Let’s talk about Friends

Last week I finally finished watching Friends on Netflix. I had seen bits and pieces over the years, and I knew the basics of the show, but I this was my first time watching most of the episodes. Like many sitcoms, it’s a nice fluffy piece of television that is easy to keep watching.

To be honest, I didn’t love it.

Shocking, I know. It wasn’t all bad. There are lots of funny parts, and I laughed every time Phoebe made a Regina Phalanges joke. It was entertaining, sure. The chemistry in the cast is undeniable, and I did enjoy seeing all of their crazy antics. I don’t want you to think I spent so many hours of my life watching something I hated, because I didn’t hate it.

But there was a lot in the show that bugged me. Fat Monica, the constant mocking of Chandler’s and Ross’ “feminine” qualities, Phoebe’s marriage, and Ross and Rachel’s relationship all drove me nuts. Friends is an older show–it started more than 20 years ago–and I have a hard time distinguishing between what has aged badly and what is actually bad. If it aired today Friends would be a very different show (oh wait, we’ve seen that.) I think we can forgive certain things since it was made in a different time, but I think it’s still important and interesting to talk about it.

Let’s start with Fat Monica. The body positivity movement has taken off in recent years, but there is still so much hatred and scorn out there for anyone who doesn’t fit our society’s very particular idea of beauty. Why is it such a joke that Monica likes food? Why is it so “funny” to see her dancing in fat suit? I’m fat, and sometimes I like to dance. Should I feel even more self conscious about that than I already do? Weight is obviously an incredibly complicated issue. All I know is, this left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I’m glad I’m not the only one feels this way.

The other issue that’s been on my mind since I finished watching is Phoebe’s marriage. I love Phoebe, and I love Paul Rudd.  But…why did they have to get married? It was so refreshing that Phoebe was never looking for a husband. She wanted to make her music, hang out with her friends, and have fun. Then, she picked Mike. I never hated them as a couple, and people change. Lots of people decide in their 30s that they want to commit to a long term relationship. I was so excited when Mike told Phoebe he didn’t want to get married, but he wanted to stay together. It is a valid life choice that makes plenty of people happy. We saw happy marriages and unhappy marriages on the show, why not present a completely different way of doing things? I know a marriage is a nice, neat way to put a bow on the show and call it a day, but I wish they had taken more chances and done something more interesting. Over at Pajiba Sarah Carlson talks about a similar issue television is having with characters having children.

Did you have any issues with Friends? Do you think they should all be forgiven since it’s older, and the world was a little different back then? Let’s talk about this!





The little monster that lives in my head


I don’t talk a lot about it, but I struggle with anxiety problems. It comes and it goes, and some months are better than others. But there are days where it’s difficult to get things done, and the idea of doing anything fills me with dread. There’s a little monster in my head, whispering all the things I should be worried about, and all the ways I could get hurt. Most of the time I can work through it, but lately it really has been a struggle.  Part of it is being in a new area where I don’t know anyone. Part of it is being unemployed. Part of it is just my brain, going into its default mode of “something must be terribly wrong.”

Today, instead of letting my bad feelings get the best of me, I went out. I got in the car, I drove to the park, and I went for a long walk by the river. The (finally) warm spring air, the smell of the water, the excitement of walking in a place I’ve never been before… it was a great walk. For a while, I forgot about my worries and simply relaxed.

I like to think my writing and my life is richer because of my anxiety. I know it’s something I’m going to be dealing with for the rest of my life, and I don’t like to think of it as a burden. I wouldn’t be who I am without it, and most of the time I really like who I am. The moments, days, and months when the anxiety clears and I’m able to relax are that much sweeter.

I don’t know if I would call today a good day, but it was a day I overcame the little monster. It was a step in the right direction, towards a day, or a month, without anxiety ruling my life. Today, I have so much to look forward to.


Rest in Peace

Today the world lost the great Terry Pratchett. Other people can do a better job of explaining why he was one of the best writers, but I want to talk a little about what he meant to me.

When I was in high school I was a bit of a weirdo. You read this blog, you know that I still am, but back then I wasn’t as comfortable with it. I still felt hurt about not fitting in. Like many high school nerds, I devoured books. I would go to the bookstore and blindly buy books that looked interesting. On one of those trips I found Terry Pratchett.

I wish I could remember which book I read first, or which one was the one that really hooked me. I know within a few weeks I had bought as many as I could and as soon as I finished reading what I had, I would reread them. They were funny, interesting, and they were just so perfect. I knew a few other people who read them, and soon I didn’t feel quite so much like the only weirdo in the school.

Since high school I’ve dragged at least part of my Pratchett collection with me everywhere I’ve gone. They are my comfort books, the books that help me understand this crazy, too often sad, world we live in. Terry Pratchett helped me laugh at the ridiculous. When I haven’t been able to sleep because the world or my life was just too much, Terry Pratchett was there. Without Vimes, Granny Weatherwax, Susan, Death, and the huge cast of unforgettable characters that he created I would not be the person I am today.

Like so many others, I’m sad to see Terry Pratchett go. I’m sad that he died so young, and that we’ll never get to read another of his stories. I feel so lucky that he left behind such a wonderful legacy of books. He will live on through his characters, and through the millions of people who will continue to discover his books.

Goodbye Terry. You will be missed.

Quick Review Round Up

I read a lot. I watch (probably too much) TV. Here are some recent thoughts I’ve had.

The Just City by Jo Walton: I love Jo Walton. Among Others is one of the best books I’ve ever read, and since then I’ve eagerly anticipated every one of her books. I’ve yet to be disappointed with a new release. This is a great book about philosophy, friendship, gods, time travel, and robots.

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes: I started reading this one when it came out months ago and couldn’t get into it. Well, I don’t know what was wrong with me again because this was another one I loved. Great characters, great settings. There were times when the violence was a little too much for me, but what can you expect with a book about a serial killer?

Frequently Asked Questions about Time Travel: This was a fun little movie staring Chris O’Dowd and Anna Faris. It felt a little like a mix between The World’s End and Hot Tub Time Machine. It wasn’t a great movie, but it was an entertaining movie to watch while doing laundry and other chores around the apartment.

Leap Day: Sadly not the 30 Rock parody movie. There were so many actors I like in this movie, but it was still a disappointment. I’m so tired of the man reluctant to get married story line in romantic comedies. And the realizing at the last minute that you’re with the wrong person story lines. It’s cliched, lazy writing. The setting was beautiful, but that’s really the only part of the movie I really liked.

Bee and Puppycat: I recently caught up with this wonderful, weird, hilarious little cartoon. I love Bee, I love Puppycat. I love this show. Go check it out! http://frederator.com/bee-and-puppycat/

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: This is Tina Fey’s latest show on Netflix. I had low expectations going in, but it was delightful. It’s charming, funny, and has the catchiest theme song ever.






How do you read?

I love books. I love short stories. I’ve been known to read the back of the toothpaste. I love reading in every way, shape, and form. I love paperbacks, hardbacks, e-books, audiobooks…

But I do have a preference. This might sound unbelievable, but I prefer e-books.

I know, I know, we millennials are supposed to think e-books are harder to focus on. Sometimes I agree with that. But these days, I find myself reaching for my ipad before picking up a physical book. I still love how books smell, I love how paper feels, I love the covers, and the way they look lined up on my shelf. I still love books, I will always love books, but right now e-books are just so much…easier.

It’s easy to carry my ipad or my nook around with me. I can have hundreds of books loaded on them, and I download new ones in minutes. I can adjust the color of the page, the font, and (this is an especially important one) the size.

WHY ARE BOOKS PRINTED WITH SUCH SMALL TEXT? Okay, I know it probably has to do with the cost of printing and publishers not wanting to sell books the size of houses. I’m sure there are lots and lots of good reasons why most books are small text. But…

Reading large print e-books has changed my life. I find that I get less distracted, and it is so much easier on my eyes. I love large print! I would read large print all of the time, except there are so many books never printed in large print. Even when they are, they’re heavy. It’s hard to read a heavy book lying down in bed, which is where I do most of my reading.

Right now I’m lucky enough to have plenty of time to devote to reading, but too often it’s hard to read. There are so many things that need to get done. There have been plenty of times when finding the time to read has been difficult. E-books make it a little bit easier, which let’s me read a little bit more, and that is always a good thing.

How do you read?