Monthly Archives: June 2010

My reinvention

It’s fair to say I’ve been a tad moody as of late, stressed even. Some would go so far to say a ball of crazy wrapped in neurotic lists with a flair for bitchiness. I’ll tell you what, that some can be awfully judgemental.

What’s the source of this unhappy disposition? A myriad of things, one more obvious and overblown than the next.

As though I haven’t mentioned it a thousand times, I’ll be moving to New York soon. My best efforts haven’t been able to fight against my poor career choice, and I haven’t found that internship I need to break into the New York scene and graduate. Many times I’ve been asked, “How’s that internship search going?” I respond truthfully, that nothing has come up, and I get that look. The one that says, “Really? Hasn’t it been awhile? Are you very incapable or just lazy?” People can have very loaded looks.

To make matters worse, I have to maintain an awesome GPA for said job search, which acing two classes. One online, the other involving a 5-day a week, 7:30 a.m. class with a teacher whose greatest joys in life are copy editing and gruffiness.

Let me get this straight, Colleen. You have two classes, looking for a job and moving to an awesome city? That sounds like a pretty reasonable workload to me.

That may be the case, but evidence to the contrary. This stress has led to sleepless nights involving extensive excel spreadsheets documenting my possessions for packing and a planner that holds 6 to 10 lists at any given time. If that isn’t borderline insane, I don’t know what is.

This weekend, something changed. My manfriend flew in and together, we went to a family get-together at the Wisconsin Dells.  Water parks, booze and an insane group of people; what more could you ask for?

I’ll tell you. It was the very first time I’d gotten a professional massage. You see, my brother and his girlfriend are moving to Washington D.C. this very week. She and I are both the Type A, compulsive sort who strongly feel that anxiety is the only reason anything gets done. So she and I dragged our over-wrought asses to a new age massage parlor where Iris fix my many, many, many knots and my soul.

Like many transformations, I assumed it would be short-lived. We came back to the resort happy and relaxed in a way that made people uncomfortable. I really let go of that needless worry for once.

This is where it got strange. I said goodbye to my manfriend on Sunday, but I wasn’t upset. I couldn’t believe after all this time, this would be the last we would ever say goodbye to each other and go to our respective homes. The next time we’re together, after over two years of dating, immigration issues and Skype relationship building, we were finally going to be a normal couple.

Now it’s two days later, and you know what? The stress hasn’t come back yet. This morning, I was tidying up a bit, and my roommate had left a big mess. Rather than fighting off an instinct to stab her in the head with the many DVDs she left out, I just made note of it and went on. No repression, no anger, just observation. It was weird.

Later, when I ran five miles (it’s sick, you don’t need to tell me), I was tired later in the afternoon. But there was so much I wanted to get done, so many things in my planner uncrossed. I realized I had gotten enough done, that my work will me done when it needs to be, and I was in the mood for some delicious food. I realized that soon, I won’t be able to stop working at four in the afternoon to make stir fry and try to memorize Justin Bieber lyrics to annoy my roommate.

Look at this guy. He gets it. Even coming from the mean streets of that Ontario suburb and dealing with eeny-meeny-miney-mo lovers, he knows how to have a good time.

I did just that. And here I am, still having unfinished work, and instead enjoying the antics of Sandy Cohen and the gang. Because you see, tomorrow is another day, what will be will be, additional hippie cliché.

Okay, now I’m creeping myself out. I give it a week before I’m up at three reviewing health insurance transfers. Until then, enjoy it, Zen Colleen.

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Sex and the City 2 much

Weeks ago, I saw this film with mediocre anticipation. Due to my over-thinking of films and adoration for the series, I had a whole lot to say about it. However, due to my odd and arbitrary once a week rule, other events have taken its place. Now, finally, I’m going to expand on my feelings so cleverly expressed in the title of this post.

Here’s the truth, shameful though it may be: I love the Sex and the City TV show. No, not in an ironic way or in a guilty way, I really just love it. Despite all its stupidity and veiled anti-feminist sentiment, I found the show to be surprisingly relatable, amusing and well-written. It had the ridiculous things like funky spunk and porn addiction, but characters you rooted for. And all the while you enjoy the antics of four beautiful,well-off Manhattanites hitting the town and getting to bed, there were many insightful and real moments that brought you into their lives. I’d watch this at my suburban home actually thinking, “wow, I’ve thought that,” or “that happened to me!” Man, I am so a Miranda.

Not to say the show was astonishingly brilliant or without fault. It had its stupid moments and ridiculous premises (how does Carrie afford that much, even with admitted money troubles?), but I still love it.

Then came the movie. Boy was I excited. After five years, I was going to see the girls again and what they were up to. Fun!

Folks, this I would admit with a little shame, but I loved that movie. It definitely lost some of the sheen of the series, especially in writing and character development, but I didn’t care. It was a movie just for the fans. There was the fashion, the inside jokes, the fun banter and, most of all, the wonderful friendship you feel like you’re a part of. Again, for the non-SATC fan, it’s a pretty dumb movie. For us, it was a fun trip down memory lane.

This brings me to the sequel. I didn’t really think it was necessary; after all, the stories had wrapped up pretty nicely. By the looks of it, I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to be great, awful even. But like the first movie, I would suspend my hyper-critical approach to movies and enjoy another fun trip with my New York City girls.

As it turns out, I couldn’t suspend it completely. It had taken every shallow part of the series while leaving behind anything that made it critically redeemable. I’ve decided that maybe plot was never the selling point to begin with, so instead I’ll break down the characters for you and the ensuing disappointment they all gave me.

Charlotte-

Actually, her character was slightly better than in the first movie while making sure to remind us that there was no way to relate. Her perfect housewife image is beginning to breakdown as her obnoxious kids finally get to her. Of course, she’s a stay-at-home mom with a full-time nanny on Park Avenue, so the sympathy factor isn’t off the charts.

When the girls all need to get away and they’re off to Abu Dhabi (more on that later), she and Miranda have possibly the best scene in the movie. Miranda decides to get her drunk, and they talk about the pitfalls of motherhood. Earlier in the movie, Charlotte worries Harry’s interest in the bra-less Irishwoman they hired to watch the kids. As she admits to Miranda, it was because her first thought was that if he cheated with her, “I might lose the nanny!”

We all laugh, and we finally see past Charlotte’s perfection. However, as they’re drinking at their own personal bar in this lavish suite and both have full-time nannies, it’s made very obvious to the audience that these are very privileged people who actually have it pretty easy.

Miranda-

She was always the one I related to the most, but I felt her character was seriously sold short in the last movie. She was just a bitch most of the time, and no one seemed to care that her husband cheated on her, only that for some reason she wouldn’t take him back.

I thought it could only get better. I was wrong. She was worse than a bitch with thin motives. She was – dare I say it – boring.

Here’s her story: she isn’t happy at work. Quits job. Loves kid, but not that much, wants to work again. After lavish trip, gets a new job. She returns to her obvious character points by being too prepared for the trip and planning every minute, but it doesn’t really go anywhere interesting. No conflict, no character growth, no fun.

Samantha-

Samantha has always been the outrageous one. It creates a balance in the group; she and Charlotte are the extremes of outwardly sexual and staunchly conservative. Miranda and Carrie become the middle, more real characters with Carrie being the sentimentalist and Miranda the realist. Not a bad formula.

After the sex swing and nipple-clamps, I never thought they could go too far with Samantha. Wrong again. They strip every bit of substance from her (her struggle with cancer, her owning her sexuality as empowerment, etc.), and she becomes a walking punchline that isn’t very funny.

She meets a sheik who, after noting her former success with promoting Smith, decides to hire her to promote his new hotel in Abu Dhabi. At this point, they are just insulting the intelligence of the viewer. Why would a hotel owner from an ultra-conservative country hire a PR professional woman who used to work for a famous movie star and is  clearly not so conservative? I stay tuned.

Samantha’s obstacle to overcome is menopause. When her drugs are confiscated (banned in the UAE), she loses the urge. Except then she gets it back for a hot guy. Then she and said guy are caught on the beach engaging in lewd behavior. She loses the job, and they have to leave the over-the-top resort. While there may have been an opportunity for commentary on sexual repression in conservative countries, it turns into a clownish, ugly American scene where Samantha shouts dirty things in a marketplace, and they are chased by police. I wasn’t expected a round table discussion on feminist philosophy, but one slightly insightful or clever line of dialog would have been nice.

A fun karaoke scene where the girls sing “I Am Woman” doesn’t make up for the embarrassing and cheap culture-clash they attempted to portray.

Carrie-

What I really hated about this movie can be summed up in one word – Bradshaw. Although I suppose it’s Mrs. Preston now. Where do I begin?

We are two years into Big and Carrie’s marriage, and of course, they are at a crossroads. They have decided not to have children, and while this may have opened up a point of interest in pursuing a road-less-traveled, it apparently means that she and Big need to make up for it by having an extravagant lifestyle filled with expensive things and regular parties.

Throughout the series, I was on Carrie’s side most of the time. Big really put Carrie through a lot, even if she had some of it coming. But in this movie, I was totally on his side. He gets her a nice TV for the bedroom, and she’s upset because they’re boring. He goes out to a party with her after a long day at work and talks to an attractive woman, and she’s upset. Usually when men say, “what do you want from me?” it’s condescending and annoying. When Big said it, I was curious for the answer. What the hell does she want from him?

She escapes from her treacherous life with the girls. In a completely believable coincidence, she runs into Aidan in a marketplace. After she gets a bad review of her new book, she’s just torn up inside and decides to have dinner with Aidan (side note- isn’t she a writer? What kind of unbelievable drama queen does she have to be to not know how to take criticism?) It’s not totally clear what’s going on in his life or what motivates him to cheat on his wife, but he and Carrie kiss. In order to heighten the drama, she absolutely has to call Big immediately afterward and tell him.

As a punishment for her petty and selfish ways, Big decides to get her a diamond ring to replace the first anniversary gift and promises that they won’t have a boring life. As my friend Michelle said, “Let me get this straight. She cheated and got a diamond.” She sure did.

Now you know my thoughts, the movie was not so good. However, it did have some redeemable scenes. Anthony and Stanford have a big gay wedding with Liza Minnelli officiating and performing “Single Ladies.” And then there was the very enjoyable pool scene with European soccer players.

But other than a few comical asides and pretty to look at montages, it was pretty dire. After all this time, Sex and the City has become as bad as every boyfriend and husband thinks it is.

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It is your Birthday.

Sorry if the title is deceiving, it’s actually my birthday. It’s a statement of fact; Birthdays come and go, we all have them. My own brother wrote that I was not special, everyone grows older. Well, Mr. dry wit, would someone who wasn’t special have 28 people wish her happy Birthday? Probably, but God bless Facebook in its ability to make you feel like you have lots of friends.

The truth is, I like my Birthday. People are nice to you, and for one day people can’t be rude or mean to you without seeming like a complete asshole. However, I don’t really care much about it. I’ve seen again and again people disappointed by heightened expectations of how much their special day should be recognized, by whom, and how much time and money they are owed. I don’t have the capacity for numbers to begin with, and mostly, I love the feeling of joy you get from lowered expectations.

Where am I going with this? Well, as a Birthday present to me, I’ve decided to write a super-indulgent blog post dealing with personal reflection that I would normally spare my readers from. How am I going to do that? Every year, my dear father asks us to list our five positives and five negatives from the year before. Normally the list isn’t true to form as people hate being put on the spot and list things as quickly as they can. You also have to pander to the people around you (ex. “Spending time with friends” as a positive. Come on, really? That’s barely a real answer).

On that note, I’m going to list these things. It’s normally more recent as I have a terrible memory, and may ramble a bit,  but I’ll give it my best shot. As always, I’ll start with the negatives to end on a good note:

1. My friend getting pregnant. It seems even a little too self-indulgent to say something that happened to someone else is what sucks for me, but it’s really been one of the worst things to happen this year. One of my best friends, the one I saw growing to be this amazing person I’d see through so much, threw it all away on a hasty and bad decision. It’s hard to watch.

2. Not spending enough time with people in general. As I think over the last year, I’m proud of my academic career, but I think I was much less invested in my friendships than I should of been. At times, my ambition made me selfish and withdrawn. College is an experience I’ll never have again, Mankato is a city I’ll never live in and I’ll never have the same relationship with my friends.

3. Not being with my boyfriend enough. It seems like the opposite of the first one and terribly sentimental, but it’s all true. Even though we’ve been in a long-distance relationship for over two years, always being apart only got harder. And when he gave up so much to move to this country to be with me, I couldn’t be there to support him. Not fun.

4. Money. I never have enough, but I hate asking for it. I hate being stingy, but I hate spending money. Then to top it all off, I decide to be a journalist in order to make sure this will always be a problem. Silly, silly Colleen.

5. My health. Many times throughout this last year, I’ve done really silly things that have compromised my health in extremely preventable ways. Though it’s nothing serious, I really think it compromised my full potential and probably annoyed quite a few people. It was mostly things like not eating and sleeping, I can imagine why people thought that was slightly moronic.

I hope that wasn’t too hard to get  through. I know I’m a little choked up. Alright, let’s get some positives in here! For the sake no pandering, I won’t be mentioning people. Sorry guys. Here are the five positive highlights of my year:

1. I have to say it first because it’s the most obvious, and everyone knows because I won’t shut up about it. This year I made the decision to move to New York. I’m moving to the most exciting city in the world to start my adult-ish life. And there’s absolutely nothing that can go wrong!

2. School. I know this was in my negatives, but I really feel so good about what I’ve done. I love the mundane research I got to do in my independent studies, I love working way too hard on projects, I love stroking my ego by impressing professors, but most of all, after being categorized as “smart but lazy” and then “student on academic probation,” I’ve found that I maybe do have some ability. I can work hard and pay attention (thank you drugs!). This is kind of cheating because I starting doing well two years ago, but it was this year that I had a ridiculous course load and ridiculous research projects of my choosing (comparative study of 19th century British and American press anyone?)

3. Exercise. It’s kind of strange, but even though I haven’t been very healthy, I’m starting to see how I can be. I finished a half marathon (which isn’t its own positive because while it was a pretty cool accomplishment, it was also the worst thing ever). Even though I would hate to admit it to my parents, it’s helped me feel better about myself and in general. I even kept off some of the weight I lost from not eating. If I avoid gorging myself on bagels and Indian food when I get to New York, I might maintain an alright shape for myself.

4. Glee. It’s such a great show, and it’s really brought my friends and I together. And all this culminating to an awesome night at Glee Live. It may seem like a lame positive to some, but the music, the characters, the good times; what a difference Glee has made. I will not stop believing, no sir.

5. This is a vague one, but bear with me. These past few years I’ve grown more than I thought possible. I’ve experienced so much, laid the groundwork for a future and I’ve really started to see the kind of person I want to become. So my positive is that I’m actually starting to become that person. I’ve stopped being so lazy, found things I’m passionate about and curious about life in a less cynical, less annoying way. I really have a lot of people in my life to thank for that, you guys rule! Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

This turned out to be awfully long. But it’s going to be longer yet! As I was avoiding not mentioning specific people, I realized I wanted to mention certain people. Apologies to those who feel excluded, this is just off the top of my head:

My parents. I know I put them through hell with almost failing out of school, then traveling through Europe doing God-knows-what. Now they are supporting me in every way they can, I have no idea how I could have done any of this without them.

Junice. The only person who gave me expressed permission to have her name mentioned in the blog. Two of the most fun things I did this year, Glee Live and visiting Boulder, Co, were with her. She is my best friend, and I am so proud of her. She has been clean for over a year, has more friends than she can count and finished this semester with a 4.0. Basically my personal hero.

Boyfriend. He is just crazy awesome. For my birthday, he got me the most awesome desk, chair, lamps, bookshelf and other furniture (it may sound unromantic to some, but I was crazy excited). As if that weren’t enough, he also sent me flowers. I’m so excited to finally share the same time zone with him. I’m sure he’ll find out how annoying I actually am and wise up, but until then, I’m a lucky girl.

Roommates. We’ve driven each other crazy, to be sure, but through my crazy hermit times and my overly stressed times and through my overly contemplative times, you’ve been there. Sure, there’s geographic reasons for that, but you’ve been there when I’ve needed you. Thanks for the good times.

Glee crowd. I’m not sure how else to mention these two, but to the rest of the Glee crowd, it’s been amazing getting to know you. You WILL visit me in New York, none of this summer camp “we’ll always be friends” but give up after two letters crap. Just letting you know the deal.

Family. Family in town, family that’s driven me to the airport, family that is always good for a laugh. There’s nothing like having a ridiculously large and intrusive support group to get you through anything.

Okay, enough is enough. I just got a glimpse of my word count, ouch. In summary, good year, but mostly I’m interested to see what the five and five will reveal next year. At this pivotal and important age of 23, I’m sure it’ll be overwhelmed with character growth and wacky adventures. See you all next year!

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Special moments and science

I’m sure all my loyal readers, all three of you, are on the edge of your seats right now. What could have made her postpone her strict Tuesday deadline? And why the hell can’t she write more than once a week?

First of all, you caught me, I can be a little lazy. And to answer that first question, remember my dear friend who has found herself in trouble in the pregnant sense? About a week ago, she asked me to go along with her to an ultrasound. You see, her dear boyfriend is away for a month, some army thing or whatever, and her mother didn’t want to come into town that early (ouch). What could I say but, of course, I’d love to come. Or at least I tried to repress my horrified look as I said yes.

Another dear friend of mine suggested that perhaps I should wait and write about this very thing. She said that my blog about her pregnancy and the stupidity… I mean, disagreement with my knocked-up friend’s choice was more moving than anything I’d written. Maybe, just maybe, seeing her baby, this living thing growing inside my friend would inspire me to get off my judgmental high horse. I could finally see that she was going to be a mother; she was going to bring this precious gift into the world to care for in a way that only she could. It happens on TV anyway, so what the hell?

We arrived at the radiology department for her appointment on time and ready to go. I hadn’t slept too well, but those two sodas I chugged were kicking in. My friend had her younger brother along. I was jealous of the guy; it would probably be inappropriate if I played Game Boy the entire time.

After waiting for some time in a room full of people on the cusp of death, we were summoned by the technician. His name was Jeremy, a thirty-something guy with bright blue scrubs that were dangerously close to neon. Very brave, Jeremy.

I have to say, my feelings on this whole pregnancy thing have not changed much. Most of the time, I don’t think about it. It was hard to let this be one of those times. As the technician was preparing, my friend kindly introduced me as the Godmother of her child. All I could think about was, what in God’s name is she doing?

I really don’t doubt that she loves this unborn child unconditionally already, but that doesn’t mean she is the best thing for it. She had already let her insurance go unchecked, and this would most likely cost a small fortune. Don’t worry, she’ll think about that later. I love my friend very much, but she continuously convinces me of her unpreparedness and youth when it comes to motherhood.

All these thoughts were racing through my mind when he flipped on that switch. Despite my obvious and deep-set objections to the procreation game, I thought I would try to let go of my prejudice to appreciate what I was seeing. Frankly, I couldn’t help but abandon my condemning thoughts of young single motherhood. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it what I was seeing.

It was creepy. Now Colleen, isn’t that harsh? No, harsh would be horrifying, terrible, a freak of nature disguised as a special moment between mother and almost-child. I may have thought these things also. Let me see if I can describe this. All you really at first are blurs. The doctor says things like, “See this line? That’s the diaphragm.” You nod and agree, but it still just looks like nothing. After some staring, it starts to become clear. You start to see the organs, especially the heartbeat. Only it doesn’t look like a heart – it looks like a deformed set of gills breathing like a dying fish.

The most obvious things you notice are the bones. One you notice that the accordion thing is actually the spine, it all comes together for you. As the technician moves the whats-it around her belly, out of the inky blackness will come this half-formed skeleton. Five little bones appear and curl, and you realize that’s a bony hand. He measured what he said was the femur, but it just looked like a single bone floating in nothingness. It may have only been five centimeters long, but it was at least five inches sinister. When Jeremy wanted to show us the face,  I could make out a skull with harsh shadow. It looked as though she were carrying Voldemort’s baby. I wanted to look away, but I just couldn’t.

Most of the time, you couldn’t really tell what you were looking at, only that it was disturbing.. It was as though some sadistic claymation artist depicted a very gory massacre and filmed it using cheap, grainy effects from an 80’s music video. Only that skeletal creeper was really inside my friend and not even a foot from where I was standing.

While I was there, I did learn some fascinating medical terms. Jeremy determined that it was mostly likely a girl due to her absence of a “turtle” and possession of a “hamburger.” Gross. My friend asked if she could hang a picture of that on our fridge. This poor, poor child.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Jeremy. He answered all of my questions, and he even laughed at my joke about this being an expensive ink-blot test. I asked him if people ever react strangely to these things, and he said sometimes people are painfully obvious at their disappointment of the sex. That made him especially mad, he said. Due to the bold shade of his scrubs, I can see how he might be sensitive to parents’ letdown of what they expected their child to be. I like you just as you are, Jeremy.

It wasn’t all bad. I liked Jeremy, and of course, making inappropriate jokes. I did show a sense of propriety though; when Jeremy said he couldn’t get a good look at the sex because the baby had closed its legs, I didn’t say to my friend, “If only you hadn’t done that five months ago!” Well done me.

As we walked out of the clinic, my friend actually said to me (word for word), “Now that wasn’t too creepy, was it?” That was not a great choice of words. It was too, too creepy. It did change me in a profound way. If I should ever think of having children, I’ll think of this day. The day I don’t say, “oh my God, ew, gross, why?” is the day I might be ready to have my own children. So probably never.

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13.1: been there, run that…twice

It’s almost redundant to say I have a crazy family. Mostly fun crazy what with way too many of us to count, but insane nonetheless. This manifests itself in several ways, and one way that befuddles me to this day is this – we are a family of runners.

Sure, I get running. It’s probably one of the most efficient cardio exercises out there, and the Norman clan has a tendency to live longer than you’d think their massive drinking would allow. But this family is not satisfied with just a few miles of jogging. No, there are some marathoners in the bunch.

Now where do I come in? My lovely mother has always wanted me to be a runner. My mother also had her doctor recently tell her that perhaps she shouldn’t have run a half marathon a year after an aneurysm (are you getting the insanity yet?).

In an attempt to get me in this running game, she bribed me with a ticket to England if I would run  a half marathon. I’m very susceptible to bribes; it worked like a charm. It was as awful as you would imagine and then some. I vowed never again.

And yet, somehow it’s over a year later, I got roped into it again with the Madison half marathon. My darling roommate somehow talked me into it. “We’ll train together, it’ll be fun,” she said. She went and got knocked up and declined the race (inconsiderate much?). My foolish pride wouldn’t let me back out.

I have to ask the obvious question. Why, dear God, why?

It was a very hot day in Madison as we started the race at seven in the morning. No one got any sleep the night before, and I had lost my running buddy in the crowd. I lost my second running buddy when she heartlessly abandoned me at the port-a-potties. The entire experience was one of pain and…well, mostly just pain. By mile three, I was already so hot and my muscles ached like no tomorrow. “Oh gee, just ten miles to go,” wasn’t as helpful as you might think.

Finally, I caught up with my running buddy. She was encouraging, though I couldn’t say the same for her father/my uncle. This is the uncle that’s the craziest of them all and is attempting to run a marathon in every state and every continent. Anyway, he just ran around us to remind us how slow we were going, make the same jokes over and over to spectators and repeating the confusing and unhelpful mental trick of “envisioning double digits.”

Safe to say, I was not a happy camper by the end. When my running buddy went ahead of me, I possibly slightly overreacted with thoughts like, “why does she hate me so much?” “I will probably just die here,” and so forth. This was not helped by the marathon’s sadistic decision to end the race uphill. Bastards. By the end, I was ill, thirsty, in pain and mad at the world.

This begs the question, why? This wasn’t even a full marathon, and yet the physical toll was astounding for very little return.

A day after the race I was lying in bed (not much else I could do). My feet were stinging with every slight movement, stairs made my knees feel eighty, every muscle in my body was one bad movement  away from a spasm and I still had to get up for school in the morning.

But as I looked at my medals side by side, the sense of accomplishment finally set in. Without entirely proper training, I finished this moronic race. I took on a ridiculous physical challenge and succeeded. I smiled to myself.

Hell, I already ran two of these, why not a full marathon?

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