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Archive for November, 2009

Day 30

Today is the last day of November, which means that National Blog Posting Month has reached its conclusion. I am proud that I stuck with it and actually did post every single day, even when it was difficult.

I have heard that it takes 30 days to create a habit, so I am hoping that in posting every day for 30 days, I have at least a foundation for a blog-posting habit.

And of course, I have learned some things thanks to NaBloPoMo. What are those lessons?

It’s hard to write every day, and I have a pretty laid-back life. I really only have to take care of myself, but even still, sometimes I really just want to go to bed and forget about trying to post in the blog. However, the time to write does exist, so long as I commit to it.

It is difficult for me to write something not about myself. When I try to talk about something other than me (Lost, Chicago, New Moon), it ultimately becomes a post about my experience of that thing, not the thing itself.

I should try to use fewer words. My habit is to use many more words than are necessary. I also enjoy starting sentences with the word “and” more than is appropriate.

It is hard to try and come up with something interesting to say every day.

However, no matter how blank my brain feels, I always can find something to say, even if it is stale or uninteresting. Is it worth it to write that down, just in the name of writing it down? If my goal is to become a better writer, maybe it is worth it to write just to write. That was supposed to be the purpose of this blog, anyway.

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“Lost”

As I have mentioned a few times, I am in the process of getting caught up on the TV show “Lost.” The show started when I was in college, when I wasn’t watching a whole lot of TV. I remember hearing the buzz about it, though, and given how much I love “The X-Files,” I thought it might be a show I would like. But, I also knew that it was a show that one absolutely must watch from the beginning.

This summer, my sister decided that we both needed to get caught up on the first five seasons, so that we could watch the sixth and final season with the rest of the world. It was going to be a cultural event, and we needed to be a part of it.

In a way, it’s a bit like the seventh Harry Potter book. You have read all the prior books, you have seen all the prior seasons of the show, and you have as many questions as you have answers. But with the last book, with the last season, you get to finally have most of the answers revealed–and you’re going to share in that new understanding with a great many other people in the world. I like being a part of those sorts of events.

Of course, now my sister is going to be off on an internship in the middle of nowhere during the final season of “Lost,” and won’t necessarily going to have easy access to things like television or the outside world. (And you know, this “internship” suddenly sounds extremely suspicious when you talk about it in the same conversation as “Lost.” I’m drawing some PARALLELS with Juliet’s situation. UMM, NOT OKAY.) So, unlike the final Harry Potter book, this won’t be a cultural event that we will experience together.

Still, I’m very glad that she made me get on the ball with “Lost,” so that I will be able to watch the final season with parts of the world not in the middle of nowhere.

It’s taken me a little longer to get through the show than it did my sister, because I am much more particular about the circumstances in which I watch it. It’s not really a show that you watch to relax. I have a hard time watching too many episodes of it in a row, because I get too engrossed, and then tend to freak out about WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT OMG. I have a hard time watching it when it’s dark outside, because it does make me feel like no one is to be trusted.

I also struggled to get through the inferior second season of the show. Seriously, it probably took me two months to get through the second season, as compared to probably two weeks to get through the third season. Now that I’m onto the fourth season, I am struggling with the show for a different reason. Now, I am struggling because the situations for the characters on the show seem to be getting worse (as if that were even possible), and it makes me so anxious to see them cracking up that I’m torn between wanting to sit and watch as many episodes as is possible, and never wanting to watch the show again!

I am powering through, though, in the name of a shared cultural experience. And, you know, also because the show is absurdly compelling. I just need to try to set aside my concerns for Sayid’s fate for tonight so, you know, I’m actually able to fall asleep.

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Christmas Spirit

Now that Thanksgiving has actually taken place, my beloved Christmas season has begun! We have started listening to Christmas music! And, in very exciting news, my sister and I have started decorating the house.

The Christmas tree!

The entertainment center, with White Christmas playing on the TV!

The piano!

The doormat outside!

A new ornament for this year!

I am excited that the house is decorated. The funny thing is that now that the music is playing and the decorations are out, I’m not really feeling all that Christmas-y.

I’m inclined to blame it on the weather. While it was actually nice and cold on Thanksgiving, today it was sunny and an annoying 60 degrees outside. I don’t know how people who live in places that are warm all year round ever feel like it’s Christmastime, because I am clearly very particular about temperatures.

Maybe it’s just because I haven’t started my Christmas baking yet. Maybe I’m just grouchy that my Thanksgiving break is all-too-quickly coming to an end. Maybe it’s more strange than I thought it would be to celebrate Christmas in a new house.

Maybe it’s because after we put up the decorations, I watched four episodes of “Lost” (the end of the third season and the first episode of the fourth season) and it has whipped me into such an anxious tizzy that I can’t even think about festive holiday cheer, all I can do is worry about JACK and KATE and HURLEY and CHARLIE and DESMOND and OH MY GOD. No, seriously, have you watched the third season finale and the fourth season premiere? OH MY GOD.

Or maybe it’s because the grass, oh, it is always, always greener. It’s possible that if I want it to feel like Christmas, I need to try a bit harder to make myself feel that way and take charge of putting myself in a Christmas state of mind!

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My sister and I went to see New Moon this afternoon.

It was not what we expected.

I have written before about my multi-layered ambivalence toward the entire Twilight franchise. When I read the books, I both hated them and loved them. I hated the misogyny. I hated the atrocious writing. I hated that there were people who dared to say that Twilight is better than Harry Potter. I hated the insane cult-like following that has sprung up around the books and movies. I loved how idiotically fun the books were to read.

I was pretty psyched last year for the movie adaptation of Twilight. And when I saw that movie, something magical happened. My feelings toward it were one part pure enjoyment, one part dismay, and two parts of delight at the unintentional hilarity in the movie. My sister and I both couldn’t get enough of it. We saw it an embarrassing number of times in theaters. And now, I can’t even read the book anymore, because it can’t compare to the barrel of fun and laughs that is the movie.

In going to see New Moon, we were both afraid that it was going to change the way we watched Twilight. How could we enjoy it when it might not have the same magical quality as Twilight? More importantly, maybe it would ruin the absurd magic of Twilight. Would we ever be able to recapture our delight at the way that Robert Pattinson says “halloh” when he introduces himself to Bella?

More likely, given that we both really didn’t enjoy New Moon-the-book very much, I doubted I would enjoy the movie all that much. I was pretty sure it would be painfully boring. I was never into the werewolves, and I don’t like seeing squicky Taylor Lautner without his shirt on AT ALL.

In fact, there was a trailer before New Moon “for a movie called “Remember Me” which stars Robert Pattinson and CLAIRE from LOST! We got so excited about that movie that we both said to each other that we really, really wished we were seeing that movie instead of stupid, boring New Moon.

But New Moon was not what we expected.

Oh god, shockingly, we both kind of liked it.

When the movie first started, I said to my sister, “This is so weird. It’s like we’re watching Twilight, but it’s not Twilight.”

It wasn’t Twilight at all. In fact, it’s strange how different New Moon was. The weird green filter was missing. New Moon was scored SO completely differently than Twilight. Kristen Stewart was MUCH better directed, and therefore her performance involved less frantic shaking and less lip-biting, and was far more watchable. And of course, there wasn’t nearly as much RPattz.

Most significantly, New Moon was not as full of the Twilight lulz. There were some good unintentional laughs, such as the smoky disembodied head of Robert Pattinson, but there were also actually really funny parts of New Moon, which were funny in an intentional way. New Moon did not have the wonderful hilarious magic of Twilight, but it was undoubtedly a better movie. (Although, the gross business with Jacob and the werewolves did get old.)

It was missing all the pieces that we so love about Twilight. And yet, we liked it anyway. After the movie, we kept saying to each other, “This is so confusing. I can’t believe how much I liked it.” And, “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I kind of want to go see it again.”

I don’t understand what is going on. WHY DOES THIS FRANCHISE MAKE ME FEEL THIS WAY?

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There are all the many obvious things to be grateful for, and I am grateful for those things. There are family, friends, steady employment, my sweet precious dog, good health, all of you reading this, and a nice house to live in, to say nothing of free tires that are gifted to me in my front yard! Good fortune aplenty!

I thought it would be more interesting to mention some of the less-obvious things I am grateful for this year.

Dance class
If I can’t be a full-time student again, this is the next best thing. Because of dance class, I am a happier, healthier person as a whole. It challenges me. Sometimes I get discouraged when I am so uncoordinated that I can’t do an incredibly simple move that everyone else in the class does without thinking, but it forces my brain to make connections that don’t come easily to me. Dance is also a weekly source of no-pressure socialization with a group of friendly people. All in all, it is the one activity since graduating from college that has made me the happiest.

This American Life & Radiolab
These two shows have also been an important stimulus for me, post-college. Both shows make me think, and both shows are very comforting. Even when Radiolab does a show on Parasites. Still, comforting! When there was no power during the ice storm in January, I got into bed at 8 or 8:30, because bed was a place where I could feel warm. I’d settle in under a layer of ten blankets and I’d listen to TAL or Radiolab until I fell asleep. They kept me from feeling desperately anxious during an awful week.

Wellesley College
Wellesley will forever be the place where I came into my own and started feeling, for the first time, like I had a clear vision of myself. I am not making use of hyperbole when I say that it was the perfect place for me. At Wellesley, I felt smart and empowered and confident and able. I have a necklace with the Wellesley seal I like to wear when it becomes harder for me to feel that way.

Bryan Fuller
Bryan Fuller is the master of perfect television. Every show he creates is a favorite of mine, despite the fact that the rest of the world (and television networks) aren’t so good at catching on. That guy gets me, without even knowing me, and he makes television just for me.

Friends in Many Places
Friends in many places means I have many destinations to visit. The list of friends is longer than the amount of money I have for plane tickets and the amount of vacation days I have at work, which is a very lucky, fortunate situation in which to be.

My Swim Club
I grew up going to this swim club, and now I’m a member there on my own. My favorite thing to do during the summer months is to sit by the pool reading a book, and to then take a leisurely swim. When it’s not pool season, the club gym is the place where I really got serious about getting into shape for the first time in my life.

Fake Meat Products
I try to not eat meat because I know it’s not a good thing for the environment, but that doesn’t change the fact that meat is delicious. I’m grateful that there are substitutes for many different kinds of meat products that I can enjoy, without feeling the guilt that I’m eating an animal.

Just a few of the more random things for which I am grateful. Happy Thanksgiving!

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One of the thing that irks me most about my new home is that it is in a location where people apparently feel it is appropriate to throw trash in my yard.

In the five months I’ve lived in my house, I have found an incredible amount and variety of garbage.

The trash includes, but is not limited to:
– a tire (found sitting in my yard this morning)
– a used menstrual pad
– a package of ramen noodles, opened slightly with the dry noodles spilling out
– unopened, slightly crushed tootsie roll pops (months before Halloween)
– a Mountain Dew can (currently in the smack-dab middle of my front yard)
– the cardboard box from a twelve pack of cheap beer
– countless plastic cups, usually in pieces
– countless plastic soda bottles
– at least one plastic soda bottle with a suspiciously amber-colored liquid inside of it
– individually packaged cookie wrappers
– countless cigarette butts
– countless chip bags
– countless piles of dog poop left behind by inconsiderate pet owners

Tomorrow, on Thanksgiving, I will be thankful that I have a place to live, and I was lucky enough to be able to buy a house, and all that.

But for now, I will feel indignant about the fact that I have to pay $3 and drive to a city drop-off if I want to responsibly dispose of the tire that someone dumped in my yard last night!

Come on!

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Can you tell yet that I am excited for Christmas? We are getting closer and closer to the official start of the holiday season (or, at least, my official start of my holiday season), which is thrilling.

As I have mentioned before, some of my favorite things about the season are all the freaking awesome entertainment options that Christmas brings. So! Because I am seriously hurting for ideas of topics about which to blog, I present to you my very favorites in holiday entertainment!

I’ve mentioned that I like to watch White Christmas while putting up the Christmas tree, but perhaps the best Christmas movie ever is The Muppet Christmas Carol. I have been a fan of the Muppets my entire life. Unlike many of the more recent Muppet movies, which have been very lackluster, this one has everything one could want out of a Muppet movie, including totally sweet musical numbers.

Love Actually is another recent movie that became an instant Christmas classic for me. I am pretty sure that an exaggerated stastic is called for in describing this movie, like probably 90% of American females love Love Actually, and I am happily one of them. It is festive! It is funny! It is absurdly heart-warming! It ALSO has great musical numbers!

In terms of television, I really am not sure where to start. So many TV shows have done absolutely wonderful special Christmas episodes, so my list of favorite Christmas TV episodes are roughly the Christmas episodes of my favorite shows. Perhaps the most traditional Christmas TV episode in my house, though, is the “How The Ghosts Stole Christmas” episode of The X-Files. My sister and I watch that every Christmas Eve night, after we come home from the extended family celebration. What is not festive and merry about watching Mulder and Scully drag their bloodied bodies through a haunted house while “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” plays in the background? Someone pass me the soy egg nog!

However, Christmas episodes of The West Wing, Sports Night, The OC, The Office, How I Met Your Mother, and Remember WENN are similarly epic. Also, my sister and I are both very excited this year to watch the iCarly Christmas special, which, from what I can tell, contains parodies of all the Christmas classics, from It’s A Wonderful Life to A Charlie Brown Christmas.

To pick my favorite Christmas music is even more overwhelming than trying to pick my favorite Christmas TV show. In fact, it’s pretty much a lie, because I love almost all Christmas music in almost all its permutations, including the religious songs, which while not holding particular religious significance for me, remain really really great songs. I will never be able to stray so far from my Catholic upbringing that I won’t appreciate a version of “Joy to the World” with a descant and organ accompaniment. As Thanksgiving Day approaches, I look forward to a local radio station converting to an all-Christmas music, all-the-time format.

A recent favorite, though, is Death Cab for Cutie’s cover of “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).” I’m not sure how I discovered this song’s existence, but I was happy to do so. Death Cab for Cutie–turning the holiday season emo, one song at a time! It totally, totally works for me.

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