Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Attack of the Blarg!

I believe that I have invented or at least identified a state of mind with which I am all too familiar. I call it the 'Blarg.' Feeling 'blargy' is essentially a limbo of sorts. You don't want anything and yet you want everything at the same time. You just want to wear sweat pants and curl under a blanket, but it's really too hot, so you roll up one pant leg and stick your leg out of the blanket. You're hungry but you don't know what to eat and nothing sounds good. You're bored but everything sounds awful and leaving the house is unacceptable. You basically just want to sit around and watch Netflix only you spend hours flipping through the options because you can't decide on a single damn thing. You don't want to be alone and yet anyone unlucky enough to be around you is odious and therefore prey to your inner Blarg Monster. This goes double for your significant other, the poor bastard.

Google's depiction of the Blarg Monster

Forget about being productive. You'll just feel bitter and resentful at the stupidest things like the fact that you actually have to work for a living. Or the fact that in order to get the job that you really want, you have to devote your free time to honing your craft. You'll look at your bank account and stress that you just might not make ends meet this month and then go spend money you don't have online shopping for things that you don't really need. Like pretty teal cereal bowls that turn out to be not microwave safe (who the fuck makes things these days that aren't microwave safe? HEATHENS that's who). You'll try to cheer yourself up with things that normally make you happy like ice cream or music and yet the flavor seems off or your favorite song is suddenly annoying as hell.

A more advanced subspecies of Blarg.
(I didn't draw this, but it looks fairly accurate)

You're not really sad. You're not really mad. You don't really hate the people or things that are currently pissing you off. You're just knee deep in blarg. It's an existential angst caused by wanting everything and nothing at the same time. Somewhere between depression and PMS, (though PMS is often the culprit). It's just frustrating. And a problem thoroughly embedded in the First World. So I should really stop whining and just go to Trader Joe's already…


PS, I just looked up 'blargmonster' in Urban Dictionary and it does exist. Here is the definition: 'a person that rambles on while writing in a blog.' Heh.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Lifetime Movie of the Week

I woke up yesterday morning to a lewd text from a guy I haven't seen in over a year. I sort of laughed it off and responded glibly along the lines of, "I'm doing well, how've you been?" Every now and then I'll hear from a proverbial "somebody that I used to know." It's nice to catch up, but clearly there's a reason we aren't together anymore. And with this particular guy, we were never really together. I mentioned him previously in a blog, but didn't go into detail because there was really nothing to tell. I always got kind of a weird vibe from him, so I lost touch on purpose. But we texted back and forth for a while anyway, chit chatting. I asked him if he was still with the girl he started dating after me, but he didn't really give me a straight answer. I told him about my boyfriend and how we've been dating almost a year now. Then he asked if I had any cute girlfriends I could hook him up with. The answer to which was a world of NO.

This photo came with the caption
"Every Lifetime villain ever."
He asked me to meet up for a cocktail as old friends. I didn't think it was a good idea, even though I'm still friends with some of my other exes. Besides there was no way in hell I was planning on leaving the house when I had so much Netflix binging in my PJs and procrastinating my internship assignment to do. Somewhere in that conversation, the tone shifted. He became predatory and creepy. He gave me an ultimatum to meet him by midnight or else he would tell my boyfriend I had been cheating on him. Which obviously I wasn't. I hadn't even talked to him since maybe February when I first told him I had a boyfriend and he left me alone.

I knew he didn't have any proof, since it didn't happen. I also knew he didn't know my boyfriend's name, phone number, or any other identifying information. Regardless, the fact that he was attempting to blackmail and manipulate me for no reason was scary as hell. He had dropped me off at my apartment in Pasadena last November after our final date. He remembered my address and that I worked for the company. He kept counting down to midnight. "1 hour & 53 minutes." "1 hour 11 minutes." "47 minutes." Then he texted me a phone number. "Still your office line?" He must have googled the property and found what was actually the Central Leasing Office number in Virginia. I told him I didn't work there anymore and even if he called that number they didn't have my forwarding address and wouldn't give it to him if they did.

One terrifying sonofabitch.
He didn't believe me when I told him I moved. He called me a liar as well as a cheater. At "25 minutes," he said he was getting in the car to come to Pasadena. I told him in no uncertain terms that this was harassment and that I would call the cops. He sneered and said that the cops wouldn't do anything. A fine at the most. Which really creeped me out. He knew the exact amount of fine. Like he'd done this before.

Even though I was telling him the truth that I had moved six weeks ago, and there was very little chance of him actually finding me, and he couldn't really do anything to me if he did, I was so unnerved that I was shaking. Someone wanted to hurt me, if not physically than emotionally. And if someone is determined enough, they can find you. Even with all the privacy settings in the world. I couldn't understand why either. I barely knew this person. Why did he want to "teach me a lesson?" All I could figure was that maybe the girl he was dating cheated on him and he was misplacing his anger onto me.

I actually still had her number from a time we all went clubbing together back when we were friends. So I texted her to see if there was anything wrong and to tell her he was really freaking me out. She never responded. So I'm thinking she's either lying dead in a ditch somewhere (I'm nothing if not melodramatic), or at the very least she changed her number to get away from this psycho.

Oh Lifetime. You get me.
I did end up calling the Norwalk Sheriff just to see what the protocol in this case would be. I felt like some white trash hick calling with baby daddy drama. I was trying to explain to the woman on the phone that it seems ridiculous to have to call about this kind of thing, but there were serious warning bells going off in my head. She didn't really take me seriously and just told me to change my phone number or at least block his and to call back if he made an actual physical threat against me. Since I couldn't honestly say I felt like my life was in danger, I had to hang up. Seems kind of strange that you can't call the police until something bad happens even though it's a possibility. Then again, I'm sure they would get overloaded with calls about all the freaks out there who aren't actually planning on any harm, and not be able to help people in mortal danger. Sigh.

So I just blocked his number. We weren't friends on any social media, and I don't even know if he knows my last name because I can't even remember his. Still, I'm a little freaked out. Even after my boyfriend reminded me that he has a baseball bat in his trunk and asked where that guy lives. (Not that he would seriously go beat the shit out of him, but it was a nice offer nonetheless). I also sent an e-mail to the office I used to work at and the one I used to live at just letting them know not to give out any information if anyone should ask. So embarrassing.

The whole thing seems so ridiculous, like a bad joke gone horribly wrong. I tried to reason with him and called him out for making less sense than a Lifetime movie villain. He just said, "Oh stop, u love me." WTF. So he's trying to extort me into cheating otherwise he'll expose me as a cheater? What kind of sense does that make? Oh, and by the way I DIDN'T FUCKING CHEAT, YA LOONEY!

I just want this whole incident on record in case I mysteriously don't show up for work one day… Also, just to remind everyone to make sure and keep your information as private as possible online and with people you don't know.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Hutch the Intern

It feels very weird to be an intern again. I know that 26 isn't technically that old, but having been out of college for almost five years (JESUS CHRIST!), it seems like I should have outgrown the internship phase of my life. I have a full-time job with "manager" in my title, a 401K, and a benefits package (starting January 1st, so fingers crossed nothing happens in the next month or so. Crap. Totally jinxed it. Please don't slap me with a critical illness or horribly expensive accident, Universe!). These are not things normally associated with an intern. But they came with the territory of settling for a job that would actually pay for my exorbitant college film degree that I have no chance of actually getting paid to use. It's not that I don't love my job. On some days, it's damn near inspirational. Especially now that I'm not being harangued by angry crazies every day or having to run an entire 347 unit property with virtually no support from my colleagues.

What I picture Parallel Universe Hutch to look like.
But there are days when I see my peers following their dreams and actually achieving moderate success, that I think about Parallel Universe Hutch. What would have happened if I had found that one job that lead down the path I originally saw myself taking after college? Would I be an assistant to a quirky but lovable television writer, a ruthless but brilliant acquisitions executive's right hand, a slovenly, scatterbrained creative development head's Girl Friday? (Yes, I'm some type of assistant in all of these scenarios. Even in fantasy, I tend to be very realistic). Who knows. I'd probably be very poor though and living in a three-bedroom crap shack in Koreatown with six other broke post-grads. You have to pay your dues somehow. But the thought of unemployment and never-ending ramen scared me into taking something a little more lucrative.

True story, a resident really did give me a bottle of vodka once.
It wasn't really a gift though. He got it from someone else and didn't like vodka.
His loss!
Almost everyone who works in property management wound up there by accident but stayed because it's stable and can be pretty awesome. A lot of residents are really nice and sometimes they bring you treats. And vodka. (Which of course you don't drink in the office…You take it home and mix it with some cranberry juice like a lady.) It's satisfying helping someone find their perfect new home and opening the door to the next chapter in their lives. But other than some inventive sales pitches and techniques, there isn't a whole lot of creativity involved. I had almost resigned myself to this road, first Assistant Manger, then Community Manager, then Regional Manager or other corporate gig where I actually get the Friday after Thanksgiving off in addition to Thursday. And I probably would/will be.

I looked a lot cooler when I did this in China town.
Probably because I had a college degree.
Yesterday, out of nowhere, I got an e-mail. A small production company, which I will not name because I don't like to identify where I work, and also because the name is just too much of a cheesy coincidence, came across a resume that I had sent in literally years ago. Probably some time in 2010, which I spent the bulk of job-hunting, census-taking, and sign-twirling. Since then I've had three different jobs with three different companies, and lived in three different apartments. It seems like a lifetime ago that I sent that resume off into what I assumed would be oblivion. They were looking for an unpaid reader/development intern. Someone to read 3-4 scripts a week from home and discuss them maybe once a month. Something I could easily do in my spare time. How freaking awesome is that? The perfect side job just landed in my lap.

Why, yes. I am the Gatekeeper.

Not only did it come to me, but the entire process of finding out about it, responding that I was interested, doing an informal phone interview with the producer, and receiving my first batch of scripts due the next week, all happened in about eighteen hours. Kind of the opposite of every job hunting experience anyone has ever had. Sure, it's not paid. And if a script is bad, it can be almost torture to read it and have to summarize and make comments. But it's a toe dip back in the pool of the film industry. And I can do it without having to sacrifice my cushy day job and discounted luxury apartment! SCORE!

Oh Rexy, you're so sexy!

This will be my third official reading internship, though I was a judge for two script competitions during which I basically did the same exact thing. It's been a while since I've written coverage, but it's all coming back to me. What makes a script great, what could be improved, and the ultimate power trip: getting to determine whether it's a Pass, a Consider, or a Recommend. I am the Gatekeeper, you must pass through me mwa ha ha! Of course it takes a lot more effort to create something original from scratch than to critique something already in existence. But I am a firm believer that reading scripts makes you a better screenwriter. So hopefully this will motivate me to actually finish something and perhaps Recommend my own screenplay to the producer (who has a very thick New York accent and wrote a movie once starring Maxwell Caulfield. He's done other more impressive things, but mostly I'm just hoping he can introduce me to Rex Manning!)

Ok, I'll give you one hint...

PS, while I obviously can't disclose details about the scripts I read, I just finished the first one and it was surprisingly kickass in an Evil Dead 2 sort of way.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Bloody Vampires

I meant to write this post a week and a half ago. Do you ever find that writing about something so long after it happened makes it far less potent? It's like there's this window of time where you have to capitalize on an experience by blogging, and if you miss it, it's like it never happened. But seeing as I have made a semi-commitment to blog again (mostly because I forgot that I had made $22 by blogging over the past three+ years and if I earn another $88, I'll actually get a check for that money), I'm going to write about a slightly stale topic: blood. Specifically, the donation of blood.

Just in case you don't know what giving blood looks like.

I gave blood a while back and while lying flat on my back, squeezing a rubber ball, and trying to distract myself from the needle stuck in my arm, I started making a list. These are all the reasons why giving blood makes you a better person and why everyone who is physically and emotionally capable of giving blood should do it on the regular:

  • I was not born with God-given altruism. I'm a very lazy and selfish person, not to mention unwilling to depart with any money that does not immediately benefit myself in some way. This means that I do not give to charities (Planned Parenthood would be the one exception, God bless them). I do not serve food at homeless shelters. I very rarely recycle, unless it is convenient. I imagine that I am like millions of other lazy, selfish Americans out there. Giving blood costs you nothing, takes up very little time, and extremely little effort. You get to be charitable and help people, by doing what your body does anyway: manufacture blood cells. (I applied this same philosophy when I couldn't be bothered to cut my hair for over two years and ended up donating it to Locks of Love. Literally, the least I could do and still help people. Though for some reason, it creeps me out that someone is walking around with my hair on their head. Blood isn't as weird like that, since you can't see it. Hopefully.)
Who doesn't love a free T-shirt? This one is especially cute.
  • You get FREE STUFF!!! I'm not just talking about the free juice, cookies, cheez-its, trail mix, and all the bottled water you can drink. I'm talking about T-shirts, free coupons for Coldstone or Baskin Robbins, free or majorly discounted tickets to sporting events like the Kings, the Clippers, the Galaxy, also free Laugh Factory tickets (which I have yet to take advantage of. Anyone want to go with me? Two drink minimum, but still, score!)
A cross between a cornucopia & a smorgasbord.
Although, don't be too greedy.
People will judge you.
  • One donation, which only takes about an hour total, could save up to three lives. Seriously. The American Red Cross sent me an e-mail not long ago to let me know that one pint of my blood was sent off to three different people at a hospital in the Baldwin Hills area of Los Angeles. I used to live right by there. Those people could have been my former neighbors. Knowing exactly where it ended up, made the gesture a lot more tangible for me. It was also kind of weird. But still, cool.
Pictured: My blood (right), Your blood (left)
  • My ego gets stroked whenever the Red Cross hounds me with phone calls to set up my next appointment. They are ridiculously good salespeople, also possibly vampires. They know how to be persistent, overcome objections, attempt to have you refer more donors, and use many more methods I learned in my sales training classes. They like to remind me too that my O Positive blood type is Regina George popular. Everyone wants a piece of me. I'm like, really good at giving blood too. Great blood pressure, ideal hemoglobin & iron levels, easy-to-locate veins, no squeamishness or nausea around needles, plus I'm awesome and nurses love me. So even though you may only have Gretchen Weiner-level popular blood, or faint at the sight of needles, you are still important. Just not as important as me (according to the Red Cross).
A person who avoids exercise does NOT look like this, Google. Fail.
  • Giving blood provides you with one solid-gold built-in excuse NOT to exercise. Frankly, I'll let myself get away with a lot less valid reasons. But when a medical professional tells you in no uncertain terms that you are to take it easy for at least 24 hours (which for me often stretches into 48, to be on the safe side), you are just following orders by laying around, and eating your free Baskin Robbins. A reason to be lazy and actually feel good about avoiding the gym? Yes, please.
  • Since I obsessively google the health benefits of everything, I discovered that it is actually healthy to give blood. People who are regular donors have a much lower risk of heart attack and stroke. It gets rid of excess iron and subsequently free radicals in the body. My family has a history of cardiovascular disease, so this is definitely a good thing.
My actual arm with my actual bandage. Sexy, no?
  • I don't know if this is true for everyone, but I feel like I get a fairly decent buzz from giving blood. It's a bit like having a few cocktails, only without the hangover. I just get super loopy and everything is hilarious when you're lightheaded and woozy. And again, it's FREE! I wouldn't recommend actually drinking alcohol after giving blood though…
I realize that there are a lot of people who are not able to give blood for a variety of reasons. Some of which are somewhat outdated and not necessarily based on the most current scientific research. Some people are just petrified of needles. Though no one is especially fond of needles, except I imagine heroine junkies, I recommend looking away and thinking about things that make you happy while they're sticking it to you (tee hee). Like me with lists. Some people just can't, like a dear friend of mine who actually works for the Red Cross, that tries valiantly almost every time they have a blood drive, but is usually denied due to anemia. But she keeps at it, god bless her!

I couldn't find a picture of the Coke bottle blood donation scene.
So here's a picture of sexy circa 2001 menfolk.
Yes, it was a silly movie in a lot of ways,
but 13 year old Hutch was not complaining.

It's a trip to look down and see your life force pouring out of you while Luther Vandross's "Dance with My Father," plays in the background. Kind of makes me think of that scene in the not-so-seminal classic, "Pearl Harbor," when Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett donate blood into coke bottles. Yick. But again, focus on the good stuff: you're helping people, while being sufficiently compensated with free cookies and comedy and sports, while feeling good about yourself and getting an excuse to be lazy and silly. Not that I need an excuse.

I saw some cute clothes at H&M that I probably would have
purchased after using the restroom, if they would have let me.
In the words of Julia Roberts, "Big mistake."

Pro tips: drink plenty of water, have a good breakfast, and make sure you locate the nearest bathroom ahead of time because after all that water they make you drink, you will have to pee like a mofo. And woozily wandering around Old Town Pasadena with a bandage on your arm trying to find a store that will let you pee without being a customer makes you feel like you're in a very bizarre version of "Pretty Woman." True story.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Enter the Controversy

First of all, let me just say that I'm writing this on the wireless keyboard usually reserved for my desktop. Only I'm using my iPad. I just MacGyvered myself a friggin' laptop. I'm feeling very smug and impressed with myself. Especially because this means I can sit on my couch and watch Netflix and still write at the same time. Hopefully that means I'll blog more and maybe even write something worthwhile. Heh.

Now that was a damn good show.
Not exactly realistic, I'm sure. But entertaining nonetheless.

I mentioned briefly in my previous post that I'm wasting valuable procrastinating time watching the reality show. "Sister Wives." I hate reality shows. The only ones I will admit to loving are: "What Not to Wear," and "Say Yes to the Dress," which hardly count. But something about this show grabbed my attention. I've been on a polygamy kick lately, which seems like a very weird thing to say. But I've been reading The 19th Wife, and just watched a documentary about the scary compound polygamist, "Sons of Perdition." Both of which were excellent. I was also a fan of "Big Love," back in the day, though I stopped watching about halfway through the series due to my atrocious television ADD.

So. Much. Estrogen. I would feel bad for the guy,
but he's happy as a clam on prozac.
I guess the reason I'm so fascinated by "Sister Wives," and polygamy in general, is mainly the logistics. The majority of the show's content isn't terribly compelling and its subjects are not especially likable (the husband Kody is obnoxious and douchey but in a nice way, and the wives are mostly batshit insane drama queens who never want to hurt anyone's feelings and yet get their feelings hurt so absurdly often. Also, many of the kids have the stupidest names I've ever heard.). It's not that they're bad people. They're just normal. Normal, boring, folks from Utah. And that is why this show is so interesting (in spite of the fact that they repeat themselves over. and over. and over to the point where I'm currently concocting a "Sister Wives" drinking game). I'm caught up in the coordination of it all. How they accomplish basic tasks like grocery shopping, paying bills, going on vacations, packing up and moving. Suddenly things we take for granted become so much more complicated, especially if they have to be secretive about something so major. And yet, they have a whole team working to make it happen. It's just a different practical dynamic.

There's also a different emotional dynamic. The show explores the jealousies, insecurities, and divisions of time and affection that naturally emerge in such relationships. Even though the wives are well aware and willingly consented to plural marriage, their husband courting a fourth wife becomes a source of contention. Simple things such as whether it's kosher to kiss his fiancee knowing he's technically a married man, suddenly cause major (albeit exaggerated) drama. A woman with fertility problems becomes that much more sympathetic when she sees her sister wives with six kids a piece, and more on the way (Meri breaks my heart!)

The Brown Family Home

It's even more fascinating given that I was raised Mormon (distinct from the Browns' religion in that we do NOT practice polygamy). I know that there must be a lot of doctrinal differences, but based on what is depicted in the show, the culture seems very similar. The manner of dress, the colloquialisms, the prayers, and other minor aspects instantly take me back to my childhood, or at least what I witnessed around my uber-Mormon family members around Salt Lake City. I remember visiting my aunt in West Jordan and her pointing to a large house we were driving past on the freeway, whispering, "That belongs to a polygamist and his wives," as if it were a scandalous, shameful secret. Clearly there is a divide between LDS and FLDS, and a pretty fragile one at that. Both sides would be offended at the comparison, but it is undeniable, especially when it comes from the same root.

Regardless of my own monogamous upbringing, watching this show has confirmed my belief that I honestly don't think polygamy should be illegal. This is just another type of family. I preach tolerance and freedom of religion, and believe that the government shouldn't interfere in the personal lives of citizens who are consenting, law-abiding adults who are breaking no other laws. It's only right that it should be legal. That's not to say I believe in it. In fact, I barely believe in marriage at all, despite my own parents having been happily married for decades, and most of my many many siblings being hitched with young'uns. I'm terrified of commitment and I'm not even 100% positive that I want children of my own.

But I do believe in freedom. If they're not committing tax or welfare fraud, child or spousal abuse, pedophilia, or any of the other crimes associated with this lifestyle, then why the hell not? Yes, I realize it's problematic when viewed through a feminist perspective. That multiple women should submit to and revolve around a man for the ultimate purpose of breeding what some may deem obscene amounts of children, is definitely disconcerting. At the same time, it's not for me to decide. I'm not involved in their relationship. Just like they're not involved in my relationship. What's important is that they get to have the choice.

I highly recommend watching this documentary as well.
Some may also argue that they were brainwashed to believe that this is the only way of life. And so many polygamist wives are. But I'm not referring to the cultish compounds out in the boonies that haven't been exposed to anything else, as showed in "Sons of Perdition." They weren't given a choice and many of their practices make me sick. Each of the Browns arrived at the decision to become polygamists as adults after much deliberation. They made it clear that their children are welcome to choose whatever lifestyle they wish. Some of the children mentioned that they don't intend to be polygamists, though they appreciate the way they have been raised. I think that's admirable, seeing as many other religions or cultures forbid their children from even considering other options.

Fuck you, Warren Jeffs. Fuck you.
A major plot line of the show is the constant threat of a serious police investigation into their family. Because bigamy is technically illegal. As a viewer, it seems crazy to me that these folksy, though somewhat misguided, people could conceivably go to jail for a religious practice which should be protected by the constitution. Of course those laws were written to prevent sickos like Warren Jeffs from rising up and subjugating and abusing women and children, as well as other financial malpractices. But that is clearly not what is happening here. As someone whose primary political persuasion is based on the fact that the government should not waste time, money, and resources on unnecessary things (see my blog regarding legalizing marijuana for essentially the same reason), this sickens me even more. Are the Lehi police really so bored and rolling around in piles of taxpayer's money that they feel like chasing after a large family who just wants to extreme coupon, carve pumpkins and wear multiple layers of clothing in a burning desert?

I realize that this may be a hot-button issue for some people. Other people may not have even given polygamy a second thought. Personally, I hate debate and avoid any subjects more controversial than whether or not I enjoy "Breaking Bad," (which actually sparked quite the online tizzy, believe it or not). I just hope that people see this show and realize that these are not criminals. They are a loving, spiritual family, that has to work extra hard and sacrifice a great deal to stay together and maintain a strong bond with all the branches. It's almost admirable in a way, especially when so many mainstream relationships can barely handle one other person in their lives, let alone four.

Seeing as there's no way I'd ever become a polygamist, the legality of the practice isn't something that directly affects me. And as soon as I'm through with the show, I'll probably forget about it altogether. But for now, it's sparking a very small fire of political fervor that's usually neglected within me. Although the second the Browns try to cheat on their taxes or take advantage of federal social programs, I will turn on them so fast, every single one of their heads will spin. (That's my fiscally conservative side acting up again...).

Monday, November 18, 2013

Shows I Cannot Get Into for the Life of Me

It's my Sunday night and I've done almost nothing but watch bad television all day and eat "healthy" junk food from Trader Joe's, (mostly pumpkin-based treats because I've made it my mission to eat ALL OF THE PUMPKIN THINGS ON THE PLANET. And yes, I am a white girl. But can we get over this stereotype? Because pumpkin spice is delicious and my gender and ethnicity have nothing to do with that. Ok, gourd-inspired feminist rant over.) Why did I waste my time watching "bad" television when I could have been writing the Great American Screenplay or at the very least, doing the dishes? Because I was determined to jump on a new bandwagon.

Surprisingly really good!
Though I always have a soft spot
for shows cancelled before their time.
Also, James van der Beek.

Having recently finished my latest obsession, "Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23," and finally closing out "The West Wing" (Which started off brilliant, but was brilliantly painful towards the end. Out of mad respect for Allison Janney I stayed the course), I was on the lookout for the Next Best Thing Ever. I am always open to suggestions as to what I should fixate upon and spend inordinate amounts of time consuming. But sometimes, those bandwagons that are so cherished by others, leave me cold and dusty. I realize that some of the following selections may make me seem hipster-ish in my rejection of what is normally considered to be outstanding and beloved. Let me be clear, I genuinely wish I liked these shows. I would love to participate in the cultural obsession and prattle on about sexual tension, the latest shocking twist, or basking in fan nostalgia. But I just can't get behind them, no matter how hard I try.

These are shows I tried, and failed, to watch despite critical acclaim, and/or high recommendations from friends, family, or pop culture at large:

No strong feelings one way or the other.

"Orange is the New Black"

It's a phenomenal show. The characters are compelling and well-fleshed out (anyone else creeped out by that term?). I like the story structure and it's certainly an original concept. I gave it a good 4-5 episodes before finally determining that no matter how high-quality the show is, I just am not interested in prison. Just like Shawshank Redemption is an incredible movie that I will never watch again, I just couldn't get past the bleakness.

Yeah…no. Put some pants on.

"Breaking Bad"

I watched the entire first season and the beginning of the second at the behest of a boy I was like REALLY into at the time. Ugh. Never again will I let my feelings for a man cloud my judgement of a show that did nothing for me. Yes, it's well-crafted. I get that. But I hated everyone. Like, actually hated. And why would I spend so much time and devotion to a show that just made me angry? Plus, I don't find meth all that fascinating.

I get it. You're sexy. Even with the ridiculous outfits and bad facial hair.
But this is not a world I care to hang out in.

"Sons of Anarchy"

I have been in love with Charlie Hunnam ever since "Green Street Hooligans" (which is one of the best movies you've never seen about British football hooliganism. Which proves that just because I can't actually relate to the world of a film or TV show, I can still lose myself in it. The pretty boys didn't hurt.) Charlie further captured my heart in Judd Apatow's short-lived, unappreciated "Undeclared." In fact, when I learned that he was going to be Christian Grey, I admit that I actually got excited about seeing "50 Shades of Grey." That being said, meh. Six or seven episodes in, I gave up. I do not understand the obsession with motorcycles.

Lulls me into a very fitful sleep.

"The X-Files"

I just tried to watch this on Netflix for the third or fourth time. I don't consider myself a nerd by any means, but I do appreciate quite a bit of nerd culture. (Buffy, Angel, Firefly, I'm sure there are more that aren't solely created by Joss Whedon, but I'm blanking at the moment. Oh Star Wars! I like Star Wars!) But dammit, if I don't fall asleep every time! And then I have nightmares. Because that theme song has made me shiver ever since I was a little girl and would hear it drifting creepily down the hall from the living room while my brothers watched it and I would cover myself in bed with stuffed animals so the aliens would get confused and not be able to find and abduct me. Yes, my biggest childhood fear wasn't spiders or snakes or the bogeyman. I was genuinely convinced that I would get kidnapped by aliens. And since I never was (fingers crossed), I like to think my stuffed animal misdirection method was foolproof. Anyway, back to the X Files. It manages to be both terrifying and boring at the same time. No thanks.

You sir, are no Mr. Darcy.

"North & South"

If you haven't heard of this one, it's a sort of Pride & Prejudice/Downton Abbey-esque mini-series available now on Netflix. Two of my bestest friends in the world, who normally have exquisite taste, have all but forced me to watch "North & South" at gunpoint, convinced that if I just give it a chance, I will love it to pieces. But Jane Austen, it is not. Once more, I hate everyone. They are extremely unlikeable, and not even in the way that is still fun to watch. Plus the setting is so very bleak (which is probably why I don't like prison or meth. But football violence is freaking awesome so the bleak explanation is flawed). Apparently, it's all worth it for the ending. But it's just dreary, and life is dreary enough.

He kills a dog with his bare hands in the first episode.
It was one of the most shocking yet effective character reveals I've ever seen.
But I just couldn't get on board.
"House of Cards"

1. Terrible, awful people you don't particularly feel like rooting for. 2. A setting that I have no relation to (I despise politics and can't fathom living in the hell that is D.C., no matter how awesome old school "West Wing" and new school "Scandal" are). 3. Isn't that enough to give up on a show that is impeccable in all aspects other than the fact that I just don't like it?

I'm referring to any and all series under the banner of "Star Trek."
But for our purposes, let's just focus on The Next Generation.

"Star Trek"

… Sorry, homeboy. I learned my lesson from "Breaking Bad."

I still love you Pacey (even though I was totally Team Dawson).


Another show that was highly recommended to me by a fan who usually shares my same tastes. She had quoted me some of the more memorable lines and insisted that Joshua Jackson was just as charming as Peter Bishop as he was as Pacey Witter. Also, I toured the guy who plays Walter Bishop when I still worked at the Studio City property. I didn't know he was famous until we got stopped by a gushing resident who shook his hand and told him he was a big fan of the show. Awkward. He ended up not leasing an apartment despite clear interest and is therefore dead to me. But I was willing to overlook that fact and have been watching "Fringe" pretty much all day. (Taking a short break to watch some "Sister Wives." Why? I don't really know.) I don't think I'm ready to give up on it just yet. But it's honestly not doing much for me. I find myself more interested in reading blogs or random articles posted on Twitter or Facebook than watching this show. We shall see if it starts grabbing my attention more. Good luck, Pacey.

You can make all the arguments defending these shows you want. And I will probably agree with you in most respects. But like I said, I just can't.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Taking Back Christmas

I decorated for Christmas this past weekend. And I'm not ashamed. (Of course, by decorated, I mean that I put up one strand of mini-lights around my breakfast bar and set up a 12 inch fake tree covered in tiny glitter balls ((tee hee balls)) on the counter. But it's way more effort than I've ever exerted in the past. So this is kind of a big deal.) Yes, I'm aware that Thanksgiving is still weeks away and everyone still has their creatively slutty Halloween photos posted on their Facebook profiles. I've been mocked by family, friends, and homeboy (who refuses to let me even turn on the Christmas lights when he's around until December 1st). Everyone seems to think it's wrong and commercial to get a jump on the season.

My actual tree. This is the extent of my Christmas decorations,
Mostly brought to you by the Target dollar section.

But here's the thing, by the time Christmas rolls around on December 1st, I'm already sick of it. It's like seeing a trailer for a movie you really want to see so far in advance that by the time it actually opens, it's been overexposed to death and you end up just waiting to watch it when it comes out on Netflix. Convoluted metaphor aside, I'm ready for Christmas now, dammit! And because I is an American grown-up, I can do whatever the hell I please! Ergo, a little holiday display that makes me inexplicably happy :D In the spirit of pre-Christmas, I have compiled a list of my favorite festive films (huzzah for alliteration!). Watch with some delicious egg nog pancakes from IHOP (they are a real thing and really friggin' good):

"There was more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus?"

Love Actually (2003)

A romantic comedy that's both so romantic and so comedic, that it really can be watched any time of year. However, it happens to take place at Christmas and is there for the cheeriest effing movie on the planet. And if you haven't seen it, I pity your soul for it is incomplete. Also, read this blog I wrote about a heartbreakingly doomed romance inspired by this movie that I came across a few years ago in Studio City! Best line: "Let's go get the shit kicked out of us by love."

"This is my house. I have to defend it."

Home Alone (1990)

Another movie that really can be watched any time of year. Because that's how good John Hughes is. That's right, my hero John Hughes of Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller acclaim also wrote this beloved family classic before sadly starting his descent into oblivion. Macaulay Culkin's best work, other than Party Monster which I also love. Best line: "When I grow up and get married, I'M LIVING ALONE!!"

"I have loved you since the moment I clapped eyes on you. What could be more reasonable than to marry you?"
"We'd kill each other."

Little Women (1994)

Fun fact about this movie, I originally went to see it as a chaperone for my brother Scott on what may have been his first date (Mormon dating rules. Go fig). Actually I have no idea if it was his first date, since I would have been about 6 or 7 at the time and all I remember is curling up in a ball and falling asleep in my chair. God knows what happened while I was out, but all I can say is, You're Welcome, Scott. Best line: Christian Bale proposing. Just all of it. I want to slap Jo every time, even though his hair was unattractively floppy at the time. She could have had it all and she settled for a potato-faced German professor. Boo.

"I didn't come here to make an impression on anybody.
I just came here to blow every last cent I had."

Last Holiday (2006)

God bless Queen Latifah. Few things make me happier than this movie. It is life affirming, hilarious, and makes you want to reach for the stars and make all your dreams come true. Plus, you really can crack a walnut with LL Cool J's ass. Little known fact, but it's true. Best line: tie between "Don't that ceiling ever make you wanna cry?" and "I shoulda ate that. I shoulda ate all that stuff. Especially that. Shoulda put my foot in that."

Yippee-ki-yay indeed.

Die Hard (1988)

I know I'm not the first person to proclaim, "it really is a Christmas movie!" But it really does get me in the mood for jingle bells and ugly sweaters. And seeing as it's the one action movie that every other action movie thereafter was modeled after, I'd say it's pretty damn significant. I can already check this one off of my holiday bucket list, since I watched it right after decorating my teeny tiny tree. Best line: "Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho." (Ok, no one actually says it, this is written in blood on a dead terrorist's shirt, but it's still pretty badass).

"Welcome to a life of insecurity and paralyzing self-doubt."

The O.C. Chrismukkuh Marathon (2003-2007)

Now, I could rant all day about how much I love the O.C. and that it is truly brilliant on a self-aware, genre parody/paradigm level. I won't because I already wrote an entire paper on it in college. True story. Got an A and everything, and the professor wasn't even a fan. I convinced her to start watching. If you won't give it a chance because you have some pre-conceived notion of soapy teen dramas based on its predecessors and cheap copycats, then you can just hopscotch straight to hell. This show kicks ass, and it is never better than its annual Chrismukkuh-themed episode. Even if you only watch those four episodes, you will be convinced that I am right. Best line: "Jesus and Moses. They both had beards." (Sung to Death Cab's A Lack of Color).

Of course, this early celebration to beat the rush may end up backfiring. I'll have to start my festivities earlier and earlier every year, until I start celebrating Christmas 2025 the day after Christmas 2024 which defeats the whole purpose of my experiment. But for now, I feel good about this decision.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Commitment Phobia

Remember that time I got drunk and cleaned up the heavy traffic stains in my carpet with Resolve and forgot about it until the next morning until I discovered a sparkling clean entryway in my groggy haze? Well last night I threw myself a little party with my secret lover, Franzia (purchased from Wal-Mart just because I'm so friggin' classy. I had to slum it, since I was cheating on Two Buck Chuck). I only had maybe two dollar store wine glasses full, but that stuff is POTENT. This morning I woke up to find the a much larger version of the blanket I started crocheting before the birth of my now three-year-old niece, Sadie. Yup, red wine makes me crochet, in addition to scrubbing carpets with Resolve. I'm like a tipsy eighty-year-old woman with dementia, just cleaning and crafting with abandon. I should probably start drinking more often though if I want to finish that blanket by the time Sadie graduates from grad school…

My drunken spirit animal, Dorothy.

I guess it's been so long since I've written that my boyfriend and I broke up for a whole month (during which I briefly dated someone else who saw his future children in my eyes, oy), and we're already back together again. Without getting into details, there were just too many external circumstances beyond our control that made it hard to be together. But seeing how most of those obstacles no longer exist, or are currently in the process of no longer existing, it's all goofy smiles and romantic trips to Ikea. (Though we made a pact never to attempt building any Ikea furniture together, if we want to remain together without one or both of us committing significant other-icide.) 

The couch that almost sank a newly rekindled love affair.
Isn't it pretty though?

Even more changes have occurred since my last post on Mother's Day (Jesus, where does the time go?). For example, I'm at a new job, in a new apartment, driving a new car, all in a new city, and in general I no longer hate my life due to the misery caused by an unnamed company with an unnamed management team. HUZZAHS ALL AROUND!! I shall now elaborate in the form of a list:

Basically what I do all day, minus the crazy eyes.

  • New Job: the dude responsible for my entire career in property management who hired me initially in customer service at Studio City almost three years ago, who hired me again when I transferred to leasing in Pasadena, has now hired me a third time and promoted me to Assistant Manager with a new company in Norwalk. Whut uuuupppp??? Seriously though, god bless this man. More responsibility, more authority, more pressure, but buckets less of daily stress and the least amount of bullshit possible with any corporate gig. I'm so much happier now, I can't even explain it without vehemently comparing my experiences and coming off as bitter and gloating. :D
Not my actual kitchen, but it's basically the same.
  • New Apartment: While I was bummed to have to part ways with my awesome roommate, my housing discount from my old job died when I quit. I don't believe in commuting either, so as much as it killed me to leave my beloved Pasadena, I now live on-site at my property in Norwalk and it. is. AWESOME. Sure, it's waaaaaaay more money that I probably should be spending, even after my discount, but it's amazing to live alone again in such a nice place. Plus, you can't beat the ten second commute. Getting to not only come home for lunch, but run and grab a fancier blazer when an unexpected executive visit springs up, is pretty much the best thing ever. I'm saving so much money on going out to eat, which is good, since I can't really afford it anyway. As someone who hates driving, it's an incredible thing to only use my car a few times a week for errands or recreation (saving gas too!). Speaking of my car…
Muriel. Suggested originally as a joke from said boyfriend,
but seeing as Muriel Heslop from Muriel's Wedding is my other
sprit animal, it was PERFECT. 
  • New Car: It took a lot of test drives, financial anxiety, and an epic spreadsheet using a point system to try and decide which car to buy, but it was all worth it when I finally brought home Muriel. After ten months living without a car in LA, it was miraculous driving down Colorado Blvd, blasting my Bon Jovi and singing along at the top of my lungs. I realized that if you don't have a car and find singing in the shower to be awkward even when you live alone, you just don't sing. And a life without singing is just sad and shriveled. With that in mind, I was able to finally re-join the Sally Tomatoes, my kickass a cappella group. It was nice having a break, especially since I was dealing with a lot of other crap, in addition to the commute being brutal and damn near impossible on public transportation. But I missed those girls and that music, and all the karaoke you can handle!
There aren't many photos of Norwalk online.

  • New City: Norwalk is a strange place. And by strange, I mean it's probably not strange at all compared to the rest of America. I've realized that every place I've lived has been very distinctive. Irvine, with its wide, clean streets and Big Brother watching your every move in a soulless but aesthetically-pleasing atmosphere. South Central, with its crazy characters, cheap rent, and great stories. North Hollywood/Studio City, with its wannabe-famous actors/porn stars and medical marijuana as far as the eye can see. Pasadena, with its charming and historical shops and restaurants, and pedestrian-friendly geography (*sheds tear*). But Norwalk is pretty generic, as far as I can tell. Not quite LA, but not quite Orange County. It's in this weird state of limbo where people aren't terribly tech savvy, no one uses reusable grocery bags, and you have to drive twenty plus minutes to get to a Trader Joe's but Walmart is just down the street. I don't mean to sound condescending when I say this. It's just when you've lived in LA so long, you don't realize that it's far from normal.
As close as I could come to capturing
LA yuppie culture in one photo.
I'm a bit disappointed in the internet today.

I'm sure there are other changes, but those are the big ones. It's crazy to think how drastically my life has changed from one year ago. And from the year before that. I never thought of myself as restless, but I haven't lived in the same place or worked at the same job for more than a year and nine months (random number I know, but it's been a pattern). In fact, it kind of freaks me out to think about the future and where I'll be in five years. Probably in a foreign country teaching English and taking vacations in Thailand with my Doctors without Borders husband, Ron. Anyone want to start taking bets?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Why My Mom is Awesome Part 2: Mother's Day Extravaganza

Prepare yourself for a mushy, sappy, sickly sweet post in honor of Mother's Day! Because I love my mama (and am a horrible person when it comes to giving gifts, sending flowers, and taking her out to dinner because I'm a. poor, and b. 500 miles away), I've decided to compile a list of all the reasons why she's awesome. I've already covered one major facet of said awesomeness, so I know you're dying to know more about the special woman who created the awesomeness that is me.

  • Mama Hutch gave birth to five children in ten years the drug-free, old-fashioned way, like a friggin' boss. Not that there's anything wrong with epidurals or C-sections. I plan on going that route myself one day. I don't believe in unnecessary pain. You have to admit, it's pretty impressive to shove not one but FIVE watermelons down your hoo-ha. And we were not small watermelons.
Pictured: Ouch.
  • She graduated from high school at sixteen and travelled throughout Scandinavia before college like some kind of overachieving viking. So when she got married at eighteen and had my oldest brother at nineteen, she was already way ahead of the game. 
  • She went back to school to get her teaching credential when I was two years old, meaning that she had five kids under the age of twelve and still managed to handle her business. What's your excuse?
No fetching hats required.
  • She has taught literally thousands of kids to sing, play all kinds of instruments, and genuinely enjoy music with a passion. From choir to band to piano lessons and musical theater, she has done it all, often spending her own money and free time to enrich her curriculum. The woman is basically a legit Professor Harold Hill, without the fancy hat. She organizes concerts every semester for parents bursting with pride at the sight of their children performing on a huge scale.
  • One of those children she taught to sing was me. First in church when I asked her why she was singing different notes from everyone else. She explained what a harmony was, thereby instilling in me an appreciation for the more hard core, under-appreciated altos of the world. I was hooked. She was my Mr. Shue in middle school vocal ensemble, with less hair product, and later the director/music coach for several musicals.
My mom is way less obnoxious though.
  • Given her large household of eight (including her mother who lived with us until I was fourteen), Mama Hutch was the guru of grocery shopping. By this I mean, she managed to fit 80 million bags of groceries (everything on sale) into the trunk of a compact Geo Metro. Watching her reconfigure the brown paper Tetris blocks was quite the feat. She could have had her own game show, for realsies.
  • Another little known skill is her ability to hide Easter baskets. I wrote an entire blog about that talent alone. I think she was a very successful pirate in another life, burying treasure where no one would EVER find it. It's probably because she is constantly losing things. Her keys, her phone, the remote, her damn mind (haha just kidding!)
(And to my theater snob friends,
get over Anne Hathaway. She wasn't that bad.)
  • She was the one who introduced me to Les Miserables when all we had was the Anniversary Concert VHS which we watched over. and over. and over. until she finally was able to take us to the real thing in Sacramento. It was very special to finally get to see the movie with her and my brothers Nick and Scott who are secure enough in their manhood to enjoy musicals (cough cough Andy and David...).
  • When I went away to college in Southern California, I wasn't homesick in the slightest until six weeks in when it hit me all at once. It was bad. I called her crying on a Friday afternoon and she literally jumped in her car that instant and drove five hours to meet me in Bakersfield to take me home for the weekend.
What I picture my mom doing everyday.
  • Did I mention that she's secretly Fraulein Maria (only a former Mormon instead of a former nun)? When I first into my apartment in North Hollywood, she came down to help me get settled. Most parents are willing to take their kids to Ikea. But do they also turn leftover curtain fabric into matching pillowcases? That's in addition to my favorite pink blanket, penguin apron, and countless costumes that she sewed herself. 
  • Oh yeah. And she makes OUTSTANDING chicken. Like for real. Even when the power went out because of a crazy blizzard and all she had to work with was our wood stove, she still made the greatest chicken of all time. Also pot roast. And cheesecake. And Orange Goop (family tradition, don't ask).
The Ladies Hutch
Even with all of this, she still thinks that she's a sub-par teacher, a bland cook, a less than perfect wife, a mediocre mother, and an only ok human being. To that I say, poppycock.