Tuesday, March 26, 2013

That Run in "Girls"

It all started when my sister asked me to come over to her apartment for the weekend to help her babysit her 7 month old, since my sister's husband was out for the weekend. And that led her to tell me that she had HBO Go. That, plus my roommate having HBO Go, meant that I now have HBO Go. I will now take overtures of friendship (preferably with booze).

So that was how I started watching the rest of "Girls." I'd only watch the pilot and at the time, it didn't seem like a show that I wanted to search the far (and Trojan-filled) Internet to find. But now that I have binged-watch both seasons of "Girls" in five days, I want to hone in on that scene at the end of the second season finale, "Together."

To summarize: Hannah, suffering from an OCD breakdown because she can't meet her book deadline, calls Adam, her boyfriend who she called the cops on in the second episode of the season. He answers the phone, sees her ticks (and her haphazard bowl haircut) and runs to her apartment shirtless (which according to Vulture, would have taken him 30 minutes).

In the Inside the Episodes commentary for the finale, Lena Dunham calls the scene "both the first step for Hannah's recovery and the first time she's actually been there for [Adam], which she couldn't be before" as well as describing Adam in that moment as needing to "get his woman."

And that is the heart of what I find problematic about "Girls." Viscerally, as a single woman who was dumped late last year, the sight of a man running to the rescue made me (literally) giggle madly. It was so grand, so romantic and so unlike anything that ever happens in real life. Because the character of Hannah has been brought so low and was so alone, just seeing a guy she loved race to be with her was heartwarming, in that way that Hollywood likes to tell you is heartwarming, when really it's just reinforcing gender stereotypes.

And in reality, making a guy run to you in the middle of the night shirtless is not a healthy barometer for a relationship. He might just really like running. I'm still trying to figure out if Hannah's OCD spell was written in by Dunham to give sympathy to an unlikeable and self-absorbed character.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Freedom to be Poor

I've been thinking quite a bit about money. Not the least of course because I'm a millennial who is a first-generation immigrant, working in journalism, with student loans to pay back. If there was a recipe for someone who doesn't have money, that would be it. Luckily, I don't eat very much and I haven't outgrown any piece of clothing since puberty.

Lately though, I've also been thinking about privilege. Or rather, the things that allow people like artists and journalists to do what it is that we do. I was reading this article in the New York Times titled: "The No-Limits Job," about how young people in the creative class are taking steadily lower paying jobs but are working longer hours despite that.

“We need to hire a 22-22-22,” one new-media manager was overheard saying recently, meaning a 22-year-old willing to work 22-hour days for $22,000 a year. Perhaps the middle figure is an exaggeration, but its bookends certainly aren’t. According to a 2011 Pew report, the median net worth for householders under 35 dropped by 68 percent from 1984 to 2009, to $3,662. Lest you think that’s a mere side effect of the economic downturn, for those over 65, it rose 42 percent to $170,494 (largely because of an overall gain in property values). Hence 1.2 million more 25-to-34-year-olds lived with their parents in 2011 than did four years earlier. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Jogging Instead of Sprinting

"This is the worst pain ever!"

Back in November, I was at the wedding of a close friend. I was a bridesmaid. The bride and I have been friends since we were 16, and we promised each other that when one of us got married, the other would be a bridesmaid. And that's where the similarities between us ended. After high school, we both went onto different roads. She has an associate's degree and never moved out of the city we grew up in. Her and her husband both work at Disneyland, where they met, and they share an apartment and eventually want to share a pet and a baby together.

As for me, I'm trying to make it work in New York City, with my master's degree and job in journalism, barely having enough money for rent and food. I've become a very good cook, not because I love cooking (which I do), but because I can't afford to eat out.

And I wonder, what it must be like to be satisfied with such simple things, to be happy with just going to work, coming home to a husband, make dinner for that husband and occasionally take a trip to Vegas and call that vacation. Talk about the future, a new apartment, maybe have a baby... If I had a husband, I would be so much more financially stable...

As it is, I have no daily routine. Some days I go home and cook. Other days I go to the gym (where I run while thinking about food). Most days I go to the theater. And other days I come home and keep working, reading, blogging and thinking up pitches. The extent of my long-term planning is a maybe-summer-vacation, where I'll hopefully be on a sandy beach somewhere having a margarita.

And I tend to be hard on myself. When I see the bios of other journalists and see who they've written for, I think, why haven't I written for these places? Why is my resume not longer? I need to work harder, I need to be putting out more content, be a better editor. I need to update my blog more.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be a person like my friend, who has never traveled internationally, who is just happy with a job and her husband. There are still financial struggles and worries about the future, but at least she is satisfied with her life. As for me, I'm in a position now where people have said, "I would kill for your job" and I answer with, "Really?" I'm not satisfied, I want more.

Back in graduate school, I thought if I could just get a job writing about what I love, I would be happy. And I am happy with the work I've done and with the magazine that I work for, but I can't help feel like there's more that I can give. I wonder, will there ever be a time where I'll be happy exactly where I am?

Or is it like a song from "Avenue Q" that goes, "Everyone's a little bit unsatisfied." If so, my parents lied to me. Or they were very good at ignoring how unsatisfied they were with their lives.

Which is to say, in short, I don't know what I'm doing. All I know is that I need to keep working. I have a couple of projects in the pipeline that I'm excited about. And I just need to keep the momentum and keep on working towards my present goals, and to stop being angry at myself for not reaching them fast enough. As a friend and I were talking about last week, it's a marathon, not a sprint.

I wonder what will happen when I reach the finish, will I have to keep running?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Cricket Chirping

A common question that I get asked, because I work for a fairly well-known theater publication, and I know a great deal more than the average person about theater (for better or for worst), is, "Do you have a theater background?" I have decided to come clean with all of you and say...nope. Nada. Nothing.