Of Fire and Hammers*

As I mentioned in the first post of my Gilmore Girls series, I was raised Seventh Day Adventist. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this Christian sect, you can get the basics on what they believe here.

I attended Adventist schools from first grade through 12th grade. Most SDA parents were given the hard sell on making the financial investment in sending their kids to Adventist schools. They could get a great education with the added bonus of a Christian environment and instruction in the Adventist faith. They would be surrounded by supportive teachers who were highly skilled and committed to shaping young minds.

What they didn’t tell my parents was that some of those teachers were misogynistic, narcissistic assholes. I still bear the scars of what my fifth grade teacher, a bitter woman who did not like that my school had moved to co-ed instruction for 5th and 6th graders, said and did during the hell year I spent in her classroom. She told us graphic stories about health and nutrition that I later discovered were wild speculation. She yelled at the girls for asking what she considered to be stupid questions about math assignments. It took therapy sessions and private tutors to help me get over my math anxiety – and, truth is, I still have it. Even after getting high grades in college statistics courses. I also don’t like participating in team sports or many physical activities because our P.E. teacher was a bully. He ended up becoming a cop, which fit his personality, got divorced and, rumor has it, was later kicked off the police force.

They also didn’t tell my parents about the birthday paddle that the principal would use on a “lucky” student at the monthly birthday parties. I never got the paddle, fortunately, but I still picture him wielding that thing and how terrified I was.

In high school – or academy, as the SDAs call it – things weren’t necessarily any better. I was fortunate that my school had some stellar teachers in the English and history departments, and my chemistry teacher was excellent, too. What my French teacher lacked in disciplinary skills and classroom management, she made up for in sweetness and compassion. But our religion teachers ranged from anti-choice zealots to Bible-thumping sexist buffoons. I remember how one teacher told us, laughing, “The Bible says when we go to heaven, we will be like the angels, and since angels are sexless, you better get some now while you can.” Those words, among others shared by him and other teachers, still resonate. Whenever week of prayer came around, which involved long presentations in the school’s chapel, I would dread it, as many of the speakers were extremely conservative, preaching of hellfire and devil music, calling us “sheep” if we went along with the crowd. One popular Adventist singer came and told us how he had been approached by Quincy Jones to sing on “We Are the World,” but when he was given the lyrics, which he found blasphemous, he said no. I still have a hard time appreciating the bigger message of that song. The call always came at the end of the week: will you go up and give your life to Jesus? I would watch my classmates walk to the front, noticing how often it was one of the more popular kids who didn’t strike me as being all that god-fearing, and I’d wonder if I should walk up, too. I never did.

Church wasn’t much different. My parents chose a home church that was more liberal than most, with some well educated, thoughtful ministers who preached insightful sermons about Adventist doctrine without heavily relying on Ellen G. White, the prophet responsible for most Adventist teachings and beliefs. Sabbath school, which was the SDA equivalent of Sunday school for the kids, was usually disjointed and full of dogma, run by adults in the church who ranged in age from 30s to 80s. Every year at Easter, one Sabbath school leader would tell her group in graphic detail about the crucifixion, crying as she demonstrated where the nails went into Jesus’s hands and feet. When I reached high school, I often stood in the hallway outside the youth room during services, talking with the other kids who hung back. None of us wanted to be there, but it was uncool to talk about why. Occasionally someone who had their license would sneak off to get snacks at 7-11 down the street.

There were many Saturday mornings I faked sleep so that Pops wouldn’t try to make me go to Sabbath school. Sometimes I convinced him to drive us to another church for the main service. He told me that once I finished academy, he wouldn’t make me go to church anymore. So when that time came, I stopped.

What’s funny, though, is that for as much as I fought the religious dogma, I tried to belong. One Christmas I asked for a small Bible and hymnal set, and I still have it, all zipped into its matching black leather case, the Bible full of paper slips marking verses used in Sabbath school. I was dutiful in my Bible classes at school, and there was a time when my two closest non-SDA friends were fighting and I went and got my Bible.  I wanted to find answers within the church, because I’d been taught from infancy that we were the true religion, that we followed the teachings of the Bible. I believed all SDAs were infallible, and that if someone did commit a sin, they would be washed clean in the blood of Christ.

But as I grew older, the truth could no longer be hidden. I heard stories of molestation, rape, infidelity, betrayal and manipulation, all at the hands of Adventist church members. I watched my father cry when a family member was hospitalized and held him as he sobbed. I learned the truth of my mother’s barely concealed resentment of certain family members for their acts of selfishness and cruelty. It became clear to me that being a member of the church didn’t make you a better person, nor did it make you immune to suffering or hardship.

So I wrote poems and journal entries about faith and providence, about prayer and suffering. I started asking questions. I investigated other faiths. I attended Catholic masses and Episcopalian services. Once I moved to California, I began reading more New Age and metaphysical books by Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Eckhart Tolle, Louise Hay, Caroline Myss. I read about astrology, Tarot, numerology, crystals. I found peace and comfort in reading Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi and visiting the gardens at his Self-Realization Fellowship shrine in L.A. Through developing a spiritual practice that was very different from the religious one I was raised in, I finally got myself to a place where I could give and receive love and compassion to all regardless of their faith. I saw the difference that being spiritual made in my life and, occasionally, I would tell people about it.

But I found that the sense of not belonging never leaves you if it’s in the very core of your being. If you never deal with those feelings of low self-worth, they will rise up in forms you don’t expect, in words that wound deeply. Accusations of being spiritually dangerous or “of the devil” will come out of the mouths of people you love and care about. It happened to my father when he decided to pursue law school instead of the seminary, so I shouldn’t have been surprised. But I was still hurt. It didn’t matter how kind or compassionate I was. I would still be judged and found lacking.

I make my living as a writer. I understand the power of words. I have learned, both professionally and personally, the importance of choosing my words well and that there are times when it is best to remain silent. I can think of many times when I should have been silent instead of spewing words that were a hammer, pounding my beliefs and opinions into others. But I can also think of times when my words, carefully chosen, could have been the fire that needed to burn in someone’s heart and help them find peace.

I write all of this now because it is time I spoke my full truth. It is time I admit to being deeply wounded whenever someone tells me my spiritual practice is not in alignment with God’s plan, or that something I have said or done is the devil’s work. As much as I want to speak words of angry fire or pounding hammers whenever I hear these things, I am going to choose love: a pure burning love that strikes softly but leaves a lasting mark. Because choosing hate hurts me just as much, if not more, than having it given to me.

*”Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?” Jeremiah 23:29 (NIV)

Moxie’s Gilmore Girls Review, Part 3: The Good – Plus Netflix Revival Wishes and Predictions

ICYMI: Read Part 1 here, and Part 2 here.

And now, the things I really liked about Gilmore Girls – including how a scene in the final episode allowed me to forgive many of the show’s missteps over its seven-season run – and what I hope we’ll see in the Netflix reboot, which will be four seasonally themed episodes of 90 minutes each.

Secondary Characters

These are the characters I loved watching. They took the clever dialogue and ran with it, making the character their own.

Sookie St. James (Melissa McCarthy). Photo courtesy Fanpop.com

Sookie St. James (Melissa McCarthy) – She steals every scene she is in, from her banter with Lorelei to her kitchen mishaps. The courtship of Sookie and Jackson is fun to watch, as they are both so inept and clueless at dating, which I can relate to more than I’d like to admit.

 

Kirk Gleason (Sean Gunn). Photo courtesy BuddyTV.com

Kirk Gleason (Sean Gunn) – Kirk’s deadpan delivery and full on commitment to everything he gets involved with, whether it’s Taylor’s latest scheme to improve life in Stars Hollow or an entrepreneurial venture, won me over. In some ways he’s a small town Cosmo Kramer on sedatives.

Taylor Doose (Michael Winters). Photo courtesy theodysseyonline.com

Taylor Doose (Michael Winters) – While Taylor was often annoying, his commitment to Stars Hollow and his ongoing battles with Luke and other townspeople about the most ridiculous things was truly amusing.

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Gil (Sebastian Bach) with Lane Kim (Keiko Agena).

 

Gil (Sebastian Bach) – Who would have thought that the lead singer of Skid Row would make such an awesome character on GG? As soon as he showed up to audition for Hep Alien and brought the band sandwiches, I knew he was a keeper.

Richard Gilmore (Edward Herrmann) – Richard was a stuffed shirt with a soft underbelly, as could be seen in his interactions with granddaughter Rory. He was erudite without apology and witty beyond measure. I can’t imagine anyone else having played this role so well.

Emily Gilmore (Kelly Bishop) – Emily’s ongoing battles with her maids and her commitment to keeping up appearances often had me laughing. I also appreciate characters who love a good martini. The chemistry and banter between her and Richard (Edward Herrmann) was fantastic.

Edward Herrmann, Kelly Bishop, Gilmore Girls, Richard Gilmore, Emily Gilmore, Amy Sherman-Palladino, television, comedy, drama

Richard and Emily Gilmore in a classic scene. Photo courtesy Buzzfeed.com

A special shout out to GG for explaining the significance of owning a Birkin bag. Regular readers of GWM know how upset I got over Mindy Kaling’s use of Birkins on her show, so when I got to the episode in which Logan gives Rory a Birkin, and Emily’s reaction to hearing that Rory got a Birkin, I was very pleased.

As an aficionado of pop culture, I enjoyed all the clever pop culture references. There were many I missed or didn’t understand, but they added a lot of brevity to the show. According to a December 2015 article on Vulture.com, there were 284 references to movies, 339 references to books Rory has read or is reading, and 396 songs heard on the show. Amy Sherman-Palladino has said that she wanted the show to be something everyone could enjoy, and I think the references added a little something extra to students of pop culture, without alienating those who aren’t.

What got me to forgive all the show’s missteps with plots and characters? The final episode, which demonstrated what GG was really about: the relationships between the townspeople. The Gilmore Girls may have been the focus and the pitch, but the true star of the show was the town of Stars Hollow. This collection of quirky characters was a true community, loving and fighting and coming together to support each other when it was really important. It was a scene in the final episode, “Bon Voyage,” when Babette, Miss Patty, and several other characters were gathered under the tent, looking at Rory with love and pride, that got me all choked up and saying, in true Gilmore referential fashion, “That’ll do, pig, that’ll do.”

Still from the “Bon Voyage” episode, the series finale. Photo courtesy lovelace-media.imgix.net

The Netflix Reboot: My Wish List

The four-part reboot of Gilmore Girls is currently in production. According to TV.com, each 90-minute segment focuses on a different season of the year, and the first segment will be “Winter.” While the roll call for casting is pretty well known at this point, the plot lines are sketchy at best. Here’s a few plot lines/scenes on my wish list:

Kirk is married with kids and one of his kids is just like him. This has the potential to be very funny and charming, with the right child actor in the role. 

Lane & Zach are managing a Christian rock band with their twins as members. Maybe one of Kirk’s kids keeps trying to convince them to let him/her into the band. 

A Mr. Kim appearance, even if it’s a visit to his grave (in the same cemetery as Richard Gilmore, perhaps). GG viewers never saw Mr. Kim, and nothing was ever said to indicate if he was alive, dead, or if he had left the family. We want to know! 

Luke has completed the boat. After all that fussing over the damn boat for so long, let’s see it out on the water, Luke at the helm, with Lorelai pretending she’s Rose from Titanic on the boat’s bow and falling overboard.

Jess and Rory reconnect as lovers. He’s matured enough by now to be a good partner to Rory, even if just for a short time, and after all this time away, she may need someone who knows her back story as well as her passion for good music and books to show her some affection.

The Final 4 Words: My Fearless Prediction

There’s been a lot of talk about the four final words Amy Sherman-Palladino had in mind for the end of the series. Lauren Graham revealed in a recent interview that it’s actually an exchange between characters. In light of this revelation, here’s my prediction on what the script looks like for those final four words:

INT. LUKE’S DINER – NIGHT

LUKE is behind the counter, wiping down equipment. The diner is deserted except for LORELAI sitting at the counter.

LUKE

More coffee?

He holds the carafe above LORELAI’s mug, waiting for her answer. She looks up at him, waits a beat. Their eyes are locked on each other.

LORELAI

Yes, please.

She lifts the mug with her left hand. An engagement ring is on her finger. Luke pours the coffee into her mug and smiles coyly at her. Lorelai smiles coyly in return. The camera pulls back to show the couple talking and laughing through the window of the diner.

FADE OUT


Moxie’s Gilmore Girls Review, Part 2: The Ugly – and a Bonus Look at Rory’s Boyfriends

If you missed Part 1 of this series, click here.

Now let’s move on to the ugly stuff of Gilmore Girls: the plot points, characters and situations that added nothing of value to the show, were a complete departure from how the writers had originally depicted the character(s), or general commentary on stuff that wasn’t working for me. Plus, a bonus look at Rory’s boyfriends!

The Ugly

April Nardini, Luke’s long-lost daughter. April makes her first appearance in S6:Ep 9, when she approaches him for a DNA sample for a science project. (We’ll ignore the question of why any junior high science teacher, fictional or real, would allow a kid to go all Maury Povich for a science fair project.) If there ever was a cousin Oliver character that should have been eliminated, it was April. Her presence relegated Luke to becoming a caricature of himself. If the showrunners didn’t want him and Lorelai together, they could have found a better way.

Jackson Belleville and the Case of the Invisible Vasectomy

There are so many problems with this subplot that kicked off in S5, Ep 21. First off, where is this magical universe in which a tired wife and mother is allowed to schedule a vasectomy for her husband without his knowledge and consent? Cause I know a lot of women who would like to live there. Secondly, dedicated viewers of GG know about Jackson’s “four in four” wish/demand (meaning four kids in 4 years), and the non-conversation he and Sookie had about children. Why didn’t the writers address this as a point of contention early on? I’ve read that Sookie’s surprise third pregnancy was more about accommodating Melissa McCarthy’s real-life pregnancy, but surely the producers and writers would have known about this early enough to create more of a real-world plot in which the couple realizes how different they are when it comes to family size, child rearing, etc., they briefly separate, come back together (with at least one scene involving Lorelai and Sookie talking intimately about her marriage, of course), and decide to have baby #3.

Luke’s sister Liz, her husband T.J., and new baby were pointless and annoying. Were they supposed to be comic relief? An annoyance to distract from the craptastic plot lines going on? I think I just answered my own question. You win, showrunners.

Send ’em back to the Renaissance Fair circuit, please.

Lane’s wedding and subsequent pregnancy with twins. Huh? This seems like the most unfair of all the subplots, because it flies in the face of Lane’s rebellious streak. C’mon, Helen Pai, I’m sure you knew plenty of Adventist girls who secretly went on the pill and had premarital sex. I know I did. If she’d had premarital sex with Zach, I bet she would not have married that idiot.

Lane Kim, Lane and Zach get married on Gilmore Girls, Gilmore Girls, Amy Sherman-Palladino, The WB, Keiko Agena

Lane and Zach’s wedding. Photo courtesy foreveryoungadult.com

 

Plot issues starting in S5 through S7. Before I began watching GG, I read a lot about how awful S7 was, and how many fans feel they are owed a do-over because S7 was so awful. Now that I’ve binged on the series and done some research, here’s my hypothesis: the plot lines, especially related to secondary characters, were the problem beginning with S5. Amy Sherman-Palladino is pretty outspoken when it comes to the issues she had with network brass about her future with GG during S6. I suspect her relationship with the network started going bad during S5. I can’t prove that she and her husband, co-producer Daniel Palladino, ruled with an iron fist when it came to secondary character arcs, but considering how cohesive the show was up until the whole Jackson vasectomy incident suggests to me that they were distracted by dealing with the suits to be paying much attention to the little details. When I looked at S7 writers on IMDB, there was at least one long-time GG writer, Rebecca Rand Kirschner, who continued writing episodes, and Sherman-Palladino said it herself:

We left it in the hands of our writers. We had smart and strong writers who had trained with us, so we felt like if we can’t be there, it’s at least in the hands of people that we know are going to honor the spirit of the world that we set up. – Amy Sherman-Palladino, ET Online

With all of this in mind, I suggest that the shark was jumped starting with S5, Ep 21, thanks to the Sookie/Jackson vasectomy subplot. Some may suggest that any shark-jumping started with S4, Ep 22, when Rory lost her virginity to an unhappily married Dean, and while that was pretty awful, Rory often put herself in the role of “bad girlfriend” with him, so it only fits that she would do it again by being the other woman.

Lastly, I’m just gonna say it: Alexis Bledel is not a good actor. She is beautiful to look at, but she cannot act.

The Many Loves of Rory Gilmore

Gilmore Girls, The WB, Amy Sherman-Palladino, Jared Padalecki, Milo Ventimiglia, Matt Czuchry, Dean Forester, Jess Mariano, Logan Huntzberger, Rory Gilmore, Rory's boyfriends, boyfriends

Dean (Jared Padalecki), Jess (Milo Ventimiglia), Logan (Matt Czuchry). Photo courtesy MelissaTagg.com

I can’t write a blog post about Gilmore Girls without weighing in on Rory’s boyfriends. That would be sacrilege.

Dean Forester (Jared Padalecki)

Dean was a sweet guy, and the ideal first boyfriend for Rory in many ways, but a hot mess in the end. For Dean to be Rory’s first sexual experience while he was still married was perhaps inevitable, as Rory always seemed to see herself as being unworthy of him and his devotion when they were dating. As the sad sack of a young husband working too hard, Dean’s finally at a level where Rory doesn’t feel “less than” (she is a Yale undergrad, after all).

Jess Mariano (Milo Ventimiglia)

Jess was a hot mess all around, but a good match for Rory in that he pushed her to try harder, do better. Smart girls like bad boys, and if they are reasonably well read and know about obscure pop culture stuff? OH YEAH. Do not ask me how I know this.

If Rory had lost her virginity to Jess, GG would have been a completely different show – but would it have been better for it? Maybe. I think it would have actually grounded Rory in the reality of relationships in a way that being with Dean and Logan never did, and that her mother could never get across. But because having Jess as her first lover would have added a level of gravitas that GG was not about to embrace – it’s a dramedy that wants to stay lighthearted and fun, after all – it could never happen.

Logan Huntzberger (Matt Czuchry)

Ahh, Logan: he’s charming, cute, yet a hot mess. He’s Rory’s match in that he understands the “poor little rich kid” scene in a way that Dean and Jess never could. Logan reflects the worst of Lorelai and Christopher in his own reluctance to grow up, and while he makes some strides by not exactly following in father Mitch Huntzberger’s footsteps, he’s still tied up in family money, because that’s all he knows.

Next week, Part 3: the Good, including the scene that made me appreciate GG despite all its flaws, and what I hope to see in the Netflix revival.


Moxie’s Gilmore Girls Review, Part 1: The Bad

Gilmore Girls, The WB, television, Amy Sherman-Palladino, Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel

Photo courtesy vulture.com

Back in the early ’00s, I saw a few episodes of Gilmore Girls, the dramedy that launched the careers of Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel with their depiction of an overcaffeinated, fast-food-eating, wisecracking mother-daughter team. For whatever reason, however, I didn’t fully commit to the show. In late 2015, I finally decided to see what all the fuss was about and I binged on seven seasons of Gilmore Girls. I use the term “binge” a little loosely here, because I’d watch up to six episodes in a stretch, then I needed the pop culture equivalent of a Valium, such as a slow foreign film with atmospheric music and long segments of silent melancholy. Sweet cheese on a cracker, those Gilmore women are exhausting.

As I got closer to the end of the series, I decided to write a review/critique post of GG: the good, the bad, the ugly, and what I hope will be part of the revival coming to Netflix. If you’re a huge fan of GG and believe nothing bad should ever be said about the show or its characters, I suggest you move along, because some of what I’m going to say may piss you off. Go ahead, it’s okay. Same holds true if you’re weird about spoilers for shows that have been off the air for years. I’m going to start with the things I didn’t like or that didn’t work for me, aka the bad.

Gilmore Girls, The WB, television, Amy Sherman-Palladino, Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel

Lorelai and Rory Gilmore. Photo courtesy elitedaily.com

Gilmore Girls‘ premise, for those who are unaware, is this: a mother and daughter who are friends. According to my research, that’s how show creator Amy Sherman-Palladino pitched the show to network executives. If we dig a little deeper, the show is about mother-daughter best friends who are only 16 years apart in age and live in Stars Hollow, a quirky little fictional town in Connecticut that’s about 30 minutes from Hartford, where the wealthy Gilmore grandparents reside.

Let’s get two things straight from the start.

  1. Gilmore Girls is a show about rich white people problems. The back story: Lorelai Gilmore is a rich white teenage girl who gets knocked up by Christopher, her high school boyfriend who’s also rich and white, and she runs away of sorts (30 freakin’ minutes away from home) to have her baby and raise the child away from her rich white parents. The issues Lorelai Gilmore faces as a single mom of a teenage girl – in the snippets viewers see on the show – are never life-or-death situations. The first episode is about Lorelai deciding to re-establish a relationship with her parents because she wants their money help in sending her daughter, Rory, to Chilton, a private prep school. Even the references to raising baby Rory in the potting shed at the Independence Inn smack of Marie Antoinette escaping from court life in the Petit Trianon: with just a word, Lorelai can return to the family home, or even live in better quarters at the inn, thanks to her compassionate boss, Mia. But she’s a stubborn, spoiled, rich white girl, and this fact colors every decision Lorelai makes throughout the course of the series. (One example: in S7, Ep 19, her Jeep dies and she doesn’t like any of the newer cars she test drives or looks at, so ex-fiancée/diner owner Luke finds the same model and says he will fix her car using parts from the other Jeep.) Same holds true for the problems Rory Gilmore, Lorelai’s daughter, faces. She may not have grown up with a silver spoon in her mouth like her mother, but she certainly didn’t suffer from hunger, not having a safe place to sleep at night, or lack of clothing and other creature comforts.
  2. Stars Hollow is the West Coast person’s fantasy of life in New England. Sherman-Palladino is from Van Nuys, California, essentially the heart of the San Fernando Valley. She makes no secret of the fact that she based Stars Hollow on a small Connecticut town she vacationed at with her husband. But as we all know, being a tourist in a small town is very different than living there. I grew up on the east coast and spent many a summer in New England, from Massachusetts to Connecticut to Maine. I went to summer camp in a small town in Massachusetts two years in a row. Many of my friends from camp, not to mention my friends from college, were from small New England towns, and they were all relatively normal in their quirks and weirdness. So I feel pretty confident in saying that not every little town in New England is full of the nosy, weird folks that populate Stars Hollow. There are actually normal people living in normal towns with normal civic issues. (That said, I’m a huge John Irving fan and he writes many books set in New England, with plenty of quirky characters. But he’s FROM New England, so he’s allowed to do this, just as I’m allowed to be contradictory.)

I point out these two things, because for me, it helped a little in suspending my disbelief about some of the situations that Lorelai and Rory get themselves into (especially point #1). In my opinion, Lorelai has never really grown up, even though the viewer is supposed to believe she had to grow up too soon, since she was a teen mom. Running away from home – and again, I want to point out she didn’t run that far – put her in state of arrested development. Let us count the ways:

  • she is rarely, if ever, shown cooking a meal at home for herself or Rory, completing a household chore, or dealing with any sort of adult task without lots of whining and pouting
  • she is committed to eating junk food, including pizza, candy, ice cream, Chinese food, and burgers, and often complains about having to eat anything resembling a vegetable

    Gilmore Girls, The WB, television, Amy Sherman-Palladino, Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel

    This graphic pretty much sums it up. Courtesy Buzzfeed.com

  • she runs back to her high school boyfriend/Rory’s father, Christopher, when she a) breaks up with someone else or b) is avoiding some larger truth about herself

Do I hate Lorelai? No. She’s just a hot mess, which is okay. Flawed characters make for popular TV shows, especially in sitcoms or dramedys. But Lorelai is high maintenance, and for that reason, I needed to take extended breaks during my Netflix binges.

The Bad

These are my nit-picky continuity issues, including a look at how Seventh Day Adventists (SDAs) are depicted in the show. As someone who was raised SDA and attended SDA schools and churches until I was 18 (and I still have many friends and family members who are practicing Adventists), I think I can speak to this topic with some authority. But first, a few random items:

  • I counted at least two instances where Rory says “could care less” – she would not have done that, she’s too smart & well read. I also noted one instance where Doyle says “could care less” – again, he’s way too smart to do that.
  • Hep Alien tour – As the band is in the van heading out on their tour of churches, one of them refers to “the 95” – NOPE! East Coasters don’t preface highway/interstate numbers with “the.”

And now, on to the SDA related mistakes and continuity issues. Based on my research, Helen Pai, producer and BFF to Amy Sherman-Palladino, was raised Adventist. More meticulous GG watchers are welcome to correct me on this point, but I don’t remember a specific instance in which Lane or Mrs. Kim said definitively that they were Adventist. That said, there’s plenty of allusions to SDAs that could have been tweaked for more accuracy and still would have been funny.

SDA References that Worked for Me

  1. Lane’s cache of music, clothing and makeup. I knew a few kids who had to hide any secular music from their super-conservative parents, and at least a few girls who put on makeup once they got to school and wiped it off before they went home. At many SDA schools, colored nail polish was not allowed. Gilmore Girls, The WB, television, Amy Sherman-Palladino, Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel, Keiko Agena, Lane Kim, Hep Alien
  2. Lane’s secretive nature about boys. One of my closest friends at SDA school never told her parents when she had a boyfriend because they would have flipped out. I remember how her dad raged when she had co-ed parties in the basement rec room. I think this was partly a cultural thing (she was East Indian) more so than Adventist, but it could have been both.Gilmore Girls, The WB, television, Amy Sherman-Palladino, Lane Kim, Keiko Agena, Hep Alien
  3. Vegetarianism. The references to the meals Mrs. Kim served and her scorn of anything with meat are pretty on point. While I do know a number of SDAs who eat meat, many Adventists strictly follow the vegetarianism that’s a SDA identifier. There was one Thanksgiving at my grandparents’ house where my young vegetarian cousins yelled DEAD MEAT DEAD MEAT when Grandma brought out the turkey. Good times. The salad water, though, is an Asian thing.

    Gilmore Girls, The WB, television, Amy Sherman-Palladino, Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel, Lane Kim, Mrs. Kim, Keiko Agena, Hep Alien, vegetarian food, Tofurkey

    Tofurkey is actually kinda tasty, but then my palate was refined by many years of eating meat analog, as Pops calls meat substitutes.

  4. Nonfunctional jewelry. For a very long time, any item of jewelry that wasn’t a timepiece or a medical alert was considered nonfunctional and therefore verboten. Many married couples didn’t wear wedding bands for this reason, and you knew a woman was engaged if she was wearing a really nice watch. It wasn’t until 1986 that the North American Division of the church modified their stance to say that wedding bands were okay. With that in mind, Lane’s line in S4, Ep 3 about getting busted wearing a bracelet at her SDA college had me cracking up:

I wore a bracelet to school today. My parents were called, there was a special service in chapel, and I’ve been ordered to a soul-searching seminar next week. I’ll be sitting between the nail-polish-wearing girl and the spicy-condiment user.

SDA References that Didn’t Work for Me
  1. Lane’s availability on Friday nights, Saturdays before sunset, and a throwaway reference to church services. For those who don’t know, a key component of Seventh-Day Adventism is observing the Sabbath, which for them is Saturday. SDAs observe the Sabbath in the same way as the Jews do, which is that Sabbath starts at sundown on Friday and ends at sundown on Saturday. A truly devout SDA parent wouldn’t let their kid run amok with their non-SDA friends on a Saturday before sunset, and yet looking at timelines of a few early episodes, that seems to be the case with Lane. I also remember a conversation between Rory and Lane about Lane being available to hang out after church on Sunday. Uh, if she’s really Adventist, Sunday is fun day. (I don’t have specific episodes to cite here, so you GG devotees can school me on this point.)
  2. SDA pastors don’t wear clerical collars. In one episode, the Stars Hollow church in town cycles through a Jewish service and an Adventist one. They showed the SDA minister wearing a black and white clerical collar. Adventist ministers in the U.S. wear suits & ties, or a blazer or jacket with dress pants. Never a clerical collar.
  3. Rock music in SDA church community rooms. I remember a time in the ’70s and ’80s when the progressive, more liberal-minded SDA church I attended was resistant to featuring any music that involved electric guitars or, heaven forbid, drums, during the main service. By the late ’80s, we had a couple Christian rock bands in the youth room, which got all of us secret (and not-so-secret) rock music fans excited. The more conservative churches in our area were slow to get on that bandwagon (no pun intended). Considering Mrs. Kim’s conservatism, I’m assuming she would have sent Hep Alien to perform at more conservative churches (she set up the Hep Alien tour in S5, Ep 22), so I question whether this could have happened. (If any readers went to a conservative SDA church in the early 2000s and had a Christian rock band perform in the community room, let me know.)
  4. Alcohol. Devout, conservative Adventists don’t drink alcohol. Period. That said, the most egregious error comes in S6, Ep 11. Lane is living at home again after a bad breakup with Zach and is pretty much impossible to deal with because she’s so upset over the breakup. Near the end of the episode, Mrs. Kim has Lane sit down at the kitchen table while she closes the blinds and gets out a hidden bottle of alcohol, pouring herself and Lane each a shot. While this is a nice moment of bonding between Mrs. Kim and Lane, a super conservative Adventist, like Mrs. Kim is depicted to be, would not have alcohol anywhere in their home.
Next week: Moxie’s Review of Gilmore Girls, Part 2: The Ugly


Moxie’s Resolutions for Everyone Else: 2016 Edition

Regular readers of GWM will be familiar with this tradition: I share 10 resolutions for people, organizations, etc. other than myself. This year, I’ve incorporated some video clips to better illustrate my resolutions.

1. Stop abbreviating words just to be clever (Millennials). I’m blaming them, but it may not be completely their fault that the media is now saturated with obvi, totes, ack…you get the idea. Do you have a problem with letters? No? Then spell the whole damn word!

2. Make adult bibs socially acceptable (American society).

3. Drop the “vanilla diamond” marketing strategy (LeVian). The chocolate diamonds are bad enough, but now this company has begun calling traditional white diamonds “vanilla.” The first time I saw one of their ads with this crap, I started yelling at the screen because it’s complete bullshit. My bestie Deena, who’s worked in the jewelry business for over 20 years, agrees. Not only does the emperor have new clothes, he also has a fabulous new vanilla diamond ring!

These are DIAMONDS. Period.

4. Stop expecting to be validated on social media for all of my opinions (social media users). I’m guilty of this, too, but I gotta say I’m tired of doing this and I’m tired of seeing others do it as well. When we put our opinions out there for all the world to see (or, at the very least, our friends and friends of friends), there is bound to be someone who disagrees. Worst case scenario, no one even notices. In either instance, social media isn’t a megaphone or bullhorn that’s guaranteed to get you interaction, especially of a positive, validating nature. If you understand this, then share on. If not, then maybe it’s time to rethink your communication strategies.

5. Make pencil eraser caps that fit without tearing (office supply manufacturers). 

6. Contract a musician to create new hold music (IRS). Every time I’ve had to call the IRS over the last few years, they have had the same hold music. I’m not making that up; this guy has noticed it, too. Surely the IRS can afford to pay someone to create new music, or perhaps Pandora or Spotify would be cheaper. Either way, this music needs to go.

7. Use headphones with my electronic devices when in public places (everyone). You know this person: they are blasting their music or a video  from their smartphone, tablet or computer so loud that it flashes you back to the ghetto blasters and boom boxes of the 80s. That is a flashback I don’t need, nor does anyone else. Headphones are cheap. Get a pair, get two. Hell, get three. THEN USE THEM.

8. Bring back the clean shaven look (bearded dudes).

I wish I could turn this photo upside down and their beards would disappear, like those old pens with the girls in bikinis. Right side up, he’s got a beard! Upside down, he’s shaved!

So many hipsters…so many beards. I’m tired of it because as Great Grandma A would say, “why did you have to go and disfigure your face?” I can’t see YOU. All I see is scraggly hair covering half your mug. Unless you’ve got a terrible skin condition or you wear a beard for religious reasons, it’s time to shave and show the world your face.

9. Continue developing shows that showcase diversity in casting and subject matter (Hollywood). It’s great to see so much diversity on TV shows, whether it’s from a major network or a streaming service. A few examples include Master of None, Transparent, Orange is the New Black, Fresh off the Boat, Black-ish, and Telenovela. When made by producers, directors and writers who are part of the cultures represented, these shows take the stereotypes and demonstrate if and when they are applicable, but also illustrate the commonalities with the average white American. In the coming year, I hope to see shows featuring people with disabilities, Middle Easterners, Eastern Europeans and folks from former Soviet bloc countries.

10. Choose love (everyone). A couple months ago, I had a dream in which I was in a room full of people. I stood up in front of them and said, “I figured it out! It’s so simple. Choose love.” When I woke up, I was in the best mood all day, because it’s true: we always have a choice in what we are going to say or do. There have been so many instances this past year in which individuals, from political candidates to photographers, police departments to passengers on a train, have made that choice in a public forum. Sometimes that choice shows fear and engenders divisiveness, anger and hate. But sometimes that choice sheds light on the brightest, best parts of humanity. When we choose love, we shine a light that only keeps growing warmer and brighter, eliminating the darkest places all over the world.

choose love, love, compassion, how to deal with hate, how to get over fear, how to get over anger

 

What are your resolutions for everyone else in 2016?

Gratitude, Updates and a Request

Thank you to everyone who responded to my last post on dealing with depression. It’s been nearly a month and while I don’t feel as awful as I did, I still have some bad days, interspersed with fair to middlin’ days. I continue to journal about all the feelings and honor my flow when it comes to socializing and interacting with the world.

After I wrote that last post, I noticed something that I think deserves mention. When those of us who struggle with depression are honest about how we are feeling, sometimes those who are “normal” (and by that I mean people who have never been formally diagnosed with depression) present the depressed person with what I’m going to call escape routes. Those may take the form of a trip somewhere, a meal out, a weekend adventure.

Sometimes no mention is made of the depressed person’s struggles. Sometimes it is. And while I’m sure their motives are coming from a genuinely compassionate place, and they may not know what else to do or say, I want to let them know what is the most helpful thing they can do: hold the space.

Holding the space for someone who is going through a difficult time in their life – whether it’s because they are grieving a loss, chronically depressed, physically ill, caring for someone who is ill, or a host of other reasons – can be the kindest, most compassionate thing you can do. It doesn’t require elaborate displays, big promises, witty words or clever memes. It doesn’t ask either party to do anything outside of their personal comfort zone. It just asks you to be present.

Holding the space looks like any or all of these things, at least to me:

  • a Like, heart or smile emoticon on a Facebook post or in a tweet
  • a virtual hug
  • a hug in person
  • a note in the mail that says “I am thinking of you”
  • a private message (email or social media) that says “I am thinking of you”

I know that asking people to do what may look like nothing of substance may fly in the face of what society deems helpful. I think most folks (myself included) want to contribute tangible items or experiences, because it’s measurable.

But here’s the thing: it’s the little moments of grace and goodness, the one-sentence messages of love and support that grow bigger and brighter in the heart of the person who receives AND in the heart of the person who gave. It’s the heart emojis that show we are willing to spread love in a world full of fear, anger and hate. It’s the intangible work of holding the space that, in time, presents tangible results – ones that foster hope, faith and love in the world and shine a light into the darkest of places, no matter where those dark places may be.

Getting Through the Buzzing

Have you ever been disturbed by a humming or buzzing sound? The drone of a motor, the vibration of metal on metal, the whir of an appliance left on inadvertently? Did you try to pinpoint the source of the sound, only to be unable to permanently disable it? Maybe you were able to lessen its severity, but you couldn’t make it stop, no matter how hard you tried. Or maybe you noticed the sound was unpredictable, kicking on under certain circumstances, but quiet during other times. You learned to live with it as best you could.

That’s what chronic depression is like. It is a constant hum in the background of daily living. It is the soundtrack by which I live, by which 3 to 5 percent of people live.

Sometimes I try to squelch the buzzing through self-medicating with food, sleep, music, movies, TV show binges, or alcohol. These things work for a while, then the effects wear off. Social media medication, which I define as repeatedly going on Facebook or Twitter, has side effects I dislike: irritability and frustration tinged with bouts of laughter, tears (both happy and sad) and smiles. But I still use all these methods of self-medicating. It may not be healthy, but it distracts me from the buzzing.

Lately, however, the buzzing is the worst it’s been in years.

This morning I realized the last time the buzzing got the better of me was 16 years ago. My then-husband and I were struggling to pay the bills, as well as communicate with each other. I was raising our dog while trying to freelance as a writer, which failed spectacularly. I remember walking on the treadmill in our basement while watching TV, tears streaming down my face, hoping exercise would quiet the buzz. It didn’t.

Most days I could not get out of bed until late afternoon. I did not want to live, but felt like such a failure I figured if I attempted suicide, I would screw that up, too. My psychiatrist sent me to a mental health facility, a place where the buzzing was even louder because I was surrounded by the buzzing of other patients, many of whom were dealing with much more severe issues than I was. I couldn’t sleep the night I was admitted. The next day, I sat in the common room with my journal and wrote about getting the hell out of there. I would find a different way to deal with the buzz. Less than 12 hours later, I was home, with orders to enroll in an outpatient program at a nearby hospital. That outpatient program helped shut off the buzz for a while, as did new medication and a new psychiatrist.

Fast forward to today. We filed for bankruptcy at the beginning of 2000, and I moved to the west coast that spring. My husband and I separated after he decided not to follow me out here. We later divorced. I threw myself into spiritual and metaphysical studies, let my medications run out. I haven’t been under a psychiatrist’s care since then, nor have I seen a therapist. The buzzing was relatively manageable.

Yet the buzzing never goes away. Spiritual practices, such as meditation and prayer, mitigates its severity. Talking honestly to trusted friends and journaling is useful. Writing blog posts such as this one alleviates some of the buzzing’s effects.

But over the last couple months, all I can hear is the buzzing. It pushes out all the loving, compassionate thoughts my soul needs. It makes me angry at the world, at my friends and family, at myself. It keeps me in bed, unwilling to move except to do the bare minimum of self-care and cat maintenance. It constantly reminds me of all my financial debt, all the incomplete tasks, all the negative things people have said or done to me over the years, all the broken pieces in my life.

When the buzzing was last at its peak, a therapist taught me to write down three tasks each day that I could reasonably complete. As I was washing dishes this afternoon, crying, I remembered this technique and how useful it had been in quieting the buzz. I wrote down my tasks and breathed my way through completing them.

  1. I responded to an email about a work project.
  2. I got dressed.
  3. I wrote this post. (This was actually written as “write in journal”, but while completing #2, I thought it would make a good post. I’ll still write in my journal, however.)

I know I need to see a professional for more long-term strategy in addressing the buzzing. At the moment, it’s at a low-level hum. For that, I am grateful.

Weird Things Seen on the Street, #45

You know you’re in hipster territory when you find an unopened Yogi Tea teabag on the ground. I bet the hipster who dropped this was so pissed to get to the coffee shop and discover that the tea wasn’t in their handwoven hemp handbag.

Yeah, I’m a little judge-y today. Why do you ask?

Yogi Tea, teabag, bagged tea, weird things on street, tea, bedtime tea

What weird things have you seen on the street lately? Send me a photo and I’ll share it on the blog!

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