The Bachelorette: I LOVE Kaitlyn, but I’m OUT for good!

I am finished with The Bachelorette. Monday night I thought there might still be a way to keep watching the show. I thought perhaps I could forgive the two Bachelorette stunt that took the choice out of the young woman’s hands and then gave it back to her only to plague her with insecurity over whether the guys stayed for her – not to mention intentionally pitting the women in the fan base against each other. What has pushed me over the edge may not even seem like a big deal to most people. What has finally made me turn down the rose is the continuous exploitation, double standard and disrespect for the lives of the people they showcase. I’m talking about those previews with all the tears and all the anger regarding Kaitlyn’s “obvious from the editing” choice to sleep with one of her bachelors.

The show has danced around hook-ups for years. Whether or not anything has happened in past fantasy suites, it’s definitely implied. It was hinted at and then openly discussed that Juan Pablo had been with Claire. There was all the hoopla surrounding Nick asking Andi why she’d made love to him if she wasn’t going to choose him. The point is that none of those incidents became selling points of a season or a defining characteristic of the bachelor/bachelorettes. None of them were explicitly presented before we had a chance to get to know the person.

By showing the scenes they showed of Kaitlyn last night and having her admit in the previews to the men that she had slept with someone, the show instigated one of the divisive debates out there for ratings. People are passionately opinionated about sex. People will defend her choice and say there’s absolutely nothing wrong with her consenting to be with a man she chooses. Others will call her a slut or a whore and never give her a second chance. In addition, the whole season will now be marred by this conflict and moral judgement. The scenes they showed in the previews play to the absolute worst of male and female stereotypes. Not only did we witness her crying and shaming herself, apologizing and demeaning herself, but we saw the men getting angry and storming off because of it. It looked like they were joining forces to stone her! There is a delicate line when it comes to male and female power in relationships and up until a few seasons ago this show had actually done a nice job of respecting it. What’s happened?

For me, whether I think she should have or shouldn’t have made that choice is irrelevant. For me it is once again about the producers and the choices they make in story and editing. They shafted Kaitlyn from the start because they wanted Britt. Go back and look at Mike Fleiss and Chris Harrison’s tweets versus the tweets from the majority of the fans. They didn’t even throw Juan Pablo under the bus the way they did this girl and they totally disliked Juan Pablo. Look at the way Chris worded telling Kaitlyn she was the Bachelorette…unfortunately I had to let Britt go – watch his expressions – he’s not happy. It was manipulative and disrespectful of them to use the film in that way, but probably just part of what’s to come in what I think will be an assassination of her character for the rest of the season.

For me, it’s not about whether those scenes play out the way the previews foretell. I am quitting this show because Mike Fleiss and Co., and that includes Chris Harrison, have been slowly going deeper and deeper into sleaze and disrespecting what gave the show any redeeming qualities. Maybe they can’t tell the difference between Bachelor in Paradise, Bachelor Pad, and their flagship show anymore. Maybe it’s that they want ratings or maybe they are so far removed from the real world that they don’t even see how bad they have gotten. Maybe it’s because they were thinly disguised misogynists after all and shame on me for being fooled for as long as I have been. I don’t really care anymore. I hope she finds a way to get her power back and sticks it to them in the live shows, but I won’t be watching. I guess I’ll be reading someone else’s blog to find out.

The Bachelorette: I’m Still Watching…

So, I’ve always opened myself to ridicule by admitting I watch the Bachelorette, but here’s the deal…I have also always been able to reasonably defend myself. Until now. Last night’s twist was worse than I anticipated. The reason the Bachelorette worked (and the reason it will work for the rest of this season after this travesty) is that the woman holds the power. In addition to being able to choose who she wants to be with, we can be pretty sure the guys who are there want to be with her and are actually in it for a relationship. By taking the power out of the women’s hands and letting the men pick, both of those positives went down the drain. That’s why we’re angry, Chris Harrison. It’s not about your stupid comments that change is hard. SPOILER ALERT FOR TONIGHT’S RESULTS While I am happy that Kaitlyn came out the winner (as the media has let us know), she now has to wonder in every interaction she has throughout the season if a man secretly voted for Britt to stay.

I don’t understand how the show can so seriously underestimate its viewers. Sure, social media would have you believe that everyone is watching for the drama and conflict, and the raunchier/sleazier the better, but that’s not the case. While there is a base audience that is in it for that kind of stuff, those viewers won’t be going anywhere – no need to up the ante for them. The viewers that the show will shed and has shed are the viewers that held out any hope that the show had some sincerity and real romance left. Trista and Ryan + Babies, Jason and Molly +Baby, Ashley and JP + Baby, Sean and Catherine, and a few more past results have proven that DESPITE their attempts to cheapen the game, real love can be found on this show. However, I personally don’t know how much longer I’ll be hanging around.

Juan Pablo was a trip into sleaze. Andi D. was never going to find real love, we could all see it from the start. I began last season with Chris, but quickly lost interest despite liking Whitney. I am here now for Kaitlyn because she reminds me of our favorite Canadian Bachelorette Jillian. She’s real, funny and will hopefully see through the BS the show throws at her. Watching her face last night as the twists kept unfolding you could tell she felt the same way we did. You could see her struggle with the fact that it was all so demeaning, but if she could just get through it she might have a shot at something real. If we could all just get through the episode we might be able to see a real season despite the producer’s intentions.

So, thank goodness that tonight in part two the stunt ends and Kaitlyn is the Bachelorette, although if you haven’t read any online sources you might not know that for sure yet because of the stupid new cliffhangers they’re employing more and more frequently. That’s at least one positive on which to cling!

There are a few more, and their names are Ben H., Ben Z., Dan and Ian (1st Bachelor of color anyone? Finally a guy who could actually be a contender!) Each of these guys showed real personality and genuine interest in the women. And, we can’t leave out Shawn B., who, while not a favorite of mine, was described by Kaitlyn as possible love at first sight. I like the bits of interaction they showed between her and all of these guys, but my early pick is Ben H.  – Wow, show me more of him. Kudos for asking about her tattoo, dude! I always wondered about it myself. Point in Kaitlyn’s column for her answer being sweet and meaningful. See, the good does shine through the sleaze, despite the efforts to make the show sensational. I’m also interested in seeing more about David, who we only caught glimpses of. He’ll either be the guy in three episodes that we’re all still wondering about or an actual contender for her heart.

I’ll be watching tonight with the hope that I won’t feel as ashamed of myself as I did last night. I’ll be watching with the hope that things get back on track when Britt leaves. I’ll be watching and hoping that we see some of the old Chris Harrison who seems like a different guy since his divorce (Seriously, his crush on Britt was half the reason we’re in this mess.) And, I’ll be watching because I really like Kaitlyn and want to see her fall in love. In short, I’ll still be watching because I can’t help who I am, a hopeless romantic who keeps going back for more even after she realizes the show she loves isn’t worthy of her.

(Insert number) Things Never to Say to (Insert Group)

We live in an interesting age. With the advent of social media, blogs, satirist news sites, online magazines, and other venues for expression there seems to be an explosion of “articles” that in reality are opinion pieces titled with (insert numeral here) things never to say to (insert specific demographic here). What I find most interesting is the absolute self grandeurization that comes from creating and sharing such a piece. I mean, blogging and writing have always had an egotistical element to them. You have to believe you have something to say worth hearing and I admit that most of the time when I write – I do. What I really mean by that is that these articles are usually created specifically for a small demographic group of which the creator is a member and they are written in a way that doesn’t really invite someone to try to understand what another is going through as much as commiserate with people who agree with them that others are so stupid, clueless, or cruel.

I will admit to reading quite a few of these lately. At first, I honestly wanted to know what I shouldn’t say to an unmarried female lumberjack or a childless clergy member who belongs to a support group, but I have since resigned myself to reading with the intent of scoffing at whatever that group decides to use as an excuse to make themselves feel superior. After all, the ultimate message of most of them is “You just don’t get it,” and the way I am told that I don’t get it ensures that I probably won’t make the effort to get it in the future.

I recently wrote a piece about how important it is to really put yourself in another’s shoes. I commented on how to do so we can’t just examine something through our own eyes and biases. We have to look from the perspective of someone who may be foreign to what we naturally understand. I believe in the need to understand the plight of others and to show compassion and thought in how we address people. What I find hard about the plethora of the “things not to say” articles is that they usually give orders with attitude while assuming EVERY unmarried mother of Irish descent who listens to Swedish music would be offended by the same stuff.

Maybe if we spent more time teaching our (society’s – not yours personally) children communication we wouldn’t need to tell people what not to say. If we taught people how to be aware of facial expressions, body language, or how to hear tension, stress, or joy in someone’s voice then maybe they would be able to figure out what not to say on their own. Maybe if we showed others what it’s like to be listened to rather than preached to, people would feel comfortable sharing their realities in prose or stories as opposed to lists of directives. Maybe we could even address the things people say that hurt our feelings personally in a kind way that educates them so they might think twice in the future! In the mean time, I’m avoiding all articles and blogs that are versions of the above. I try my best to listen to my friends and put myself in their position before I say something that might be offensive, but If I say something that offends you – do me a favor – just tell me kindly. No need to blog about it.

The Only Gift That Matters

It’s always nice to see old friends and ‘tis the season to play catch up as the clock strikes the holidays, but lately it seems I’m always at a loss for words when tasked with the standard, “So, what’s been going on with you?” I mean, I’m no slacker – my list of accomplishments that I will make on Dec. 31st will prove that – but I curiously draw a blank when asked to fill someone in on my life. I don’t have a spouse or kids to talk about and while I love my nieces and nephew, I really have no desire to tell you how they’re doing. I currently don’t even have a love life to catch you up on (although spousal updates rarely sound like a love life, come on)! To top that off, when you really get down to it my work is satisfying – there’s not much to complain or crow about.

While it could very well be that because I am content I don’t have much to say when asked, I think deep down the reason for my reticence is more likely the fact that I know you don’t really care and I am sadly, most of the time, absolutely 100% OK with that. It takes a lot of energy for me to put into words the things that are important to me. The answer to what’s been up with me can’t be cataloged for easy conversation. So, I’ll just say not much, ask you the dreaded question and let you move on with your business after your short, well-rehearsed answer like I’m sure you’re relieved to do.

But every once in a while a soul shines bright in the darkness of busyness and obligation. Every now and then when someone says, “So what’s been going on with you?” they stop what they’re doing and listen. Their eyes light up with interest and when you say, “nothing much,” they don’t jump in with their own memorized answer – they wait until you are uncomfortable enough that you give voice to the truth. You start to share and then without realizing what has happened you begin to hear your own story. A light bulb floats above your head and you are suddenly filled with the feeling that you do have a life and that it matters to someone.

That’s what holiday (actually all) encounters should be about. This holiday season, vow with me to be a light in the darkness, to avoid the pitfalls of shallow conversation and the trivialities of small talk that keep people entombed in the bubble of their own little worlds. I invite you to ask someone, “So, what’s been going on with you?” and let the light of your soul show through your kind eyes and the gift of your time. In that way, maybe we can all be like the star of Bethlehem that led the wise ones to our savior. Maybe we can all be a gift of illumination, because when we let the genuineness of our spirit break through the barriers that modern society constructs, we are Christ for one another…the only gift that matters.

If it was me…putting ourselves in another’s shoes

If it were me ___________________.
I am ____________, too. You don’t see me doing _____________.
My friend is ____________, if they were in that position I would want ____________.

In the past few weeks I have heard the fill-in-the-blanks above completed in numerous ways. In sentences about people working on Thanksgiving and people shopping on Thanksgiving. In the sentences of people who had full tables of food and warm homes and people who were seriously in need. In people defending Ray Rice and in people condemning him. I have heard leaders in government expressing opinions on people and people expressing opinions on leaders in government. And, let us not forget myriad thoughts of people about almost every conceivable position in Ferguson.

In the course of listening to the cacophony of anger, judgment, and gossip, I have noticed one sentiment, phrased numerous ways, seems to come up again and again. It’s a version of seeing things from another’s perspective and you can hear it in the fill-in-the-blanks above. We are taught to put ourselves in others’ shoes, but somewhere along the path, that adage has been corrupted.

Putting ourselves in others’ shoes doesn’t mean applying our personal beliefs, prejudices, and leanings to someone else’s life. Putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes at its core is about losing self for one minute. It’s trying to truly understand where someone who may be absolutely foreign and 100% different from us is coming from. It’s about experiencing reality the best we can from another person’s perspective.

When the language of putting ourselves in someone else’s place becomes about expressing what we think or would have done instead of seeking to be compassionate (literally to feel with), it is rotten to its core. It becomes just another way to advance the self-centeredness that seems to be ever-growing stronger in our society.

The next time you have the opportunity to fill in the blank on any of the sentences above, I implore you to spend a moment considering, “Do my words cause division?” Ask yourself if the “you” that you are putting in someone else’s shoes could ever really understand that person’s reality without having lived their life for a day, much less exchanged words.

We all have beliefs and opinions that we hold to be true that are based on real experiences and interactions. We all have free speech. We should share what we believe, but own it in a way that doesn’t simplify, negate, or repress another person’s life or reality to make ourselves feel better or superior. Because really, can we ever truly know what we would do if we were someone else?

The next time you fill in the blanks above consider doing it in the following way.

If it was me, I would try to do the absolute best I could do and hope others would make an effort to understand.

I am in need of support as well, you WON’T see me letting others fall.

My friend is that person I am judging in someone else’s eyes. If they were in that position I would want someone to truly seek to understand what it was like to honestly be “in their shoes.”

Thoughts on True Blood as Season Seven Winds Down…

Let me be very clear. These are NOT predictions. This reflection is me, simply giving voice to a theme that I think has run throughout True Blood, a theme that if the writers were intentional about, could lead to the ending I would like to see. I say could because while I still think there is hope for Eric and Sookie (more on that in the last paragraph), I have started to feel like maybe they did get sloppy with this season. Maybe they are just trying to wrap things up in little bows. For sure, they did that with Tara. She deserved a better-executed end to her story. However, if the writers weren’t being lazy it would be hard not to pick up on the theme that while we idealize our first loves, it’s the ones that follow that help us grow. Most of the time in re-visiting them, we discover we can’t go back and we realize that each relationship that followed brought us closer to true love.

If we look at characters like Lettie Mae, we see that she discovers what real love is with the Reverend (after revisiting that memory of the ass that beat her). Tara thought she loved Jason, then learned how to love with Eggs, but I think we see her really grow with Pam. Arlene made a huge mistake with René, but found real love with Terry (that she re-visited on the edge of death), and maybe has a chance to grow more by dropping her fear of vampires and letting Keith love her now. Lafayette had love with Jesus but has a second chance with James. Alcide has his wolf woman and then Sookie.

Sam thought he loved Sookie, found a real relationship with Luna and has developed a relationship leading to a family with Nicole. (He re-visited the Sookie choice at the end of last season). Will his choice be to do the mature thing and sacrifice to be with his wife and daughter? Jason thought he loved Sarah Newlin, but then found Jessica, even though it hurt his friendship with Hoyt. He learned what he didn’t want with Violet and then we have the sweet car scene where he and Jess absolutely describe loving each other, but stop short of defining it that way.

So that leaves us with two foursomes that could go lots of different ways.

Hoyt and Jessica were each other’s first loves. They didn’t have a healthy relationship. Hoyt moved on and found Bridget. Jessica moved onto Jason, and James, back to Jason…will she end up again with Hoyt? I don’t think so. It’s natural for Jessica to glamorize her first love (and glamor him, too! haha) and maybe revisit it, but the couple switch story that seems imminent would truly be lazy writing. I think Jess and Jason make each other better and help each other grow, as they both said to each other in the front seat of that car.

But what about Bill, Sookie, Pam and Eric? Let’s start with Pam. I absolutely agree Pam loves Eric but they showed them together in that flashback of their first time and she has pretty clearly been a lesbian ever since. I know she likes guys, too, but I think what she learned about herself over the years is that she prefers girls. Sookie started out with Bill as her first, followed by Eric, followed by Alcide. Eric loved Godric, Nora, Pam, the French chic and Sookie. Bill loved his dead wife, and Sookie.

When we look at the Sookie, Bill, and Eric triangle we find that they’ve all “revisited” first or past loves this season. With Bill we saw in tedious flashbacks how much he loved his first wife…at first sight. We saw that to him, loving her meant sacrificing his happiness and keeping his “darkness” away form her. He has also sacrificed himself for Sookie in this way when he didn’t kill Eric and sent him back to her in season four (when he thought he had “light” in him). So, it makes sense that he would sacrifice his life so that Sookie could have a human life and family. That’s the way Bill expresses love.

Sookie “revisited” Bill, Alcide, and Eric. Bill was Sookie’s first love but he couldn’t give her a human relationship. Alcide could give her that but was taken from her and she “revisited” him with the smelling of the jacket and driving of the truck. She also had her “moment” with Eric when her returned and she ran to him.

The big question for me, if the writer’s had a vision, which I’m not sure they did, would seem to be which relationship would help Sookie to grow? I think she’s grown all she can from Bill and his way of loving her is to sacrifice himself anyway. But Eric – Sookie ended that in season four out of fear. She was scared of embracing Eric’s darkness. She refused to grow further with him despite him letting her know that both sides of him were still in him. If I were writing these characters I would think that that’s the one relationship she still has room to grow in, a relationship where she has to truly accept all sides of a person, not just the good. But, it could be that Bill as a human, or even Sam could help her grow into being a mother/wife.

Remember, these aren’t predictions in any way, shape, or form. I think the ending will go one of two ways. I think they’ll take the easy way out and have Jess with Hoyt, Jason with Bridget, Sookie with (human?) Bill or even Sam, and Eric with Pam platonically or dead after giving up his life for her as Godric did for him – OR – judging from the previews for the next episode, it’s possible Bill dies, Sookie’s alone and we think Eric dies. We see Bill tell Eric how they take Sookie’s light away. What if Eric goes to Sookie and leaves her for her own good? The episode is titled “Love is to Die”, but if the only person that dies is Bill that’s too predictable. Hidden in the Eric/Sookie teases is the pic of Pam being silvered. What if the choice Eric faces is to die for Pam and he takes her place. We could see him silvered and taken away at the end of episode 9. The 10th episode could begin with Bill’s funeral. I’ve heard there may be a time jump in the last episode just like last season so what if in the time jump we see Sookie has been alone just like Eric wanted? …And then it ends with Eric at her door because he somehow got away from the Yakuza before dying. So we don’t get a happy Sookie/Eric ending but we get the tease of one.

If you read this far, thanks and I truly hope you get the ending that makes you happy. The one thing that’s for sure is there will definitely be people disappointed after that last episode airs. I choose to keep hope alive for Sookie and Eric and to keep hoping the writers are better than they appear. Be nice to each other and me in the comments, True Blood was True Love for all of us at one point no matter how disillusioned people become or how hurt we are when we don’t get what we want after time invested.

Dream it, be it?

Who doesn’t like dreams? Sweet dreams, big dreams, pipe dreams, we’re taught in our culture that, “Ya gotta have dreams.” The other day I was contemplating a tarot card about dreams. The seven of cups is sometimes interpreted as being so caught up in your dreams and imagination that it might be hard to see reality. I caught myself saying aloud as I looked at the card, “If you can dream it, you can be it.” But is it the act of dreaming that leads becoming all you can be?

Popular theories on thoughts becoming things sometimes lead people to believe that the dream is enough, that a vision board is a magic wand that brings everything you want into your life. I’m torn regarding this thought process. On the one hand I have vision boarded for years, even before I knew what I was doing. I have dreamed about goals, and jobs, and men (I’ve had much more luck with the goals and the jobs though) and I have had them come to fruition in sometimes quite magical ways. Was it the dream alone that brought me my desires? Actually, I don’t think it was, although I will give God credit for granting some truly outrageous and fabulous dreams that I didn’t deserve or raise a hand to accomplish.

I think we have to look at our definition of dreaming. For some people, to dream means to imagine, oftentimes wildly impossible things. It can be seen as a passive past-time that often leads to wasted hours and opportunities. People who see dreaming in this light often offer phrases like, “I wish” or “If only”. It’s as if the act of dreaming was satisfying enough on it’s own. They dream about getting married but when faced with the chance of a date, don’t want to put forth the effort to meet someone new. They believe the right person will magically walk into their life, even though their life consists of work and their couch. I guess there’s always the bug man…

I believe that people who make their dreams come true view dreaming as an active process. Sure, there are times where they let their imaginations wander to the “I wish” and “if only” section of the store, but more often than not they walk straight into the “what if?” or “why not?” department. They dream, they believe, and then they act.

Real dreaming may begin in the imagination, but comes alive through our choices. Taking the feelings and benefits that we experience when we dream and knowing that we can make them a reality, that’s what dreaming is all about. That’s the reason that things on my collages (now called vision boards) have appeared in my life, not magic. I dreamed and I chose to tell others what I dreamed. When given the opportunity I actively sought the path to my imaginings.

So yes, “Ya gotta have dreams” and yes, “If you dream it, you can be it,” but if you really want to be happy – you have to choose to dream actively. Passive dreaming is passive living. It can be a very peaceful existence if you are satisfied with your life. However, if you imagine bigger and better things for yourself, or if you long to truly grow into a better person, using an active definition for dreaming is the way to make all your dreams come true.

True Blood: Why I think there’s always been hope for Eric and Sookie!

I think Eric and Sookie will be together at the end of True Blood and I’m tired of all these people saying they want it, but they KNOW it will be Bill and Sookie in the end. All they are doing is protecting themselves from drawing hope from legitimate clues the story gives us. Maybe it’s because watching week-to-week over six years, they feel like they’ve been let down in the Sookie/Eric department. But people – watch it all again! Even the seasons you thought sucked. Binge on it looking for the Eric/Sookie story. Even in the Warlow season where people felt it was abandoned, it was there.

People use quotes from the actors and production to prove their pessimism. Alexander Skarsgard said Eric won’t rekindle anything with Sookie when he returns…he realizes he’s not the best man for her. Ummm – ok. Didn’t that just happen in the fourth episode? There was nothing definitive in what he said for the future episodes after he returns. Stephen Moyer said he really didn’t see a way for Sookie and Bill to be together – that it wouldn’t be right after all that’s happened. Everyone freaked out about the “love interest” cast for Eric…she’s gone. The spoilers from producers have all been short term teases…look at Alcides death – they pretty much said they were setting up a triangle for her, Bill and Alcide…yep they did and it was over episode 3.

Why would a show that has never given spoilers all of a sudden start handing out all the goods? It seems to me that all the information given about season seven has been true in the slimmest sense. True enough that it wasn’t a lie, but definitely not indicative of what will happen overall.

It seems to me the fact that they started with the whole Sookie and Bill reconnecting story is good for her and Eric. It’s way too early in a ten episode season for them to tell us the ending! And the first three episodes told us Sookie would get back with Bill. But the fourth showed us what we’d been missing. We couldn’t realize what Bill and Sookie don’t have with out revisiting what she and Eric do!

When you watch the seasons in order over the course of a few weeks you realize there is a solid Sookie/Eric friendship – love story present and it makes much more sense as an endgame than Sookie/Bill.

One of my favorite moments is at Terry’s funeral (Another episode fans didn’t like but that spoke volumes about where the show was heading and what it was all about.) where Sookie tells Arlene “He loved you since the second you walked into his life and not too many people can say they were loved like that.” Think about that! Only one person has loved Sookie like that and it’s Eric.

The symbolism of his believing she’d be back and giving her the house as her gift of freedom, the sympathy he showed over Alcide’s death, the fact that he had to separate himself from her when she said she wouldn’t choose him. It’s all real. When Sookie tells the hep-v vampires “I’m his”, it’s the truth.

These people saying that was all we’ll see of Eric and Sookie because Alex left the set early are crazy. You don’t have to film in order. In fact when you’re trying to keep a story under rap it’s better if you don’t. I think we will see more of Eric and Sookie – she’s going to want to cure him. I think we have a real shot at the cheesy cartoon ending where they end up together somehow, but even if we don’t get that I think we’ll get something that shows their relationship was more than in the viewer’s minds.

Whether it’s the most obvious and easiest ending where Sookie’s fairy blood could cure hep-v or Sookie uses that “ball of all she is” to heal Eric and not be a fairy anymore, I’d be happy. (It seems fitting for Sookie to end up human and helps Sam raise his baby although not romantically.) The coolest would be that Sookie chooses to become a vampire so she can have magic blood like Warlow and can cure Eric and let her blood be used by the corporation to be distributed in the True Blood, but however it ends I’m tired of all this doom and gloom. A lot of these facts and feelings that people spout about there being no future for Eric and Sookie are distorted from years of talking too much about it and not wanting to be disappointed.

Just like in real life, if you’re going to find true love you have to risk the pain of things not working out. Well, in order to really enjoy season seven of True Blood as an Eric and Sookie shipper you have to risk the hope!

Ps. For people who think most of my examples were pre-new regime, I think this TV Guide interview gives hope when read through the lens of this season…

Oliver, Felicity and the Arrow Season Two Finale (spoilers)

I have to admit that in the season finale of Arrow when Oliver took Felicity to the mansion and asked her to stay there to be safe, I was into it. When he said Slade took the wrong woman and that he loved her, I was swooning even though somewhere in the back of my mind I thought, that was too fast…really? I instinctively wanted more even though I was getting what I thought I’d been waiting for.

In the scenes after, it started to dawn on me that the scene before this profession of love was Felicity telling Oliver he had to outthink Slade. In my gut I knew I’d been played. That’s when I started feeling manipulated. The producers and writers had played a sick joke on all of us.

And then we got to the end…that was a real Olicity moment. When Felicity confessed she had believed him for just a second the lingering smile, gaze, and silence spoke volumes.

Oliver loves Felicity and he KNOWS he loves Felicity. She on the other hand still doesn’t believe it’s possible that he could think of her in that way. Therein lies the reason that we weren’t given a true Olicity love story last night. He’s there…she still needs to get to the point where she can accept that she deserves it.

Now, for those of you that argue I am being overly optimistic or seeing things that aren’t there, here’s what I hold up as evidence. The producers admitted in numerous interviews that Olicity moments, are real, crafted, and important to the show. If you watch any youtube montage of Olicity moments you see their story unfold and it’s awesome.

Beyond that when Lance told Oliver that Slade had Laurel, Ollie said the city was more important. He wasn’t going for her. He truly didn’t have a plan to save her at that point. He said the words, I know why he took her, but chose the city over her. Even the plan that eventually saves Laurel wasn’t about Laurel. It was about not killing Slade and Felicity’s belief in Oliver that he could find another way. Her belief in him culminated in his belief in himself.

So, if Oliver knew why Slade took Laurel and was going to save the city anyway, he must have known in his own heart that Slade had the wrong woman. It isn’t until Felicity pushes him again and again that he’s able to form it into an actual plan. I believe that Oliver told Felicity the straight up truth when he spoke to her in the mansion. Sure he had another purpose but it was possibly his last chance to say it to her and I think he meant it.

Then let’s look at the fact that he trusted her to understand what he wanted her to do. We’ve been hit over the head with how he wanted Sara safe and away from Slade in the island scenes. He wanted Laurel safe and out of Slade’s grasp in the past few episodes. But with Felicity, he allows her to walk straight into the fire! Is it because he doesn’t care?

On the contrary, just like his work with Sara allowed him to see her as an equal and be in a relationship with her, Oliver’s relationship with Felicity has progressed to one of equality and trust. We know that the flaw in Oliver and Sara’s relationship is her darkness and inability to accept the hero in herself, but that’s the exact opposite with Felicity. She is the light to his dark, she sees no other path but the hero’s journey. By letting them work together to make the hero’s choice, the writers and producers have brought Oliver to the place where he can finally see his love for Felicity. He has put it into words.

I also think it’s obvious from the last scene that he knows she loves him, too. I think his smile was knowing. Knowing of the fact that she is still struggling to put it into words and that giving her that time hurts no one and maybe even protects her.

I think what the producers and writers has done is brilliant. After getting over my initial anger at the manipulation factor, I can see that what they did is the only authentic path they could have taken. The I love you in the mansion may have been real for Ollie but it wasn’t time yet for her to say I love you in return.

(By the way, I hate you Andre Kreisberg for being right about giving me what I need and not what I want, but don’t drag them getting together out much past season three. I see she’s not there yet but by the end of three they should both know who they are and be ready to explore who they are together.)

My Arrow Season Two Finale Theory

In the submarine in City of Blood  – Oliver is with 3 other people. The scene directly mirrors his being in the lab with Felicity, Dig, and Laurel. On the Submarine Oliver sends Sara away. He says to her that he has to know she’s safe. She goes but we know she ends up on the boat in trouble and he has to help her. He’s left on the submarine with Anatoly and Peter. Peter is the one who tells him, when he says he’s not a hero, “Not yet, but you will be.” Anatoly is his friend forever in his own words. So Anatoly is Dig, Peter is Felicity, and Sara is Laurel.

When they’re in the lair Oliver basically tells Laurel the exact same thing he’s told Sara – once again showing he has some seriously weird sister issues – but whatever.

Now let’s look at something else. The episode before.  “Seeing Red” shares the same name with the Buffy episode where Spike at his lowest point leaves so he can get his soul to make himself worthy of Buffy.  In their series finale he famously sacrifices himself to become the hero he never was. Sara left at the end…she went to get help but she left just like Spike. And we see when she comes back in Streets of fire that she doesn’t see herself as a hero but her actions are proving that she is transitioning into one 

Sadly, if the explanations above hold – we are put in a situation where Sara will sacrifice herself to be the hero (Peter’s words on the ship – does Peter have a Felicity connection?).

We have Laurel story in the two episodes mirroring Sara’s story and we all know that at some point in the island flashbacks Oliver sees Sara “die”. Will we see Laurel almost die and have Sara sacrifice herself to save her? There are lots of signs that point to yes, but we also have to throw in the Felicity factor and the picture of Slade holding Felicity hostage.

What if Sara dies to save Felicity and Laurel “dies” like Sara did. When Sara “dies” she is taken in by Nyssa.  What if Nyssa takes Laurel and they train her. Thereby having her follow the exact same path as her sister in becoming the Canary but saddened forever by the loss of her sister she is “black”?

If Laurel “dies” that gives time for the writers to develop Oliver and Felicity just a little bit more. After watching recaps of all the Olicity stuff from YouTubers it is obvious that the writers have seriously chosen to create Olicity moments. So you have Oliver and Felicity just about to explore a real relationship in season 3 when Laurel comes back from the dead as Black Canary – all of a sudden Oliver’s equal/partner in crime. This throws major conflict into the developing relationship with Felicity which everyone knows you have to have to keep a couple successful.

I don’t know…it’s all just a theory and there are lots of them out there.  I personally don’t want it to work out that was because I am not a “Laurel” fan (character wise – I like Katie Cassidy),but it would keep me interested if that’s how it went down. Sara dies a hero, we get to see some Oliver and Felicity advancement and people who want Laurel as Black Canary get a believable story of how she all of a sudden got mad fighting skills. Hmmmm.


General Hospital New Year Check-In…Just “eh”

So I haven’t written about General Hospital in quite a while. To be honest, it’s because other than being psyched that Robin is back, I’m pretty ambivalent about what’s going on. There are pairings I like and stories with potential but I’m feeling kind of lukewarm when I want to be boiling over.

First, what’s right? Well, Anna, Duke, and Robin – Thank you God! Robin, Patrick and Emma – Double thanks! Everything else? Just makes me say, “eh.”

I love Michael Easton, but Silas Clay with Sam Morgan = paint drying. I loooove Roger Howarth but I’d be lying if I said I’m really into Franco. I absolutely freak over Maura West and actually love the character of Ava, but come on…as hot as Morgan is it’s beneath her. Where’s her leading man?

All of that pales in comparison to my devastation at the disappearance of Elizabeth Webber. Where is she?

I understand that when new writers come in they bring their own ideas and characters. I went with Britt and Sabrina and it was fairly entertaining for a time. The thing is – they aren’t the reason I watch. I don’t want to watch Britt’s love story with Nikolas or Sabrina dealing with Patrick’s rejection and what to do with his baby. I DO want to watch Nikolas and Patrick. And if I’m watching Nikolas and Patrick I feel like I should see Liz more than Britt, Sabrina, or even SAM. What’s up with all this Sam is everyone’s best friend now?

I like Silas, Ava, Derek/Julien, and Sonny. It’s a decent story. I like the way Morgan, Molly, TJ and Rafe have been drawn in as well, but I want more than a mob story.

Here’s hoping that as we move into 2014 we get a seriously juicy secret between Ava and Silas. Here’s hoping that newbie Nathan West instigates a love quadrangle with Maxie, Dante, and Lulu and doesn’t just relegate Dante to the background as Lulu moves on. Here’s hoping that they actually have a plan for Elizabeth. That she sees some romance with Nikolas, or Dante, or Nathan, anyone but AJ who just seems like a dead-end for her.

The fact that I wrote this whole reflection without AJ even coming to mind shows how this rotation of stories makes me forget about characters off-screen. Does GH have too many characters? I know, I know – ratings are at their highest in years – and despite the tone of this review I understand why. Carlivati and Valentini know soaps. They get them in a way that no one has since the 1980’s…so. I guess I’ll just shut up, keep watching, and stay lukewarm while I hope for some couples with real chemistry.

The Bachelor Juan Pablo: Can he really fall in love?

So another season of The Bachelor is upon us and I am slightly more excited than usual when it comes to this male version of the franchise. I think I’ve made it clear before that I believe the chances of an actual marriage with a man who is exposed to 27 women who want him is rare (Jason and Sean being the exceptions!).

From the way the show is editing and presenting Juan Pablo, I can maybe see him falling in love. He seems genuine, playful, and charismatic. He is absolutely himself, no hiding the way he checked each lady out on her way into the house, and seems like a good guy and dad. The question hiding beneath this hope, however, is whether or not he’s capable of a sincere monogamous relationship with one of these ladies, not whether he wants one.

He seemed overwhelmed. Like, how do I choose from 27 ladies that are all beautiful? And, as he met with them individually he seemed to like each one more than the next. What really threw me for a loop was his first impression rose. Sharleen is a beautiful, intelligent, elegant opera singer, but she wasn’t the most vivacious, beautiful, or even engaging woman there. She herself admitted to lacking that initial spark with him – almost to the point where she turned down the rose.

What’s more worrisome than her lukewarm feelings? He seems absolutely clueless to her disinterest. I guess that’s what a good ego can do for a man. I don’t think he’s thought about the fact that there could be a woman that might not want “Juan Pablo”! Anyway, previews with Sharleen seem odd. Maybe she stays around a while for drama, but she won’t be the one.

One thing Sharleen has in common with another woman that seems to be a front-runner is her intelligence. Juan Pablo seems to like his ladies smart. Is he smart enough for them, though? He seemed really smitten with Andi, a prosecutor from Georgia. Andi is fabulously attractive and obviously sharp as a tack. I couldn’t help but feel like she was humoring him some. Is Juan Pablo more looks and charms than brains – or is it the language barrier that causes doubt?

Some other girls that he seemed to like and my thoughts:

Twenty-four year-old Chelsea seems smart, cute, and fun. She made a “chemistry” joke when they met because she’s a science teacher. You could tell he thought she was attractive and would be good for Camila (his 4 year-old daughter). I think she’ll be around for a while.

Alli, the soccer-playing nanny from Illinois seems to have the most in common with him. They’re introduction was natural and seemed comfortable and real, while also showing a spark!

Clare, the hairstylist from Sacramento that hopped out of the limo pretending to be pregnant also seems to be on his list of favorites. Sure it was a silly trick, kind of like Lindsay’s wedding dress in Sean’s season, but Juan Pablo seemed to be looking past what she said and did to how pretty she was. I have a feeling, like with Lindsay, that we have a Bachelorette contender in Clare. She won’t win though.

Nikki, the pediatric nurse from Missouri took the Twitter love title last evening. Most people loved her and compared her to ex-Bachelorette Ali Fedotowsky. She is a doll. She seems real and down to earth, as well as smart and sweet. He likes her and she’s a possibility for sure.

To me he seemed most physically attracted to Christy, the marketing manager from Illinois. He gave her a rose but we didn’t see any conversation. This probably means she goes home next episode or that we’ll see a slow reveal of them getting to know one another.

The final rose of the night went to Amy L., a news reporter from Clermont, Fla. They had chemistry and she’s smart. She wants to be there and I think we’ll see a lot more between them.

Finally, there was single mom Renee who is beautiful, down to earth, and smart. Things look promising but is she just someone he connects with as a parent or is there more there? We will see.

So – what about the train wrecks?

It’s hard to imagine that they brought Amy the massage therapist on for any other purpose than to have her be the “you’ve got to be kidding” moment of the show. Red headed Kylie stepping forward for a rose when he called out Kat had to be the cringe moment of the night. When she said, “Can you keep us both?” and he stayed silent? Ouch! Another crazy that he kept was free spirit Lucy. She’ll be entertainment for sure.

I want to say one thing about the “Crier” of the night, Lauren H. I liked her. I liked her a lot. My take is that she was genuinely surprised by her emotional reaction to the experience of being there. As it happened, it seemed like she was intelligently processing her feelings and had identified her trigger. Maybe she wasn’t really ready to be there. Maybe she shouldn’t have explained her rough night to him when she first met him. I do not think, however, that she deserved the responses from people on Twitter or in blogs that she has received.

I get that people watch for the disasters. I get that it’s fun and good TV to talk about the crazy girls as I just did above. It seems to me, though that for real fans of the show, the focus on the craziness detracts from why we really watch. We watch to see a connection and see two people fall in love. Fans that have stuck with the franchise since the beginning enter each new season hoping for a Trista and Ryan, a Jason and Molly, a JP and Ashley, a Sean and Catherine – even an Andrew and Jen that was real despite not working out. That’s what I’m still a little worried about this season with Juan Pablo…I’m not totally convinced we will see him fall in love and if that hope isn’t stoked in the next few episodes, I may not finish this season.

General Hospital’s on Fire!

What can I say? It looks like all the waiting is finally paying off. It took a while for Carlivati and Valenti to move the pieces around following the unfortunate shift of three integral characters into new (Franco is kind of new now – admit it) personalities, but they did it and it was well worth the wait. Kiki has come between brothers and fathers and sons, Franco has reinvigorated the Quartermaines and given Carly a possible love story. Silas has loosened up a bit and seems to be a possibility for Sam but, hold the presses (the ones that Derek Wells just bought), he’s smoking hot with Ava.

That’s story number two in this rise from chaos. After bringing in newbies we could’ve cared less about, in the past few months we’ve seen the return of Nikolas, and the introduction of Ava and Julian Jerome – new characters that connect to the past. They tie in with Duke and Anna! They tie in with Alexis! They tie into Sonny and the murder mystery around Connie’s death (although who doesn’t think the AJ has to be Ava Jerome).

The only thing that still needs work is Elizabeth! I don’t want to be ungrateful – she’s on more than she’s been on in years, but the AJ story doesn’t have any chemistry. I can’t help but hope they’re growing Britt and Nik so they can give Elizabeth something to break up. So we can see Nik trying to stay good and be loyal to Britt while throwing longing glances at Elizabeth.

Still, it would be easier to connect Elizabeth and Nikolas in to the stories with Maxie, Spinelli, Patrick, Sabrina, and Felix….especially when Robin returns!

One more compliment for the day (Friday, Sept. 19th). Maurice Bernard kicked ass in his portrayal of a manic episode today at the party. Using the mania as the excuse for revealing that Morgan knew about Michael not being related to Kiki was genius. And saving it for the last moment before the weekend made me howl out loud for the first time in a long time. General Hospital is must watch stuff right now.

***But please, still hoping for a more balanced airing of stories – haven’t seen quite a few characters in days and it messes with momentum.

A Spider, The “Other”, and Our Humanity

Anthropomorphism is when we give human characteristics to non-human things. Sometimes we do it with objects, but more commonly this happens with animals. I remember sitting in my docent class at the Louisville Zoo and having our teacher, Doug, explain that the practice can be dangerous to both the people and the animals when this occurs.

Outside my workroom window lives a giant spider. When I first saw it I was a little freaked. I called in people from the hall to see it. It’s out of the ordinary and unique, easily the size of a half-dollar with yellow and brown stripes. After we ogled it a while, I continued about my work and didn’t see it again for a few days. I was relieved. It was a freaky spider.

Yesterday I was looking into the afternoon sun and a glint caught my eye. Silver, octagonal strands appeared before my eyes. There was a huge, beautiful, symmetrical web. It was so large there was no way it was new. It had to have been there all along. The spider hadn’t been hanging loose. It had been on its web, in its home. I just hadn’t seen it.

Today it’s back. I watch and stare as it sits in the middle of its home. I wonder in awe at nature’s capabilities and design. Alone in the workroom, I feel the need to tell the spider how gorgeous it is and how much I enjoy its presence outside the window. It’s windy and the web pulses on currents of air. The spider remains calmly at the center. I start to wonder if it really is calm. Is it scared? What’s it feeling? Empathy rises in my chest as I compare my life lessons to its own.

Then I realized that I was anthropomorphizing the little guy. He’s a spider not a human. He’s not sitting there worrying about whether a storm is coming with the wind and how it will affect his web. He’s not worried that he may not get to see the blond at the keyboard through the window again. But I am doing all of those things for him because I am human. It came so easily to me, the ability to get over my fears and find common ground with this creature that at first had seemed so “other”… so scary.

I wonder : If it’s so easy for us to anthropomorphize animals that we fear, why is it so hard for us to see humanity in the people we call “other”?
In the space of three days I had moved from ogling, to awareness, to friendship with a spider, but there are millions of people who go there whole lives treating actual human beings with different skin colors, different sexual orientations, or different IDEAS as less than human. There are millions of people who can’t move past the fear, who can’t see the web, who don’t recognize the common experiences of love and fear – the humanity that we all possess.

I think back to Doug’s comment about how dangerous it can be to anthropomorphize a wild animal and yet people do it every day. And then I think about how not dangerous it is to reach out and extend understanding and friendship to another human being. It’s in us – that ability and desire to connect. We have the inherent ability to remove the fear, find the common ground, and love if we just look. Why can’t we look? Is it a choice to remain blind? Is it a choice to live in fear? Is it a choice that actually diminishes our own humanity? If we can give human qualities to animals that scare us – why can’t we do the same for our brothers and sisters?

A New Way of Loving Myself!

I’ve had some hard days recently. I think we all at times over-commit or add new things to our lives without removing the old. When this happens it can lead to depression, anxiety, or in my case a little of both.

Now – I confess that even in good times I have a penchant for self-help books which I really enjoy, but from which I rarely find new insight. When I bought the short and sweet, Love Yourself Like Your Life Depended on It, by Kamal Ravikant (I bought it on Amazon Kindle), I didn’t have high hopes – and in a way I was right. The book’s whole message is you have to love your self. Duh! Heard that all before, but Ravikant has a way with words – a way of explaining the concept so that it’s like hearing it for the first time. The question he posed led me to some very real decisions and very new revelations.

Whenever we think of loving ourselves, it’s presented like a chore. It will be hard, but you must come to “accept” your flaws and love yourself anyway. The focus is usually on finding a way to see ourselves as “worthy” even though we may feel we are not.
But what if we instead focused on the loving?

When I think about the people I have loved over the years, I see them clearly, flaws and all. I also see that I never focused on choosing to love them despite their flaws, I just loved them, and in most cases, did everything in my power to help them get what they needed, desired or deserved. I put them first even though I could clearly see their faults. I put them first because their faults didn’t matter. If we stop spending all this time trying to get over our flaws and just focus on the act of loving, maybe we can go further than we have before.

Ravikant asked what we would do if we truly loved ourselves?

What would I do if I loved myself the way I loved all those people in my past – the people I went to bat for even when I knew I shouldn’t because I loved them, the people who I told to take time for themselves without feeling guilty, the people I found jobs for, and helped get through beauty school and citizenship tests? How would I “love” myself if they were me?

Looking from that perspective was like a lightning bolt to my soul. If I were someone I loved I would be giving myself quite different advice. If I were someone I loved, I’d say “Quit that right now!”, “Take care of yourself!”, “Market your book like you’re the fabulous writer you are!”, “Make that call!”, “Say no and mean it!” If I loved myself like I loved them I would spend hours trying to help and listen and understand instead of saying get over it, move on, you really messed that up, etc…

Instead, I tell myself to put other’s needs first. I tell myself to do what’s necessary to avoid conflict and awkward feelings. But that’s advice I would never give my God-children, my best friend, or one of my students. It’s advice that sacrifices the very things that would bring me happiness and probably success.

I have heard, “Love yourself!” over and over and over! Heck, I’ve even taught it to young women for years…but love isn’t a feeling – it’s an action. I’ve always understood that when it comes to loving others. Why was it so hard to see it about myself?

What about you? Is this revelation just new to me? Have you thought about loving yourself is an active way before – the way you love others? What difference would it make in your life?