Is that all there is?

June 15, 2018

Start your Mid-Life Crisis now. You don't know how long you are going to live.

It’s such a cliché, the mid-life crisis.  Even now they have something called the “quarter life crisis” that supposedly Millenials deal with around age 25.  I struggle with my own identity being born in 1981 as I’m on the cusp of being a millenial or being Generation X.

Those of us born the year Reagan was shot, can’t even commit to a generation, let alone a mortgage/career/marriage.  (Though, I have all 3).  So I’m reluctant to call what I’m going through a “mid-life crisis” because, hell, I’m only 36.  This can’t be mid-life, can it? But seeing as I’ve been married almost 10 years, been a home owner half that time and already have 2 kids, maybe I’ve achieved all the benchmarks for a mid-life crisis just a little on the early side.  Damn me and my over-achieving.

So, I’m peeling back the layers of my alleged “mid-life crisis” and I see a theme, mostly each statement starts with “I’m not happy”.  I’m not happy with how my life has turned out so far.  OUCH.

Okay, so I have to take responsibility for that right? I mean, I can’t blame it all on my upbringing/spouse/economic climate, can I? It would be so much easier to blame it on all that shit, but like, that’s not gonna make it any better right? Dammit, this is MY responsibility.  I’m the one who chose the mortgage/career and marriage that I’m in.  No one held a gun to my head, and yet, these choices don’t always feel super fulfilling.  Maybe more like the default decision. Is that all there is?

But, I love my home and I love my husband, so that’s 2 outta 3 that I maybe mostly got right?  That leaves career.  This is the stinkiest layer of the onion. My head is spinning with….

How important is career to my happiness? What in a career defines success for me?  What am I good at? What do I enjoy? What should I do with the REST OF MY LIFE???

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So, naturally, I asked about it on Facebook.  Most of the responses were from men talking about sports cars and dating younger women.  The women were mostly commenting on male mid-life crisis not on their own.  Do men get the jump start on mid-life crises because they have the luxury of the time to think about it? Women are so busy running the household and raising the kids, maybe they aren’t noticing being in the midst of a mid-life crisis until they can’t get out of bed some mornings (me)? I’ve known for a while that something wasn’t totally in alignment with work, but I didn’t really have time to think about it as I chugged through my day working, taking kids to after school activities and trying to get dinner on the table.  I love what Brené Brown says about pain,

“Pain is unrelenting. It will get our attention. Despite our attempts to drown it in addiction, to physically beat it out of one another, to suffocate it with success and material trappings, or to strangle it with our hate, pain will find a way to make itself known.” 
― Brené BrownBraving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone

Ultimately, the pain of being out of alignment has finally gotten my attention.  Maybe it’s a mid-life crisis, maybe it’s a quest for true belonging, or maybe I’m just bored.

There’s nothing I love more in life than a PLAN.  Follow this plan and you’ll get into college, get the lead in the play, get to buy a home, get a promotion, etc. etc.

Now is the murky part where I have to sit still and listen, do some reading, ask questions of others and myself, and just marinate in it, until the plan reveals itself.  Most of all, I’m going to focus on doing the things that “feel good” and avoid as many Kinks as possible.  Tap starts to flow again and then, flip the script to “How does it get better than this?” For right now, I don’t know. And admitting that is a triumph in and of itself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-wbxcs-934203

Episode 2 – What Have You Watched? “It Was on HBO, That Was the Criteria”

Marie discusses Cobra Kai

Vin dives into Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Oldie but Goody: Grantchester

Out of Touch

June 12, 2018

Earth is Hiring: The New way to live, lead, earn and give for millennials and anyone who gives a sh*t

New Book by Peta Kelly

Do you ever feel just so outside your own mind and body that you literally don’t know what you like or don’t like?

That’s me, right now.  Like “what the eff am I doing with my life?” mixed with “how did I get here?” And I’ve been at this intersection for about a year.  To borrow an expression from the youngin’s, FML.

And that sucky feeling got so into my bones that last night I sat in bed making a list of “kinks” and “things that feel good”.  That’s when I realized, “man, I’ve gotten so far out of alignment, I don’t know who I am.”

Do I like tuna fish for lunch? Or would I rather drink a protein shake? Do I like to cook, or do I dread it? Do I like drinking espresso daily, or is it a crutch? This is the shit going through my head while I made that list last night. I came up with a long list of stuff that feels good (espresso was on it) and a shorter list of “Kinks” in my hose.  (See Peta Kelly’s new book Earth is Hiring for the “Kink” theory).

The truly unfortunate part is that the Kinks for me right now, or where I’ve been spending a lot of my time over the last few years, and it’s why I have no love flowing through my tap. One of the major Kinks right now is being on Facebook.  I scroll through mindlessly so many times a day I can’t count.  I don’t like what I’m seeing or even what I’m sharing sometimes.  I am totally STUCK when it comes to Facebook right now and that’s a problem for me because, well, I do a lot of business on Facebook.  A friend/mentor of mine just took a 30 day Facebook hiatus and I thought to myself, “Oh I wish I could do that” because I didn’t think I was allowed to since I have so much business on Facebook. There isn’t anyone telling me I can’t quit FB for a month, just me and the faceless people I think are watching/judging me.

Another Kink was my diet.  I’d been following the same diet for years and it didn’t feel like it was working for me anymore.  I didn’t have any excitement around it and every time I thought about it the faceless masses in my head told me, “Marie, you don’t have a choice, this is what you must do.” KINK KINK KINK.  But the truth is, my body has changed, I’m getting older wiser, I just got diagnosed with a thyroid condition and my goals are different.  In a place of alignment, I’d be willing to play around with my diet and experiment, but being in a KINKY stuck place, again, I didn’t think I had a choice.

That’s where the major Kink comes into focus.  Having a choice for me is so important to my flow and my alignment that when I don’t have a choice it really jams my radar for life.  I like living in NYC because if I don’t want to be somewhere I can jump in a cab/subway/bus and get outta there easily, it’s my choice.  I’m not stranded somewhere without a car.  I like working for myself because I have a choice as to what to focus on and where to put my energy to make money.  I’m married to a man who really supports me and let’s me navigate our lives for the most part, because I like to have a choice.  Listen, I’ve worked jobs and always been a valued employee because I am also a rule follower and a producer, so I can do that and I have for years, but it’s not necessarily what floats my boat.  I’m also really good at being a team player (I should add that to my feel good list) so working in groups is great for me too.  I can adapt and be flexible (like most kids of divorce) but it’s not water flowing, tap is on, loving life kinda mojo for me.  It’s duty and obligation and it takes away my choice.  KINK.

So here I am, writing this blog, which makes me feel good so that I can UNKink some of these Kinks.  I changed my diet almost 3 months ago and gave up red meat and poultry.  I’m a pescatarian now!  I also started using the Weight Watchers app to count points/calories.  That’s another UNKink I’m working on.  I’m getting back to reading for the first 10 minutes after I wake up everyday because it UNKinks me.  So far these tweaks are helping to get my juices flowing again which is why I have the presence of mind to even write this blog.

But Facebook, seductive, life-shaming and affirming at the same time, Facebook.  What to do with you?  I’m open to ideas, people! For now, I’m going to post 2x a day and look at it morning and night and that’s it!  I’m gonna give this a try for a week and see if it helps UNKink me.  That’s my choice!  Choosing UNkinks me too.  Even if it’s just choosing where to get my espresso in the morning.  Aaaaahhhhhhh. 🙂

 

 

 

Image result for sex and the city imagesOne of the best features of watching TV on demand is seeing in the “info screen” the original airdate of the episode.  For me, it is anyway, because I have always loved the conversation about putting art into context.  Even as far back as 15 years ago when I graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in “The History of Theater; The Theater of History.” My friends still make fun on that one.

A few weeks ago, it was a rainy weekend and my kids were otherwise occupied so when I saw SATC (SATC might be the last television show of recent times to inspire a recognizable acronym like GWTW or EPL) on cable in re-runs, I snuggled up for the long haul.  SATC on regular cable is more like LATC or FATC (love / friends) because a lot of the sex has been scrubbed to make it syndication friendly.  As a habit, I noticed the original air-date and I couldn’t help but wonder if Sarah Jessica Parker was right? Would present day NY would be unrecognizable to Carrie Bradshaw?  A few clicks on IMDB also revealed that SATC was about to celebrate 20 years since it’s premiere on June 6, 1998.

Yeesh, that must mean our heroines are well into their 50s now.  Heck, Cynthia Nixon is running for governor!  Times, they are a changin’.

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Remember back in 1998 when Bill Clinton was still president and was dealing with the Monica Lewinsky scandal? When the entire country was in a discussion about what constitutes “sexual relations” and what the meaning of “Is” is? The biggest show (according to Neilsen ratings) on TV was ER (followed by Friends and Frasier).  Online dating hadn’t gone mainstream yet, Mark Zuckerberg was still in grade school, and people still used pay phones to check their machine!  It’s safe to say the world technologically speaking was a very different place.  And that’s where SATC came in.  Finally you could see women talking about what they wanted in the bedroom out in the open.  I guess nowadays if you really thought your boyfriend had “funky spunk” you’d just goggle it and not bother your girlfriends with it and have to deal with the embarrassment.  But 1998 was a year before google became a verb so if you really had questions about sex, maybe you had nowhere to turn.  I know when I was in college in 2001 and a guy told me he only had 1 ball, I had to go to my girlfriends / gay guy friends to verify that having 1 ball was a legitimate thing and not a prank he was playing on me.  It would have never occurred to me then to look it up online.

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HBO who aired SATC originally, was not known as a prestige network winning tons of awards.  Sopranos hadn’t aired yet, so HBO was known mostly for comedy specials, Real Sex, and replays of many PG-13 movies.  The only original show I could think of pre-SATC was “Dream On” and I was too young to watch it.  From the many interviews I’ve read by Sarah Jessica Parker, Michael Patrick King and Matthew Wiener, HBO was a great place to work in the 90’s/early aughts.  They gave you creative freedom, they didn’t give a ton of notes, and they valued the work over the ratings.  SATC in it’s third season became the first cable show to win the “Best Comedy” Emmy and with that put a stake in the ground for HBO to become the award winning network of movie stars slumming it on TV.  Sarah Jessica admits regularly in interviews she made the pilot for SATC and promptly forgot about it.  After the fact she didn’t even want to do the series and tried to get out of it.  Can you imagine another actress captivating the world as Carrie Bradshaw? I can’t.

SATC’s first season aired in the summer of 1998 and quickly caused a stir.  The reviews were mixed, but people were tuning in.  Now looking back over the 6 seasons plus 2 movies, no one looks back at season 1 as their favorite.  There were many growing pains like talking directly to the camera and stories of random peripheral friends never to be seen again.  Heck, they don’t even figure out how to tame Sarah Jessica’s frizz until episode 6 when her romance with Big really gets going.  That, coincidentally, is when the show starts to take shape as we follow the major romantic arc for the series – the uncertain woman meets the man they describe as “Donald Trump, but younger and more handsome” who’s great at withholding and game playing.  Watching their chemistry became the secret sauce of SATC’s success initially, because the other female characters are caricatures for many episodes. Their differing viewpoints are so harsh at the beginning it’s hard to find a character you identify with, shockingly, because the conversation of “I’m a Carrie” or “I’m a Miranda” takes over the media for about 10 years after the show goes off the air. (Obviously, I AM a Miranda).  Miranda takes shape in the middle of season 2 when she finally gets into a relationship with Steve and then has to let him go when he’s a lowly bartender and she’s a high powered lawyer.  Charlotte’s defined by her quest for perfection right up to the point when she marries the wrong man: Trey.  (Yes I recognize that both of these storylines has to do with “meeting your mate”, but for me seeing them in relationship to the men is what ultimately gives them definition beyond the cliché).  For Samantha, I actually think she comes into her own in the first SATC movie when she realizes she says Smith’s name more every day than her own. But Kim Catrall is just so damn sexy, beautiful and funny that she makes Samantha three-dimensional despite there not being that much dimension on the page.

I’ve listened to all the director’s commentary on the dvds of both the SATC series and movies and to hear Michael Patrick King’s insights is fascinating because you hear from him how layered the show was from the writing/directing point of view.  Not all of it comes out on screen though, which begs the questions, “Does it count?”  SATC is a bit ham-fisted at times, cramming down our throats the pithy nicknames for the men “Mr. Pussy”, “Springroll Guy”, “Catholic Guy” and “Manhattan Guy” are among the silliest. Something Kyle Smith and I don’t agree on, despite his rare rave for the show. There’s also the running theme for each episode anchored in the column Carrie is writing that feels forced by 2018 standards, but at the time I don’t remember thinking it’s weird that all of a sudden we’re talking about the stock market in the middle of an SATC episode. Perhaps it’s only feels shoe-horned in when your binge watching it, not watching one episode per week.  Shows are made differently now, and of course the trope of the “four (mostly white) girlfriends” has been executed over and over again with lackluster results since 1998.  The best one being Lena Dunham’s Girls, also on HBO. Cashmere Mafia, move right along.

Meanwhile, as the 20th anniversary of the premiere approached, I started to see more and more articles online about SATC’s legacy.  Here’s the rub, a lot of it is negative. Someone is actually claiming SATC ruined their life because they moved to NYC to live the life of Carrie.  But before SATC, didn’t young women move to NYC to live the life of Annie Hall, or Holly Golightly? Gimme a break.  I watched SATC as a young twenty-something and moved to NYC (well, Brooklyn, but close enough) and I never once bought a pair of Manolos.  The show was never about the fashion, or the men, or the pop culture it influenced.  It was about the pursuit of finding yourself amongst the backdrop of the New York City skyline, and maybe finding “the one” who would love the real you in the process.

Now that’s a show I can still get on board with. The final words of the series are, “Later that day I got to thinking about relationships. There are those that open you up to something new and exotic, those that are old and familiar, those that bring up lots of questions, those that bring you somewhere unexpected, those that bring you far when where you started, and those that bring you back.  But the most exciting, challenging, and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself.  And if you find someone to love the you that you love…well that’s just fabulous.”

Maybe in about 15 years, when my daughter is 19 and it’s a rainy weekend, I’ll fire up the HBO Go and show her the tv show that all the fuss was about when I was 19.  Happy Birthday Sex and the City, you’re still fabulous.

The Best Episodes of Sex and the City  (in no particular order).

Season 1 – The Baby Shower

The four girls jumping in the car only to realize, no one got in the driver’s seat is pure New York.  Plus the realization that people do get married and move to the suburbs, even Laney, is important for the series because so much of their identity is wrapped up in NOT doing that, because it doesn’t feel right for them.  We also get the first visions of how scary parents are! Breastfeeding a kid who can chew steak? No, thank you.

Season 2 – The Chicken Dance

Finally Carrie has to take notice of the fact that Big loves her, but maybe not exactly the way she wants.  Yes they’re back together, but he still has boundaries and won’t sign the card for the wedding and has to take work calls while she’s reciting her poem (which is a lovely poem by the way).  This is the foreshadowing that will come to a head in La Douleur Exquise. Guest star Carrie Preston, which is what Carrie Bradshaw’s name becomes once she marries BIG in SATC 2.

Season 2 – La Douleur Exquise

The exquisite pain of Carrie and Big.  Carrie realizes what she means to Big and it’s not pretty.  Women around the world relate to Carrie feeling like she’s giving her all to the relationship and he’s only thinking of her when it’s convenient.  This feeling alone has inspired countless songs, stories and themes in couples therapy.

Season 3 – Easy come, Easy Go

Carrie gets her revenge, sort of.  Big finally admits that he made a mistake by rushing to marry Natasha and utters the words every dumped woman wants to hear, “I made a mistake, I love you.” Miranda and Steve learn to break up with dignity and remain friends.  Meanwhile Samantha struggles to deal with “funky spunk” from her latest bedmate, guest star Bobby Cannevale.  And Charlotte talks Trey into marriage in possibly the least sexy way.

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Season 4 – The Real Me

It’s easy to overlook this episode as one of the episodes without the romanctic arc of Carrie/Big or Carrie/Aidan that dominate this season.  But watching it with fresh eyes I realized that this is the episode of the series that defines the series.  We all get knocked down in life, it’s how you get back up that matters.  It’s there in the opening sequence of the series, and it’s in this episode.  Guest star Alan Cumming as a bitchy designer.

Season 4 – Ghost Town

Steve and Aidan open a bar? Sure why not!  It’s a great excuse to put Carrie and Aidan back in the same room.  He’s moved on and looks fabulous.  She’s haunted by how she hurt him and reconciles her feelings about moving forward.  Plus, Miranda and Steve cement their friendship post breakup.

Season 5 – Plus One is the Loneliest Number

The love letter to the single girl.  Sometimes big moments in your life will happen and you won’t have that special someone to share them with.  It’s ok, NYC can be your date where there’s always late night hot dogs and the men who give them to you for free. Samantha gets an ill advised chemical peel and Anthony screams “PINK!”. What’s not to love?  Meanwhile Miranda stares into Brady’s eyes and really gets it, “she’s a mother now and life has changed forever.”

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Season 6 – The Post it Always Sticks Twice

I remember watching this episode the night it first aired with one of my friends and we cracked up at Smith being a “zygote” and the way Carrie smokes a doobie.  We’ve all been broken up with in ways that feel icky (texts, phone messages and straight out ghosting) but having it written on a post-it was just so perfectly 2004.  It hurts but it’s still kinda old school.  The girls go out to get Carrie’s mind off her latest indignity and Samantha realizes she might just have some real feelings for Smith, Miranda gets into her skinny jeans and gets her sexy back.  Charlotte comes to terms with her second engagement which is undoubtedly less perfect than the first, simply because it is not the first one.

Season 6 – The Domino Effect

The words we’d all longed to hear from Big, “what are we doing?” as he realizes life is fragile after heart surgery.  Carrie is rocked by the tears that flow when she thinks about Big, but also smart enough to know his limitations when he turns on the witholding again.  Miranda takes a personal day to get it on with sexy Dr. Robert Leeds, guest star Blair Underwood and poor Steve catches them in the act.  Steve and Miranda have a Brechtian moment at her front door, when Steve says “Miranda…” The audience just wants these two to get over themselves and find eachother but as in real life, these things take time!

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Season 6 – One

Miranda finally sees that Steve is the one and proclaims her love for him in the laundry room during Brady’s party.  Samantha has to come to terms with aging “down there” and Charlotte finds a way to bounce back after losing her baby.  First appearance of “The Russian” played by Mikhail Baryshnikov shows Carrie there there’s more love to be had, post Big.  Or is there?

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