Adventure in Life’s a show

In continuing with the theme of better understanding me, I offer you 50 TV shows that have shaped me into whatever it is I am. For better or worse. In an exciting random order.

01. Laverne and Shirley

02. Happy Days

03. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

04. Gilmore Girls

05. X-Files

06. Full House

07. Boy Meets World

08. 30 Rock

09. Dawson’s Creek

10. Magic School Bus

11. Clarissa Explains it All

12. My So-Called Life

13. Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?

14. Hey Arnold!

15. Animaniacs

16. Doug

17. Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?

18. Star Trek the Next Generation

19. Arrested Development

20. Firefly

21. Daria

22. Black Books

23. Kids in the Hall

24. Saturday Night Live

25. Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman

26. The Muppet Show

27. Freaks and Geeks

28. Sesame Street

29. The Brak Show

30. Duck Tales

31. Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers

32. Doctor Who

33. Fraggle Rock

34. M*A*S*H

35. Are you afraid of the Dark?

36. All That

37. Salute Your Shorts

38. The Adventures of Pete and Pete

39. The Carol Burnett Show

40. Ghostwriter

41. Muppet Babies

42. Gummie Bears

43. Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

44. Sabrina the Teenage Witch

45. Home Improvement

46. Murder, She Wrote

47. The Jetsons

48. Get Smart

49. How I Met Your Mother

50. 24


Adventure in Knowing me

I’ve been thinking about the things that impact my brain and the things I say. Movies, stories, music, all that. So I’m making some lists. First up we have the 50 movies you should see to better understand me. These aren’t necessarily my favorite movies; they’re just the ones that have helped make me me. In no particular order.

01. Clue

“Communism was just a red herring.”

02. Jaws

“Well, if we’re looking for a shark we’re not gonna find him on the land.”

03. E.T. The Extraterrestrial

03. E.T. The Extraterrestrial

“You could be happy here, I could take care of you. I wouldn’t let anybody hurt you. We could grow up together, E.T”

04. Jurassic Park

” If the Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don’t eat the tourists.”

05. Adam

“Feeling loved is very important, but loving, my precious girl, that’s the necessity.”

06. Midnight in Paris

“No subject is terrible if the story is true, if the prose is clean and honest, and if it affirms courage and grace under pressure.”

07. A Muppet Family Christmas

“I don’t care if the turkey says the dog is the turkey. The dog is not the turkey. The turkey’s the turkey, you turkey!”

08. The Last Chance Detectives

“Yeah, well go ahead and laugh. But I’m telling the truth. And if you were any kind of Sheriff you’d be out there, looking for evidence, instead of sitting here, eating donuts and getting fat!”

09. Harriet the Spy

“There are as many ways to live in this world as there are people in this world, and each one deserves a closer look.”

10. Batman Returns

“The heat’s getting to me. I’ll murder you momentarily. But first, I could really use a cool drink of ice water.”

11. Blackbeard’s Ghost

“By thunder! This raises my blood! There be a time for action! Hang on old ladies, Blackbeard’s coming! Up the Jolly Roger!”

12. Close Encounters of the Third Kind

“I know this sounds crazy, but ever since yesterday on the road, I’ve been seeing this shape. Shaving cream, pillows… Dammit! I know this. I know what this is! This means something. This is important.”

13. The Royal Tenenbaums

“I always wanted to be a Tenenbaum.”

14. Dick Tracy

“I know how you feel. You don’t know if you want to hit me or kiss me. I get a lot of that.”

15. Driving Lessons

“I’m a woman, Leland. Not an oil-tanker.”

16. Pee-wee’s Big Adventure

“I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel.”

17. Edward Scissorhands

“You see, before he came down here, it never snowed. And afterwards, it did. If he weren’t up there now… I don’t think it would be snowing. Sometimes you can still catch me dancing in it.”

18. Fantastic Mr. Fox

“There’s a lot of attitudes going on around here… don’t let me get one.”

19. Little Giants

“I call it ‘The Annexation of Puerto Rico.”

20. Stand By Me

“Yeah, by the time we get there, the kid won’t even be dead anymore.”

21. Newsies

“Headlines don’t sell papes. Newsies sell papes.”

22. Indiana Jones trilogy

“Archaeology is the search for fact… not truth. If it’s truth you’re looking for, Dr. Tyree’s philosophy class is right down the hall.”

23. Star Wars trilogy

“Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately 3,720 to 1.” “Never tell me the odds.”

24. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

“You’re not dying. You just can’t think of anything better to do.”

25. Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium

“I fell so completely in love with these shoes, I bought enough pairs to last my whole lifetime. This is my last pair.”

26. Peter Pan

“Goodness gracious whatever shall we do?!”

27. The Little Mermaid

“Betcha on land they understand; that they don’t reprimand their daughters.”

28. Aladdin

“But when I’m way up here it’s crystal clear that now I’m in a whole new world with you.”

29. The Muppet Movie

“It’s a good thing frogs can hop or I’d be gone with the Schwinn.”

30. Breakfast Club

“Could you describe the ruckus?”

31. Pretty in Pink

“You said you couldn’t be with someone who didn’t believe in you. Well I believed in you. I just didn’t believe in me. I love you… always.”

32. Reality Bites

“Turn it up. You won’t regret it.”

33. The Sandlot

“I don’t know. Some lady gave it to him. She even signed her name on it.Some lady named… Ruth. Baby Ruth.”

34. 10 Thing I Hate About You

“Romantic? Hemingway? He was an abusive, alcoholic misogynist who squandered half of his life hanging around Picasso trying to nail his leftovers.”

35. Scream

“My mom and dad are gonna be so mad at me.”

36. Stranger than Fiction

“Everyone thinks about leaping off a building.”

37. The United States of Leland

“I think there are two ways you can see the world. You either see the sadness that’s behind everything or you choose to keep it all out.”

38. Bedknobs and Broomsticks

“You must face the age of not believing, doubting everything you ever knew. Until at last, you start believing there’s something wonderful in you!”

39. The Land Before Time

“Three horns do not play with long necks.”

40. Memento

“I have this condition.”

41. Winnie-the-Pooh and the Blustery Day

“Oh, hello. Am I glad to see you. It’s more friendly with two. Now, you go that way, and I’ll go this way.”

42. Follow That Bird

“Gee. There’s still no sign of Sesame Street. Nothing but amber waves of grain. I think I’m lost. What’ll I do? I wish Snuffy were here. Then I’d be lost with my best friend.”

43. Men in Black

“We’re not hosting an intergalactic kegger down here.”

44. Fox and the Hound

“I’m a hound dog!”

45. Mean Girls

“Cause she’s a life ruiner. She ruins people’s lives.”

46. Big Fish

“Truth is, I’ve always been thirsty.”

47. Now and Then

“Your parents aren’t always right.”

48. Psycho

“A boy’s best friend is his mother.”

49. Ernest Scared Stupid

“I never knew when to quit. Just ask my fourth grade teacher.”

50. Mystery Men

“I shovel well. I shovel very well.”

And now we all know why I’m so strange.

Adventure in Hey, girl, hey!

A few weeks ago I was leaving the office, and I said, “Have a good night,” to the security guards as I left. For the first time ever the high-voiced security guard said something to me. That something was “Night, dear.” It was uncomfortable. It made me uncomfortable. “Night, dear,” is what your grammy should say to you when you’re going off to bed as a 12-year-old. Too old to be put to bed, too young to stay up after her. “Night, dear.” Or what the elderly husband says to his elderly wife as she goes to bed before him. “Night, dear.”

My daddy has pet names for me, and he’s really the only male I accept them from. A man coming into the office as I was leaving on lunch called me “honey” once. I didn’t care for that either. He was at least 70, so I tried not to think about it. Babe. That one makes me want to vomit. It’s about the person who says it. The type of person I would tolerate calling me “babe” is never the sort that says it. “Babe” feels like a power trip, and a reminder that I am inferior. It always seems to be said with a tone of control.

“Sweety” is okay from old ladies. Something about it makes sense. “Sweety” and “honey” are both expected at a diner. If Flo isn’t calling me “toots,” I demand something endearing like “honey” or “sweety.”

All of these things are far more acceptable coming from other women. It’s a level playing field. There’s nothing demeaning about it, except for the women I know who use those words when they can’t remember a woman’s name.

But the one that gets me. The one I cannot abide is “girl.” “Hey girl.” “It’s cool, girl.” I’m 25 years old and my boobs are too big for anyone to ever mistake me for a girl. I feel like a tool saying, “I’m a woman,” but that’s what I am. Not that I’m asking to be called “woman,” because I’m not keen on that either. But any man calling me girl instantly feels condescending. I don’t care who you are. For Girls Inc. we try to avoid calling our 11-year-old girls “Guys” to get their attention, but I try to avoid addressing them as “girls” too. In training “ladies” was suggested. It gives these young girls, who are so often treated like they are less significant, the sense that to us they are important. That they’re ladies in a world where they’re just girls.

There are men in my life who say it with sarcasm and irony, and I mostly find that amusing and will tell them that’s the only way I ever want to hear it. “Hey girrrrrl.” But there are people who started with the irony and are now using it in their regular language with no concern for how they’ve lost the irony and are now just being condescending. I know it happens. I have things I used to say ironically that I said so often they just became a part of my regular speech. “Get it.” “Run tell that.” “I know that’s right.” They all started as a joke. Now they’re just things I say.

Adventure in Girls’ World

It should come as no surprise that when I heard Tina Fey was hosting a program on NPR I knew I had to listen. When I learned it was about coming of age stories and strong women in a program titled “The Hidden World of Girls,” I was completely on board. It’s brought to you by the Kitchen Sisters.

I listened to an hour of it today. I think it’s a good thing to listen to, not necessarily for entertainment, but for understanding. As a woman, hearing what other women go through throughout the world, I think it’s important. From Ireland to Native Americans to hunting cheerleaders to Venus. It’s a hard world out there for women to this day, and to hear other women struggling and surviving, I think, is an encouraging thing. And for men, I think it’s good to hear that it isn’t easy. It’s easier, but it’s not easy.

On the whole though, there are some really wonderful things in the world that bring girls into the magical world of womanhood, and it isn’t their period. A lot of it has to do with the encouragement and guidance that comes from a strong woman in her life. It’s a good thing being a woman in a girl’s life. Because as it may be getting easier for women, to a degree, it isn’t getting easier to be a girl in the world of girls, but a strong woman can make that easier. Girls need to be heard, and women are who should be listening. It scares me when girls rely on boys and men to hear their stories. Maybe it shouldn’t, but it does. A lot. As women we need to step up our game. There’s a lot of pain in the world of girls, in general. Pressures, fears, abuse. It’s a scary world out there.

Now, it’s your turn. Go on and give it a listen.

What women in your life offer you strength and encouragement? For me it’s my mommy, Headset and my sisters from the 509.

Adventure in Real women. Fake women. Real issues.

Today one thing was brought to my attention and another was on my regular podcast schedule.

If you haven’t started listening to Alec Baldwin’s new podcast “Here’s the Thing,” you need to start. It’s not just celebrities talking celebrity. It’s not just friends talking life. It’s Alec Baldwin being one of the most compelling and engaging interviewers I’ve ever heard. He talks with Lorne Michaels. He talks with Rob Morris, one of the founders of Love 146. He talks feminism with Erica Jong and her daughter. He talks sex trafficking with Rob Morris. All while maintaining a relational vibe, that he genuinely cares about the person he’s interviewing and what they have to say. He also confirms for me how terrible I am at conversation, how much of life is about asking questions and listening for answers. Waiting. Listening. And meaning every second of the questioning and the listening.

I encourage you to listen to the podcasts for yourself. I was particularly compelled by the Rob Morris interview and the Erica Jong/Molly Jong-Fast interview. Here is an excerpt though.

Alec Baldwin: What do you think of the state of female sexuality in the culture today?
Erica Jong: I think they’re overwhelmed with a false image of sexuality before
A: Specifically how so?
E: Before they’re emotionally ready to deal with it. I think they, they’re told that giving blow jobs in class is not sex, which is not true. They use their manipulation of boys’ sexuality as a power trip to get even with men with the other power men have. I think to be a young woman today of your daughter’s age (16) is a very sticky wicket. And I think that you really need a parent that will guide you.
A: How would they guide them?
E: To tell them that what they see around them in the media is not true.
A: Because I try to do that.
E: If I were dealing with your daughter i would try to reassure her that this is a very confusing time of life and what she sees around her is very confusing. And most of the women, the young women, are as confused as she. And are showing off by pretending to not be confused. And I would try to convey to her how difficult adolescence is, how many messages are coming at her at once and how hard it is to make sense of it. I plan to do that with my granddaughter, who I’m sure will say something cynical to me.

The conversation goes on, and mother and daughter soon began to get into a heated discussion. Feminism and the media being the enemy from opposing sides. But it was interesting to hear Erica Jong fighting for what she believed to be right, and I’m not anti-feminism in its true sense. Equality, but as the argument continues I do tend to side with Molly Fast-Jong. That feminism made its stand and the media took it and distorted that vision. But I also think in that distortion, feminism distorted itself to not seek equality but greater power over men. You really do need to give it a listen.

And if you don’t want to listen to the interview, you at least get to listen to Alec Baldwin’s voice for a little while, which as you know, is on my list of voices I could listen to all day.

The thing brought to my attention was this. Dina Goldstein, a Vancouver photographer, has put together a series of popular female fairy tale characters and Disney princesses and put them in your life’s struggles. Or struggles other women face. You can experience the full series here. “Fallen Princesses.” The photography itself is not sublime, but the concept is.

Some are more pointed than others. Jasmine and Rapunzel are likely the bleakest, but I think Pocahontas kicked me in my lady parts. From cancer to cat ladies. Neglectful husband to war all around. Give them a look. Share your thoughts.

Adventure in Questioning

Eight weeks ago I walked into a local rec center and set up a room for ten 11-year-old girls. The girls were quiet and attentive. Seven weeks later, with a break in the middle because of Super Bowl traffic, they were noisy and distracted. And yet, by that seventh week I heard the girls not answering my questions at all, but asking me questions.

It intrigued me. It’s one thing to answer the questions posed to us. It’s easy to talk about ourselves and even easier to talk about things outside of ourselves; i.e. the media. It takes a certain amount of confidence and/or comfort in a situation to ask someone else questions about her. It’s really one of my greatest failings as a human. I’m quite awful at knowing how to engage a conversation with someone else, and I think, or maybe I’ve learned, that part of that comes from my own discomfort and lack of confidence with even my dearest friends. But to an 11-year-old girl it only takes about 5 weeks to ask “when did you get that?” as she points at a ring in my nose. An 11-year-old girl has not qualms with the socially inappropriate questions “How old are you?” They know which of the two leaders looks more like to be married and asks if she is. While I have a hard time asking people I know moderately well about their childhood or about their families. My knowledge of my friends’ families is mostly what I’ve surmised from their stories or from photos, because I have no idea how to engage in a conversation.

After six weeks in a room with 11-year-olds I don’t know that I taught them much. I do know that after six weeks they felt comfortable with us. Not because they told me. Certainly not because they listened to us. One of them hugged me when I had early, but more importantly they prodded me. So even if I taught them nothing, which I hope I taught them something, they taught me just how apparent my discomfort is with other people. I must get better at knowing how to ask people even the simplest things. It isn’t prying; it’s one of the most basic ways we learn about each other. Because assumptions are only so valuable before they become destructive.

Adventure in Semi-ironic Women’s Day Post

This is my father. A handsome mustachioed fellow. The mustache comes and goes, but mostly it’s here to stay. My brother has had off-and-on since college a beard or at the very least a scruff covered face, and occasionally the ironic fake mustache. Maybe it’s because of the beatniks I spend my time with or maybe it’s because I’m weird, but I think it might actually be an unconscious cultural statement. Allow me to explain it to you in the form of this section from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

Just, if he send me no husband; for the which
blessing I am at him upon my knees every morning and
evening. Lord, I could not endure a husband with a
beard on his face: I had rather lie in the woollen.
You may light on a husband that hath no beard.
What should I do with him? dress him in my apparel
and make him my waiting-gentlewoman? He that hath a
beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no
beard is less than a man: and he that is more than
a youth is not for me, and he that is less than a
man, I am not for him: therefore, I will even take
sixpence in earnest of the bear-ward, and lead his
apes into hell.

It’s a real predicament isn’t it? Because it’s this mentality I think I’m working from. In the same way that women’s clothing sizes are still just one number, I perceive the masculinity and age in a very antiquated mentality. Beard? Old. No beard? Not manly. Old? Pass. Not manly? You can’t handle this. Right?

And yet, I appreciate a good beard. I appreciate a mediocre beard. A mustache in good taste. I can, on occasion, appreciate a lack of facial hair, but when it goes from facial hair to naked face my brain wigs.

But in the same way I hold an antiquated view of men and the hair upon their faces, the fashion world holds an antiquated view of women’s clothing sizes.

With the advent of mass production of clothing women’s sizes became reduced to singular numbers. 8, 2, 14. Whatever “your” number. It’s frustrating. Men’s pants alone are sized by inseam and waist. Women are one number. Men’s shirts are neck, sleeve and body. Women are again a number. Now, clothes used to be tailor-made. Women would make them for themselves or have a girl who did it, depending on her financial situation. But as we gained momentum in mass-production it was decided that women were still spending most of their time in the house. So their everyday clothes could be vague. Tie and apron around that waist and it’s like it was made just for you! And the important clothes, the ones a woman would wear to look beautiful in the presence of her husband’s friends, those a woman would spend more money on. She’d have them altered. She’d have them fitted.

Now, it’s 2012 and our sizes are still just singular numbers. I’m not a 1950s housewife, though I wouldn’t hate it to a degree (minus the abuse and what not), so I’d like for my clothes to fit me well without an apron synched around my waist. I’d like my shoes to be comfortable walking long distances, and not just from the counter to the stove to the dining room table. I’m 25 years old as of yesterday, and I’ve never bought a single article of clothing that I said “yes, perfect.” Men have it pretty easy. You can’t mess up a tux. You can’t go wrong in a suit. And even a suit or tux that isn’t tailor-made for YOU is still purchased based on a lot more measurements than a vague estimate of whatever the hell 10 means. Because my boobs are a 16 but my natural waist an 8. And my legs are short, but my torso is long. So fix it, fashion industry, because we aren’t just numbers anymore.