In Defense of Rory Gilmore

gilmore-girls-netflix-revival-rory

Alexis Bledel as ‘Rory Gilmore’ in “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life”; photo taken from Hypable 

I wrote the following after seeing multiple posts on blogs, Tumblr, and legitimate news sites basically slut shaming Rory Gilmore in “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” for decisions she makes regarding men.  Some of it isn’t actually slut shaming, some of it is simply die-hard fans who, like me, have probably watched the original series many times and have a romanticized idea of what Rory is like and how she should behave; they are disappointed, these fans, that thirty year old Rory isn’t making the same decisions as twenty year old Rory.

I think there are many factors to consider before judging Rory too harshly.

First of all: it’s been ten years.  No one dates exactly the same way they did ten years ago.  She’s in her thirties now, she’s less inhibited, less shy, more open to experiences.  As humans grow, we change, see things differently.  Rory is going to have a different mindset at 32 than she did when she was nineteen.

Secondly: We don’t know what her dating experience has been since leaving college.  Previous relationships have a great affect on how a person treats future romantic partners.  It’s possible she’s had one too many terrible boyfriends since Logan.  Also: Rory’s a bit of a nomad, it’s difficult to maintain exclusive relationships when you’re constantly moving.  Believe me, I know.

Thirdly: As a person ages, she becomes less idealistic.  Young people often have a rigid sense of morality, Rory certainly did.  This is why kids will often (foolishly) write off friends for not meeting a certain moral standard (see Veronica Mars).  But as we age and mature, we realize there’s a lot of gray in the world, and we are not the ultimate voice of right and wrong in the universe.  So we sleep with that guy we met at that party, and we drink the tequila, and drive to NYC to watch an SNL rehearsal and get a hot dog just to turn around and drive home again the same day.

Fourth: People also become less optimistic.  Which seems strange considering people become less cynical (unless you’re Louis C.K., or a dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker) as they get older, but when it comes to relationships and dating, single, straight, American women seem to become more pessimistic about relationships.  Consider this Garfunkel and Oates song.

Fifth: We don’t know what sort of relationship Logan has with this French woman.  Maybe it’s an open relationship?  Maybe he has the same deal with her as he has with Rory?  The French are way less puritanical about sex than Americans.

We, especially those of us who grew up alongside Rory, want her to be a sort of moral beacon since she’s just like us only better, but really she’s not.  Rory is just as flaky as we are, she’s just as confused, just as meandering, just as flawed.  She is searching for her place in the world the same way we are.

And, as with all things, the viewer brings his or her own experience to the story.  All my girlfriends who are married, engaged, or in long term relationships had the same reaction: “Rory has had ample time to find someone new, loving, and stable, why is she back with old boyfriends and making these decisions?”  While all my fellow single girlfriends in their early thirties looked at Rory and said: “Yeah, nope, that’s exactly right!”

This post is edited slightly from the original post on Tumblr.

Toilet Talk

This might sound strange, but I would love to have a clear tank on my toilet.  Simple devices they may be, toilets have been one of the biggest annoyances in my life.  We’ve all been there, am I right?  You’ve just dropped a deuce and the toilet isn’t flushing properly, and it isn’t even your house.  Panic sets in, you close the lid, remove all the knickknacks from the back of the toilet, take off the cover and start poking around like you’re Bob frickin Vila.  If you’re lucky it’s just that the chain came unattached from the handle and you’re up to your elbow in tank water, manually lifting the plug and hooking the chain back on.  Worst case scenario it’s the other end and you need a plunger.  More often than not, in houses it’s the former.  Your panic whooshes down with your piss and feces and you vacate the toilet feeling light and breezy.

I’ve lived in a lot of pretty rundown places where maintenance is either difficult or not a priority.  Because of that I’ve encountered a number of toilet problems and therefore have become proficient at plunging a toilet, jerry-rigging a flush handle, and holding down the handle until the tank empties completely.  I can’t help thinking there’d be fewer plumbing issues if toilet tanks were see through.  Not the bowl, the tank full of clean water with the spout and that balloon thingy that senses when the tank is full.  If it were see through we’d know the tank had emptied and that we can release the handle.  We’ve all been there, right?  Standing, awkwardly bent over, holding the handle like a boob because we’re not sure if it’s done flushing or not (this is assuming you close the lid when you flush like you should).  A clear tank would eliminate this anxiety.

So I looked it up: “toilet with a clear tank”.  And this is what I found:

Not what I was expecting.

In 2006 AquaOne presented the Fish ‘n Flush aquarium toilet tank.  No worries, the fish aren’t in the tank, there is a separate compartment that houses the fish.  The aquarium merely gives the illusion there are goldfish in your toilet.  The tank holds about 2.2 gallons while the aquarium holds 2.5 and can house pretty much anything except coral.  (Don’t you dare put any fucking coral in there.)  As long as it fits, it flies… er, swims.  And the kit came with everything one might need except water and fish.  Oh, and it glows in the nighttime due to strategically placed LED lights.

Unfortunately (fortunately?) this product is no longer available.  Although these people might still have some.  It’s hard to tell.  But don’t go looking at fishnflush.com, that domain is now owned by a guy who writes software code.

After perusing the aquarium option, I found this promotional video for a related product:

Closer to what I meant.  Although, I have zero interest in decorating my toilet tank.  That’s just weird.

Neither do I want a tank that is also an aquarium.  But I still believe a nice, clear, plexiglass toilet tank would make life easier and remind users to hold down the handle until the tank empties.  One day.  A girl can dream.

Happy National Friendship Day: A Tribute

In the past two months I have written two short stories about a single woman looking for love.  One, specifically; the other, well, she sort of finds love by accident.  (Well, she meets a couple of dudes, we don’t know that she loves either of them.)  Neither of these stories would accomplish the wretchedly simple job of passing the Bechdel Test, a test I find important, but not as important as representing “real” women, whatever that means (see my post about Thor v The Avengers).  But neither story is about female relationships (although one could analyze the female relationships in the first story).  I tend to write about what I’m currently going through and my mind was heavily on my own hetero-romantic relationships while I was writing them.  Because those are in a constant state of flux.  I didn’t write about my female relationships because my female relationships are solid.

Today is National Friendship Day, or some such nonsense, and it’s got me thinking about my most significant friendships.  Weirdly, or not so weirdly, the older I get the more important my female friendships are to me.  I still love my boys and my life would be sad without them, but it’s my girls, if ‘importance’ were a scale, who are the most important.  There are specific women from various points in my life who have greatly impacted me and continue to be my friends despite my wildly narcissistic and transient lifestyle.  And, the beauty of these women is that they are all different.

My oldest friend is someone who has always been supportive of me.  We met in the third grade in violin class and I have valued her opinion and her esteem and her friendship very highly ever since.  We had a small period of separation in college, but managed to reconnect afterwards and are still very close.  A very confident woman, she is also confidence-inspiring.  I never feel more encouraged, more empowered, than after I speak with her.  She took me clothes shopping for a “professional” outfit when I was temping, she sends me information on writing retreats and contests, she buys me dinner a couple times a year, and a birthday present even when I want to ignore my own birthday.  Always so career driven, she has served as an inspiration in my own professional life, making me believe I can forge ahead with the notion that I am a writer and might actually get paid one day to write.  I was happy to be a part of her wedding party when she asked.  She and her husband are one of the coolest couples I’ve ever met and have never, even inadvertently, made me feel badly about being single.  Their daughter is five months old and I know they are going to be excellent parents because they’ve been practicing on me for years now.  Every time I visit with them they feed me, give me career advice, and counsel me on my most recent romantic disaster.  When their kid is a teenager they’d be wise to remember how they’ve advised me over the years.

In high school I met my Best Friend (technically, all these women are my “best friend”, after all, like Mindy Lahiri says “best friend isn’t a person, it’s a tier”, but this one is my Best Friend).  My Best Friend is a funny woman.  She’s very analytical, enjoys making lists, and loves setting “life goals” — she was the only teenager I knew with a five-year-plan.  We met in a church youth group when we were sixteen and have been friends from the moment she introduced herself to me.  I don’t really know what drew us together initially, but a desire for a certain sort of connection kept us together.  Best Friend is a friend with whom I can discuss Important Topics.  From the time we were juniors in high school, she has been the friend with whom I discuss books, articles, philosophy, current events, the political impact of music, education, careers, travel, and religious matters.  We rarely talk about boys, men, love, or sex.  It was never a subject either of us brought up in high school and we rarely bring it up now.  Only occasionally have those subjects arisen, and mostly when she’d first met her now-husband and wasn’t sure how she felt about him.  Our friendship not only passes, but defines the Bechdel Test.  Which is odd for a Best Friend relationship, one might think, in stories it’s always the best friend who the protagonist goes to for sex or love advice.  It’s an entire category of movie character, usually played by Judy Greer or Jeremy Piven.  But our friendship has never been of that sort.  In high school it was sort of a relief, because there were plenty of other girls who were happy to talk about those topics ad nauseam and nothing else.

College.  So many significant things happened to me in college.  One, I learned that I am smart.  Highly intelligent, even.  Not like Mensa intelligent, not like best-friend-from-college smart, but of above average intelligence.  I also learned how to drink alcohol, kiss boys, and to travel independently.  Sophomore year I met previously mentioned best-friend-from-college at our tiny college, in our even tinier English department.  Originally an equine major, she moved to the dark side after taking a seminar on Tolkien freshman year.  She and I wound up in almost all the same classes Sophomore year, including a Theater History class where, I feel, we really bonded.  Self-centered moron I am, I didn’t realize how close our friendship was until after the opening performance of Fahrenheit 451 when she ran up to me, gave me a huge hug, and told me how well I’d done.  Starting then our friendship deepened significantly.  We were travel buddies during our semester abroad, she was there the first time I got really drunk, the first time I got really hung up on a dude, the first time I went home with a guy.  And I was there for her when she underwent similar foolishness.  We saw each other be incredibly silly about men, and make unbelievably wise decisions about our education and work.  We are each other’s favorite theater-going friend and she is still one of the first people I will talk to about dating woes.  All the things that brought us together in college — literature, theater, writing — are still our favorite topics.  She is lovely, generous, and supportive.  I see her the least of the four women I’m writing about today and, therefore, I miss her the most.  But I am always incredibly proud of her.

The friend I’ve seen the most lately is technically my boss.  We work for a seasonal outdoor education program where staff live all together on site, and recently I’ve shared a house with my direct supervisor.  We started working together in the spring of 2014, before that we knew each other a little, mostly by sight.  That first spring we worked together, however, our knowledge of one another turned from knowing a little about each other, to knowing everything about one another.  Staff relations that season were a little tense and few came to our house (even though that’s where the food is).  The Boss and I found ourselves, many nights and weekends, the only two hanging out.  A fun, friendly, chatty woman she and I quickly opened up to each other about a whole many things.  I used to lament that I didn’t have any Sex and the City friends, no group of women with which to discuss life, dating, and sex over brunch.  Suddenly, amongst other things, I had this: a woman I regard highly to whom I could unburden myself when feeling emotional, or frustrated about anything (not just men or sex).  She is a friend who would drink whisky with me when I broke up with someone and get excited with me when I met someone new.  The twelve months I was 29 turned out to be a particularly trying twelve months.  I was getting down about all the bummed out things that happened, sure nothing good happened that year.  But then I remembered the new friendship I’d developed with my housemate and colleague.  If there has ever been a bright spot, it has been her.  I am certain I would not have struggled through certain things as well as I did if it weren’t for her friendship.  I am happy she is there when I need her and I am more than happy to be there when she needs me.

The Girl Scout Law commands that one tries her best to “be a sister to every Girl Scout”.  Growing up with three older sisters, Girl Scout sisters, and, once I started school, a number of girl friends, I’ve always felt that line applies to all girls, all women, I chance to meet.  Sometimes those relationships don’t last, but others remain strong even when far apart.  That isn’t to say the latter is “better”, or “more real” than the former.  As Cher Horowitz says “all my friends [are] really good in different ways.”  I love all my friends for those things that make them good.  These four women, in particular, are friends whom I am exceptionally lucky to have because my life would be significantly different without them.

A Story of Natural Consequences

dock

A little ways to the left of the dock above is a deep channel dug years ago for irrigation purposes.  Whoever was digging it gave up and now it’s just a deep, muddy ditch.  This wouldn’t be a big deal if it weren’t for the fact that the program I work for regularly brings students into that marsh.  Which isn’t actually a big deal: typically, our students listen to us when we tell them not to go into the mud because they’ll sink in up to their waists.  Typically they hear these instructions and heed our advice.  Typically.

Last week, the final week of our program for the school year, we had a school from the Boston inner city area.  With urban schools, my main objective is to get the kids out into nature, to try to get them to connect with something, anything, in the outdoors.  Now Boston isn’t New York in terms of nature, but my goal remains the same.  This is mud, those are trees, bug spray goes on you not the insects.

Regardless of where a school is from my rules are simple: we stay together, we have fun and learn something, don’t get hurt.  This last school had a little trouble with the rules.  None of the students got hurt, but half were having trouble with the “have fun and learn something” rule (“it’s so cold!”, “there are so many bugs!”, “I’m gonna get wet!”), while the other half was disregarding the “stay together” rule.

Tuesday, we’re in the marsh, about four girls have informed me they have to pee (these muffins are not prepared to go in the trees), I am attempting to get us as close to an actual bathroom as possible.  This is proving difficult as the kids not into the exploration are dragging their feet, and the kids who are into finding animals in the marsh keep finding really cool crabs and asking questions about the various species, and I’m really pumped to stop and examine and answer their questions.  However, slowly, but surely, we are getting closer and closer to the dock above (which is a short walk to the dining hall and, therefore, toilets) but we are still on the far side of the channel.

And I don’t realize that I’m not going to be able to get up ahead of them to warn them about the mud.

There I am, standing in the marsh, looking around to make sure all students are moving with the group, while staying away from the osprey nest on the point, when I turn back around to see, up ahead, K—-, a small, fifth grade boy in a clear plastic poncho, jump off the marsh, into the channel, and run/crawl up the far bank back onto the marsh.  I yell to them to stay where they are as the rest of the students and I make our way to the channel.  Miraculously all the students come gather around.  Mostly due to other kids yelling “K—- LOST HIS SHOE!  K—- LOST HIS SHOE!  MISS BECKA, K—- LOST HIS SHOE!”

K—- had, indeed, lost one of his shoes.

Very calmly, to the gathered students, I tell them that I am now going to tell them the story of the girl who jumped in the channel.  She didn’t listen to me, got ahead of me, much like K—- did, jumped in the channel and sank up to her waist in the mud.  She was lucky, however, I told my students.  Unlike another student who lost his boot in the mud.  When his teacher reached in to get it out, she pulled out a boot, sure; but not that kid’s boot.  A different boot.  K—-‘s shoe is gone.  K—-‘s shoe is no more.  There is no shoe.  It’s gone, baby; gone.

And I couldn’t be mad at him.  Couldn’t yell at him.  I couldn’t give him a warning or a strike for running ahead.  The boy lost his shoe in the mud.  Forever.  I wasn’t about to jump in there and try to retrieve it, especially after the kid told me he had another pair in the cabin.  I did tell his teacher when we got back, however.  He agreed with me: Natural Consequences.  Now the kid knows if he jumps in the mud again: he might lose his shoes.

This child is destined to lose shoes, though; I’m convinced.  The next day, that same student almost lost his sandal to the ocean.  Another kid fished it out with a crabbing net.

Why I’m still rooting for Becca Tilley.

Photo credit: Steve Cachero

Ew, not for her relationship with Chris; in life.

Becca Tilley is the final lady rejected by Chris Soules on the most recent season of ABC’s “The Bachelor”.  She is a 26 year old chiropractic assistant in California, raised in Louisiana.  She is smart, gorgeous, and nice.  Unlike so many of the other girls who wind up on ABC’s reality-drama “looking for love”, she’s “unemotional”.  Which is to say she doesn’t break down crying or laugh really loudly or talk a lot.  Despite her reserve and her sweet appearance, Becca is tough and I want to see her succeed.

The Internet has been pretty harsh about Becca since the finale aired last week calling her “unemotional” and “unfeeling”.  Even the Bachelor himself, Mr. Sensitivity, wrote a misunderstood account of the scene in the barn when he broke up with Becca.  He dis-compassionately cited “the lack of emotion she showed in that moment” as being what hurt the most for him.  In a “moment” like that, being dumped, some girls might cry, some might throw a tantrum, some girls might get combative, but other girls immediately click into “self-preservation mode”.  Whether or not this was the case with Becca Tilley, I certainly don’t know (perhaps she was just in “shock” as she later says in the limo).  I can, however, think of several reasons why Becca’s outward expressions are entirely reasonable.

1. Self-preservation.  Getting dumped is the worst.  Break-ups are hard and emotionally taxing.  Some of us, when we’re told by someone we care about that they “don’t want us” have a knee-jerk reaction to “save face”.  After Chris tells Becca she’s not the one he’s choosing, she stiffens up, her smile goes away, she keeps nodding as he’s talking, all of which could indicate some major self-preservation kicking in.  She doesn’t want to look weak, or foolish, or vulnerable in front of this man whom she has come to trust as he is, essentially, betraying that trust.

2. She saw it coming?  The program was down to Becca and Whitney.  Becca is no fool, she knew that Chris has strong feelings for Whitney, and more importantly, Whitney’s life-goals line up with Chris’; Whitney also wants to settle down, get married, and start a family right now.  Whitney over Becca is the logical choice, assuming all parties are being 100% honest about what they want.  It’s entirely possible Becca knew she was saying goodbye to Chris that day because she was aware of her limitations in regards to Chris’s desires.  She entered the barn full of smiles, which could mean she was still hopeful, but it’s possible she’d already resigned herself to the fact that she and Chris were saying goodbye.

3. Becca doesn’t wear her heart on her sleeve.  Anyone watching the program at all knows that Becca is a bit of a dark horse, which isn’t a bad thing!  She doesn’t openly share her emotions, she isn’t loud and mouthy like Ashley I., and she isn’t dramatic like Kelsey, and she isn’t effervescent like Whitney.  Becca doesn’t try to be the loudest person in the room, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t feel anything, or notice what’s going on, or have opinions.  One out of three people, studies, and common sense, tell us, are Introverts: people who aren’t going to be the loudest person in the room, people who are probably going to keep their opinions to themselves, unless specifically asked.  But, since people don’t usually ask, Introverts can be overwhelmed when put on the spot.  They can become flustered and say “I don’t know” a lot.  Because they probably don’t know.  Becca has struck me throughout this cycle as a young woman who thinks before she speaks and if she is unsure about something she isn’t going to say that she is.  If she is an Introvert, Becca’s lack of outward emotion in the barn is entirely natural.  It’s entirely acceptable even if she isn’t.  She was receiving tough news and she probably needed time to process it.  Maybe she had an epic break down later off-camera?

4. SHE WAS BEING DUMPED ON NATIONAL TELEVISION.  Lest we forget “The Bachelor” is a fucking television show, Becca and the other contestants, I’m sure, never did.  They have cameras and microphones, a host, and a director, for fucks sake, hovering around them as they are attempting, presumably, to find their soulmate from a pool of pretty people carefully selected by a team of producers.  The stigma surrounding being vulnerable is pretty much bullshit, but something I can understand.  I can understand Becca not wanting all of America to see her vulnerability as the man she’s come to care for breaks up with her.  Were I in her shoes, I would probably want to keep some of my feelings private too.

To call this young woman “cold” and “unemotional” is downright rude, and only works to promote the incorrect notion that there is one “normal” mode of behavior.  The people who want Becca to have a breakdown, or cry, when Chris breaks up with her are naive.  It may have been sometimes subtle, but Becca struggled throughout the season.  She wants to fall in love, she doesn’t want to hurt Chris, and she doesn’t want to get hurt herself.  Part of her really wants to be with Chris, but ABC’s imposed timeline is not Becca’s timeline.  The network wants the Reality Couple to make certain declarations after only knowing each other for approximately two months and Becca’s hesitation is entirely rational.  As Queen Elsa says, “You can’t marry a man you just met!”.

Were Becca and Chris able to date exclusively for a while without the cameras, giving Becca time to figure out what her life in Iowa would be (kudos to her for not being willing to assimilate to his life foregoing one of her own!) perhaps they could make a go of it.  They seemed to genuinely care for one another and, given time, it could blossom into something strong and wonderful.  As it is, ABC puts the pressure on the couple to make a decision and make it now.  Whitney was ready to make a decision now.  Chris was ready to make a decision now.  Becca, like any reasonable twenty six year old, was not.

As a spectator of their lives, I like Becca.  I like Whitney, too.  I like a lot of the girls.  I even like Chris.  But, in life, I’m rooting for Becca.  Chris and Whitney can get married, break up, get back together, never see each other again.  But I want to see Becca Tilley achieve great things in this life on her own terms.  She isn’t unemotional at all, America (Chris), she just doesn’t share her emotions as readily as most people.  Something I view as a strength rather than a weakness.  Becca will use whatever she is feeling after this experience and funnel it into whatever she does next.  And whatever she does next is going to be brilliant.

1,990 Words on “It’s Not You, It’s Me”

Whether or not this is true, it feels like men see me in two distinct categories. I am either their cool older/younger sister, or I am a sexual object. To the former I say: bless you, brother. To the latter….

It’s amazing to me how many men feel like they can look at a woman and decide that she isn’t worth getting to know as a person, or she is, except that feeling is superseded by the fact that she has breasts and a vagina.1

Men, unfortunately, are often this simple. Boobs. That’s all it takes sometimes to distract them. And if the woman attached to the boobs shows even the slightest interest, say, allows his lips to touch hers, he takes that as consent to touch everything else with whatever part of his body he chooses. His penis takes over thinking and poor decisions get made. Because sex is physical and visual for men. Women know this.2 Now, women: sex for women happens partially in the brain. Men forget this. Women need to be mentally stimulated as much as physically. When their brains switch off, it’s curtains for the rest of it. When a man makes the decision to start touching the woman in places she’s not ready for, or doesn’t want him to touch, then her brain is going to switch off and she is not going to enjoy the encounter anymore.

And, after the incredibly awkward encounter, if the man tells the woman that his penis is hers, and only hers, whenever she wants it, she’s not going to like him anymore (if she even still does). At least, that’s how it was for me. That night I didn’t think he could get any less attractive, but then, the very next night, he started making out with a different woman.

This experience opened my eyes to certain yuckier human tendencies: there are times we use each other for sex, that’s all an individual means to us, and the Person falls by the wayside. I’ve always known this happens (I went to college, after all) but it had never been a reality in my life until then – at least, I’d never been aware of it before. In that moment it became obvious that he didn’t actually want to know me as a person. I was a balm, I was a distraction, I was something completely different from what he dealt with in the rest of his day, men and boys; I was a woman. All he wanted that evening was someone full of estrogen, with breasts. He wanted the anti-male so badly that he forgot I also was surrounded by men and too much testosterone (we worked at a boy’s sports camp) and I had similar-yet-different frustrations with our environment. He forgot that I, too, am a person.

My story of assault is comparatively tame, especially when we consider others’ harrowing tales of rape and psychological abuse by people filled with an insatiable need for control at another person’s expense. I was not beaten or overpowered, or locked in a bunker, or completely taken advantage of, but my story, I think, is probably wicked common; seventy three per cent of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim – a friend, a partner, a coworker, a spouse, a relative. I worked with this man. We hardly knew each other, but saw one another everyday. I didn’t expect the assault. We didn’t have a strong a connection. He was just a dude and we got along ok – apparently because he was hitting on me the entire time.

Another trend I’ve noticed in my acquaintances: Men I’ve known for years and get along with just fine all seem to share the same secret – they find me attractive, and may, or may not, want to get into my pants. Someone I had known for four years, genuinely liked, and always got along with when we were together, finally made a wine-fueled move; a few weeks later we went on a date. Want to know what we discovered? We should not date. Ever. As much as I enjoy this person and as pretty as he might find me, our personalities are not compatible for a romantic relationship. With that date, the weird friendship we’d developed died. But more importantly for me: it was wildly depressing that what apparently fueled our friendship was his having the hots for me.

Don’t misunderstand me: he’s a wonderful person. If you even encounter him, go with the crazy. He’s fun and smart and interesting and a blast to be around. But because on his end, so much of our friendship was based on him thinking I’m pretty (which clarifies his ex-girlfriend’s enigmatical dislike of me), our friendship was disingenuous. A friendship based, even vaguely, on lust and physical admiration isn’t much of a friendship. When one party wants one thing and the other doesn’t (or isn’t aware of the situation), the friendship is doomed. Eventually these feelings are going to boil to the surface and take precedence over any platonic feelings. And when unrequited the feelings are the elephant in the room that makes further bonding nearly impossible.

At least, this is what I have experienced.

Television, novels, movies, and pop songs want us to believe that this is going to happen to each of us: one day a close friend is going to reveal that he has the hots for us, but it’s not just “the hots”, but “true love”, and it’s going to be freakin’ awesome. Except what these leave out is the Lust Factor. So many times this might happen and it won’t actually be True Love, but True Lust. That isn’t to say the man, or woman, doesn’t genuinely like the person, but they’ve already got the person naked in their mind and, generally, they’ve got a vague hope that one day the two of them will date and it’s going to be perfect. But once one person has the whole relationship worked out in their head, it’s over. Because the other person will never be able to live up to the fantasy. No matter how hard they try, or what they do, they are already fighting a losing battle. And there’s little worse than the frustration of being up against something that doesn’t exist.

But we do these things to each other. We either forget that someone is a person and see them as an object, or we project a personality onto a person that doesn’t quite match up with the one they possess. Then we’re disappointed. Because we are the tragic heroes of our lives; assholes who must right our own wrongs. Disgruntled, we try to move on, feeling uncomfortable and unhappy. Why do we do these things? Why do we put ourselves through this?

Mostly because we yearn for a connection with another. But something has hurt us in the past, barring us from being able to connect in a healthy manner. Unsatisfied we’re left continuously searching for that connection, we’re desperate for it, and our insecurities and inhibitions keep us from truly opening up to another person. Which causes us to be inadvertently careless with other people. Even though our carelessness has nothing to do with that person, but ourselves, it still affects the other person, usually negatively. Now that person carries a piece of our pain and they are going to have to spend some time realizing that it had nothing to do with them, but the other person. Then, they’re going to have to accept that, which, hopefully, will make them stronger as they move on from the situation.

Seventh grade, a boy let his friends be rude to me after I turned him down because I wasn’t ready for a boyfriend. Their being rude to me has affected my romantic interactions ever since. Why did he do that? He was hurt and wanted me to feel it? Maybe? I don’t know. I don’t know what his situation actually was, but it led to him being rude to me. Someone I had previously considered a friend, turned out to be thoughtless. And this is perhaps the reason I have trouble believing that a man who is interested in me can be both a friend and an intimate. It was the seventh grade, I certainly wasn’t emotionally mature enough to deal with whatever was wrong with him. What happened was I learned how to hold my head up and act like I wasn’t bothered. To show him that he had hurt my feelings would have meant admitting defeat, my twelve year old brain told me. I wasn’t going to engage, I wasn’t going to show him that he, a boy, could get me down. And, yet, in that moment something did change.

I still wasn’t ready for a boyfriend, that much remained the same, but now, to be vulnerable was a terrible thing. That a man could get inside and cause pain was unacceptable. Men, I knew, had caused women so much pain and suffering over the centuries. I knew that every time a man hurt a woman it was backed by centuries of close-mindedness and hate, institutionalized sexism passed down from generation to generation. And I, the young feminist I was, wasn’t about to let him get to me. Except I did. He got to me and I let it affect me, and I didn’t confront him. Because I was twelve and didn’t understand that confronting him and clearing the air was the best move. Instead I held on to my discomfort and insult and let it affect my interactions with other boys and men.

In the past I have let men see me as a sexual object and not a person, not necessarily wrong, but since it stems from an attempt to not let any one man get too close it was not the healthiest behavior. But, like most people, I have learned from my past experiences and strive to not make the same mistakes again. I try to be more open and let people in. Being closed-off, everyone will tell you, is a lonely way to live, but, sometimes, it’s also something a person needs to figure out for themselves. Their friends, loved ones, books, and movies might help by showing and teaching them this (so keep being there for your friends), but sometimes still a person needs to process in their own way and time. That’s equally important to becoming a stronger person, to figuring out who you are, and being the person you want to be.

That boy was wrong to let his friends be rude to me, and that man should have asked me before he touched me, and that other man shouldn’t have fantasized so much about what it would be like to be in a relationship with me. They were wrong. But it’s also important for me to face what has happened to me, what I have done, accept that it happened, deal with it, and move on. We all have baggage and it is up to each of us to let it go, not let it affect how we interact with other people. Because not every man is going to be that boy in the seventh grade, it would be unfair of me to assume he is; and not every man is going to be thoughtless and careless and I shouldn’t be so with him. We need to give people, including ourselves, some slack. Remember we don’t know their story. And, most importantly, remember other people are, each of them, a person.

1Women do this too, don’t think I’m just bashing men here. Women absolutely look at men and see only a piece of meat they’d like to have carnal knowledge of. But I am a woman who has had this done to her by men, so bear with me.

2Bet your buttons women sometimes manipulate this.

200 years ago…

if someone had asked Jane Austen if she thought her little story about the Bennet sisters would still be relevant she probably would have said something like this:

Shit, son, I’m stoked y’alls be buyin’ it now!

Ok, probably not.  She probably would have said something very eloquent and sophisticated and wouldn’t have sounded anything like Snoop Dogg or even Anne Hathaway (the current actress not Billy S’s little woman) using a fake British accent.  But I am convinced she didn’t think her novels would last any longer than the popular novels of her lifetime.  Mrs. Radcliffe’s novels and The Monk, for example; you know, the ones she wrote about in her own works; the ones most people only know because of Northanger Abbey.

They are, however, still relevant.  This is certain because today, 28 January, is the 200th anniversary of the first printing of Pride and Prejudice.  The first novel Austen tried to have published, I believe, under a different, more thematically revealing title of “First Impressions”.  (In my defense I was more of an airhead in High School than I am now and that little tidbit about first impressions not always being accurate was mostly lost on me the first time I read Pride and Prejudice.)  This story has been told, retold, revamped, and devoured in it’s original form so many times since the beginning of the 20th century it’s a little embarrassing.  But I think it’s safe to say that the modern woman absolutely finds this story relevant.

Today, thanks to Book Riot and Dr. B, I abandoned writing my own fiction and let the better part of the rest of my day be consumed with “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries”.  This webseries is an eerily relevant, modernized adaptation of Pride in Prejudice that is amazingly witty and super delightful in a way that I believe Miss Austen would whole-heartedly approve of were she not six feet under these past 195 years.

That being said: “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries” is amazingly relevant not only to the narrow population of people aged 22 to 27 trying to get jobs in “New Media”, but most people (most people I know) between the ages of 22 and 32 trying to get out there and create a life for themselves (not all of us are very good at that) while wallowing in student loans and the uncomfortable question of: What do I want to do with my life?

Lizzie, luckily, has a passion that she is pursuing.  Her issue has more to do with taking those first steps to making it happen (something many of us are familiar with).  This dilemma is common within the generation that was told, repeatedly, by everyone from our parents to teachers to Sesame Street that we can be anything, do anything, find your passion and make it your life.  (Thanks guys, this Bachelor of Arts in English is super awesome and my specialized skill set is totes useful in nailing down a career — ew, I just wrote “totes”; I feel dirty.)  For many of us: figuring out that passion is pretty tough; but taking that “next step” and “making it happen” is proving to be just as difficult as figuring out our “passion” in the first place.

The drama of the Bennet sisters is told chiefly through Lizzie’s eyes in the form of a Video Blog (or Vlog) maintained by Lizzie, often with the help of her best friend and fellow new media grad student, Charlotte Lu.  The videos also regularly guest star her sisters: Jane and Lydia, both as themselves and other people.  The few deviations from the original story that have been made are pretty wonderful and in keeping with how a modern, American family would function.  (Although, a wealthy med student, along with his sister and his best friend, randomly moving to a small, college town for a while is a little weird — that bit feels less thought through than the rest of the tweaks.)  Mr. Collins is no longer a cousin, but an annoying childhood friend working in roughly the same field as Lizzie and Charlotte; Wickham is a sexy athletic coach; Darcy appears to be a giant hipster, Jane takes a promotion with a transfer after her break up with Bing; Pemberly is some sort of technology company; Mary is reassigned to a cousin; and Kitty has become Lydia’s cat.  As someone who approves of adaptations and modernizations (and has even tried her own hand at adapting an Austen novel) I enjoy and love this retelling.

The series appears to be the brain child of Hank Green and Bernie Su and bears the markings of a Green brother whenever Lizzie STARTS RANTING IN ITALICIZED, ALL CAPS FOR EMPHASIS (seriously, though, both Hank and John seem to do this in their videos… often).  Where it stemmed from and why is was originally created, I do not care.  The result is something wonderful and something I think my life would be worse off if it were never experienced.  This series is like tattoos, or heroin, once you’re hooked: you. are. doomed.  DOOMED.

Also: these girls playing the Bennet sisters are amazing.  Ashley Clements (who looks weirdly familiar) has nailed it as Lizzie Bennet.  Laura Spencer plays the most life-like Jane I’ve ever seen (seriously Susannah Harker and Rosamund Pike’s ‘Jane’s are pulse-less china dolls, are they not?).  Mary Kate Wiles is a pip.  (There’s really no other term to describe her ‘Lydia’.)

Needless to say: I recommend watching this series.  I sincerely do.  But, be warned: it will ruin your life.

Link

“Photograph 51” by Anna Ziegler directed by Daniel Gidron at Central Square Theater

Last Saturday night my best friend and I spent the evening at the theater.  We saw this play on it’s second to last performance.  It was truly magical.  If you follow the link above you can read my rambling review/response to it that I wrote (sleepy) between midnight and 3am Sunday morning.