this epiphany.  And I realized that the only thing preventing me from doing stuff is me.  If I want to do something, I need to go ahead and do it.  So that's my vague, overarching thing I want to work on.  Be assertive.  Get stuff done.  There's nobody else to blame but me.  But here are some concrete things I'd like to achieve this year.  My "resolutions," if you're into that word (I, personally, am not).

1.  Get published.  I don't care if it's for a website or a weekly or what, but I want to submit my writing someplace and have other people publish it.
2.  Get into grad school.  Please oh please let this happen.
3.  Stop eating the food in the faculty room.
4.  Keep track of the media I consumed.  Consume more media.  This includes tracking my movies, TV shows, and books.
5.  As part of the accountability for the above goal, I'm going to write reviews for every book I read.  Every.  Single.  Book.  Even the crappy, shameful YA books I sometimes read.  If you want to follow along with this journey, check me out on Goodreads.