21 January 2008

Lessons I've learned

This last week has been kind of a whirlwind. There is so much to say that I've decided it's time for another list post. Aren't we excited? Wahoo!

1. There is 100% chance that if you walk into a Junior High in Orem right now, you will hear someone singing High School Musical. How do I know this? Because for the last week I have been doing my pre-English teaching program for half days at Canyon View. It's been an experience, I can tell you. Six in the morning does not agree with me. This rotten combination of being a teacher and a student and an employee every day from six until eleven at night is horrid. The teaching experience itself is fun enough, though (minus the continual references to Zac Efron). It reminds me of a line in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix during the first DA meeting. There's a line in the narration that says something to the effect of "it was strange to be issuing orders, but even more strange to be seeing them followed". Yup. That's about right.

2. Romeo and Juliet is the most irritating play in the world. For six hours of the last week in CVJH I watched Romeo and Juliet pop their clogs six times. Ugh. It's so irritating. What on earth does that play solve? I have never understood why people think it's so romantic. I prefer the end to the parody play Romeo, you Idiot. In the end of that play everyone dies. It's wonderful! Just kill them off! Get rid of them! It's convenient, isn't it? The end of that show? It ends like a Jane Austen novel. You don't ever find out what happens in the end. Does the friar get away with it? Do the Capulets and Montegues ever send each other Christmas cards? It's so lame. If and when I end up teaching Shakespeare in High School, I will not teach Romeo and Juliet if I can get away with it. At least not to hormonal, emotionally driven 14 year olds. Midsummer Night's Dream it is for me. I will say though, the best part about all of it was in the modern version (from 1996) when Juliet shoots herself. One of the girls jumped about five feet in the air, I'm not kidding. And then going around and looking at all the venn diagrams they've made comparing the two versions and seeing things like "This Juliet is HOTT!" and "Romeo looks like Zac Efron" (I'm telling you, those girls have an Efron radar).

3. I have a new-found appreciation for sisterhood. Sometimes (being the liberal arts/humanities student I am), I get into a mode of independence that seems kind of popular for college girls to take. But there really is something unique and wonderful about being a woman. We have the ability to pull together in a time of crisis that is rather remarkable. This last weekend I received a rather frantic phone call from a friend half desperate for someone to just be there for her. I rushed home and spent the next eight or so hours trying to help her out - turns out her fiance had broken up with her. Over a text message no less. Within minutes we had reinforcements called in and a whole group of girls asking what they could do to help. Chocolate and cookies and Kleenex were pulled out of the woodwork. Somewhere among the tears and tragedy I took a few moments to really appreciate how good girls are at pulling together and dropping everything to help out during an emotional crisis. Girls can be pretty irritating and petty, but when it comes down to it, we don't like to watch other people hurt.

4. I also have wonderful parents. I'm lucky enough to be friends with my parents. I don't know how they managed to foster that kind of relationship between us, but I'm glad they did. There is a really healthy balance between friend and parent that they both manage to switch through at the right moments. They take care of me and let me fall on my face and make sure I have what I need (and don't need, sometimes).

5. I'm still mad about the end of Robin Hood. For different ways now. The annoying thing about the BBC is that they don't handle things in the same way as most American networks. When something happens in American television that's a bit drastic, within the next three days there will be huge press releases and interviews with the stars and plenty of information given to the public about the hows and whys of whatever happened. It's wonderful. Unlike the BBC. They have been resolutely silent on all things finale. The only thing they've said at all has come in the form of a quietly circulated email responding to a random selection of people who sent letters of annoyance. The letter more or less says four things: a. We're sorry you don't like it. Robin loves Marian, we know. So we had to do something drastic. (non sequitor much?); b. Don't worry. Guy will feel very badly for what he has done (as if I care. If they killed Marian off because of GUY's character arch that's the worst excuse in the world. The show isn't about him, morons.); c. We killed her off to make room for other characters and storylines (because Marian has been so intrusive on those extra characters and storylines before. Oh. Wait. She's usually been at the center of the introduction of those new storylines and characters.); and d. We hope you'll still watch season three and many more years of Robin Hood (yes. They said years. In the plural. Obviously they haven't noticed that they've already successfully massacred their own story. They really are that oblivious). In brighter news, I finally managed to get a friend of mine to return my season one on DVD. I've decided something: season one is the only real season. Season two is fine until episode seven. At this point, Marian is in the woods, people are happy. The rest of the season is like fan fiction. I'll skip to the parts that are good and worth watching, and assume that the last two episodes are a bunch of (insert appropriate expletive here). I've actually given the last episode a name. It is now fondly known as "the Scottish Apocrypha that shall not be named". Work that one out for yourself.

6. I started writing this about five hours ago. I stopped to do laundry and shower and eat something that might be called lunch and do nothing at all productive. I've been in sweats all day. I spent three hours watching television and I really hate most television. So much for being productive on the holiday.

7. I saw Juno this weekend. I highly recommend it. My favorite line was "Because doctors are sadists who think they're God and like to watch lesser people suffer". (or something like that). It's the first time in a long time I've been to a movie that genuinely took me by surprise with the humor.

8. I'm still working on that piece from England with all the journal entries that I posted on here earlier. It's getting better. I have no idea what I'm going to do with it, though. I mean, I'm enjoying writing it. It's been a long time since I've written something that consumed me so much. But there is absolutely zero market for young-adult travel writing, and who the heck would want to read about my trip anyway? I mean, I don't think I'm a horrible writer. I find myself semi-entertaining most of the time (it's because I don't sleep and everything is funnier when you haven't slept). But who would want to waste that much time reading something I've done? I don't know. But I don't feel like giving up on it yet, so I'm going to keep forging ahead. If you hear of anyone who is interested in starting a market for travel writing, let me know. Then maybe when I'm famous people will pay to send me around the world so I can write about it! Gah. That would be the coolest job EVER.

02 January 2008

Love Actually Is (Or, why I'm holding out for happily ever after)

Hey look, it's 2008. Madness, I tell you!

This Christmas my incredibly wonderful mother bought me Love Actually. I highly recommend the movie. This isn't a movie review so I won't go into detail, suffice it to say that the movie follows several different people (who are all connected through friendship/family) in their different stages of love at Christmastime in London. You've got a twelve year old who falls in love with a classmate after his mother's death and a marriage falling apart because of an affair and a couple who fall in love without speaking the same language at all, and others. It's brilliant. It's funny and touching in turns. (And it's set primarily in London which, knowing me, is a HUGE bonus). At the very beginning of the film, you see the phrase "Love Actually is all around", and then the last two words fade off for a second so the phrase turns into "Love Actually is", and then it turns into "Love Actually" as the title of the movie. I'll come back to this in a second. Hang on to your trousers.

The last two episodes of Robin Hood came out this last weekend as well. Now, none of you (that I know of?) watch the show, so I'm not assuming spoilers here, but stop reading now if you care.
I don't want to go into two seasons worth of plot development to tell you why the ending irritated me so much. There are many levels as to why, much of which aren't relevant to this entry. I've geared these responses en masse to the BBC and amongst many forums to spread the word on how moronic the ending was. I'll make it brief. Last season, the writers had Marian stabbed by Guy of Gisborne (the Sheriff of Nottingham's evil leather-clad right hand man). She is "dead", but pulls a Juliet and they find out that she was only drugged by some hemlock by a mean-spirited physician. Some quick surgery later, she's back to life and reunited with her love. All is right with the world and the outlaws get a Newsie-like screen shot at the end of the season to celebrate their victory. Fast forward to last Saturday night, a year after last season ended, and the same scenario presents itself again. The writers have managed to apparate all of the outlaws and Marian and the Sheriff and Guy to the Holy Land between episodes twelve and thirteen (don't ask) and Marian, after hiding her love for Robin from Guy (who also crushes on her) taunts him with declarations of love for Robin. He stabs her with a sword in his anger at the betrayal, and Marian dies on the sand with Robin next to her after they do some quick impromptu wedding vows. Two of the outlaws end up deciding to stay behind in the Holy Land, and Robin and his reduced band of three merry men walk back to Nottingham (or apparate, I suppose). No happy ending. No reassurance that things are good. (Keep in mind, Americans- this is aired during the family hour of BBC television. It's a show mothers watch with their children because it's clean and bloodless and funny).

Reactions to this have been fairly universal - nearly everyone is furious that the BBC would kill off Marian. Aside from the particularly horrible way of doing it, most comments include something to the effect of: "It's Marian! You can't have Robin without Marian." There are a few (very very few) comments from people saying that they liked the reality of the ending because life doesn't always churn out happy endings for people, but (as I said) most people have pretty adamantly declared that they don't care how Marian comes back (re-write the last two episodes, have it all be a dream/hallucination/whatever), but she'd better come back or they won't be watching the next series. I'm fairly sure that I'm one of them. Who wants to watch a bunch of boys run around sword fighting for some huge cause when you can't narrow it down to one specific reason? Watching Robin do ground control in Nottingham isn't nearly as urgent if there isn't the promise of marrying his girl at the end.

Ok. So one more shift, bear with me. The point is coming.

I saw Enchanted tonight with my mom and sister and a friend of mine. I was a little hesitant to see it at first - so much sugar in a film tends to make me feel rather sick, but I thought the movie was rather clever in the end. It was cheesy, of course, but it also made fun of itself so it wasn't so hard to swallow. It's about a girl named Giselle from a fairy tale who falls through a well into New York City after being pushed by an evil stepmother. She's found in the middle of her search for her prince by Robert - a single father who works (I think?) as a divorce attorney and (as a result), believes that marriages aren't happy, necessarily - they're just successful if they last long enough for the couple to die still married. The ever optimistic Giselle disagrees (obviously) and continues to look for romance and a happily ever after.

So what does all this have to do with what's on my mind? I think the conclusion will probably be kind of short. I'm defending romance. It's something I kind of cower from sometimes. The idea of some guy singing me a song or writing me a poem to show me affection makes me feel all embarrassed, but in the end - what's wrong with it? If that's what brings a bit of extra excitement to a relationship, is it so bad?

Beyond that (and probably more serious than that) - we live in a pretty pessimistic world. Look at the responses to Robin Hood and the attitude of Robert from Enchanted: reality isn't a happily ever after, so suck it up and face disappointment. But you know what? I don't need television and movies to tell me that life doesn't always work out. And I don't want to be disappointed in the life I have. I don't anticipate my life being happy all the time, but I don't want to expect misery either. That's what bothers me about Robin Hood. Now all Robin is really living for is death so that after he dies he can be with Marian. But what about life? I want to be happy now. I want to believe that my so-called "happily ever after" can exist now too. I don't want to live with a "happily after (insert event here)" mentality. If we don't have hope for joy in this life, then what are we living for?

Love actually is. It exists. It's the promise of some dreams coming true if we live through nightmares. It's what pushes us forward. Optimism is what keeps us moving, not this so-called "reality/that's life" mentality that prevails in society now. And since when did 'reality' always constitute the horrible parts of life? My reality includes many good things too. Many miracles.

So that's my message to all the nay-sayers in the forums or on the news or whatever other venue we find them in. Life isn't always happy. Relationships don't always work out. Sometimes things fall apart. But not all the time. There is always a hope for something wonderful, and if we don't keep that hope, then we probably deserve what's coming to us.

This is also why I really loathed the end of Robin Hood this season. Because people know that life isn't always happy without the help of the writers of the show. We know that. It's beaten over our heads every day. We don't need another addition to the pessimism pile. Let the outlaw win his lady. Especially in a show geared for families and children.