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.

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.

Fifty Shades of What the Fracking Bull?

What with the upcoming release, I’ve been seeing a lot of commercials lately for  Fifty Shades of Grey.  My question is simple: What the fracking bull?

I have not read Fifty Shades of Grey, or Fifty Shades Darker, or Fifty Shades of Pissed Off Writers Everywhere, or whatever the sequels are called.  “Mommy Porn” that originated as fan fiction of an already terrible series does not interest me.  Learning the notoriously naughty BDSM the story boasts is vanilla at best, and, at worst, secondhand, drove my interest even lower.  I have no issue with YA fiction, romance novels, or erotica, but something about E.L. James’s skyrocket into the “literary world” bothers the shit out of me.  How these books were published is beyond my understanding.

Even worse: they’ve made a movie out of it…

What the fish….

And here’s where American Capitalistic Opportunism wins out over Moral and Creative Integrity.  Not only has a publishing house republished a terrible story with a slight twist, now Hollywood has produced a movie they’ve already made.  Because we should, none of us, forget the fact that Fifty Shades of Grey is Twilight fan fiction.

When Hollywood made the Twilight movies they cast actors who actually, sort of, mostly resembled the images of the characters I had in my head while reading the insipid novels.  Cedric Diggory made a great Sparkly Vampire, and Never-Learned-to-Smile made for an exquisitely boring heroine.  A pretty English boy and a symmetrical American girl made us believe in vampires, if only for the one hundred twenty minutes each movie runs.

Now with Fifty Shades, a story that appears to be primarily porn about kinky sex, the casting director, who had her fucking job cut out for her, failed to deliver.  Or, if it wasn’t that person who dropped the ball, it was the makeup/costuming department that failed.

They took a pretty girl:

Dakota Johnson

and made her incredibly homely:

Anastasia Steele

Which, perhaps, is more true to the character (again: I have not read the books).  But if you’re going to put a book reported to be one big sexy, handcuffed romp on the big screen why not make her attractive?  (Especially when you’ve cast an already attractive woman?)

And the dude (because straight men are not this movie’s target audience):

Jamie Dornan

They cast one of Calvin Klein’s interchangeable parts (who looks way sexy with facial hair), shaved him down to his baby-face and made him look like he’s trying on daddy’s suit for the first time:

Christian Grey

Not attractive.  Not alluring.  Mostly creepy.  If a real, live dude looked and dressed and behaved how they portray Christian Grey in the clips and trailers any curious, sane, crazy, intelligent, or insecure woman would, hopefully, have a voice in her head telling her to run… run fast.  Dude is creepily aggressive half the time, and eerily emotionless the rest.  If he were a vampire his behavior might be acceptable.  As it stands, he’s got “sociopath” written all over him.  No one is going to let their friend date a person like this without either saying something, or at least watching them very, very carefully.

But, as far as I know, no one stops Anastasia from letting this jackwad bind her and assume control over her person in the name of Love.  And the audience is supposed to believe he cares for her more than he wants to control her.  We are supposed to buy into this illusion of romance so much that the fact it’s being released on Valentine’s Day (not February 14th, Valentine’s Day) shouldn’t creep out the American public.

It’s fucking twisted.  The trailer features an amazingly creepy clip of him feeling her up under the table at a dinner party with his voice over telling us that he “doesn’t do romance” leading this American, heterosexual woman to believe the Fifty Shades of Grey movie is not intended to be Romantic in any regard despite the movie’s release date.

I believe there are romantic, loving couples who enjoy a healthy, consensual bondage-based sex life.  And that they should celebrate!  To each, his own, I say!  I’m not about to get in your way or pass judgement.  None of my qualms about this work come from my puritanical beliefs about sex and love, but from my standpoint as a woman and a writer.  The story is about an insecure young woman being entirely enveloped by an aggressive alpha male.  She subsequently disappears entirely into his way of life, rather than growing and developing as her own person.  As a woman that makes me sad.  So many real life women are lost to other, stronger willed people as it is; sometimes it’s a partner, sometimes it’s family or friends.  No matter the situation, it’s unfortunate that women so easily disappear into someone else’s idea of who they should be.

As a writer, I’m pissed Twilight fan fiction is being hailed as anything other than what it is: poorly written porn.  These books, and subsequent movie, are a travesty of American literature.

It has, however, inspired some great sarcastic Internet memes*:

This query from Claire Standish:

As well as this brilliant advice from Ellen:

Ellen Ellen1 Ellen2

And a comic of what the actual story should have been:

*I got most of these from typing “Fifty Shades of Bullshit” into a Google Image search.  Which, it turns out, is a pretty funny anti-Fifty Shades Tumblr: FiftyShadesofBullshit.

It has become increasingly important to me that my life has meaning.  A byproduct of getting older?  A byproduct of this past year?  I don’t know.  I don’t suppose it matters much.  But I want the things that I do to have meaning.  And I’d like to share that sense of meaning with other people.  Friends, family, a man, a community, something.  I don’t regret one single bit the lifestyle I’ve been living, but it’s not strictly what I want anymore.  That is a very strange feeling.

I’d like to belong somewhere.  I’d like to not only belong there all the time, but year-round.  I will always belong at NC, but I need something more stable in my life now that I didn’t need before.  I still want to travel, but I’d like a base of operations.  I want a community that is always in one place.  A place to call Home.

Oh, shit, we’re getting sentimental in our old age.

#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.

I Could Kill You


I could kill you if I tried.
It’d be so easy.
You’d never see it coming.
After all,
I’m just a ghost.

I could strangle you
with my two bare hands,
or a wooly scarf,
or a silken tie.
All I’d need is leverage
and the upper body strength.

I could hit you with my car
on a dark and icy night,
put a big old dent right in the fender,
your body sprawled on the side.
All I’d need is a car
and to know where you are.

I could slip poison in your soup.
Tile cleaner, rat poison, Drain-O;
Crime shows have shown me
all the deadly household items.

I could hold you underwater
use all my strength to keep you down.
Tie rocks to our ankles,
drown us in a poetic murder/suicide
agreed to by neither of us.
Or her, watching from the shore.

I wouldn’t do any of this, you know.
You know me at least that well.
After all, it’s not you I want to kill.
The memories of you,
the ghost you left behind.
The fucking bastard
that just won’t die.
No matter what methods I try:
crushing, poisons, knives, and guns,
Still, it won’t disappear.

All’s that’s left to me
is to wish you well,
for her sake, for mine.
So live well, my torturous ghost;
Be the man I loved
for her sake, and for mine.
Make her proud,
be good to her,
for her sake, for mine.

And maybe your ghost will
finally leave me be, and
one day, I won’t want to
starve you, slap you,
smother you, electrocute you,
punch you, spear you,
shoot you, asphyxiate you,
cut you, kill you
love you.

Snapchat-4688712237313390754

Or: Why We Watch Scary Movies

Juliet O’Hara (Maggie Lawson) and Carlton Lassiter (Timothy Omundson) in “Psych” season 4 episode 16.

The fourth season finale of “Psych”, no matter how many times I watch it, kills me.  By the end of the episode I am a snotty, weepy mess.  Not because of who dies, or because of relationships, but because of the final few seconds Juliet and Lassiter are on the screen.  Her angry/scared/violated breakdown leaves me in pieces.  And Lassiter is there for her, bless him, but her pain is so deep even the loving arms of her partner can’t repair the damage done.  And he knows this, we can see it in his face.  She’s going to have to figure it out for herself.

You see, what happens to Juliet and Abigail in this episode — and Maddie in the previous season — is fucking scary.  These women have all control taken away from them.  They are harassed, forced into situations, physically restrained, threatened, certain they are going to die.  They are completely stripped of their autonomy and Juliet’s breakdown is the most believable reaction of all three women.  She has every right to be a flaming mess and I, for one, salute her for taking the time to freakthefuck out.

Because it doesn’t take being kidnapped by a serial killer to make a person feel unsafe.  All it takes in one incident.  A simple mugging, getting pushed down in the street and having a wallet stolen can make a person reluctant to walk around his or her own neighborhood alone.  As can watching the news, watching too many crime shows, and having an overactive imagination.  We live in a world in which people are awful to one another.  We live in a world with serial killers.  We live in a world where mental disorders go unchecked and undiagnosed.  We live in a world where people kill each other for no reason.  But we also live in a world where we have fathers who look out for us well into adulthood, and friends who have our backs no matter what, and partners who will let us flip out and be the shoulder we cry upon.  The world is Yin and Yang, I suppose: it is as much full of Love as it is full of Awfulness.

I love this “Psych” episode.  It reminds us the world is simultaneously Awful and Love, but that we decide which we are.

So I dressed like Death

It’s been said
if a thing scares you,
if you don’t understand it,
you must walk a mile in it’s shoes.
See life from it’s point of view.
Embrace it’s way of life:
then
you’ll understand.

So.
I dressed like Death.

Painted a death-skull on my face.
Donned black robes.
Wove flowers in my hair.
I was a formidable character,
redoubtable in my presence,
striking in my purpose.
I was a force to be reckoned with:
La Calavera Catrina
reminding us of our own mortality, and how
much of what we do is fleeting.
I was hopeful this reminder of death
would bring about connection,
draw us closer together.

Like Death,
I am friendly and affectionate.
I hand out flowers from my hair,
gifts to friends and strangers.
I might not know their names,
but each rose ends up with someone over the course of the night.
Most are distributed in wild frenzy on the dance floor.
Some are lovingly handed to darling friends in a bathroom.
One is placed deliberately in a breast pocket.
Flowers of friendship, flowers of desperation,
flowers of childlike hope
each rose attempts to bridge the same gap;
A present from Death, a token to say
“We are the same. Let’s be friends.”

At the end of the night
I do not know that I understand Death
any better than I did before;
not unless she, too, tries and tries only to find herself
at the end of the night
empty-handed and the floor littered with petals.
But for each flower crushed into the brown and suspect carpet,
I have hope that one or two are still safely woven in braids
or snugly tucked in jacket pockets.
For of all the flowers distributed,
the one or two that truly matter will come back to me.
And the rest, I hope,
enjoyed the moment
of receiving a flower at all.