In Defense of Rory Gilmore

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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.

I’m trying to write something creative everyday for the rest of the year using writing prompts and I wrote a piece today from the perspective of a high school freshman in 1999 and I included a really catty detail about the reportedly slutty new girlfriend of a cute boy who dissed my protagonist.  I feel weird about keeping it in, but it’s also based on real life events.  I am now conflicted about that detail.

On the one hand, it’s how a fourteen year old girl would write about current events.  On the other hand it’s super catty and I don’t like that.  But on the other hand, fourteen year old girls, including myself in 1999, are really catty.  But on the other hand, I’m not fourteen anymore and I don’t want to encourage anyone to be casually catty like that.

I’m not sure what to do.

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.

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.

#JaneDates – process

Writing this comic is a lot of fun.  I don’t exactly date a lot, but I’m no cloistered nun by any means.  I’ve got ten years worth of stories from my dating life, good and bad.  This is very possibly the best idea I’ve had as an artist, making this comic.  Children’s toys and collectible action figures are the very best mode of talking about adult relationships.  We’re all children again when we’re doing it anyway.

“Tea Time” | a #JaneDates comic

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Barbie breaks up with Ken…. again!  How is she taking it?  And how do the rest of the dolls react?

Check it out at #JaneDates.

#JaneDates is Coming!

Jane Confessional

I have been working diligently on my brain child, the shoddily put together webcomic about on-, and off-, line dating as told through the use of children’s toys and collector’s dolls.  The first #JaneDates (prequel) comic is set to hit the Internet the afternoon of the 17th of December, 2014 on Tumblr.

Whatever happens with this project, happens.  I’m just so excited for all of it’s amateurish glory!  And happy to have an outlet (other than bad poetry) for my frustrations surrounding dating in my late 20s/early 30s!