Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Having the Week Off Leads to Ridiculous Questions

The other day I posted this video on my YouTube page:



Yeah.

My friend Casey and I have an incredibly old inside joke that I somehow felt was relevant to the fact that I had missed her birthday. That was, literally, the only motivation behind this.

And yet, a day later, I received the following comment:

"I expect a Sailor Moon Crystal review from you now that you're back on Youtube. :) Okay. Goodbye." 

Sailor Moon Crystal is, for those unaware, a shiny new anime based entirely on the original Sailor Moon manga. It's basically the Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood of Sailor Moon - but with significantly more sparkles.

I can only assume the comment in question is referencing the previous Sailor Moon videos I made, back when I thought I might like to go into ThatGuyWithTheGlasses-style video reviewing. In those videos, I clumsily made my way through two episodes of the English dub that I had fond memories of watching over and over and over again as a kid. The editing was terrible, the audio was beyond poor, and I mocked my way through them so much that people apparently wondered if I was Sailor Moon fan at all.

For every comment like:

"I'm DYING right now!!!!!! This is TOO much!!!! I absolutely LOVE your videos!!!"

I got another one like:

"i don't want to be mean but pelase hang yourself !"

Which, honestly, kind of just seems like the circle of life as far as YouTube is concerned. 

I was pretty sure the world forgot about these videos, and for the most part, I was right. I'm still getting comments asking for new videos, despite having not updated beyond the above video in about three years. With this video I've even gotten a few private messages (which are, apparently, still a thing). 

So, I guess, I'm left wondering...should I? 

Dabbling in YouTube is a bit like dabbling in Salem-style witchcraft. It could work out really well for you, but it could also come back to painfully bite you wherever you'd find it the most painful. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Things Have Been Happening

So, you know how I mentioned I was writing a screenplay?

Well, I finished it! 120-something pages, and I can now say I've written a feature film. Not one that's been filmed, mind you. Just scripted.

But yeah! Suck it, fifteen-year-old me sitting around writing Doctor Who scripts while thinking I wanted to be an actor. Tough luck, you're a screenwriter!

...or, uh, an aspiring one. At least.

But, as if finishing the thing wasn't exciting enough, a few days later it won Best Feature Screenplay at the Hofstra University Film Festival! AHHHHHHHH!!!

I was very excited. Words can't really describe how excited I actually was - it can only truly be expressed by leaping up and down screaming. I would demonstrate, but I have new roommates I'm rather determined to have a good impression on. Considering how early on in the relationship I had to text one of them to let me in after locking myself out, I really do need all the decent impressions I can get.

But, yes. In the space of about a day I went from some chick with a thing for Legends of the Hidden Temple to an award winning amateur screenwriter. And then, several days later, I went from award winning amateur screenwriter to my cousin's bridesmaid.

It was a particularly transformative couple of weeks.

After spending five days and four nights in Cleveland - wearing a lot of wisteria, having my hair cemented into being unrecognizable, drinking, wearing heels, riding in a limo, having my name announced to the Doctor Who theme - I then immediately moved to New Paltz, NY to start my job as a Theater Program Specialist at a fairly local girl scout camp.

New Paltz is a bit like Twin Peaks, if Twin Peaks was on the East coast and crossed with Portland, Oregan. On my first night, I sat in a local bar and chatted with a group of people who had been here their whole lives, and the consensus was that New Paltz is "different" from other towns in New York. Indeed, the people are laid back and friendly, the food is relatively inexpensive and almost always good, there are three used book stores within a street of each other, and the coffee is wonderful. The population is divided between young, usually white, college-age hipsters, and older, grizzled locals in some variation of plaid. The hipsters live in coffee shops and vinyl record stores while the locals haunt dive bars and creaky, wooden churches.

Being a clear outsider, but not a SUNY New Paltz student, I'm somewhat of an anomaly - a designation that extends outside the village to my job at camp.  In general, a conversation about my place of origin will go somewhat like this:

EXT. SOME SORT OF WOODSY STRUCTURE - NIGHT

An OLDER PERSON smoking a cigarette in a quiet, dark corner stares at me with a raised eyebrow. 

OLDER PERSON
You're from where

ME
New Hampshire. But, I've been living on Long Island for a few years. 

The older person takes a drag, nods. 

OLDER PERSON
Ok. Where on Long Island?

ME
Well, right now, I'm actually living in New Paltz.

OLDER PERSON
Ok. Let me see if I can get this. You grew up in New Hampshire, but you lived on Long Island for how long? 

ME
Around five years, but for half of one of those I was living in South America. 

OLDER PERSON
What? 

ME
Yeah. 

OLDER PERSON
But, now you're in New Paltz? 

ME
Yes. Just for the summer. 

The older person sighs, takes yet another drag, shakes their head.  

OLDER PERSON
I'm too old for this. 

So, yeah. No one's entirely sure how to react to me. Do they treat me like someone from the quiet, idyllic trees of New Hampshire? As a New Yorker? As a traveler? Without a distinct category, everyone seems to have just settled on "not from here" which, as a native New Englander, I can appreciate. 

So, with a feature film script under my belt, and a girl scout pocket knife in my bag, I have arrived in a fairly familiar, but utterly alien new world. 




Sunday, April 27, 2014

Salem: The Television Event of 3 AM

It was late. And by that, I mean, it was early. Very early. So early that the only people still awake were drunk, having sex, or watching Netflix. I was doing none of these things.

I was watching Hulu.

No one things straight at two in the morning when you're running on about five hours of sleep from the previous night and you're trapped in a small glass booth. You tend to make poor decisions like buying one dollar black magic books on Amazon, or giving more than a minute's thought to the fate of Shia Lebeouf. This particular evening I found myself in that strange part of Hulu between the 60's horror anthologies and the high budget shows about scruffy white dudes doing things. In my quest for something mindless to watch I came upon a show called Salem.

The description read as follows:

"As the wife of a wealthy but ailing town elder, Mary Sibley holds the distinction of being the most powerful sorceress in 1692 Salem. Ruthless, yet vulnerable, Mary leans on her ageless accomplish Tituba to help advance her supernatural agenda - but Mary's world is turned upside down when John Alden, her long lost love, finally returns home from years at war and starts asking questions that threaten to expose Mary's darkest secrets." 

Naturally, with a paragraph as deeply rooting in historical fact and analysis as this, I had to watch it.

It's produced by WGN America, and is, as far as I can tell, the only original program WGN America currently airs. It's plastered all over the channel's website, complete with a three-minute behind the scenes documentary that dares to ask the question "Was Salem Real?"

My immediate answer is yes. I've been there. I bought an iced coffee at the Dunkin Donuts. It had too much sugar.

But WGN America's answer is that "the story is fantasy, but the magic is real." What does that mean? Your guess is as good as mine. Currently, the pilot's the only thing up.

This is what I retained.

EXT. SALEM CENTRAL SQUARE PLACE - NIGHT

People are gathered around a large stage in the middle of the night. There's two people in stocks, and a very angry old Puritan guy with a whip and some hot irons. 


ANGRY OLD PURITAN
There's sin all over the place, and these two are all up in it! I'm going to brand it into their face because that's kind of what they did in the Scarlett Letter, right? 

The people in the crowd make vague loud noises that vary from enthusiastic cheering to gossipy whispers. The camera lingers on some CHICK IN BLACK, who isn't expressing an emotion beyond "I'm sexy, but I'm PURITAN sexy." 

Suddenly, a random SCRUFFY WHITE DUDE shoves his way through the crowd. 

SCRUFFY WHITE DUDE
Unrelated Bible Verse! 

ANGRY OLD PURITAN
Very wise. I smile at you, but in fact, I don't give a shit. 

SCRUFFY WHITE DUDE
But this is so cruel! 

ANGRY OLD PURITAN
So? We're Puritans! Burn them with hot pokers! 

He brands the two people in the stocks, and for some reason, despite having probably seen this kind of thing before and cheering for it moments earlier, the rest of the Puritans choose this particular moment to be all "Oh god, how cruel!" 

EXT. RANDOM PURITAN BUILDING - NIGHT

The aforementioned Chick in Black runs off toward some white building. It can be assumed that this is MARY SIBLEY because she is showing the appropriate level of hair and cleavage to be the female lead. 

SCRUFFY WHITE DUDE
I'm going to war. 

MARY SIBLEY
I'm thinking of signing a contract with the devil.

SCRUFFY WHITE DUDE
What? 

MARY SIBLEY
Never mind. 

EXT. SALEM CENTRAL SQUARE PLACE - DAY

Mary is walking with TITUBA, the only black person in Salem. 

ANGRY OLD PURITAN
Good day. Would you be interested in a confusing double entendre that hints at my knowledge of your sexual indiscretion? 

MARY SIBLEY
Not particularly. 

ANGRY OLD PURITAN
Well, here's one anyway. Puritan burn. 

TITUBA
Don't worry. We'll get him later. 

ANGRY OLD PURITAN
I'm sorry? 

TITUBA
Nothing. 

EXT. DARK WOODS - NIGHT

Tituba leads Mary through a dark, foreboding, and frantically edited forest. Occasionally, there are demons and flashbacks to sex happening. 

MARY SIBLEY
I'm suddenly not sure if I want to do this! 

TITUBA
Do you want to have a baby out of wedlock?

MARY SIBLEY
Not really. 

TITUBA
Then lie back and give yourself to the devil. 

She lies down, and Tituba starts spreading oil all over her. We get seemingly random flashes of demons and of the Scruffy White DUDE, who is now heavily implied to be the father of the baby. 

Mary starts screaming. Black goo stuff starts spreading all over her now mostly naked body. 

TITUBA
Let it inside you!

MARY SIBLEY
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH THIS IS WHY WE NEED TO PROTECT ABORTION RIGHTS!!!!

Some confusing, poorly edited stuff happens. 

FADE TO BLACK

TEXT: SEVEN YEARS LATER

EXT. SALEM CENTRAL SQUARE PLACE - DAY

Scruffy White Dude, now looking significantly more scruffy, wanders slightly dazed into town. He looks up at a tree - there are three bodies hung there. He shakes his head. 

He wanders through town and we see a bunch of random people wandering around yelling about damnation and hell - basically, just your average day in a Puritan settlement. Eventually he comes across a house that, presumably, was once his. 

INT. SCRUFFY WHITE DUDE'S HOUSE - DAY

He wanders around the house with the same boring quality he had outside. It's sad, things are covered in sheets. 

Suddenly, a guy with a gun shows up. 

GILES COREY
Scruffy White Dude! You're back from the war! 

SCRUFFY WHITE DUDE
I am! I thought I'd angst about it for a while. 

GILES COREY
Would you like some exposition? 

SCRUFFY WHITE DUDE
Most certainly. 

GILES COREY
The Old Angry Puritan has been replaced by the possibly psychotic Cotton Mathers, everyone's extra scared of witches, and your ex-girlfriend married a sick, old, rich guy. 

SCRUFFY WHITE DUDE
This all makes me generically unhappy. 

GILES COREY
I thought it would. 

INT. SICK OLD RICH GUY'S HOUSE - NIGHT

Mary Sibley is doing some evil needlepointing in her elaborate living room. Her husband, a practically comatose guy in a wheelchair, sits by her doing nothing. 

A guy who kind of looks like RORY from Doctor Who comes in. 

NOT-RORY
Mrs. Sibley, here are some packages. 

MARY SIBLEY
Ah, thank you. 

NOT-RORY
Also, your ex-boyfriend from the woods is back. 

MARY SIBLEY
Oh good. I think I'll not react at all. 

NOT-RORY
Very good, Mrs. Sibley. 

INT. SOMEBODY'S HOUSE - NIGHT

COTTON MATHERS, a guy who looks unnervingly like an insane, bearded Ben from Parks and Rec, is being led through some random guy's house to the bedroom of the guy's daughter. 

RANDOM GUY
She's flailing around like in the Exorcist! 

COTTON MATHERS
(gleefully)
Oh, yes. 

We're taken upstairs, where a teenage girl with lots of scars is, as mentioned, flailing around like in the Exorcist. 

COTTON MATHERS
WHO ARE THE WITCHES?!

POSSESSED GIRL
FL:KKGFJ:SOIGHGHGOISP"IJGDSLJGHGHOISGDOIHS

COTTON MATHERS
This is clearly a spectral attack. 

INT. MEETING HOUSE - DAY

It's a typical Puritan church service. 

COTTON MATHERS
We are sinners and there is sin and it's giving us a witch problem so we should KILL EVERYONE. 

SCRUFFY WHITE DUDE
As the generic male protagonist, I loudly disagree with you despite having been raised Puritan. 

COTTON MATHERS
Because you're the protagonist, and you just got back from the war, I'm not going to hang you for blasphemy. Church is dismissed!

Everyone gets up and shuffles for the back. Scruffy White Dude and Mary catch sight of each other and their sexual tension. 

SCRUFFY WHITE DUDE
You've become quite enigmatically evil since I left. 

MARY SILBEY
You should come to my house for dinner. 

SCRUFFY WHITE DUDE
THat sounds like a great idea. 

INT. SICK OLD RICH GUY'S HOUSE - NIGHT

Mary is standing enigmatically on her balcony. She glares at something, then immediately strips off all her clothing and walks inside. 

Her sick, old husband is sitting in his wheelchair. She does something vaguely magical, and a frog comes out of his mouth. She smiles, and lets it suckle from her leg. 

MARY SILBEY
It's a good thing I took off all my clothes for this. How else would you know I'm evil? 

INT. SICK OLD RICH GUY'S DINING ROOM - NIGHT

The most posh of the Puritans are sitting around for dinner. Scruffy White Dude is unnerved because he's "not posh" and he's sitting across from Mary. Next to him is SOME REDHEAD GIRL, who is young, but uncharacteristically adventurous for a Puritan. 

SOME REDHEAD GIRL
I bet you saw all kinds of interesting stuff at war! 

SCRUFFY WHITE DUDE
French and Indians, mostly. 

RICH PURITAN LADY
Oh, those savages! 

SOME REDHEAD GIRL
They're not savages, Mother. You're so unenlightened. 

MARY SILBEY
Hey, Scruffy White Dude, what are you thinking about? 


Scruffy White Dude looks down at his pants and sees the Redhead fondling his junk. The Redhead then becomes Mary. It's weird. 

SCRUFFY WHITE DUDE
Um, I'm gonna go. 

EXT. SICK OLD RICH GUY'S HOUSE - NIGHT

Scruffy White Dude is engaging in some late night angsting.

MARY SILBEY
I thought you were dead. 

SCRUFFY WHITE DUDE
That's no excuse! We're Puritan! Women aren't allowed to have fun. You know that. 

INT. RANDOM GUY'S HOUSE - NIGHT

Cotton Mathers is still hanging out with the possessed chick. 

POSSESSED GIRL
:DSKLGJ:SOGIHGOIGF:SFG:LKJSDFG!!!

COTTON MATHERS
Sexy. 

He creepily strokes her leg and has a decidedly not safe for work flashback about sleeping with a hooker...or something. End scene. 

EXT. PATH IN THE WOODS - DAY

Scruffy White Dude has decided to leave. 

SCRUFFY WHITE DUDE
I'm going to leave!

NOT-RORY
Wait! You can't leave! I have to show you something! 

SCRUFFY WHITE DUDE
Who are you?

NOT-RORY
I'm the guy from the stocks in the cold open. 

SCRUFFY WHITE DUDE
Oh. 

INT. SICK OLD RICH GUY'S HOUSE - NIGHT

Tituba and Mary are hanging out in the bedroom, getting ready for the Sabbath. 

MARY SILBEY
You know, I'm starting to have second thoughts about this whole "witch" thing. 

TITUBA
This is literally the only interesting thing a woman can do here. 

MARY SILBEY
Fair enough. 

She lies down on the bed, much like she did in the woods, and Tituba again starts putting oil on her. 

TITUBA
"Here's some stuff about the Devil
He's totally on another level." 

MARY SILBEY
Word. 

Suddenly, Mary's eyes open, and she can see some really creepy stuff happening in the woods. 

EXT. CREEPY WOODS - NIGHT

Meanwhile, Not-Rory and Scruffy White Dude are watching all the crazy shit go down in the woods. This includes dove killing, people wandering around in live animal heads, black goo orgies, and fire. 

NOT-RORY
THIS IS TOO MUCH FOR ME! AHHHHHHH!!

CREEPY ANIMAL HEAD GUY
There's totally people watching us. 

They run away. 

INT. SICK OLD RICH GUY'S HOUSE - NIGHT

Mary suddenly sits up. 

MARY SILBEY
The circle was broken! 

TITUBA
What circle?

MARY SILBEY
You know, the circle. 

TITUBA
It's always been more like a vague blob to me. 

MARY SILBEY
Well, whatever it is, it's broken. 

TITUBA
Fuck. 

INT. SICK OLD RICH GUY'S HOUSE - NIGHT

Mary comes downstairs to find Giles Corey sitting in her living room. 

GILES COREY
I know what you did last summer. And I'm going to tell. 

MARY SILBEY
Why?

GILES COREY
Scruffy White Guy has a right to know that your dead child was his! 

MARY SILBEY
Did he face social exile for this kid? No. Was it inside of him? No. I'm going to get you. 


INT. SOMEBODY'S HOUSE - DAY

Cotton Mathers is still hanging out with the possessed chick. She's even more messed up than usual. 

COTTON MATHERS
WHO ARE THE WITCHES?! 

POSSESSED GIRLS
SDFSLK:JSDGL:JGHGSOISGJL I CAN'T TELL YOU! 

COTTON MATHERS
Then I hope you like leashes. 

EXT. SALEM TOWN SQUARE THING - DAY

It's normal day in the town square. All our central characters happen to be there. 

Suddenly, Cotton Mathers shows up with the Possessed Girl on a leash. This is not a joke. 

COTTON MATHERS
NOW! FIND THE WITCH! 

GILES COREY
What the fuck? 

POSSESSED GIRL
SNARL SNARL HISS HISS DSF:LFLKJGD:OGSI

The Possessed Girl freaks her way over towards Mary, who gives her a look that clearly says, "This is not the witch you're looking for" The girl then heads for Giles Corey. 

COTTON MATHERS
HE IS THE WITCH! 

GILES COREY
Wouldn't I be a warlock? 

COTTON MATHERS
HE'S A WITCH! 

EXT. OUTDOOR JAIL CELL - NIGHT

Giles Corey is locked up in a jail cell. Cotton Mathers is watching him, crazy like. Mary comes up behind him. 

GILES COREY
This sucks, I'm definitely not the witch. 

MARY SILBEY
I take it he's the witch. How disgusting.

COTTON MATHERS
Heee heee heeee. I think I'll stone him. 

MARY SILBEY
Sounds good to me. I hate witches. If you know what I mean. 

COTTON MATHERS
I don't. 

EXT. CEMETERY - DAY

That random redhead chick from earlier in the episode is drawing in cemetery with Scruffy White Dude. 

SOME REDHEAD GIRL
They say that drawing and anything fun is idolatry. 

SCRUFFY WHITE DUDE
I'll show you idolatry

SOME REDHEAD GIRL
What? 

At that moment, Mary approaches the scene. 

SCRUFFY WHITE DUDE
I have to go. 

He leaves. But Mary comes closer. 

MARY SILBEY
Interesting place to draw. 

SOME REDHEAD GIRL
I have no fear of death! 

MARY SILBEY
Interesting. Have you ever considered the Devil?

SOME REDHEAD GIRL
What?

MARY SILBEY
Apparently not. 

EXT. SALEM TOWN SQUARE PLACE - NIGHT

Cotton Mathers drags Giles Corey through a screaming crowd of Puritans ready for a stoning. 

GILES COREY 
This is really ill-advised! 

COTTON MATHERS
Um, it's God-advised, thank you. 

The stoning begins. It's really violent and bloody. Suddenly, Scruffy White Dude appears. 

SCRUFFY WHITE DUDE
Giles! What are they doing to you?

GILES COREY
I believe they're stoning me. 

SCRUFFY WHITE DUDE
This is a travesty! I'm going to give an enlightened, boring, protagonist speech about why this is wrong! 

From her balcony, which is now inexplicably next to the square, Mary rolls her eyes. 

MARY SILBEY
I hate speeches. Also, I'm just now realizing my ex-lover might be kind of a problem. 

She turns and walks inside. 

INT. SICK OLD RICH GUY'S HOUSE - NIGHT

She steps inside, and addresses Tituba. 

MARY SILBEY
That thing that happened in the woods last night can never happen again. 

TITUBA
Ok. 

She turns, and a bunch of Puritans who I think we're supposed to recognize are standing around, presumably also working for the Devil. 

MARY SILBEY
It's time to get shit done, understand? Only by doing vaguely evil things like driving a teenager crazy and convincing our minister to stone a guy can we make sure that Salem is FINALLY OURS! 

RANDOM DEVIL PURITAN
Aren't we in Salem Village? 

MARY SILBEY
NO. We're going to take over SALEM. Because that's what the Devil wants - complete control over a random English settlement with more trees than people. Now join me in an evil laugh! 

They all laugh. Evilly. 

EXT. ABOVE SALEM - NIGHT

The camera swoops above Salem towards the moon that seems to be perpetually full. On this image, we fade to black. 

I may have left out a few key details. It was three in the morning. If this intrigued you, Salem can be watched on WGN America Sundays at 10 PM, and on Hulu + the day after it airs. I know I'll be keeping up.  

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Does That Make You Larger Than Life?

When you go through a significant weight loss, I've found there are, generally, around three distinct ways people react to it.

1. The "You've clearly lost weight but I don't want to imply anything" method.

INT. PARTY OF SOME VARIETY - DAY

A relative and/or friend who hasn't seen you in a while keeps staring at you from across the room. Eventually, you cross paths. You juggle your mimosa as he/she smiles in an oddly conflicted fashion. 

RELATIVE AND/OR FRIEND
You know, you look great

You look down at your outfit, now sporting a dark stain and smelling faintly of spilled mimosa. 

YOU
Um, thanks. So do you. 

You wait, thinking that, perhaps this conversation might continue. It does not. 

RELATIVE AND/OR FRIEND
You saw Frozen, right? 

The general idea behind this seems to be that your friend and/or relative has noticed that you have lost weight. Maybe they've watched you struggle with it for a while, or maybe they simply haven't seen you in a year. Either way, they would really like to compliment you on your appearance, but are entirely unsure if making the compliment weight-related is appropriate. The expectation is that you will have the same logic as a girlfriend in a male-centric sitcom; they'll say "You've lost weight, congrats." and your response will inevitably be "What? Did you think I was fat before? Did you think I needed to lose weight? Did you forget our anniversary? I think we need to see other people." 

2. The "I think there's something different about you, but I can't quite figure out what" method. 

INT. OFFICE - DAY

Your professor who hasn't seen you since you were in a terrible place in your life looks you over. She smiles. 

PROFESSOR
You look like you're doing well. 

YOU
Thanks. I feel like it. 

PROFESSOR
Yeah, you look...healthy?

YOU
Um, thanks. 

PROFESSOR
So, did you see Frozen? 

This one's filled with nuance. With my weight loss, it wasn't so much a weight loss as a return to form. I'm naturally plus sized so, with some people, it's often hard for them to tell when my weigh fluctuates. People assume that losing weight takes you from fat to skinny with nowhere in between. With me, it's less "I was fat but now I'm skinny" and more "I'm a bit more balanced and comfortable." I had gained a lot of weight during a particularly bad stint with depression, and since getting that more under control, I've lost quite a bit of what I've gained. The result is that I seem different. I'm happier, a bit more confident, and wearing pants that fit me. Because a surprising amount of weight loss is actually internal, when people pick up on it, they're sometimes not picking up on the size of your girth, but on the way you present yourself. As bizarre as the phenomenon is, it's admittedly pretty amusing to watch people stand around desperately looking for the right words to describe you. 

3. The "throw caution to the wind" method. 

INT. FUNERAL HOME - AFTERNOON

You've just arrived home after a six-month stay in another country. You immediately find yourself at a funeral, where your grandfather spots you. 

GRANDFATHER
Who are you?! 

He laughs. Despite having heard the joke before, you laugh as well. 

YOU
Hi, Grampy. 

GRANDFATHER
I was wondering if I'd ever see you again. 

He takes a moment to look you over. He seems proud. 

GRANDFATHER
Did you lose weight? 

YOU
As a matter of fact, I did. 

GRANDFATHER
You look good, kid. 

YOU 
Thanks. 

GRANDFATHER
Did you see that movie everyone's talking about? Freeze or something? 

I like this option best, but it is, admittedly a risky one. Weight's a pretty tricky thing to discuss. It carries a lot of...well, weight. We're conditioned to think about it constantly - whether it's "Hooray! You're skinny" or "Damn, you're fat!" or "Whatever you are, you need to do something about it." The compliment of "Hey, have you lost weight?" instantly brings this to light. On TV it's seen as the thing you should always ask a women, whether she wants to lose weight or not. Because of this, it's lost some of it's legitimacy. It's a shallow thing to say, rather than a genuine one. It's left us constantly looking for the correct thing, and never really finding it. 

Personally, as a sufferer of thyroid disease, as someone who has struggled with weight and self image through most of their life, I'd say compliment what seems to be on the forefront of the person's mind. It's not easy, you may have to become a psychic. But for a lot of people, I know that "It seems like you're doing a lot better than you were before" would mean a lot more than "Hey, you're a weight I can name, but still can only barely find pants for!" 





Monday, March 3, 2014

Baby, You Can Drive My Car

Driving in New York is an experience.

Now, I learned to drive in New Hampshire. Despite the fact that we don't have permits - you can legally drive at the age of 15 1/2 as long as you have your birth certificate and someone over the age of 25 in the car with you - and despite the fact that our roads are quite frequently black ice laden death traps, we're generally pretty low key drivers. We have accidents, like everyone, and we have disagreements, like everyone else.

We are particularly antagonistic towards drivers from Massachusetts. New Hampshire has somewhat of a "New York/ New Jersey" rivalry with the state, for reasons I'm not entirely clear on. Perhaps we're bitter that they have all our sports teams? One would think we would be more bitter about Vermont, which is, of course, just an upside down New Hampshire with bafflingly better tourism.

But, I digress.

I grew up hearing about Massachusetts drivers. It was always "those damn Massholes letting me go even though they have the right of way - don't they know they're holding up traffic?" Anytime a car on the road did something stupid, my parents would instantly check the plate, and if they were from Massachusetts they would nod their heads sagely and say "that makes sense."

Notice though, that despite our antagonism towards our neighbors to the south, for the most part, our rage is kept inside the privacy of our own cars, and spoken of with a healthy degree of self awareness. I know, for a fact, that most of my parents' antagonism is based on having to drive in Boston which, even those from Boston will tell you, does not do the term "clusterfuck" justice. We're aware that, for the most part, Massachusetts drivers are just like us. It's simply more fun to blame the occasional fuck up on their license plates.

That being said, any New Hampshirites possessed of genuine, rage inducing hatred toward the drivers of Massachusetts should really consider driving in New York.

To New York, New Hampshire is basically Canada, and it's easy to see why they have that view when you compare our drivers. New Hampshire is mostly trees. Even if you're in a city, like Manchester, you can bet that driving there will entail a picturesque drive through forests and tree covered mountains on a three-laned turnpike with a speed limit of 65. Unless there's an antique car show, or the tall ships have come to Portland, or you're in Nashua, you probably won't be caught in a traffic jam for longer than about twenty minutes. We drive leisurely and with little intensity unless we're in a rush, in which case we might start pushing 70. We're calm drivers because we can be. You only get aggressive when you change lanes, and even then, it's just a matter of putting on your turn signal and waiting.

This is a marked contrast to New York. In New York, it seems like everyone has somewhere to be in that exact moment and you are the one thing standing in their way. It's not a matter of "damn it, I'm stuck behind some slow, out of state asshole" it's "god damn it that slow out of state asshole needs to be taken off the road."

In New Hampshire, we're very independently minded. We're the live free or die state, after all. As a rule, we don't really interact much beyond an uptight New England head nod. If someone pisses us off, we'll just walk away. This extends to driving, which is fundamentally an individual experience. If you get cut off, you might shout about it, but you'll do it in the privacy of your own car. You might think something like "God, I'd love to just go over there and let the bastard have it" but it would never occur to you to actually do it. Their bad driving is their problem, not yours. At least your car's fine.

In New York, it's a different thing. One of the things I love about New Yorkers is their openness. A New Yorker will talk to anyone. It doesn't matter who you are, or where you are, or wether or not you're from "away". To them, there's really not much of a difference between one person and the next. Everyone is worthy of being spoken to, and of course, everyone is worthy of being yelled at.

I think my first real New York auto-experience (is that a thing?) was when I accidentally took a parking space someone had claimed outside a Bloomingdales. I didn't realize they'd had their signal on, or even that they were there. When I got out of the car, I was greeted by the face of an enraged woman in large, blue SUV.

The following conversation must be read with the understanding that the SUV lady sounded as if she were about to explode, and I sounded like I had already exploded and was trying to recover.

EXT. MALL PARKING LOT - DAY

I step out of my car and head for the Bloomingdales entrance to the mall. I utterly fail to notice the large black SUV following me across the lot. 

SUV LADY
Hey, you! 

I do not respond. 

SUV LADY
You! Girl with the hair! 

At this, for some reason, I turn. 

ME
Um, hi? 

SUV LADY
You know that was my space! 

ME
What? 

SUV LADY
You just took my fucking parking space! I had my signal on, did you not see it? 

ME
I guess I didn't. I'm sorry.

SUV LADY
Yeah, you better be. Are you going to move it? 

ME
Do you want me to? 

SUV LADY
(as if it should be obvious)
YES. It was my space. 

ME
Oh, ok. I'll just go do that. 

SUV LADY
Idiot. 

And so, I moved. 

This was shortly after I started driving in New York, and the experience terrified me so much it took me a few weeks before I was comfortable trying it again. It wasn't so much the woman herself that threw me, it was the fact that I was now in a place where not only was my driving being constantly watched by the drivers around me, but if I did something wrong, they'd be sure to let me know. I've been flipped off more times than I care to admit, which to a New Yorker, seems like the natural result of being a driver. 

But as long as I may live in New York, and as many times as I might find myself the target of profuse swearing on the way to New Rochelle, I will never escape my New Hampshire roots. The idea of taking the time to personally shout at someone for their driving will always seem odd to me, as will the idea of constantly driving like you're in a rush. I will forever be worried that I'm driving in the wrong lane, or taking the wrong turn, and someone will hit me. Worse, that they'll talk to me.