Heeeey Ya (I’m Just Bein’ Honest)

 

charlotte

Hey, all. It’s been a little while, but this is a post I’ve been thinking about for a couple of months. See, last year, Sarah posted a 25 Before 25 bucket list for her 25th birthday, and Jeannette has been writing about 25 life lessons leading up to her 25th birthday. Mine was this past August, and I thought about doing something similar, but I wasn’t sure what. Around the beginning of that month, a certain meme started showing up quite frequently on Imgur, one of the sites I browse when I’m bored. According to Know Your Meme, the Confession Bear allows people to post fairly anonymous confessions (linked to their user account for Reddit or Imgur, of course) “about taboo behaviors and controversial opinions that are often kept secret for fear of being ostracized.”

After seeing all of these, I figured I would go a completely different direction: 25 confessions, or 25 not-so-well-known facts about me, because I’m not ashamed of any of these, really. But, this was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I started making a list at the beginning of August, and as my birthday approached, I only had about 8 confessions. My birthday passed, and I still hadn’t written anything. I started getting busy with other stuff (new job!) and work (still my old job, too!) and I’m just now getting around to posting this. As it has been some time since my last post, I wanted to put a good effort into it, so I wrote it list + image style, like my other time-wasting site, Buzzfeed. So here they are… in the words of Usher, these are my confessions…

1. I can never spell “occasion” correctly. (I misspelled it typing up this post.)

2. I can’t ride a bike or whistle. (But you probably already knew that.)
Sadly, this also means that I cannot whistle while I twerk.

3. Charlotte and I have this Secret Single Behavior in common.char

4. I’m afraid that my hair will be completely white or grey by the time I’m 30.
I *am* Grad School Barbie. (via joannarenteria.com)

5. I don’t get the hype of Dr. Who, nor do I care enough to find out. (#sorrynotsorry)

6. I want to ride a zipline, and drive my car really fast on a closed race course, but don’t worry, that’s as far as my James Bond-esque aspirations go.

7. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people spell my name wrong… and it’s like, right there.

8. I have a hard time getting rid of “good boxes.” (It’s possibly a genetic thing. As far as I know, my Pop originated the “good box” concept.)

9. Contrary to popular opinion, I think that Godfather Part II is actually the worst of the Godfather movies. It goes 1, 3, and then 2.
Except for this part. The rest of the movie is too 70’s, but I love this scene.

10. I have this weird thing about being curious about how people decorate the inside of their homes while I’m driving by. (Definitely not in a creepy, “just for future reference” way. We’re guilty of it, too: big front window, sheer blinds, and always with the lights on. Its not my fault I can see that you watch FOX News while I’m in my car, going the speed limit.)

11.Ok, maybe not a whole pizza, but its good to have ambition and hold yourself to high standards.

12. I have a hard time taking an “adult” (and I use that term loosely) seriously when they’re wearing something with trademarked or licensed cartoon character (Disney or Looney Tunes, mostly) on it out in public.

13. Liz Lemon is my spirit animal.
Ask my mom about it sometime… if you dare.

14. I will NOT keep calm, and I’m so over those signs/posters. Same with mustaches. Don’t mustache all the things.

15. I have zero intentions of trying to “feel like a princess” on my wedding day. I’ve never asked to be coddled like a perfect princess, I’m a big girl, and I want to have a big girl, grown up day where my husband is equally as important as me, gosh darn it. (None of that, “this is your big day!” It’s his big day, too.)
However, I’m equal parts terrified and intrigued by My Big, Fat, Gypsy Wedding.

16. Growing up, there were never any babies or little kids around, so I have no idea how to interact with elementary aged kids. Now that I have friends with babies, I’m starting to understand it, but I still don’t get baby talk.

17. I have an overwhelming urge to smell all the candles in stores. Never go in Yankee Candle with me unless you’re prepared to be there for at least a half hour and to indulge me by smelling candles I like.
rage

18. You might be a bit surprised by the amount of time I spent in detention during the 5th grade. I was also sent home on the last day of 8th grade for wearing colored hair mascara (it was dark red on my dark brown hair) for our talent show. I guess you could say I’ve always had a kind of “fight the power” attitude.

19. I used to think that the negligees and fancy slips in JCPenney’s catalogs were really pretty dresses and wanted to wear one for my someday-wedding.

20. If I didn’t find a job in higher ed within two years of graduating with my master’s degree, I was planning on giving up looking for one. I was getting worried that things would get awkward with me for my friends who have been working in higher education.

21. I’m afraid no one will dance at my wedding.
Even if it’s like this, that’s ok. Please dance.

22. I won’t use a public restroom unless I absolutely have to.

23. If my feet are cold, I will more than likely bury them under you while sitting on the couch.

24. I can’t stand Seinfeld. I don’t get it’s popularity. I just don’t think its funny.

25. I get annoyed when my phone tries to autocorrect words that my sister and I have made up. Know our language already!
textAlright. There they are. Tell me something about yourself!

Beauty in Ordinary Things

Wow. So, out of context, that sounds super cliche. Platitudes at the end of books or Nicholas Sparks movies that are meant to sum up the lesson meant to be learned by the reader/viewer bug the heck out of me. But this is different. This is a quote from Pam during the series finale of The Office, which has been one of my all-time favorite TV shows. A couple of weeks ago, the sitcom aired its last episode, and now I’ll have to find another show with which to become emotionally involved. Its a little hard to get attached to Jeopardy since Alex Trebek doesn’t have that great mustache anymore. (Ok… he hasn’t had it since 2001. Whatever.)

Sure, there are other great comedies out there, like Parks and Recreation and Modern Family, but The Office has always held a special place in my heart. The only other show I really actually hated to see go was Boston Legal, staring William Shatner and David Spader, and I ended up missing the series finale because of a certain not-awesome roommate’s boyfriend. I watched The Office on and off when it first started, and it took a couple of seasons to finally find it’s groove. When I didn’t have evening classes or organization meetings, I would watch it back at my dorm room. During the summer between my undergraduate and graduate classes, I decided to watch the entire series, and I haven’t missed an episode since then.

A lot of people have said since Michael Scott left, the show hasn’t been the same, but how could it be? He was annoying, overbearing, and just a touch icky (just like Dean Pelton from Community), but Michael always meant well. No two characters could run the Dundler Mifflin Scranton branch the same way, but when the management story line was lacking, it gave secondary characters, like Nellie and Darrell, a chance to shine. After Michael left, I loved how they developed some of the other friendships within the office, like Phyllis and Stanley, and Oscar and Angela (and their “love” triangle with Robert, the senator). Of course, there were several episodes that made me wonder how this could possibly be an efficient business, considering they spent so much on-the-clock time doing non-businessy things, like a paper airplane contest, or almost any of the meetings in the conference room. Towards the end of the final season, I had mixed emotions about the documentary film crew becoming part of the show. I especially didn’t care for the the way the writers decided to throw a kink into my most perfect television romance. I know I wasn’t the only person that was upset with the Jim-Pam-Brian the film crew boom operator story line.

Pam and Jim’s relationship is the one by which I measure all other TV and movie relationships for two reasons: 1) it’s a fairly realistic evolution of a romance between two people; and 2) all of those sweet, thoughtful things Jim and Pam have said about and to each other never sounded scripted. You know? It never sounded like something a young adult romance author would have concocted, setting up 14 year old girls with false expectations of what love is. (See Edward Cullen.) No. Jim and Pam, through all of the awkwardness, the friend-zoning, and the unrequited love, and then finally marrying your best friend and building a family, are about as real as two TV characters can get. It doesn’t hurt that Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) is gorgeous. But it wasn’t just this relationship that was believable. All of the characters are relatable. Who hasn’t worked with a Stanley, or a Kevin, or, to varying degrees, a Dwight?

Since it ran for nine seasons, I can be comforted by the fact that it will be always be in syndication somewhere, and Hulu Plus has the entire series. The Office is like comfort food for me, but not in a Chicken Soup for the Soul kind of way. (Do they still make those?) I always know where I can find it, and it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy and good about people and love when I need a little pick-me-up. Well, great — putting it that way, it sounds just like a Chicken Soup book. Not what I intended. Buzzfeed made a list of 59 Reasons We’re Going to Miss The Office, and it basically sums up exactly how I feel about the show. There’s not much else I can say about my favorite former TV staple, so I guess I just want to say…

 

Source: The Office Tally. A lot of other fans wanted to say thanks, too.

“It’s like a long book you never want to end. And you’re fine with that, because you just never ever want to leave it.” – Pam Halpert (Take that, Stephanie Meyer!)

Why Imperfection and Silliness Are Valuable or What I Learned from Reading Fifty Shades of Grey

I’ve noticed a trend in my reading life. There are all these books that I discount when I first hear about them, thinking that I have no interest in reading them and that I never will. Often, this rule of thumb remains true. But, every once in a while, I break this rule and decide suddenly to give into the reading trend and read the popular book(s) that I initially thought I wouldn’t like.

This happened with The Hunger Games, and anyone who has read my previous posts knows I am now a big fan of that series. So, when I saw that my local library had a new, shiny, brilliant e-media catalog, I wanted to try it out.

So, this week I read the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. All 1,800 pages of it. In four days.

Why, you ask?

Because I could.

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Now, let me just say before you start yelling and laughing that this post is not about how amazing the Fifty Shades of Grey books are. It’s not. Because, the books are not “amazing.”

As a discerning reader, the books have a lot of issues. If I had to read about main character Anastasia Steele’s personified subconscious and inner goddess one more time I might have screamed. I also often found myself wanting to slap some god-forsaken sense into Christian Grey’s skull. But, I have to admit — the books were entertaining, and whole hell of a lot of other things too (If you’ve read them, you’ll know what I mean).

But they weren’t literary gold.

And that’s okay. They don’t have to be

But that’s just the point that I want to make.

We live in a world that is often obsessed with merits. We are a population of critics. Movies and TV shows bomb because they aren’t “critically acclaimed.” Books and their authors are lambasted for bad writing, predictable plots, and unrealistic depictions. We constantly criticize ourselves and judge others for not fitting into a pre-determined mold.

The Fifty Shades of Grey books and their author, E L James are no stranger to this idea. Fifty Shades has been a phenomenon. Started as a Twilight-centric fan fiction homage and then reworked and self published in print, the trilogy gained immense attention. That attention and popularity grew so great that the trilogy was picked up by Vintage Books and published professionally. According to Amazon UK, the trilogy’s first book has outsold the combined sales of the Harry Potter series on their website.

So what’s my point?

The Fifty Shades of Grey series, regardless of how you feel about it, is an important of example of how perfection and value are not the same thing.

Level of success does not always correspond with level of talent.

Value is everywhere. You just have to drown out the critics to find it.

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Do What You Want

Life is short. Do what you want to do. Don’t worry about what others think or whether you think they’ll judge you. Embrace this idea in your everyday life, but also embrace it in your passions, in your dreams, and in your goals.

Want to travel the world? Make it happen. Want to be the next E L James and write steamy, NC-17 novels? Go right ahead. Want to be a book critic that points out all of the trilogy’s flaws? Do that instead.

I am a strong proponent of the idea that everything is a learning experience. Every single thing you do teaches you something, even if the lesson is to never do it again. When it comes to books, for example, no one has ever become stupider by ingesting information. The more you know, the more nuanced your perspective.

What you do has value. Whether it is silly, intellectual, crazy, world-changing, fun, or intensely creative. Value exists in all things.

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Never Underestimate Your Ability, Never Discount That Others May Admire It

Everyone is talented. We may not see immediately recognize our own talents, but they are there. Think about it. Do you waste time drawing instead of taking notes? Do you love to cook, but could care less about proper business accounting procedures? Your talent resides in what you inherently love. It lies in how you waste your time.

Tap into that. It could be a goldmine (and I don’t just mean monetarily).

E L James’ Fifty Shades of Grey series may have many flaws, but it is still entertaining. Those flaws and issues do not render its value moot. Even some of the most critically panned things are still feats of creativity in their own way. While James may have not suceeded in creating the perfect novel, she did create something that kept people (including myself) turning pages. And this did not only involve the books’ extremely naughty natures.

Don’t think that you are talentless. Don’t worry that because what you do is not the “absolute best” that it is worthless. Perfection isn’t a guarantee of anything. Think I’m kidding? Ask the Admissions offices of Harvard and Yale how many applicants with perfect SAT or ACT scores are NOT accepted every year.

Don’t think that something you create, something you enjoy has no value. Others may see immense value where you perceive none.

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So What If It’s A Silly Idea, Who Cares?

When I downloaded Fifty Shades of Grey earlier in the week, I said to myself, “This is so stupid. I really can’t believe I’m reading this.” But then, another part of me said, “So what? Read the damn book. If you don’t like it, quit. If you do like it, finish it.” So I did. And I did enjoy the book. I enjoyed all three of them. And yes, they are kind of silly, and a little weird, and definitely have A LOT more sex and profanity than I have ever encountered in reading material. But, so what?

Reading Fifty Shades of Grey may have been silly, but it got me thinking. It made me think about the how flaws do not negate value. It made me think enough to write this post.

The bottom line is that you never know what will make you think. The silliest, craziest, most random things can change your perspective or give new life to your thoughts. Never underestimate the value of doing something for fun.

Look at the Dames Who Dish blog. It wouldn’t be here if us four girls hadn’t decided to do something that we originally perceived as silly, and a little bit crazy, and a whole lot of fun.

So…

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Marilyn Monroe: That’s (Not) What She Said

Thanks, Abe.

Who doesn’t love a good quote? Sometimes it takes the words of others, famous or not, to sum up our thoughts and feelings when our words escape us. Or, maybe you read something that immediately clicks with you and it becomes sort of a “mission statement” for your life. (After six years in higher education, the thought of a personal mission statement makes me gag a little bit. We love the heck out of our mission statements, apparently.) But, the Internet is a tricky place, and without citations, words are often attributed to certain celebrities or notable figures. The misquote can come from an honest mistake, and after seeing a quote attributed to someone a multitude of times, I can understand that. However, when it comes to things that Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, or Jackie Kennedy allegedly said, I become more than a little skeptical, and maybe just a touch cynical.

Thus Sprach Marilyn.

Thus Sprach Marilyn. (You’re welcome, Internet.)

In my research for this post, I came across several Tumblrs and hundreds of pictures on Google Image Search with images of these women, Monroe in particular, with fiesty-sounding quotes superimposed over them in handwriting-style fonts. (Go ahead, look for yourself.) Most of them are about how men ought to love women, flaws and all, or how society is ugly for making a woman feel anything less than pretty. I’m on board with those ideas, but I highly doubt to absolutely don’t believe that the late icon uttered those quotes. I’m not saying that Marilyn Monroe was not bright enough to come up with such, um… philosophical thoughts; I’m saying that others who have done much more research on her, things she’s actually said/written, and speech patterns of her time don’t think she came up with them. The most comprehensive website I’ve come across debunking these attributions is Immortal Marilyn, which, while it looks like a Xanga page from 2000, is quite informative. “Janie’s Take on Marilyn Monroe” discusses five of the more questionable quotes the Internet alleges came from Monroe. Here are a couple of my favorite excerpts:

“I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control, and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.” — This one seems to be everybody’s favorite Marilyn quote… except no one can find where she actually ever said it. Does it sound like her? Somewhat, although I can not find other examples of Marilyn referring to herself as selfish, insecure, out of control, or anything similar. While she did acknowledge issues such as her lateness, failure to show up on set, or rumored difficult to work with, rather than being defiant she offered both plaintive and valid reasons for her flaws, in the hopes of garnering understanding. Until an interview transcript of Marilyn saying these words can be located, it should be kept in the ‘questionable’ category.”

“Imperfection is beauty. Madness is genius, and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” — Another very popular quote, once it’s parsed it does not sound like Marilyn at all. “Imperfection is beauty”? Marilyn was well known as being an absolute perfectionist, asking for take after take on the movie set until she felt she got her scene just right. She refused to give moviegoers anything less than what she felt was her absolute best. She would apply her makeup only to wash it all off and do it over again, taking hours to prepare so that she presented herself to the public as nothing short of absolutely perfect. After a photo shoot she would pore over contact sheets, destroying any images that she didn’t approve of. In a 1960 interview, she did say: “My one desire is to do my best, the best that I can from the moment the camera starts until it stops. That moment I want to be perfect, as perfect as I can make it.” Hardly seems that someone so hard wired to perfectionism would say “Imperfection is beauty.” As to the second part, “Madness is genius,” this seems even more unlikely. Marilyn’s mother suffered from severe mental illness that traumatized the actress when she was a child. As an adult, Marilyn’s biggest fear was inherited madness like her mother’s. Considering her first hand account with what madness truly was, and her deep rooted fear of it, how likely is it that she would declare it ‘genius?’ Not very.

I tend to agree with those observations. To be frank, they sound more like snarky quips from a teenage girl, using Monroe as an excuse for her behavior. The whole idea of falsely attaching a name to a quote can be summed up in Poe’s Law, which basically states that ” a parody of something extreme can be mistaken for the real thing, and if a real thing sounds extreme enough, it can be mistaken for a parody.” A great example that most people would probably be familiar with is Stephen Colbert’s character on The Colbert Report, which some Political Science students at Ohio State decided would be an interesting subject to analyze. (Unfortunately, the full article is only available for purchase or if you’re logged on through a subscribing university or college’s journal access system, but the abstract will give you the general idea.) We can also learn from the case of the Notre Dame football player and the death of his online girlfriend, who may or may not have actually been a real person: never believe anything online. If those quotes resonate with you, that’s great, but its important to question the source; otherwise, it might as well have come from a snarky teenage girl.

If this keeps up, this is what I imagine we’ll have fifty years from now:

I can't. I just can't...

I can’t. I just can’t…
(Again, you’re welcome, Internet.)

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: If Jane Austen Had Had the Internet…

I have a small Jane Austen obsession. I trace it back to high school…where I may have been part-organizer of several Jane Austen movie marathons amongst friends. During which we repeatedly rewinded an re-watched the scene where Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy jumped into Pemberley’s lake.
Haha 🙂

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But, I am unapologetic about my love for all things Jane Austen. I mean, really, can’t I be a feminist and love Mr. Darcy too?

I can’t be too crazy though because Jane Austen is all the rage (and has been for quite some time) in popular culture, even 200 years after Pride and Prejudice’s publication. There are countless adaptations of her works for the big and small screen, novels that imagine alternate interpretations of Austen’s characters and plots, Jane Austen jewelry, cookbooks, handbooks, clothing, crochet patterns, and the list goes on and on.

I mean, all you have to do is search Pinterest for “Jane Austen” or “Mr. Darcy.” For example, look at this little gem I found:

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And now there is something amazing and awesome called “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.”

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Last Spring, while my brain was focused on finishing my Master’s thesis, Hank Green and Bernie Su had the ridiculously brilliant idea of bringing Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice into the 21st century. I don’t know how I missed out on the beginning of this really cool series of web-videos, but I did. Luckily, though, I came across it a few months ago by accident and was quickly all caught up on the 81 episodes that have been produced so far.

So, what is The Lizzie Bennet Diaries?

It is one of an increasingly prolific number of web-based series that are dominating the internet, and being made available on YouTube and other web video streaming sites.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries takes Jane Austen’s character Elizabeth Bennet out of 19th century England and transforms her into a 24 year old communications graduate student who video blogs about her life. Just like in Jane Austen’s novel, Lizzie interacts (on and off camera) with Pride and Prejudice’s other characters and the storyline of the videos follow (with some mostly minor differences) the plot of the novel.

What makes the series even better though is the interactive nature that The Lizzie Bennet Diaries has taken on as the series has progressed. Now, most characters have Twitter accounts that they regularly update and whose posts flesh out more of the story. There’s also a Facebook page and a Tumblr account. Fan interaction is also appreciated.

There are some differences (as can be expected) in characters and the set up of locations and premises. But, these changes only serve to enhance the series.

Here’s a guide to some of the changes:

Characters (What’s the Same and What’s Different):

On camera:

  • Elizabeth Bennet — Elizabeth is Lizzie Bennet. As stated above, she’s a 24 year old grad student studying communications and living at home with her parents. In this adaptation, she only has 2 sisters: Jane and Lydia.
  • Fitzwilliam Darcy — For all intents and purposes, Mr. Darcy is still Mr. Darcy. Except now, he’s just William Darcy. He’s wealthy, he’s powerful, he’s proud, he’s shy, and he’s still in love with Elizabeth.
  • Charles Bingley — Mr. Bingley is now Bing Lee. Still an adorable lovey dovey guy, Bing is still easily led by Caroline and Darcy. Just like in the novel, he loves Jane but leaves her.
  • Jane Bennet — Still Jane Bennet. Still the oldest Bennet sister, very sweet and kind, very close to Lizzie. Still in love with Bingley (Bing Lee). Loves fashion.
  • Lydia Bennet — Lydia is Lydia, what can I say? Immature and boy crazy.
  • Charlotte Lucas — Lizzie’s best friend is now Charlotte Lu who not only is Lizzie’s partner in crime, but also her partner in filming her video blog posts. She is closer in age to Lizzie than in the novel where she’s 7 years older.
  • Caroline Bingley — Miss Bingley is now Caroline Lee. Somewhat nicer than in the novel, Caroline is great comic relief. But she’s still up to no good when it comes to her brother and Jane and Lizzie and Darcy.
  • Mr. Collins — Mr. Collins is now Ricky Collins, a childhood acquaintance of Lizzie and Charlotte, who ironically refers to himself as “Mr. Collins.” Though not a minister like in the novel, he still is under the spell of Ms. de Bourgh who runs the venture capital firm he works for.
  • George Wickham — Wickham is still Wickham. I think that pretty much sums it up.
  • Colonel Fitzwilliam — No longer Darcy’s cousin, Col. Fitzwilliam is now Fitz Williams, Darcy’s nice and fun friend who gets to know Lizzie.
  • Georgiana Darcy — Mr. Darcy’s little sister Georgiana is now Gigi Darcy. Gigi is very similar to the character in the novel, very kind and very accomplished. She is a fan of Lizzie’s videos.

Off camera:

**There are several characters that are mentioned throughout the series, but not seen onscreen. Some are later seen, most notably William Darcy, but others are not. Lizzie and Charlotte (or Lizzie and others) frequently act out impressions of these characters with the help of props.

  • Mrs. Bennet — Still Mrs. Bennet, still looking for husbands for her single daughters. Lizzie portrays her in the videos, with a Southern accent and large blue hat.
  • Mr. Bennet — Still Mr. Bennet, he is the long suffering husband of Mrs. Bennet and father of the Bennet girls. Charlotte usually portrays him in the videos.
  • Lady Catherine de Bourgh — Lady Catherine is now Ms. de Bourgh, the venture capitalist that Mr. Collins worships and works for. Lizzie impersonates her in some videos.

281967626640374414_PdkUvpoB_cSo, go forth and get your Jane Austen on — watch The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. I promise you won’t regret it!

Here’s the first episode to get you started:

Important Links:

Watch The Lizzie Bennet Diaries on YouTube.

Visit The Lizzie Bennet Diaries Website.

Visit The Lizzie Bennet Diaries on Tumblr.

Discover more of the story on Twitter by following the characters’ Twitter feeds.