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!)

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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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Small Screen Crushes and Swoon-Worthy Characters

A crush on Ron Swanson goes without saying. Lots of guys have a crush on him, too. I can’t even handle this picture. I just can’t.

Ladies. I don’t know how we’ve gone a whole year without making a single mention about crushes. I’ve mentioned my boyfriend, Brian, a few times in various posts, but now that several shows are returning for their fall season premieres, I’m getting my TV boyfriends back. Yes, Hulu Plus has been a big help, but you know as well as I do how lame it is when the only thing on for the evening is that quadruple rerun of The Big Bang Theory. (But I’ll probably watch it, because, hey… still better than Honey Boo Boo.)

My very first TV crush was Billy, the Blue Ranger, from Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. (Don’t judge me, I was probably about 5 years old.) Thinking about his character, it’s easy for me to see why I liked him best: 1) his power coin was the Triceratops, and when I was that age, I wanted to be an archaeologist; and 2) he was quite the nerd. My second TV crush was probably also one of your mom’s first crushes: Davy Jones from the Monkees. It was 1997, and Nick at Nite was hosting their “Block Party Summer,” 4 weeks of three-hour blocks of a different classic show every weeknight, and I was glued to the TV for Monkee Mondays. (Skip ahead to about 1:02.) Davy Jones was the British heartthrob of America’s answer to The Beatles, which just goes to show that girls have always preferred a guy with an accent. The very first concert I attended was a summer oldies music festival he was headlining. Much like this blogger, I was saddened to hear of the actor/singer’s passing earlier this year, since he’ll always hold a special place in my little teeny bopper heart. But, I’ve grown up a little, and although I’d like to think my tastes have matured since my first decade of life, I can’t help but notice a trend in the TV characters I like best.

Ben Wyatt from Parks and Recreation (Season 5 premiere on September 20 at 8:30pm on NBC)

Ben Wyatt, played by Adam Scott, from Parks and Recreation is a state auditor who comes in to help fix Pawnee’s budget. I only got into the show this past spring after getting over a slight aversion to Amy Poehler. (I was so wrong about her, why didn’t anyone correct me?) Ben peppers his conversations with references to Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and comic book characters. Throughout the third and fourth seasons, his relationship with Poehler’s Leslie Knope, the deputy director of the Department of Parks and Recreation, develops as she embarks on a campaign to become a city councilwoman. While I appreciate a good pop culture reference as much as the next girl, it’s Ben’s patience with the extremely driven, hyper Type-A Leslie and the support he gives her during her campaign that makes him crush-worthy for me. That, and the fact that he’s a Batman-loving Model UN alum.

Jim Halpert and Andy Bernard from The Office (Season 9 premiere on September 20 at 9pm on NBC)

Jim Halpert (played by the adorable John Krasinski) and Pam Beesly’s relationship is the standard to which I measure all other TV romances. Jim is the hero for everyone who has ever had an unrequited love, having had to simply stand by Pam’s side as her friend, even when she was engaged to another man. It takes a good deal of intelligence and creativity to pull off many of the pranks Jim has committed against Dwight, and that smirk… But anyway, I also love Krasinski in his role in Away We Go as Burt Farlander, who is kind of a beardy hipster version of Jim — madly in love with his girlfriend and wanting to do what’s best for their growing family. I can’t watch the wedding episode without getting really close to doing the ugly cry. Yeah, ok, I have cried a couple of times watching it, but it’s the best. JAM forever.

Andy Bernard, you dapper gentleman, you. What’s not to love about Ed Helm’s character? He was in an all-male a cappella called “Here Comes Treble,” and he was willing to meet all of Angela’s outrageous demands for their wedding. Now he’s with Erin, creating my second favorite Office couple. Plus, he rocks that New England seersucker-and-boat-shoe prep look, and you have to respect his confidence to wear coral pants. But, what I really like about Andy is that he’s just such a nice guy, almost a people-pleaser to a fault. You know that the Nard Dog will always have your back.

Brian Williams, anchor of NBC Nightly News (NBC)

Brian Williams is the second greatest export of New Jersey, with the first being The Boss, Bruce Springsteen, and the third probably being salt water taffy or something. In fact, I would love to see a Springsteen-Williams ticket for the 2016 presidential elections. You can’t deny it would be the most attractive executive duo ever. He’s a little different from the other gents on this list, since he isn’t a fictional character. With Brian Williams, there’s no need to despair over season finales — he’s my evergreen TV crush, since he’s on almost every weeknight, anchoring NBC Nightly News. There’s something about reporting international news out in the field that I find intriguing, and I think he has that certain… intellectual hotness? Is that a thing? It’s totally a thing, intelligence is attractive. In addition to that worldly demeanor, he has a great sense of humor. Have you ever seen him on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart? Or Saturday Night Live?

I think the overwhelming theme among all of my TV boyfriends is that they’re all lovable dorks… although Brian Williams seems pretty smooth. That, and they’re all from NBC. I’ll be sad when The Office is over, but Parks and Recreation is still there, and something else may come along next fall to fill the void. Here are a few runners-up:

Phil Dunphy from Modern Family
I probably only like Phil because he and his wife, Clare, remind me so much of Brian and myself. If you’ve seen Modern Family, you know that I’m basically Clare.

Leonard Hofstadter from The Big Bang Theory
Again, lovable nerd and he’s able to deal with Sheldon. That takes a lot of willpower.

Liz Lemon from 30 Rock
Girl crush! I’ve already spoken of my admiration for Tina Fey, and unfortunately this will be 30 Rock’s last season, too. True story: I had a dream where Tina Fey named me the next head writer of SNL. Best dream ever.

Frank Reagan from Blue Bloods
Well, obviously — he’s Magnum P.I. (And my mom has a mad crush on Tom Selleck, anyway.)

Who are your TV crushes?

“Who Do You Think You Are?” — No, Really.

Life just gets more and more hectic, doesn’t it? Between classes, thesis, worrying about PhD applications (I’m a finalist at one school – invited for an all expenses paid on-campus visit in 2 weeks!), trying to be a good Dame, and everything else I have to do, it seems there’s no time in the day. Certainly not enough time to take for yourself.

The idea of taking time for yourself, of understanding yourself, is partly where the idea for this post came from…

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Who do you think you are?

I’m not asking this sarcastically, I’m asking this in earnest. Who are you? And why are you who you are? How did you become this person?

Now, the answers to these questions are complicated. In fact, there’s more than one answer. There are many. But, seriously, think about it. Who are you? Is who you actually are different than who you think you are?

I think so. No, scratch that.

I know so.

It’s no secret on here that I’m studying to be a historian, and that I, well, love history. So it should come as no surprise to you when I tell you that your history — your family’s history — is a big part of you and why you are the way you are.

When I was in seventh grade, I had to research my family tree for Social Studies class. At age 13, I knew nothing about my family tree. Talking to my parents and my grandparents yielded some information — enough to present on my poster for class — but not enough to satisfy my interest in my family tree.

This project started a 10+ year odyssey of family tree research that will probably never end.

My interest and, at times, obsession with genealogy (the proper name for researching one’s family history) has largely been a personal venture and not one that I publicized to my friends. I mean, I admit to being a nerd in high school, but I sort of figured that admitting that I had a subscription to Ancestry.com wouldn’t help my popularity any.

I wasn’t always dedicated to genealogy either, in spite of how much it interests me. Researching your family tree isn’t easy. It takes time, patience, hard work, perseverance, luck, and a little faith. Because of this, genealogy isn’t a constant for me. I pick it up, I put it down. I’ll work feverishly for months and then not look at it again for months or a year.

So, imagine my surprise and my envy when genealogy took America by storm.

Two years ago (in the Spring of 2010), Lisa Kudrow, the actress who played Phoebe on Friends, decided to help launch a new show on NBC called Who Do You Think You Are? — a program, already several years old and very popular in the UK, that followed celebrities as professional genealogists helped them trace their family trees.

The first season followed 8 celebrities: Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick, Lisa Kudrow, Emmit Smith, Brooke Shields, Spike Lee, and Susan Sarandon. The second season followed: Vanessa L. Williams, Tim McGraw, Rosie O’Donnell, Kim Catrall, Lionel Richie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ashley Judd, and Steve Buscemi.

Each celebrity discovered something about their family, and in turn something about themselves, that they previously did not know. But, the message of the series is that it isn’t important who you’re related to. It’s about how we perceive ourselves in reference to where we and our families came from, and how that knowledge changes us.

It’s about the sense of guilt Sarah Jessica Parker felt before she knew whether her ancestor was an accuser or a victim during the Salem witchcraft trials, the sense of amazement of Brooke Shields when she learned she was a direct descendant of the French royal family, Matthew Broderick’s disbelief when he helps solve the mystery of an unmarked Civil War grave, or the sadness and anger of Kim Catrall when she learns the fate of her wayward grandfather.

The third season of Who Do You Think You Are? is currently being broadcast on Fridays at 8pm on NBC. If you’re not home at this time (don’t worry, I’m not usually either), you can catch the episodes on NBC.com or on Hulu. Here’s Lisa Kudrow’s (the show’s executive producer) preview of Season 3:

Of course, everyone’s family tree will not be filled with such “extraordinary” tales. There are many celebrities whose stories don’t make it on the show because they’re not interesting enough. My family tree certainly isn’t this fascinating. But that doesn’t matter, because your family tree doesn’t have to be full of royalty or heroes or famous people to be important and interesting.

You wouldn’t be here without that family tree.

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So, think about it.

Who do you think you are?

I can tell you who I thought I was.

I was Joni. White girl with curly brown hair and freckles from working-class Ohio with college educated parents and working class grandparents who were all born in this country. I was Slovak and Lebanese and Croatian and something called (as my Mum puts it) “Heinz 57”. When my Gram would talk about how one of her ancestor’s married a Native American woman, my cousins and I thought you could quantify that — like we’re 2% Native American somewhere in that Heinz 57 mixture. Now I know that it doesn’t work like that.

Because your ancestry isn’t so simple.

With a lot more digging, a lot more questioning, several hundred dollars worth of subscription fees to Ancestry.com, and a whole lot of luck, I know a whole lot more.

Because who I am is about  a lot more than simply ethnicity percentages. It’s also about more than those ancestors that are long dead. It’s about those still alive.

I am 25% Slovak. I am 25% Lebanese (perhaps originally Syrian). I am 25% Croatian. But I’m not Heinz 57.

I’m English, Welsh, and Irish. My Gram’s ancestors were original Americans. From Jamestown, Virginia circa 1620.

You learn through the genealogy experience that it’s not all about the ethnicity, not all about where you’re from. It’s about how your family got to where you are.

It’s about the journey.

And you learn the strengths and hopes and dreams and character traits and struggles of these people who you wouldn’t be here without.

I learned that it took a lot of bravery for my Grandfather to survive a German POW camp, that it took a lot of bravery for his mother to cross the Atlantic Ocean by herself at 14. I learned that my Gram’s family were some of America’s first settlers, starting in Virginia and New York, moving to Maryland, then to West Virginia and Pennsylvania. I learned there are historical markers at some of the places they lived.

Your ancestors are not simply names and dates on a page. They were live people living in a present that only happens to now be the past. They passed on ideas, traditions, traits, and wisdom that, whether you realize it or not, is somewhere in you and in your family.

So.

Who do you think you are?

Who are you, really?

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If you’re interested in researching your family tree, the internet is your best friend and Ancestry.com is the best website to get started. Although I said that I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on their services, you can use the website for free to access basic information. My suggestion is to use the free services and search some of your grandparents or great-grandparents. If you find a lot of information and want to know more, I suggest trying out a subscription for a month or two. (There’s a 2-week free trial too!)

Happy Hunting! (And don’t forget to watch Who Do You Think You Are? on Fridays at 8pm on NBC! You won’t regret it!)

Welcome to the Real World, Snow White; Or How Fairy Tales Have Taken Over My Sunday Nights

Do you believe in fairy tales?

I do.

But, let me clarify. I don’t believe in fairy tales literally. I mean, we can talk about how the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge live a fairy tale romance and lifestyle all we want, but in the end they’re normal human beings with highs and lows just like everyone else.

So, to say I believe in fairy tales doesn’t mean that I believe they actually exist. I do believe that everyone can have fairy tale moments in their life. But, mostly, I believe in the escapism of fairy tales, the mechanism they provide for children and adults alike to imagine and dream, and I believe in their entertainment value.

The last six months have been big for fairy tales, and it looks like the trend is going to continue.

In particular, it’s been a big year for fairy tales on network television where  two different series focus on them, one on NBC (Grimm) and one on ABC: Once Upon a Time.

While I’ve heard good things about Grimm, I’m not going to talk about it here, because I’m not a viewer.

I am, however, going to talk about Once Upon a Time and how it has filled a void in my Sunday nights that I didn’t know existed, since I (as discussed in a previous post) devote my Sundays nights to PBS’ Masterpiece.

Not only is this a big year for fairy tales, it’s also a big year for Snow White. Not only are there two feature films coming out soon focusing on Snow White (Snow White and the Huntsman and Mirror Mirror), but Once Upon a Time builds upon Snow White and Prince Charming’s story, allowing for a whole new take on the land of fairy tales, how its characters are all interconnected, and how they’re not all quite what they seem.

I had seen the previews for Once Upon a Time online and on TV early in the Fall and was waiting excitedly for it to premiere — I may claim that I don’t believe in fairy tales, but that doesn’t mean I’m not a sucker for them. 🙂

I knew from the beginning that Once Upon a Time was going to be interesting, not only from what I knew of its basic premise, but also because its two creators were once writers on the JJ Abrams’ series Lost. 

To explain that basic premise of Once Upon a Time , I need to take you back to the beginning of my post. I asked you whether you “believed in fairy tales,” but what I should have asked was “What if fairy tales and all their characters were real?”

This is what Once Upon a Time is all about.

As I said before, Once Upon a Time, at its core, is about Snow White. Most of us know the story. Snow White loves Prince Charming, she makes the Evil Queen mad, the Evil Queen poisons her with an apple, the Seven Dwarfs place her in a glass coffin, Prince Charming finds, kisses, and saves Snow White and they all live happily ever after.

Or do they?

Once Upon a Time begins with a wedding. Prince Charming has rescued Snow White and they’re getting their happy ending — until The Evil Queen shows up and vows to destroy the newly married couple’s happiness.

Ginnifer Goodwin as Snow White and Josh Dallas as Prince Charming

 
Lana Parrilla as the Evil Queen.

Our stay in “fairy tale land” (real name: The Enchanted Forest) doesn’t last long and before we know it, we’re being introduced to Emma Swan, a bad ass bailbonds-woman living in present day, modern Boston.

Jennifer Morrison as Emma Swan.

It’s her birthday – her 28th – and she’s alone in her apartment, just having blown out the candle on her cupcake when the doorbell rings. Her unexpected guest is 10 year old Henry, the son she gave up for adoption, who says he’s come to get her and bring her back to his hometown of Storybrooke, Maine. Freaked out by his appearance and willing to do anything to shove this skeleton back in her closet, Emma agrees to take Henry home.

Jared Gilmore as Henry.

Henry doesn’t keep the motive for his visit secret long. He’s brought a book with him, one whose stories, he claims, are true, and in which he says his birth mother is a character.

Henry tells Emma that she is the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming, and she is meant to save the residents of Storybrook — all fairytale characters from the Enchanted Forest — who were cursed by the Evil Queen. She was born shortly before the curse was enacted and her parents found a way to send her out of the Enchanted Forest in time. Since then, all of the Forest’s residents have been trapped in Storybrook, where time stands still and no one except, it seems, for Henry, can leave. No one knows who they are either, or how they’re related to one another. They are “normal” people who go on with normal lives and don’t notice that no one ages and nothing ever changes.  The Happily Ever Afters are over.

Mary Margaret is drawn to the comatose John Doe.

Snow White is Mary Margaret, a lonely teacher who spends her spare time volunteering at the hospital where she dotes on a comatose “John Doe” (Prince Charming). Rumpelstiltskin is Mr. Gold, the town pawnbroker. Granny and Red Riding Hood are Granny and Ruby, grandmother and granddaughter running an inn and a diner. Jiminy Cricket is the town psychiatrist, Dr. Archie Hopper.

She doesn’t believe Henry and takes him home. He claims his adoptive mother, Storybrooke’s mayor, is evil.

Does the Mayor remember who she really is? Does she know who Emma is?

Turns out she is, because Mayor Regina Mills happens to be The Evil Queen.

Emma drops Henry off and when she tries to leave town, “something bad happens” — just as Henry tells her it will — and she is prevented from leaving.

So, Emma stays, and again, just as Henry predicted, things begin changing in Storybrooke.

Broadcast on Sundays at 8pm on ABC, Once Upon a Time is my new obsession. It perfectly blends fairy tales, with their romance and fantasy qualities, with a great mystery.

Each episode takes place both in Storybrooke and in the Enchanted Forest. The action is Storybrooke drives forward, while the backstory in the Enchanted Forest doesn’t always take place in order.

If you’re interested in watching, I definitely suggest starting from the beginning. This is a show that builds upon its previous episodes, like puzzle pieces being fit together.

If you don’t have access to previous episodes, then you should catch up via recaps on the internet.

Have fun in Storybrooke and the Enchanted Forest. But watch out for The Evil Queen/Regina — her dishes are deadly.