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.

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“The Pregnancy-Industrial Complex” by Laura Tropp

Currently, since I am poor, homeless, and unemployed, my only viable living options are with people-with-kids; mostly baby to toddler aged kids (unless I move to Arizona, then it’s a ten year old).  The best option for me is with a couple with a two year old and a newborn (not even two weeks).  They live in an area that embraces Public Transportation and has the most job options for someone like me.

Some things I have learned: Kids are tough.

Since I was present for the birth (in the next room listening to everything going on and praying my older nephew didn’t wake up — yeah, home birth) I have had a number of people ask me the following two questions: 1) What was it like/Was is scary? and 2) Does this experience make you want to have kids of your own?

1. No.  It wasn’t scary.  I knew what was going on.  I knew my sister was in labor and I’ve seen enough television and listened to enough women yap about their birthing experiences to know that it sucks and it’s uncomfortable and sometimes all you can do is scream.  The midwives and my bro-in-law didn’t seem worried so I didn’t worry (and I am a huge empathetic worrier when it comes to my siblings).  Personally, I was more concerned we weren’t going to need the tub and no one was going to tell me and I was going to keep filling it and then we wouldn’t need it.  Thankfully they told me before the water was a foot deep and there was less to pump out than there otherwise would have been.

Home birth is one of those things that is heavily portrayed as a hippie-crunchy totally completely out there sort of thing that only nudist, fake Buddhist, pot smoking, pseudo-environmentalists do with only their yoga instructor/tattoo artist/doula to preside (except for, of course, that episode of Judging Amy).  But it turns out my sister isn’t totally insane and there are a lot of benefits to home birth. A) you don’t have to worry about taking the kid home.  B) No doctors or cold medical staff, pushy nurses, people who view childbirth as business as usual.  The midwives might do this for a living, but these women seemed to see each client, each baby, as individual cases that require specialized care and attention.  I would want these women to take care of me in any situation, they were so kind and caring and funny.  C) While they were down to earth and friendly, they were also extremely professional and clearly knew what they were doing and talking about.  If anything had gone wrong I am confident they would have been able to handle it – even if that meant rushing my sister or nephew to the hospital.

2. No.  Oh god, no.  Someone else having a baby or getting married or going to grad school does not make another person want to do these things too.  I can be happy for someone else having a baby, but that by no means makes me want to have one.  This experience, being present, listening to my sister give birth, being with the family while they get used to having a newborn, watching my older nephew try to cope with the fact that he’s not the center of attention anymore, has done one thing for me on the children front: reconfirmed that I am not ready.

When my mother was my age she either had three kids or had three kids and was pregnant with her fourth, I’m not sure.  That idea blows my mind.  I cannot imagine currently being married, let alone having a bunch of kids to care for.  I have barely lived a normal “adult” life, the idea of changing that for a kid is unfathomable.  I don’t feel badly about this: not everyone is meant to be a parent.  And, if they are, they aren’t necessarily meant to be a parent at the same age as another.  My sister told me she started really wanting a baby when she was my age now.  It took a few years, but she got one — and now she has two!  But I am in no rush.  I might never have kids!  And, right now, I am ok with that.

The linked article above also makes me not want to have children.  The obsession with celebrity pregnancies and the pressure to look as good as Katie Holmes or Kym Cardashien or Kate Middleton when they were pregnant is ridiculous.  People praise Katie Holmes for being so cute and dressing Suri like an American Girl Doll and turn around and knock Jennifer Garner for having normal looking kids and neither are really important.  I see moms stressing over wanting their kid to be the cutest and it’s exhausting.  I don’t want to be one of those women.  Or, if that is my fate, I don’t want to be one of those women yet.

I am relatively young and have always sort of been a little bit of a late bloomer, comparatively.  All my friends had boyfriends in the sixth grade and I turned down my first offer in the seventh grade because I knew I wasn’t ready.  I didn’t start thinking about what I want to do with my life until I was in college; most people I knew had their lives planned at fifteen.  I live an unstable lifestyle because I get bored and I like to move on.  I have never been a career-minded person, therefore I am seeking something, anything, that isn’t my old job simply because I’m ready for a change.  I am absolutely still in some sort of exploratory phase of life and have many things I’d like to accomplish before Children are any sort of a reality.

Being present for a birth doesn’t automatically turn on that biological clock metaphor thing.

In her article, Tropp comments that pregnancy used to be a “period of waiting” but medical advances, celebrity and media culture have all contributed to make pregnancy into “another over-hyped, over-romanticized, over-marketed product”.  Everyone wants to see pictures of “the bump”, they want to know about your morning sickness, they want to know what color you are going to paint the inside of the baby’s closet; women make molds of their pregnant bodies, they paint their swollen bellies, they have nude photoshoots so they can remember the experience forever (is it really that forgettable?).  There are a plethora of (un)necessary products for pregnancy that our grandmothers’ would laugh at, and events during pregnancy that don’t seem all that exciting.  Baby showers are one of the worst experiences I’ve ever gone through (followed closely by Bridal showers), I can’t imagine what a “gender reveal party” could possibly entail, but I never want to find out.

(She also makes an interesting comment about how in America we provide all sorts of support and events and attention to a woman while she is pregnant then pretty much leave her alone once the baby is born; other countries, however, she says, focus a bit more on giving the woman support after the baby is born – you know, when she really needs it.  As Garfunkel and Oates say “Pregnant women are smug” they don’t need quite as much support as the woman does once she has the crying, pooping, suckling bundle of joy.  New moms are a mess; Juno’s stepmom says it very eloquently: “[You look] like a new mom: scared shitless”.)

As a selectively private person, I say this now, I think my pregnancy is one thing I would want to keep to myself.  It feels like one of those things that doesn’t really have anything to do with other people.  If you’re not the mother or the father, or the grandparents, I suppose, then it’s really none of your business.  Then again, as a human being I understand the value of a baby to the community.  Babies are, to anyone not the family, symbols of Life and Hope and Goodness; and all communities need to be reminded of that time and again.

For me, children are only on my radar because I am living with people-with-kids.  If I were surrounded by people more in my stage of life, they wouldn’t be on my radar at all.  I am always loads more comfortable when I am with my childless friends – or, rather, friends who do not constantly talk about their kids.  I am not married and I do not have children and neither are likely to happen any time soon.  It is important, I think, not to blow off your married friends or your parent friends, but it’s just as important as an unmarried and childless person to seek out the company of others like you.  It’s important to have friends in the same phase of life as you.  Otherwise things just start looking sad and you get bored and start feeling like you’re never going to get anywhere — at least I tend to.

Inspiration from the Grammy’s?

We watched The Grammy’s the other night.

I have never watched the Grammy’s.

It was weird.

But the Fella and I were invited to a friend of his roommate’s to watch The Grammy’s and “The Walking Dead” (another program I have never watched).  And the roommate’s friend was going on and on about how much she hates Taylor Swift and how amazing Adele is and how Adele’s latest album is so spectacular because she drew from her own pain after a horrible relationship/breakup and wrote those amazing songs.  While I’m not arguing with her entirely plagiarized assessment of Adele’s music, this is what makes “21” so powerful – the music is amazing and the lyrics mean something to the person singing them, and nothing is more powerful or moving than raw emotion, but it got on my nerves and it got me thinking about Life Experience.

Taylor Swift writes bubblegum pop country music mostly not based on her own life experiences.  She’s twenty two and she’s been working in the music industry since she was fourteen and she started trying at eleven.  How much real actual life experience did she have before she became famous?  Probably not all that much.  Her early stuff is very high school.  “Picture to Burn”, “Teardrops from my Guitar”, “Love Story”…. they’re little more than a teenage girl’s angsty, dramatic fantasy.  I haven’t really heard any of her newer stuff, hopefully she and her music are maturing.  Only time will tell.  But she’s still a sweet, unassuming girl who certainly doesn’t deserve the criticism of a bunch of assholes shoveling back chili and beers in a NY apartment while she’s performing at the Grammy’s.

But that’s not the point: the point is, the best songs out there are based on real actual life experiences — doesn’t matter if those life experiences were silly or sophomoric or juvenile — if it happened to the person who wrote the song/is singing it then has power.  The entire bus ride home from NYC I listened to female singer/songwriters starting with Adele and moving to Ingrid Michaelson, Bess Rogers, Jenny Owen Youngs, Allison Weiss, Garfunkel and Oates, and Leigh Jones.  Most of these women, I am convinced, write music because they can’t not.  They write to express themselves.  They write to share their emotions with the world.  And I thank them for it.

Leigh Jones has a song called “Old Guitar” in which she says she wishes she were his guitar, holding her in his arms.  She wishes he’d touch her, love her like he does his instrument.  I certainly hope its based on a real crush she had once in her life because it feels real, wistful and hopeful when you listen to the song.  Allison Weiss writes most of her songs based on actual events in her life.  She even titled one the date it happened.  On her live albums she shares the stories and events, somewhat reluctantly, that inspired songs such as “July 25, 2007”, “Time” and “I Don’t Want To Be Here”.  Bess Rogers’ song “Favorite Day” is very clearly about some dude she dated.  Garfunkel and Oates sing about a guy who always brought his buddy on dates in “Me, You and Steve”.  And Jenny Owen Youngs couldn’t have captured the shocking feeling of realizing you’re in love in quite the same sarcastic way if it hadn’t happened to her.  I love these songs and these ladies who wrote them and their impact on me.  They are honest and fair and true.  I highly recommend each and every one of them whether you’ve heard of them or not (whether you can find them or not).

What does this have to do with me and my writing…. I started thinking about these women, many of whom are younger than I am, and how amazing their music is because of life experience and how I didn’t go to Grad School for writing or anything else because I realized at twenty two that I had no Life Experience outside of academia, and I had nothing to write about.  I decided then that I needed to start doing something in my life and gain some knowledge of the world so when I write I am actually saying something, not just writing silly school girl fantasies.

It’s five years later and I have worked for four different companies, dated a few different guys, lived in four different states, made a ton of friends who are scattered across the world at the moment, fallen in love, fallen out of love, had my heart broken, and learned more about myself than I did the twenty two years previous.  I feel now that I can realistically comment on life and growing up and growth and society and injustice and everything I see around me because of what I’ve experienced.  For example: There was a college girl on the bus on my way to New York this past Friday who, amongst other things, sounds like she’s in a Dude Situation very similar to one I let happen to me a couple years ago and it was all I could do to not reach forward and give her some unsolicited advice.

I’ve come to realize a thing or two about myself and how I relate to both the world around me and how I interact with other people.  At the moment I live with a couple in their 30s and their 2year old son.  They are not where I am in my life.  This weekend I spent it with early/mid 20s in grad school and extended adolescence.  Neither are they were I am.  I am somewhere in between and I am happy about being somewhere in between.  I am happy to have had the experiences I have had and I’m happy Grad school hasn’t been one of them yet, I’m happy “the dating scene” in a large city hasn’t been one of them, I’m happy living in NYC hasn’t been one of them.  And I am happy to feel inspired to write again…. all because of a weekend trip to see this man I like and watching the Grammy’s.