A Book & A Show

Oh this is January, and what have you done?

I think I just spliced several different concepts, songs, quotes but we’re all good with that right? Right. Happy New Year everyone! Times they are a changing and it’s 2016 in the big town baby.

Wow, my brain is just one giant pop culture machine.

So, as you may have noticed I haven’t blogged in a while. There I said it. The old me would be obsessing over this fact, but obsessing is so yesterday people (thanks Hilary Duff). Also, as part of my job I have to blog for 4-7 other entities, post to a myriad of social media accounts as a ghost writer (spooky), and type until my little fingers chap (yum), but I know, I know…I should dutifully blog for the few folks who love books, television, traveling, more books, and general craziness.

Guess what, though? This blog is for you, yes, but it’s also for me. It’s a way for me to be bonkers and discuss the things that make me happy—the same things that I think might make you happy—and so I’m not going to apologize because enough women out there have apologized for lame reasons (I’m sorry for you bumping into me. I’m sorry for serving food that’s too hot. I’m sorry for being smarter than you.) so I’ll just refrain this time.

Whew, now that that’s over with, let’s get down to biz-naz.

Everyone loves talking about goals and resolutions and new beginnings in January. Not sure if you’ve noticed that…

Normally I love digging into a good cliche and tearing it to pieces through thinly veiled sarcasm and biting apathy but this time, you guessed it, I’ll refrain. I mean what’s wrong with trying to be better? What’s wrong with trying to push yourself to learn a new language, try a new workout, stop guzzling Diet Coke (too good, though, y’all.  Just…too good), or make an online dating profile (a personal nightmare of mine).  The new year is exciting and fresh so it’s kind of a no-brainer people would grab on to it with all of their might, even if that zest only lasts a month or so. 

There was my (second?) soapbox and now on to what you really want—recommendations. Let’s start the new year off on the right foot with some quality. We get enough trash already with the internet and television (even though, when one consumes trash willingly say, by binge watching Real Housewives…that’s, like, a whole other thing) so why not try out a few things with some substance?

The Book

After finishing this book I had that thick teary glob that gets stuck in the throat and kind of hurts but also kind of reminds you you’re alive. Anyone tracking with me?

When I get the glob, I know it’s a good book.

Kitchens of the Great Midwest is the real deal people. J. Ryan Stradal brings to life the food, the flair, and the people of America’s Midwest through weaving the lives of each character around the story’s protagonist—Eva Thorvald, a cooking savant.

Each character that is introduced is real and engrossing and their stories, although varied and unique, seem to somehow orbit cohesively around Eva and her cooking abilities. You don’t have to be a foodie to enjoy the book, though. The way Stradal shifts from lighthearted tales of young love to deeper situations like the death of a mother or divorce will keep you guessing and prevent you from feeling complacent.  Even though, if you’re a foodie, you’ll definitely enjoy the descriptions of every type of food from new age organic concoctions to homemade butter-laden “dessert bars” passed down from generation to generation. There are even recipes in the book!  Kitchens has a whole lot of heart and exhibits deep, beautiful knowledge of the unique Midwestern culture. It’s the perfect way to begin your reading journey for the new year.

The Show

I’m a self-proclaimed Netflix fangirl. Also, I adore Parks and Rec. So when Aziz Ansari came out with his show on Netflix called Master of None, I was sold. The show chronicles Dev (played by Ansari) and his dating experiences in New York.  It’s a whole lot more than “The Bachelor: New York Edition,” though.

Firstly, it’s not total garbage.

Secondly, it’s got range.  From what happens when everyone around you starts having kids, to dealing with racism and sexism, to trying to navigate how to live with someone, Master of None strikes the perfect balance of biting commentary and farce—the writers acknowledge that millennials are self-centered and insecure while creating endearing, hilarious characters you can’t help but love. Master‘s wit is biting and the stories are memorable which is basically what everyone is looking for in a television show.

So there you have it, a couple worthwhile things that can fill up your time without making you feel like a total sloth.

 

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Lady Love Part 3: The Many Talents of Lorelai Gilmore

So I have a bit of a confession. In my spare time, instead of solving issues of world hunger or tearing through my (GROWING!) reading list or trying new, exotic cuisine or showering, I’ve gone rogue. I’ve went through the looking glass, and there’s really no turning back.

Yep, I’m re-watching all of the seasons of Gilmore Girls. I went back to the very beginning (a very fine place to start) of Rory and Stars Hollow and Dean (the boy she SHOULD have broken up with much earlier) and Jess (the boy she SHOULDN’T have broken up with…at least until Junior year of college). It’s such a frothy, fast-paced world of perpetual fall days and festivities and old timey barber shop quartets and cars that stay unlocked because, heck, there aren’t any felonies in Stars Hollow.

And Lorelai. Beautiful, batty Lorelai.

Sometimes when life is getting me down, when I feel extra paranoid or kind of blue I remember that one time when Lorelai turned on her car lights because her porch light went out and the yard needed illumination and think, hey kiddo, you’re doing just fine. Here are some lessons I’ve learned from the coolest lady around:

get. it. girl.

get. it. girl.

1.) Staying true to yourself is the only real option.

Kooky, oddball, hilarious, weird. These are all words that consistently come to mind when describing Lorelai. Obviously she’s striking and lovely to look at, but that’s not who Lorelai is, yafeel? She doesn’t cook (at one point she becomes upset with Luke for making her stir), she doesn’t people please (one look at Emily Gilmore’s perpetual side-eye at her daughter and you know Lorelai honestly doesn’t care), and she raises her kid the way she sees fit. Pizza, Twizzlers and coffee for dinner? NBD. Lorelai is Lorelai and won’t be bothered with who she is supposed to be…or who she’s supposed to be with.  That’s actually a really powerful quality in an Instagram filtered society bent on being perceived as perfectly perfect. For the record, if Loreli had an Instagram I feel like it would be filled with photos of piles of dirty laundry and unflattering shots of Michel.

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2.) Pop culture is actually pretty powerful.

Pop culture gets a bad rap.  The thinking goes, if you have enough time to make E! news and People magazine your daily bread then there isn’t enough brain space for things like global warming, politics or existential questions. It’s a valid argument, but one that fails to give credit to the lack of sleep many pop culture fiends can live on. I like to think my existential thoughts in the morning and leave the Marry, Do, Kill Celebrity Style for my late night ruminations.

The thing about Lorelai is she is QUICK. Not only in her talking speed, but in her wit. She’ll drop a reference to Anna Karenina and in the same breath deconstruct the meaning of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. And it works. It works in a scary kind of way. Similarly, my knowledge of pop culture occasionally scares me. I frequently find myself asking How in the hell do I know this much about Gwen Stefani or The Kardashians or Ina Garten. Sometimes I feel like I should dedicate my brain to other things, but then Lorelai reminds me it’s okay to have copious amounts of frivolous knowledge. In fact…it might make you a more well-rounded person.  Go with me for a second, pop culture is the great connector. I can’t tell you how many awkward conversations the mention of Blue Ivy has gotten me out of. It relaxes people and allows them to open up, much, much more than global warming does, for the record.  So maybe Lorelai was on to something…or maybe she just really, really liked “Breakfast Club.”

3.) Never underestimate the power of a strong woman. 

Lorelai is one tough broad. She raised a child on her own when she was basically a child herself. Yeah she was privileged growing up and yeah she wound up in a pretty idyllic little town, but for a good chunk of her life, it was just her. She is incredibly self-reliant. I on the other hand tend to lean toward leach-hood when it comes to people I really care about. I think Lorelai appreciates her friends and family (kind of), but when it comes down to it she’s able to create a life in solo fashion. This is a powerful example, not only for women, but also for everyone.

Do you watch Gilmore Girls? Who is your GG character spirit animal? If you don’t watch it, why are you crazy?

Citing erraday:

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Lady Love: 2 Reasons Peggy Olson is the Cat’s Pajamas

Well hello there. We’re off to the races with another Lady Love post because we all need a little motivation during the summer months. Especially when some mornings, the alarm is your arch nemesis. Especially if you walked out of the house wearing two different shoes.

Adulting is tough, y’all.

So for those who have been snoozing beneath a rock or another heavy object, Peggy Olson is one of the main characters (the main character? Ah, now there’s an argument) on AMC’s uber popular show, Mad Men. The show’s about a glamorous advertising agency filled with exciting clients and unstoppable people brimming with business acumen…oh yeah and alcoholism, depression, addiction, infidelity, and egregious, never-ending sexism toward women each time they try and, you know, use their brains. Peggy Olson goes from a meek lil’ secretary to a BAMF copy editor with her own money, her own office, and her own set of lucrative clients…in the 1960s…when women were basically seen as shiny, skirted baby making housemaids without the capability of having ideas.

Wherever Peggy goes, the tunes of Destiny’s Child plays faintly in the background.

So because inspiration is good and showing some lady love is better, here are 2 reasons why copying my girl Pegs is a good idea.

She has Confidence

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Peggy knows what she’s worth. She understands her value and her talent and she doesn’t shy away or demur from her successes. This wasn’t really the case in the beginning of the show, but soon after taking a job as a secretary it becomes evident that Peggy has a good case of the believesinherself.

Even though we live in a time where women are kicking butt and taking names, I think it’s so easy to fall silent when someone asks “Who wrote this?” or “Who made this happen?” It’s so easy to strive for being liked.  Make no mistake, this happens with men, too, but it happens way more with ze lay-deez. As a lay-dee, I would know. Though being a total toolbag is not something for which I advocate, I think being likable will only get you so far.

Gasp.

This is such a difficult concept for a born again, recovering people pleaser, but the older I get the more I realize this.  Being liked is nice, it’s comfortable, and sometimes, it’s necessary. Heck, everyone wants to be liked! From childhood we are taught to make friends and play nice, but the kind of like-driven striving I’m vying against is the kind that comes at a price.  Because y’all, there’s a big difference between being liked and being respected. I think we owe it to the world to be kind and selfless; however, when we sell our souls and our futures at the altar of people pleasing (maybe a little dramatic?), the next thing you know you’ve forgotten who you are and what you’re worth in the process.  For example, you may be a super capable employee, but out of fear of standing out or showing off, you hide, you put your head down, you keep your mouth shut.

This is no bueno.

Peggy is a fabulous illustration of this because there are many times over the course of the show when her coworkers, friends, and family don’t really like her. Her family thinks she’s too wild, her coworkers think she’s too ambitious, her friends think she’s too busy, but when copy needs to be written you can bet they call Peggy. Peggy understands her worth; by season 7 she walks into her office with purpose and swagger. It’s her confidence that allows her to be seen, and then, respected…and then RICH. (muahahaha)

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She’s Willing to Change

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The Peggy from episode 1 of Mad Men is most definitely not the confident, talented Peggy at the end of the show.  Yes, the culture around Peggy shifts and moves, but Peggy changes, too. Her wide eyes grow harder, more astute, and through her experiences with Don Draper, Joan, Pete Campbell (what a twisted, perfect friendship) Sterling Cooper (then Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, then SCDP Cutler Gleason & Chaough, then SCDP and Partners…whew) she grows. Over the course of the show it’s evident that Peggy is a good person and that stays true, but she definitely transforms; there’s a very obvious arc to her character.

Peggy is open to change. She’s willing to see when she’s wrong, when she isn’t giving herself enough credit, when she trusts too much (or not enough) and she learns from it and adapts. Let’s not forget Peggy was the one who both (briefly!) doted on Don as his secretary and later became his rock, saving him with tough love and empathy on numerous occasions.  If she wasn’t willing to change, to see both Don and herself through a new lens, their relationship wouldn’t be what it was at the end of the show.

The show itself is obsessed with change. Changing identities, changing marriages, changing jobs, changing fashion (I die for the 70s fashion), and I think Peggy’s strength comes from that change. NPR agrees with me on this!

The show’s main fascination, of course, is change: whether it’s possible, what it does to people, and who pays the price for it. Holmes, NPR

In Mad Men, if you don’t change, you get left behind. We see this with Betty (poor, poor Betty) and Rodger, at times. Seeing Peggy successfully navigate life’s many shifts and shift with them is liberating. She chameleons her way to the top,and it’s awesome.  I mean the cigarette smoking, dirty painting wheeling, late for work Peggy that saunters into her new job is not the same little mouse that squeaked into Don’s office in episode one.

It’s kind of nice knowing I’m not expected to be exactly the same person for the rest of my life, because, you know, the shoe incident of 2015 was pretty embarrassing.

Photo Cred

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