End of An Era; I Think I’ve Used That Joke Before…

Hello, my name is Caitlin and I am a binge watcher.

It’s not a joke actually. Like I really just watched a whole lot of episodes in three days. A season full, okay? That’s twenty two episodes that run 42-43 minutes apiece that I watched in three days. Netflix is wonderful, bizarre, and dangerous. Having the ability to just push play on the next episode (OR NOT HAVE TO TOUCH ANYTHING AT ALL) is too easy and convenient. Albeit, I did not complain. And one can argue that I simply don’t have to have Netflix anymore. I’m just saying, it’s dangerous for someone who likes to watch television to have access to so much television.

That being said, I am very sad to be done with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Yes, I could have slowed down, but I was hooked. I will say that while it took me three days to watch the final season (I’m on a staycation technically), it took me about three weeks to watch the previous season because it was emotionally challenging. I feel comfortable and secure in admitting to you my obsession with TV only because I can claim it’s for research purposes. Hello?! I want to write for TV, so I have to watch TV. It’s not my fault, it’s a requirement.

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Too soon Netflix! Too soon!

There is a clear reason as to why I don’t watch too many shows on Netflix and that is because I become invested. It can be hard for me to get into a show, but once I’m in, I’m hooked. Just fry me up. That was a lame statement, but I’m keeping it just so I can talk about how lame it was. After much deliberation, obsession, and dedication, I am ready to make another claim. Friends, after years and years and years, has been dethroned for the highly esteemed number one favorite show of all-time in my heart. While I still love Friends, it will have to make-do with number two (rhyming, ugh). This is important to no one else, besides me, but I think it’s a pretty momentous occasion. As it stands, my favorites are now: Buffy, Friends, Lost, The Golden Girls, and Gilmore Girls.

What you can take from this is that I am one eclectic girl. Look at that diversity in my choice of shows! Actually, there’s probably not that much diversity at all except that some of them are different genres. It’s funny because I only ever watched one and a half of those shows at the time live. Buffy was on when I was younger and should not have been watching at that age because I could not comprehend or appreciate the depth of emotions and torment that it shows. I just liked the action and the romantics and Sarah Michelle Gellar was my favorite because she married Freddie Prinze Jr., which is still impressive, but also, she’s damn good in this show! I also only watched about two and a half seasons and didn’t remember a whole lot of it once I went and rewatched all of it. (Note: rewatched keeps autocorrecting to rewetted and I don’t know that I understand what that means).

I’ve seen episodes of Gilmore Girls when it was on live, but I never got into it until after it came on Netflix and I decided to give it a whirl. I’m so glad I did too (except for that last season, ugh). The first and only episode I’ve seen of Lost while it aired was the finale. There was so much hype and I don’t need too much mystery or context to be able to appreciate an ending, so I wanted to watch it. If I liked how it ended, I figured I could watch it. In the end, I’m not sure how I felt about that ending, but I went back and watched it anyways and it was epic.

I wasn’t or was barely alive when The Golden Girls aired, but thanks to Lifetime and syndication, I started to watch it in high school and became obsessed. It’s just such a fun and lovable and funny show that makes me feel nostalgic, which I am a huge sucker for. With Friends, I did watch much of it when it was running, but probably not all- I was four when it started?- but because of syndication and to all the DVDs I spent uber loads of money on that are now five bucks apiece, I was caught up by the time it ended. I distinctly remember watching the finale, surrounding myself with tissues, and sobbing. I will not go as far as to say it was a tragic moment in my life- I still remember the Brad/Jennifer break up- but it was an end of an era.

And now here again we have reached an end of another era. I say most of this in jest, though I do find these shows to be important to me. It’s like coming to an end of a really good book, especially a series (HARRY POTTER) and having to say goodbye to those characters and those places that made you fall in love. This is what makes television stand out farther to me than movies. If you’re lucky, with a show, there are so many seasons and episodes to spend with the characters. It’s part of what inspires me to be a writer- to bring to life people whose emotions, actions, and thoughts can be so different and so similar to yours at the same time. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it over and over again: if you have a set of solid characters played by actors who bring them to life (in the case of novels, the author’s voice is the said-actor in my opinion), then you can do anything with them.

All of this leads to a big question I am sure all of you are dying to know! What show will be next? Actually, none. Not for now. One, I need time to mourn Buffy. Seven seasons, um no matter how fast you watch them, is no small feat and I need time to process. I waited about a year after finishing Gilmore Girls before getting into another show because clearly I am obsessive and cannot be stopped. Now is the time to enjoy some me time, in the sun, maybe reading a book and definitely studying.

This whole rant started by my wanting to make a joke about being a binge watching addict. My apologies, continue with your day. Except actually, finish reading before you do.

Yesterday’s workout was strength heavy. I ran through the usual barbell exercises, performing six sets of eight reps for power moves like bench presses, deadlifts, and squat presses and four sets of twelve reps for additional exercises such as bicep curls and tricep extensions. I can feel myself growing stronger, which (opinion) probably means I am going to one day become a vampire slayer. (Fact) I ran away screaming from my cat when he tried to bite me.

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I followed a strength workout with a core one that left me wanting to stay down on the mat for a little while, but instead got me in the direction of the bike, which I rode for a few minutes.

Last night’s dinner was a big old salad with grilled chicken, which I paired with a piece of corn and a slice of toast. Simple, yet effective. I enjoyed this while sitting poolside as the sun started to fall asleep, the bugs started to crawl, and I didn’t notice much of anything else because I was watching Netflix. I said it was fun, not healthy.

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At breakfast time, I was very Maid of Honorly and Sisterly and did a favor for my sister and her husband and decided it was worth just powering through the last three episodes of Buffy. I grilled myself some eggs and served it with peanut butter on toast, half a banana, and some blueberries. It was a delightful breakfast sprinkled with occasional tears. I can almost feel your judgment through our virtual screens, but remember, this is partly satirical. (A very small part, but shh).

IMG_3374Now that I’ve finished, it’s time to go out into the world again! Except that it’s ninety degrees and the sun is too bright.

Just kidding, it’s hot as balls. (I don’t use that feature to my advantage enough).

No April Fool’s Here! It’s A Review!

I’ve retired from April Fool’s Day because I know how to learn my lesson. A few year’s ago when my sister was living in Argentina, I decided it would be funny to email her that I was feeling too overwhelmed and would be dropping out of school. This would be ridiculous on many levels, but primarily because my parents never would have allowed it unless something was seriously wrong. Now, at the bottom of the post, I wrote APRIL FOOLS in huge font, and she should have been suspicious given my propensity for humor and past reputation, but she was thrown off I guess with the time change. Anyways, it happened to be a day she was traveling so I couldn’t even reach her to explain it was all a joke, she only realized when she looked down at her ticket and saw what the date was. I’m no longer allowed to prank…her at least.

As promised, I have a book review to share with you all. I took out Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker from the library and quickly became entranced by the topic. It’s a short book from the perspective of a pubescent teem girl who is battling the repercussions of growing older and the changes that come with it, along with a massive alternation in the way the world works.

It’s never explicitly explained exactly what has happened, how, and why, but time has slowed. Days grow longer, as do nights. Among the chaos, fear, and danger of this realization, species die, illnesses arise, and crops can no longer be grown naturally. Tensions rise between those who remain on “clock time” and the few, now ostracized, who prefer to live by the sun.

It’s interesting to read how people acclimate to even the most extreme changes. What once seems normal, is foreign. Things like pineapple-gasp!- are no longer. Grapes cost over 100/pound. The sun is to fierce to be outside and people work, go to school, and live their daily lives in the darkness. Personalities shift as well as some relationships crumble and others grow stronger. Despite this, many people adjust, though there are always those who don’t.

Among the changes to the earth’s rotation, life still progresses for this little girl. She still has those awkward moments puberty and being a middle schooler provide. She still has crushes on boys and complicated friendships. She comes to realize that her parents are human, susceptible to weaknesses and changes like everyone else. Loss and happiness are ever present and the daily ministrations of life still seem like the biggest things in the world, even with the larger things happening in the world that have nothing to do with her, because it’s her life and aren’t we all like this?

The perspective of the book seems old and wise, which makes sense because it’s the little girl looking back at this time of her life. Much of what she discusses is seeped in observations influenced by hindsight. Her reflections are beautiful and thoughtful. With the threat of Global Warming growing ever present and the changes in the atmosphere and weather far more severe, this topic is definitely something to consider. 

This weekend, I also finished watching The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. The show is a Netflix original comedy created and produced by Tina Fey. The premise is about a young woman, played by Ellie Kemper who was Erin in The Office and was also in Bridesmaids, who was kidnapped as a young girl by a cult leader who tells four women that there has been an apocalypse and the bomb shelter he has them locked in is the only source protecting them. The first moments of the show reveals the “mole women” being rescued and then becoming viral sensations. On a publicity tour in New York, Kimmy Schmidt decides she wants to lead an adventurous life and chooses to stay in my New York rather than go back to Indiana. Now she is an almost thirty year old woman who has the cultural knowledge of a fifteen year old girl, who has been damaged by this heartbreaking incident, yet remains optimistic.

The show is quirky and weird. The premise alone as a comedy seems outrageous. My favorite part are the supporting characters, The sassy roommate, the jaded landlord, the wealthy and shallow boss, and so on. I also think Ellie Kemper does an excellent job, but it’s the cast of characters that make the show worthwhile. The episodes are about twenty minutes long, very weird, but full of smart jokes, and genius guest star appearances. I cannot ruin this because the shock value alone is so clever.

I’m sad that I’ve already finished the season, but it left off at a satisfying point. I’m still intrigued and want to know what happens next and I think that is a mark of any quality show. Thus far, the jokes are funny. The characters endearing, and the writing clever. For me, it’s not quite at the level of Parks and Rec, 30 Rock, or The Mindy Project, but it certainly has the makings and the potential to get there. But honestly, it’s not like Tina Fey can do bring anyways. Watch!

Breakfast was a little weird this morning. After the gym, I ate a hard-boiled egg, but we were having a bagel morning at work and so I figured one in like three years would not do harm. I chose a sesame one with a smear of cream cheese and it was quite good. No time for pictures though.

Lunch was a simple salad with some grilled salmon on top. Since I had a carb-heavy breakfast and ice cream cake to celebrate a birthday, I felt satisfied by just the salad until I got home from work and ate a pear. Thankfully, I still seem fine to eat them. Last week my eyes were red, raw, and sensitive, but I started to take an allergy pill before night and it cleared right up. I might even be brave and try an apple, but only when I’m home and Benadryl is accessible.

  

Dinner was simple and tasty. Grilled chicken paired with leftover brown rice, roasted brussel sprouts, and a dollop of leftover cauliflower gratin. Delicious! The trick to these sprouts are salt, pepper, and a mixture of olive oil and maple syrup.

 

 My workout this morning began with a body strength workout. I performed four sets of ten moves with step ups, squats, lunges, kickbacks, burpees, push ups, mountain climbers, mermaid raises, hip lifts, ankle grabs, v ups, and Russian twists. I did a few planks before jumping into the pool for my cardio. I switched things up just a little by doing three sets of sprints. Very tiring, but very refreshing. I’m just loving the effects of hemming on my body when mixed with running and strength training. I also went for a brisk walk when I got home from work because at 40*, it felt spectacularly warm!

HAPPY FRIDAY!!!

It’s Friday, which means that once I get out of work today, I have plans to do AB-SOL-UTE-LY NOTHING! As much as I love traveling and spending time with friends, I’m exhausted and looking forward to whipping up a home-cooked meal, vegging on the couch, and even getting in some long overdue writing time. Yay Caitlin time!

I am obsessed with swimming lately. I’ve only been back at it for the past three weeks, but it’s such a relief on my body from other exercises like running and strength training and it’s making all the difference. I started my workout this morning with a core/strength routine using the medicine ball and stability ball. I did two circuits, the first including box jumps, squats, lunges, push ups, and kneeling kickbacks with a resistance band. The second circuit was rollouts, elevated hip lifts, hundreds to v-ups, Russian twists, and sit ups. I ran through each circuit four sets of ten reps before finishing up with a few planks on the stability ball. By the end, my abs were aching and my legs had been through the ringer as well.

Hopping into the pool felt so freeing because even though it’s a great full body workout, it’s not as strenuous on the muscles. I did 28 laps (back and forth), the first 12 were at more of a moderate pace. I swam the next 4 as sprints and was so out of breath when I changed into 2 backstroke laps and 2 breaststroke laps to cool down. 4 more were sprints again, followed by 2 more backstroke and 2 breaststroke before cooling down. I felt so energized and rejuvenated after. The most exciting part is that when I first dove in, I was the only one in the pool! I’ve found the perfect time to go- now let’s hope I haven’t jinxed myself.

My breakfast this morning was this beautiful french toast meal. I use pureed pumpkin in my batter for sweetness, along with a dash of vanilla, cinnamon, some milk, and an egg. I coat them with peanut butter for the jolt of protein and because I happen to prefer peanut butter 10000000 x more than syrup.

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Since there are many wedding festivities upcoming and I have such a prominent role as the MOH, I need to start really watching my diet. I’ve been lax in the past couple of weeks due to all that traveling and eating out at restaurants, but the other problem is I sit more at work now. I’ve been making a quality effort to stand, which is much better than sitting all day and I take frequent brisk walks to get my brain and body moving. There are also those assorted bites and tastes I can easily cut out of what I eat in a day and it’s time I pay more attention to that.

In this case, one of my efforts is to eat a salad and soup every day for lunch. There are still a ton of different options and meals I can create to go along with this. I’m aiming for a ton of veggies, which I’m already excellent at incorporating, along with lean proteins, like chicken and fish. I need to get back into my beans! Soups, especially broth-based ones that are homemade or the boxed ones found at Trader Joes, are also excellent because they carry many more nutrients and are also filling. My aim is to only have grains at breakfast and dinner, which shouldn’t be too hard. I’m not cutting out anything I enjoy eating, I’m just trying to be more mindful and stopping diving into things without realizing or appreciating what I’m eating.

My lunch was this tasty leftover salad from the other night featuring baby spinach, poppyseed dressing, walnuts, and craisins with tomato, cucumber, carrots, peppers, and grilled chicken tossed in. I had a cup of the leftover miso soup with a dash of spicy chili sauce that made it that much better.

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So good! And I didn’t feel deprived in any way.

Dinner was more indulgent with macaroni and cheese and barbecue chicken, but the broccoli and asparagus were good buffers. I was careful to slow down my eating and savor each bite and when I finished, I didn’t even feel compelled for seconds. This is a big deal when I can turn down more macaroni and cheese. Progress people!

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Before I end, I have a bit of a confession to make. My guilty pleasure television show is Baby Daddy on ABC Family and I am obsessed. The show can tend to be a little cutesy at times, but in a real quality fashion. I find the writing to be excellent with clever dialogue and layered characters, which have pulled me in and make me invest in them.

I’ve been watching since the beginning and last night during the spring finale, I finally thought my favorite couple would get together. Of course there was a nasty cliffhanger that will leave me on edge until the summer (or until I forget about it by next week and it will be rejuvenated in the summer). I had my whole family watching last night with the promise that they would not talk through it- they mostly succeeded. All of them were mocking it and me at the silly title of the show, but once they started to watch it, at the very least, they didn’t hate it.

If you’re looking for a fun show to watch, I highly recommend it! Not such a guilty pleasure after all! Have any good guilty pleasures to share?

In Memoriam: Binge Watching Cease and Desist

It was a long journey, but I’ve finished Gilmore Girls. It was with mixed emotions because though I very much enjoyed it, as it grew towards the end of the series, it felt like it was time.

It’s funny because I started watching the show near the end of the summer and would play episode after episode while I worked in the background, applying for jobs and whatnot. It obviously slowed once I started working, so I think it took me longer to watch the final season than the other six combined.

For now, I won’t be jumping onto a new show anytime soon. I want to get on a reading kick, considering all the books I placed on hold are coming in at the same time. It’s overwhelming! There is nothing better, however, than sitting by the tree, curled up on the couch, with a fire going in the fireplace. I have a ton of books I want to read, so it’s time I got to it!

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In the coming weeks, there will be a lot of reviews to cover, but for now let’s focus on Gilmore Girls. Over the years, I watched an episode here or there, but it never captured my complete attention. It took me a few episodes to really get into it, but once I did, it turned into full blown binge mode.

The best part of the show is the relationship between Lorelei and Rory, mother and daughter for those who haven’t seen the show. Lorelei had Rory when she was 16 and raised her on her own, away from her wealthy, overbearing parents. For Lorelei and Rory, it’s the close friendship before parental relationship that is fun and works for 1% of the population. Rory happens to be this straight A, innocent 16 year old who is a breeze to raise and whose only real issues are boy troubles. It’s the whole, tv fantasy thing that allows it to be slightly believable and enjoyable.

Gilmore Girls contains all the aspects a successful tv show needs- relatable characters who you care about for better or worse, good traits and faults; familiar, comforting settings, such as Luke’s Diner, where the characters can return in order to break up momentous, show-altering events in order to alleviate stress for the audience; and quirky consistencies, characters, settings, and behaviors that an audience latches onto in order to remember and care about the show, for example the town where the majority of scenes takes place, Stars Hollow.

More so than with movies and theater, television allows an audience to grow and understand characters. It’s like Orange Is The New Black in that people have more sympathy for these characters in prison than they probably would for people in real life in these situations. We have a view of the minds of the characters, who they are, what their actions say about them, and we sympathize, whether or not we love or hate them. As long as the characters are fleshed out and an audience is invested in them, you can take them almost anywhere, with the thought that at least part of the core of that character remains.

Gilmore Girls was good in this sense because both the main characters, as well as the supporting ones who are just as loveable, undergo transitions from the first to last episode, yet by the end of the show, you still see similarities within them. The ending was not major, life-altering (for me or them), or overly significant, but I did have some teary moments. Listen, watching a season from start to finish is an investment. It’s sad that there’s no longer a journey to go on with these characters, but at least it didn’t end with a blank screen or everyone dead. You’re also left with a binge watching hangover that leaves you sleepy, fuzzy,and wondering why the hell you do things like this to yourself.

Many people talk about how unrealistic the show is with the premise and how seemingly perfect the characters are, even with their flaws, but I think it’s part of the quirkiness of the show. It wasn’t trying to be meaningful, and though it still had its moments of poignancy, it remained true to its cute qualities it flourished using. Another topic of contention was the dialogue because seemingly no one speaks so quickly or wittily within conversation. Again, I think you could say that about almost any show. Stumbling over words or thinking of the perfect thing to say after a conversation, are things that happen to me regularly, but it wouldn’t work in a show all the time. Dialogue has an opportunity to be perfect and smart on tv and it should be. So often, quality dialogue does not exist.

I say this for television, movies, and theater. It would not matter what a writer does to his/her characters, so long as the consumer cares about the characters and the dialogue is fluid and NOT cheesy. The most poignant and effective moments on television are inspired by subtlety. There are so many shows out there that I love the idea of, but cannot watch because the dialogue doesn’t make it feel real. Glee is a good example of this from where it was in season one to how it is now. When it first started, it was super effective because it was showing something that hadn’t been done before and was a great source of influence on a younger audience. The writers saw what they were capable of and completely messed it up by magnifying the subtlety and turning the show into a parody of itself. No offense to fans of Glee though…

I’m not saying Gilmore Girls was perfect or the best written show on television. There were definitely some moments through the show that made me cringe or roll my eyes, but that is the nature of a tv show made for a young female audience- and I’m not saying that’s right or wrong. It was an enjoyable show that was too easy to binge watch, and though I probably wasted an embarrassing amount of time streaming it, I’m glad I went back and watched it.

However silly it seems, I am sad to say goodbye to those characters and the cute town of Stars Hollow. It’s time I tap into my creative and intellectual side now and dive into all the books I have to read!

Books, Books, Books

I finally went ahead and did it. I read a Gillian Flynn book. Wait, no, not that one. Not yet at least because just as I was ready to settle down with it, you know, Gone Girl, my mom lent it to someone else. Instead, I found Flynn’s novel Dark Places that drew me in with an interesting storyline.

It’s rare that I’ll stick with a book without finding some remote interest in characters, but the mystery had a hold on me that made me power read through. I cannot say I was overly invested in these characters and it’s not because they were flawed and “dark.” When reading, I don’t need to love characters or relate to them, but I do crave a fascination in them, wondering what will happen and how they might react in a situation. To be honest, as much as I liked the book overall, I didn’t care enough about the people in the beginning, which I think would have left more of an impact, in order to care in the end. All I wanted was to solve the mystery.

The mystery is what happened to a family of five, a single-mother, her three young daughters, and her teen son, who was arrested and convicted for the murders of three of them. These are not spoilers, but the premise offered on the back of the book. To start, we, the readers, are taken to a point years later when the sole surviving victim, the youngest daughter, is still very angry at the world (rightfully so), especially when no longer being able to rely on living off of the infamy that tore her life apart. An assortment of characters both living in the present and those dead looking back on the past to that last day carry the storyline along only in the sense that they fulfill necessary roles. There was some decent character development, but nothing that heightened my investment in them.

In mysteries, I’ve found that this is often the case. The premise, mystery, and resolution are far more intriguing than what characters may have to offer. It doesn’t matter who they are so long as they take you to the places you need to go, or more appropriately, can be carried to the places you need them to go. One person who incorporates both a great story and well-developed characters is JK Rowling in her Cormoran Strike series. Okay, yes, I suppose I’m slightly biased when it comes to my Literary Queen, but that is an excellent series so far! (Harry Potter will always be better, sorry I’m not sorry).

Please don’t think that I am bashing Flynn’s writing because I did enjoy reading and I could not put it down. The ending wasn’t terrible, though I was disappointed I didn’t figure it out, and at least it had a resolution! I will always be cautious about reading mysteries in the fear that they will not be resolved in the end thanks to In The Woods by Tana French.

I recommend this book, especially if you are a fan of Flynn’s Gone Girl, but then again, I haven’t read that yet.

Another book I read this week was Claire Messud’s The Woman Upstairs. To put it lightly, this was a strange novel. Spoken through the main character’s inner monologue, nothing big really happens, save for a few intriguing moments, so the story has to be carried along by characters. Though the main character definitely left me wondering of what she was capable, I didn’t care enough about the supporting characters that the protagonist is obsessed with and I think this hindered my appreciation for the book.

As a reader, such as in life, you don’t have to agree with a character’s motive, but it’s important to be able to understand where in which an action or feeling stems. I kept waiting for something momentous to happen, which is not a bad writing device, but was left a bit confused as to where it ended. That’s not to say that I was in the mourning stage of having finished a book because I didn’t love it enough for that (that is a real thing by the way, it has to be), but it also didn’t leave me seething mad, so I will take it.

I didn’t hate the book by any means, I just thought it was strange. Again, not necessarily a bad thing.

To end this edition of Rave Review Tuesday, here’s a bit of a tangent. Since connecting my e-reader to the library, I’ve found some books that I wouldn’t normally have read, but I’m also missing that inspired feeling I get when I step into an actual library or bookstore, surrounded by books and creative, imaginative spirits. That’s why I try to alternate where I access my books. Yes, the e-reader is more convenient, but there is something to be said about holding an actual book in your hand to connect with it.

How Books (Not of the Text Variety) Help You Learn

This week, my book of choice has been The Paris Wife by Paula McLain. The novel is a work of historical fiction, focusing on Hadley Richardson, Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, as they navigate their lives during the early part of his career.

I’m embarrassed to say that I haven’t read much of anything from Hemingway, though I certainly am interested in doing so now. He appears to be a complex, troubled man whose entire life focused around his passion for writing. In the story at least, many of his actions are narcissistic, making me cringe at how he treats his wife at times, but even more so at her blind willingness to follow him. This could simply be a facet of that era, but it is especially frustrating near the end of the book, which I will not delve into further so I don’t spoil it for you.

McLain shows flashes of Hemingway’s own perspective on the story, though rare, which aims to humanize him a bit more than the protagonist, Hadley, discusses as she simply idolizes and adores him, despite his misgivings. The book plays out as Hadley tells the story of their marriage, the beginning and the demise (which is not a spoiler per se), speaking in the present, but also at times with a touch of hindsight. Their time together was romantic and nostalgic, imperfect and complicated, but very intriguing.

At the end of the book, McLain discusses the research that went into creating this story. Since it is historical, the focus is on real people, though fiction allows for some improvising. I wouldn’t know how true to the real people McLain remains, but she brings life and layers to her characters, providing them with traits and flaws that are both likable and disagreeable, a mark of excellent characterizations. The story also leaves me brimming with curiosity to learn more about the real people, through biographies as well as Hemingway’s fiction.

Writers, especially at this time when the role was so glamorized and American authors were starting to come on the scene, are fascinating. This is why the most interesting part of the novel was the depiction of very famous writers of this age. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, and even James Joyce are mentioned and characterized. Paris is the main landscape and it is fascinating to learn more about how writers functioned in these times, struggling for success and living and traveling with little money.

I think it helps a bit to see that even these esteemed writers struggled, especially as they were developing their craft. Writing often seems chic and melodic, which are beliefs based off of the final product, though I’ve learned that the entire process is long, difficult, and deliberate. If you’re lucky, there are days when the words flow onto the page, with fingers not able to type or write fast enough to keep up with the thoughts and ideas. There are also days when even forming a string of words together to create one sentence is meticulous and frustrating. With writing, you have to know a lot about the world, at least at the point where you understand and explore your own perspective, but you also have to actively search and research for others.

In college, the biggest lesson for me to learn about writing- and trust me, there were many I gained- was that what you first put down on the page will very rarely be the final copy. This is true for any short stories I write, and a bit less so on these blog posts because I sort of just let myself fly. To be a decent writer, a lot more time and patience has to go into a creation than the time it took to write the first draft.

Early on in Hemingway’s career, Hadley accidentally lost a suitcase full of the majority of his work, on her way to meet him in another country. This is the equivalence of hard-drive failure and the inability to procure what you wrote. I’ve been in the situation where I feel as though I’ve written a good enough essay only for it to disappear and though you can bring some of it back to life, it will never be as well-worded or the same to what you had before. However, the book Hemingway forgave his wife and though done with a heavy-heart, saw this as an opportunity to make a fresh, clean start and it worked for him. Though I wouldn’t go so far as to lose everything, there is definitely something to not being overly attached to the words you put down if there are better ways to play with them. This was another important lesson from my college writing classes and it hurts more than you would think to erase what you thought was good, but doesn’t quite fit.

I enjoyed the book overall, though I wasn’t in love with it. More than anything it helped me to be more reflective about my own writing and my passion that drives me. There is a constant reminder needed that even if you are talented in something, true, quality work is not simply provided to you, but the result of hard-work and dedication. Yes, there has to be a natural propensity for that particular craft, but it will never flourish if you don’t put in the time.

I recommend The Paris Wife if you are interested in historical fiction, Hemingway, or just want to get lost in a story.

The One Where I Watch A Cartoon

This summer, I’ve run through patterns where I will find a new TV show and all I want to do is watch it, or there will be other periods where all I want to do is read. While I do other things in my life that are actually productive during these times, I’ve found my recent freedom from school-related things to be indulgent.

I’ve talked in length about my annual Harry Potter re-read and that did not disappoint. On Rave Review Tuesdays, I have also talked about Orange is the New Black and Mitch Albom’s The First Phone Call From Heaven. While I am currently reading David Sedaris’s new book Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls (and only have two days to finish since it’s from the library), I went through a phase the past couple of weeks of watching a new TV show (for myself, not new in general).

Disclaimer, if I’m even using that in correct fashion, but I have never really been one to watch cartoons. Growing up, I absorbed Disney princess movie after Disney princess movie, where I think my proclivity for crowns stems from, but when it came to sitting down to watch Saturday morning cartoons, I was never into them.

This might be due to the fact that my sister is three years older, had three years older taste, and I wanted to follow her in every step, including TV shows. I only ever would glimpse cartoons here and there when my brother, who is five years younger, would watch them, and at that point, I had no patience for them. I was the freak who watched Friends when she was much too young. I always preferred Saved by the Bell or Sweet Valley High because it offered much more drama and romance.

My family went through a phase when we were older of watching Family Guy and I thought it was funny in parts, but never my favorite. We were never allowed to watch The Simpsons when we were growing up and when I got older it just never occurred to me to watch that. It especially became easier to not have to watch what was actually on TV because of DVR and other forms of new media that allowed me to watch my favorites anytime I wanted.

There was also the period of my life from seventh grade to my freshman year of high school that all I watched was Friends. I don’t know why I was allowed to buy all of the DVD sets, especially because a year later they were so much cheaper!

Anyways, back to the topic, when it comes to cartoons, I am pretty much all about the Disney princess movies and that’s it, until I found a new show.

It all started with Tumblr. Browsing through my feed or whatever they call it on that, gifs and quotes from Bob’s Burgers kept popping up. I thought they were kind of funny when reading them, even without knowing any of the background. People were commenting about how funny it was and how they relate to it in odd ways.

After a couple of weeks, my neighbor mentioned she watched it and loved it, as well as my cousins, so I checked on Netflix and decided to give it a try. When I watched the first episode, I was taken aback because most of the characters’ voices, men and women, were voiced by men. At this point, I was thinking it was going to be another show that I would roll my eyes at and get annoyed with, thinking it was some anti-feminist attack and all about fart jokes.

I was wrong and I’m so glad I kept watching.

Much of the humor is actually very clever and each character is fleshed out in a brilliant way. I can’t decide which character I like best between Tina, Gene, and Louise because they all have very specific personality traits that are hilarious, ridiculous, and somehow quite endearing. I also adore Linda and Bob and the entire family dynamic because to its core, the show features a very close, sweet family relationship who mock each other, get annoyed by one another, but always stick together and support one another.

There is something very relatable about the characters, which I think I’ve discussed on here before about that’s how any media draws me in. I don’t care about the storyline, or rather, in some sense I’m more lenient about what is happening to characters if I like the characters. In any medium, book, movie, TV show, musical, or play, there is going to be a premise that is not quite regular and borders on the fantastical, or is completely fantasy. It has to be interesting to draw in an audience.

Within the show there is a realness to how quirky people in real life are, whether they don’t quite fit in with other people’s realm of normativity, whether because they are a little nerdy, can’t read social cues properly, somewhat introverted, or are just so eager and excitable that it can be overwhelming for other people. Bob’s Burgers even shows the struggle of a person, and the family they have to drag along with them, when they own a family business.

Yes, the show is built on hijinks, makes the occasional fart joke, and sometimes goes for the obvious joke, but that’s all part of its charm. I think sometimes that some other shows similar to this have the objective to offend, however they can, however badly they can make it, which causes them to lose form. The shock factor works best when it’s used sparingly because you don’t expect it, but it also doesn’t take away from the show you’ve created.

However, what do I really know, because I don’t have a multi-million dollar TV show or movies coming out. Yet…

I will watch or read anything if it adds a touch of cleverness and beauty to it. Perhaps I am analyzing the show way too much outside of the scope of what the creators want, but I think that what they have created is a quality, fun show that takes a somewhat simple premise and makes it outstanding. The writing and dialogue is smart, but not overwhelming or trying to be too far above what this genre entails. It kind of reminds me of 30 Rock in that smart, but ridiculous form that takes nothing to be serious, but also has heart and truth.

Actually, I would say it has the cleverness of 30 Rock and the endearing factor of Parks and Rec…

I watched the three seasons featured on Netflix faster than I should have, but they were only twenty minutes per episode, so I flew through them. I was sad knowing I had to wait until fall to see new episodes until someone told me that the fourth season had already aired and would probably be on On Demand. It was the gift that kept on giving.

I realize that I’m sort of jumping on the bandwagon that has been plugging on for awhile now, but Bob’s Burgers will definitely be something that I’ll continue watching when the new season hits. I might even watch it when it actually airs, which means it’s special if I’m going to deal with commercials.

I mean, if I didn’t convince you with this edition of Rave Review Tuesday to check it out, because if nothing else, it’s just fun, then maybe the fact that it just won a Creative Arts Emmy might sway you.