Feeling 22

I turned 29 last weekend. Don’t get me wrong, while it sent me into a small “OMG I’m so old” freak out, I had a great time. saw Wonder Woman in theaters on Friday (the actual day), karaoke on Saturday, brunch on Sunday. It was one of the best birthday celebrations I’ve had in a while.

It also made me feel like, at this stage in my life, I should be seven years younger. I’m more like a college graduate only with a few years of office experience under my belt. If I’d had good knees and my current level of confidence back then, I would have enjoyed my twenties much more. I would have driven sooner, gone out more, experienced life. Instead I spent most of my time writing stories I’ll never publish and working at a company that closed unexpectedly.

For the record, I still want to write. Maybe the difference is, again, my confidence. I’m satisfied with how my current work-in-progress is going and can see myself editing it for publication. It only took twenty years, but maybe that’s how long I needed.

Now I’m starting over again career-wise. I guess maybe I should be happy this all happened sooner rather than later. What if I’d stayed in my dead-end job for years and never pushed myself to get my knees taken care of? At least I can reinvent myself while I’m young enough to enjoy it. If I’m lucky I might even find a job related to writing this time.

Hopefully my thirties will be even better than my twenties – though, it’s not like the bar is set so high.

Counting My Blessings

While I’ve neglected this blog, I have been a busy little writer bee lately. I hit thirty pages for the new version of my ongoing novel project (I lost track of how many versions there’s been so far). On top of that, a freelance gig assigned me new blog posts that are longer than the ones I previously wrote for them. All good things, but between that and recovering from my knee surgery, I haven’t had much motivation left for this blog.

As usual my recovery has been the standard roller-coaster of emotions. My knee is a lot less stiff than the other one was because the surgeon completed this procedure in half the time. On the other hand, I had much more trouble walking this time around. Before I wasn’t so concerned about walking correctly because I still had one knee left to do. When trying to “be good” over the past month, I could barely out-shamble a zombie and couldn’t for the life of me figure out why. Thank God for the hospital’s physical therapist, who I saw for my belated four-week appointment on Saturday. Apparently I should be leading with the surgery knee instead of the recovered knee (wouldn’t you think it was the other way around??). The therapist made sure I had the technique down pat and showed me exercises to make sure my “muscles fired.”

I’m so grateful to be on the right track again. On Saturday night I went to my aunt’s house, my first social outing since the surgery (though I’ve had visitors every week). I’m still struggling a bit but I’ve improved more these last few days than I have the entire month. I’m also glad I didn’t miss dinner at my aunt and uncle’s house because I got to see my cousin and her new husband after their destination wedding last week. Although, watching their wedding video made me wish I could’ve gone to Jamaica! At least I wasn’t the only relative who couldn’t make the trip.

I’ve had a more positive outlook these past few months. Instead of cursing my misfortune of needing two consecutive surgeries, I’ve been grateful to have the opportunity to fix knees that have bothered me my whole life. Still living at home at my age turned into a blessing because I didn’t have to worry about giving up an apartment and moving back home post-surgery. I’m grateful for my two best friends who have visited me every weekend in the last month. I’m even feeling optimistic about my writing again. While I still doubt I’ll make a living selling books, I’m hopeful about eventually publishing my current work-in-progress.

That said, I still dread getting back behind the wheel of my car in a month or so. I just have to remind myself of all those hours I wasted taking public transportation.

Another Ground-Breaking Opinion on Ross and Rachel

I realize the last thing this world needs is my opinion on Ross Geller and Rachel Green’s breakup. Fans have debated/fought/screamed about it since it first aired. I’m willing to bet money that someone, somewhere, is discussing The Breakup at this very moment. But you know what, I’m watching season three (for the upteenth time), and I’ve never spelled out my thoughts on this particular topic before despite being a die-hard Friends fan.

So, the Short Version: Both Ross and Rachel messed up. They weren’t meant to be together at that point in their lives. I’m not even a big fan of them as end-game. (I prefer Monica Geller and Chandler Bing, or “Mondler.”)

The Long Version:

Let’s go over Ross and Rachel’s relationship. Even when it’s good, it isn’t perfect. They fight constantly and have no common interests, even mock each other’s careers. At the root of it they lack respect for each other. Instead of trying to overcome their communication issues they brush them aside. Ross doesn’t trust Rachel with Mark right from the beginning and never makes a real effort to change. While Rachel never has any intentions to cheat on him, telling Ross she wants to keep part of her life separate (episode 3.14) isn’t reassuring. Rachel becomes more focused on work and neglects Ross. Meanwhile, Ross plans their future together and blames Mark for her disinterest entirely.

I don’t believe Ross ever sees Rachel for who she really is. Even after she’s been in the real world for three years, he still thinks of her as the spoiled princess he knew in high school. He’s her knight in shining armor who can whisk her away to a picket-fences life in the suburbs. He has no idea she’s still running from that picture and the expectations of the world she left. I suspect this is partly because he’s still recovering from his own disastrous relationship and needs to be the knight in shining armor again to boost his fragile ego. To him, everything falls into place: “The girl I crushed on in high school comes back to me right after my marriage ended. We’re meant to be.” It never occurs to him she’s not in the same frame of mind.

With that shaky foundation, they’re bound to collapse eventually. Their ruined anniversary and a one-night stand happens to be the trigger. In a way it’s similar to Monica’s breakup with Richard Burke – Ross and Rachel want different things at this point in their lives. Ross wants to be married again and Rachel has a newfound career. They’re never going to work until Rachel achieves her professional goals and feels ready to settle down.

That’s why I don’t care who did what. Rachel should have acknowledged their anniversary and promised to make up for missing it. Ross should’ve talked things out with Rachel and not hooked up with ChloeRegardless, their relationship is doomed to fail from the start.

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Now Posting Some Content on Medium.com

My writerly self has been all over the place for a long while. I don’t know if I want to work on fan fiction, original work, even personal essays. Plus The Holidays are distracting so when I’m not with family I’m watching Christmas movies on Netflix or Youtube. Maybe it’s time I read an actual book again rather than online articles about how much the Gilmore Girls revival sucked.

Anyway, while rambling on tumblr about how much I can’t stand Rory Gilmore, I remembered a website I bookmarked a while back. Medium.com is basically a social network for the types of posts I like to write, aka, long-winded editorials that make the author sound smart when we’re really just ranting about the world. Any posts related to media and pop culture – mostly TV shows – will be posted here. I might move my baking posts there depending on how it goes.

Thanks for reading! Happy Holidays everyone!

Halloweentown’s History Lesson

Watching Disney Channel during the Zoog era taught our tweenage selves some important lessons. We went to the moon in 1969. Lizzie and Gordo were destined. Blogs, even ones about Weird stuff, can help you find validation. The future will be filled with expressions like “zetus lapetus” and “lunarious.”

Most of us barely noticed the real lessons underneath the fun stories and brightly-colored wardrobes. Families matter, friends are important, believe in yourself, reach for the stars.

Halloweentown featured a happy world of friendly creatures, but all four movies carried the theme of acceptance. (Yes there were four – I know people like to forget about the last two.) Witches Marnie Piper and grandmother Aggie Cromwell often speak about uniting the worlds after centuries of judgment on both sides. The unexpected topic deepened a light holiday movie and pushed it into “Legendary DCOM” status.

It also reinforced the lesson that you should never replace the main character, one we previously learned in season three of So Weird. But anyway.

I never realized until recently that Halloweentown most likely paid tribute to the true origins of Halloween. The basic story: A thousand years ago, the  Celtic people created Samhain to celebrate the harvest. They also believed that spirits could mingle with the living as fall turned into winter. Christians arrived and, instead of outlawing Samhain, converted it into All Saints Day/All Hallows. Celtic people still celebrated the night before, aka, All Hallows Eve. Certain traditions carried over or were added by Christian influence.

It sounded familiar. Then I remembered.

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“The people who started your Halloween just imitated our traditions.”

Aggie told almost the same story in Halloweentown: A long time ago, the “Dark Times,” humans and creatures lived together. She says “humans feared us and wanted to destroy us,” so creatures were terrible to humans in return. Eventually creatures formed their own dimension where they could live in peace.

(Does it bother anyone else that Aggie tells this story in such an upbeat manner? She relates her town’s tormented history without expressing any emotion.)

Halloweentown events match up to the real story. The period where humans and creatures lived together could refer to Samhain, then when Christians outlawed the supernatural, they fled. Both the first and second movie stress that humans imitate creatures on Halloween, which is how trick-or-treating started. Those who celebrated placed food out for the spirits, then later on, people dressed like the spirits to “trick-or-treat.” Traditional costumes such as ghosts and witches are still popular to this day. In the series, creatures interpret this as humans mocking them. The timeline even fits because in the fourth movie it’s stated that Halloweentown will be a thousand years old.

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“Mortal see, mortal do.”

I love that a movie called “Halloweentown” acknowledged the real origins of Halloween. Thinking about it now, I wonder if that’s why Halloweentown 4 comes across as a pale imitation of the first three. (Aside from recasting Marnie.) While there’s mention of witches having power over other creatures, the movie lacks the real theme of uniting the two worlds. It doesn’t seem right that “New Marnie” is so quick to ditch her home world after working so hard to find acceptance there.

But that’s irrelevant ten years after the fourth movie (hurts, doesn’t it?). Despite how the series ended, Halloweentown continues to represent the holiday spirit every year.

Getting My Groove Back

I consider myself a big-picture person, but there are times when even I can’t see the forest through the trees. It’s easy to get wrapped up in daily challenges. Lately, I’ve felt frustrated with both my writing and physical therapy process, overwhelmed by apparent lack of progress in both areas. My knee had loosened up after being stiff for well over a month, and the new sensation of being able to move it freaked me out – even though that’s what was supposed to happen. I couldn’t help associating it with pre-operation fears, despite knowing that the problem had been fixed.

On top of that, I’d hit a wall with my writing. The idea of writing everything I had planned, then editing it all, then doing something with it…it seems like too much. Then I have to hope that people will actually read it. I got a little depressed thinking of the future, realizing a career in fiction is probably not going to happen, and wondering what else I want to do with my life if not that. I even freaked at the thought of applying to publishing houses. The possibility has always been in the back of my mind, but then I think about the interview. An earlier post here explained why I haven’t read many classics. While it sounds perfectly reasonable on my blog, I doubt a hiring manager will agree.

Confidence in my knee has since improved. I’m getting around better without the walker again, and from here on it’s just a matter of practice. I often have to remind myself that it depends on my state of mind. My knee has been fixed, so it’s all on me to believe I can walk on my own.

I can’t say the same for  a writing career. While I still don’t think I’ll ever make a living from selling my books, but there could be a niche writing/media/communications-related job out there for me in the future. It’s frustrating though because I have no idea where I will eventually end up. Without knowing what kind of writing job I want, I can’t work towards it now. I’m more lost than ever before and I don’t know what to do with myself.

Hoping inspiration will strike soon. Hell, these days I’ll be happy if I decide which book to read or TV show to watch.

Fear of Success

On the surface it sounds ridiculous. Why would anyone fear success? Isn’t that what we strive for our whole lives? What else are we doing if not trying to succeed at something?

These days we are told from birth (thanks in no small part to the Disney empire) to believe in our dreams and make them reality. No one ever tells us what happens after we achieve our biggest goals. That special place on the timeline of our lives is the “Happily Ever After” zone. We aren’t supposed to think about what happens after because there will be no more problems at the end of our journey. Once we get “there,” wherever “there” is, we will be happy forever.

Life is a constant search for this fantasy state of being. As soon as we solve one problem, everything else falls apart around us. It’s a law of nature. Either that, or when we do get there, our dream changes and the search continues.

This in mind, “fear of success” could stem from not believing in “Happily Ever After.” Us cynics might think about it every once in a while, and fantasizing about it gets us through the day. Deep down though, we acknowledge that our lives will never be problem-free. There will always be stress and obstacles until the very end. “Life sucks and then you die” has become a common phrase.

Sadly enough, I think “fear of success” ties with “fear of the unknown.” What would happen if the universe defied the odds and granted a non-Happily Ever After person everything they wished for? I worry about this unlikely version of the future because I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready for it. What will I do with myself when my knees heal and I can go wherever I want? What if I’m not happy with the dream job I thought I wanted? What if I eventually publish a book and no one cares?

Or – and this is the really neurotic or that drove me to write this post – another area of my life could crumble, taking away any enjoyment from the achieved goal. I have this annoying fear that as soon as my knees heal, there will be another medical issue that needs to be addressed. Bad knees have been such a big part of my life that it’s hard to imagine being “normal.” I’m still doing everything I can to get better, because I realize it’s an irrational fear, but sometimes I worry about the next problem that will come along. It could be even worse and I’ll wish I only had to cope with bad knees.

I think I’m just a worrier who doesn’t know how to envision an anxiety-free future. Maybe I should take some comfort in that. I’ve always worried, I worry now, and future me will deal with irrational fears the same as I do today. Maybe “Happily Ever After” is more of a metaphor for inner peace. Success in a general sense can be intimidating, but isn’t it just another big change in life’s sequence of events? If we’ve managed to get this far without losing our minds, maybe it’s true that the only real fear is fear itself.

Nostalgia Versus Reality

Since I was born in the late eighties, I love the nineties as much as the next millennial. I remember cassettes and VHS tapes and Furby. My iTunes has a bunch of favorites from that decade (though now I prefer 90’s alternative rock instead of pop). And of course, like most millennials, I put TGIF and SNICK shows on a pedestal.

That doesn’t mean I want everything back. Sure, up until a few years ago I jumped on the bandwagon. I criticized most of today’s Disney and Nickelodeon while wishing for reruns of So Weird and The Secret World of Alex Mack. Name one “90’s kid” who didn’t.

Then the cultural regression began. Classic movies are being rebooted. Disney Channel produced a sequel to Boy Meets World while Netflix caught up with the Tanner family. Nickelodeon tried several times to bring back SNICK (more on that later). Soon after, Disney Channel followed suit by playing early shows and original movies. Networks finally paid attention to the millennials petitioning for their favorites online. Across the Internet, we rejoiced.

It wasn’t as glorious as we’d hoped. Wishing for old shows to return is one thing, but actually getting them back is another. It’s a classic “be careful what you wish for” scenario. Girl Meets World turned out to be a typical modern-day Disney Channel show that many of us lost interest in soon after favorite characters returned. While  Fuller House is better than expected and I’ll watch the second season, it’s not the same quality as a “real” sitcom on regular television. For the most part I didn’t even watch the throwback blocks on Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. Maybe I tuned in at first just for a nostalgia fix, but I don’t even think of those shows now.

I’ve realized this is because they were made for kids. They might be a little “better” than some kid shows produced today, but I can’t watch Rugrats or Hey Arnold on a regular basis anymore. There’s a big difference between reminiscing about your childhood and revisiting it as an adult. Now that we can “go home again,” I’d rather not. The most I’ll do is rewatch my absolute favorites when I get super nostalgic (note previously-mentioned Alex Mack and So Weird).

Even then, I don’t turn to Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. I watch the episodes I want online. That’s another difference between now and then – in this century, I have the resources to download shows onto my laptop.

That said, I will watch old DCOMs if there’s nothing else on. The throwback blocks don’t catch my attention though because Disney and Nick always play the same episodes anyway. These networks want to capitalize on the nostalgia craze, but apparently they don’t want to acknowledge their entire library. Not to mention the few times I tuned into “The 90’s Are All That,” it pandered to millennials so much that the commercials bordered on insulting. Maybe it’s just me, but I got the impression that while Nickelodeon wanted more viewers, they didn’t think highly of their new demographic. (Stick Stickly had an edge: “that’s not at all pathetic.”)

The bright side here is that these 90’s favorites might catch on with younger generations. While I’m not going to watch these shows, they’ll appeal to their original target – kids and young teens.

Even though I still indulge in nostalgia, I’ve also opened my eyes to reality. This overwhelming love for 90’s culture has everything to do with the economy. Many millennials are unemployed or underemployed, so I think we revert because we miss how things used to be in the worst way. We’re also one of the first generations to express ourselves – loudly – on social media. Networks and other companies pay attention because they’d be stupid not to. Petitions and email campaigns prove the audience is already there.

So that’s my two cents. There are upsides though because I’ve made online friends thanks to moments of intense nostalgia. Appreciation for 90’s culture unites us millennials, but sometimes, unfortunately, I feel like it’s the only thing we have. I guess what I’m saying is that I hope for a day when our present will be even better than the 90’s.

 

 

“Adulting”

I’ll be the first to admit that I rely on my mom too much. While I never ask her for money, I do live at home, and she does help me with doctor-related stuff. Over the years I’ve started to make my own calls, but sometimes I still ask her to get on the phone with a doctor’s office because I’m insecure about people understanding me. (It took me forever to feel semi-confident answering phones at work.)

So I began thinking about this “adulting” phenomenon. I feel like twenty-somethings of the past didn’t talk about it the way we do, or exaggerate the little things such as calling up doctors to schedule an appointment. I frequently see similar posts on my social media pages. Is that part of the problem? Is the need to update pages so strong that we fill them with anything? Have we become a generation that makes mountains out of mole hills?

Is it the economy? We’re home with our parents, so we rely on them more. It always amazes me when I watch the first season of Friends and remember the main six are my age. The nearly-settled, independent lifestyle applies more to today’s thirty or thirty-five-year-olds.

Is it because we’re having babies later, if at all? (Most) New parents aren’t “adulting,” they’re simply “adults.”

Is it all of the above? Are we stuck in a time period where self-indulgence rules and living at home is an acceptable way of life?

I do realize that stereotype is just that. Some are running a business by twenty-seven while others have real challenges to overcome. I’m talking about those of us who feel “the adulting struggle is real” for various reasons. Has “the American dream” become less achievable, or is it us? I guess my point is that maybe it’s a combination of both.

 

 

 

Anxiety stems from knowing there are goals we should be achieving, but due to circumstances that seem beyond our control, we aren’t. This could be any goal no matter how big, small, or completely inconsequential it might seem to those on the outside. Obsessing leads to fear of accomplishing these goals, to avoiding them, to becoming what people label as “insecure.”

I have no idea what I’m saying. Sounded good, right?

This tumbled around in my head while I thought about the next couple weeks after my job ends. I’d like to believe I’ve grown a lot over the last few years. My job has almost been like College 2.0, a training ground where I adjusted to a typical corporate environment, bonded with my coworkers, and took on more responsibility. I can still be a loner introvert, but I’ve noticed that I’m way more likely tell people exactly how I feel and brush off daily obstacles. I also take on new challenges without worrying as much if I’ll be able to figure them out on my own.

The Internet helped. I’ve become even more honest on Twitter and other platforms, while pulling back stuff that made me look stay-the-hell-away-from-that-girl crazy. I’ve met some really great people online, and almost never got negative feedback from strangers. I’ve been lucky in that sense.

In the past I always earned above-average grades, but didn’t have confidence outside of school. The year after college was a nightmare because I wasn’t getting interviews and struggled to set realistic career goals. I didn’t want to be a “regular” print/broadcast journalist even though I had a journalism degree, but I didn’t know what else to do either. Why don’t they have college classes that tell you what to do after graduation? Why don’t they have classes on pursuing a career related to your field, even if it’s not exactly what the major’s for, or not making an ass of yourself during the job interviews you eventually manage to get? Where were those classes? Hell, why don’t they at least tell you HOW IMPORTANT it is to amass an insane amount of internship experience so that employers look at your resume for longer than half a millisecond?

I started at the pulmonary rehab/sleep center over four years ago thinking I would only be there four months to scan patient charts into the computer server. Eventually I worked more and more hours until I had full-time. For the most part I knew I needed something better, but it was so easy to settle in for a while. I did send out my resume on occasion, going to interviews…and still making an ass of myself. Much like putting off a dentist appointment in spite the cavity you pretend isn’t there, I forced myself to believe that maybe this job would change in the long run. Maybe I’ll work my way up.

Yeah right.

Referring back to what I said before, while I didn’t earn a livable income, I still gained valuable experience. I got more interviews when I did send out resumes. At first I was awful, but the last couple interviews I went on actually weren’t so traumatizing. I don’t think there’s a trick to it, or I could’ve landed a better job earlier if only I’d done that. I needed these years to grow. Right now I’m not looking because of the impending knee surgeries, but when I do have to apply again in about six months, I won’t be so nervous. I’ll know what job posts to seek out, if the requirements fit me, what answers to have ready for the interview. If a tiny bit of luck is on my side, I might even do some freelance writing and editing during my recovery.

So I realized all this is why I’m not so anxious anymore. It’s because I have more faith in myself. I can be cynical, and pessimistic, but I won’t let fear of failure stall my ambitions anymore. Then again it could be my pessimism speaking. After the company you work for closes, there’s nowhere left to go but up.