Slow learning, since 1976…

What I’ve learned in May is kind of a tricky topic. I feel it’s likely, on any given day, that I could have a varying degree of answers. One day I’d tell you that I learned to master the most amazing sandwich recipe, the next I’d cry into my sourdough bread and tell you how I’ve learned nothing and I’m a huge failure, doomed to repeat the same disastrous mistakes day after day.

I live with a fifteen year old girl, who is the barometer of our house. I’ve learned this.

I kind of, sort of, pretty much, definitely hate it. {learned that too.}

In all seriousness, it’s been a tough month. My instinct is to lay it all out for you and prove to you that I’m a failure as a wife, mother, writer and _________ (insert every other area here), but the truth is, I’ve learned the damage thinking such things can do. While yes, it has become painstakingly clear that I am not an awesome mom because apparently awesome moms have their stuff figured it by now, I have learned that I daily become more and more of the person I’m destined to be. Labeling all of my steps along this journey, until this moment, as failure only sounds spoiled and ungrateful.

I already knew I didn’t want to be that…

I’ve learned that love is patient. Most of us know that. It’s something ingrained into our brains and yet, I’m only really starting to understand what that truly means. I’ve learned that saying “no” to the stuff we should say no to is tough, and saying “yes” to the stuff we should agree to is even tougher. This realization hit me like a Mack truck to the face, and I still think it sucks, but something about knowing it helps me when I’m faced with the question and that’s a good thing.

I’ve learned that intentional dating is an awesome thing to do with my husband, but sometimes life is heavy and hard and we just need to escape and zone out at the movies together. Feeling guilty for that isn’t healthy.

I tried to learn to make fried chicken again. (the last time was 20 years ago.) I will not try again. I realize there is nothing healthy about fried chicken but I grew up on fried chicken picnics and Chw grew up on Sunday fried chicken dinners. Nostalgia inspired me to try it again. I did learn that I’m a really great cook, when it comes to some things, and fried chicken is not one of them. I am ok with this…

Regarding writing, and working from home, May has been quite an educational month. I’ve learned I work better when I’m working. Novel concept, (no pun intended) I know. It’s that simply, though, so I’ve begun scheduling my hours and it works like a dream. Because it’s the end of the school year oddness, a few things have been tweaked, but it’s been a pretty great and I’ve been more productive and taken more steps forward this month than I have in well over a year.

It all falls under the same lesson though, one I think that I’ve been learning since I was seven years old… That’s the lesson of grace. Grace for myself, grace for others… I’ll wake up and need to learn it again tomorrow. I think I’m stuck in my own version of Groundhog Day over here…

a long way trip to get to the tv point…

TVcoverI want to talk about marriage, infidelity, hashing through it all on camera but first-

A lot of people from various walks of life-like to bag on entertainment whenever they discuss the important things in life. Between you and I, sometimes I get a little defensive when they do that. Here’s the truth, we do subscribe to digital cable and we do have a DVR. Is it expensive? I guess. Could that money be used for something more valuable? Probably. Are we going to cancel our cable? Nope… The truth is, we don’t watch a lot of TV. The television is off more days a week than it’s on. We don’t eat meals in front of the tv, we do not mindlessly channel surf. Actually, we do not ever channel surf. We DVR shows we enjoy and when we do watch tv, those are what we watch. (and by most of, I mean the few shows…)

Here’s the deal. I’m not saying tv should rank up their on the list of priorities, and I’m not saying that I am right to be defensive. What I am suggesting is that we stop expecting every single person to fit into a slim little box. Sometimes someone’s day may look like their husband is stressed out with a business trip gone bad and he’s out-of-town and unavailable while her fifteen year old screams and verbally abuses her and then heaps on more abuse because how dare she be hurt or remotely offended by the hateful remarks spit at her. Sometimes the microscopically fine line between complete abysmal overwhelment and absolute emptiness might look like a bottle of whiskey or a drug induced escape… While I own the former, and never drink it, I don’t choose that. Instead, on days (yesterday) like that, I curl up on the couch and watch an hour of Kitchen Casino, and then Jimmy Fallon.

For years and years my work was tied to the edge of the entertainment industry and I grew to appreciate the ins and outs of production, the quality of a great series/film and most specifically great entertainment writing. It’s not easy, and I appreciate it. While there are tons of people who don’t, (and because they don’t, and they have a voice, they somehow deem it as worthless garbage) I personally feel the entertainment industry is incredibly valuable. With these tiny fragments of time our emotions can be held, captured and touched in extraordinary ways, when it works out right. I love that! So yeah, if a show has solid writing, we will probably give it a shot. This means my husband and I store and watch a rather eclectic mix of things. I cry in most shows we watch because, again, we watch really well written things so I get pretty drawn in. It’s embarrassing, even to have Chw there sometimes.

Beyond So You Think You Can Dance (Which starts tonight!) HGTV Design Star, and a couple of random Food Network competition shows, I don’t do reality TV at all. Our family loves these shows so we watch them together whenever we can, but if we miss one, we delete it- no big deal. (Well, and I am obsessed with Catfish. We do not watch that as a family. That’s my guilty pleasure, when I’m folding laundry…)

Except… One day I saw a promo for True Tori, on Lifetime. I’ve never been a Tori Spelling fan, and am not a huge follower of celebrity gossip so I knew nothing about her husband’s alleged affair. If you’ve read my blog for long though, you’ll know that my husband and I divorced after an affair and eventually worked through hell to reconcile. It was a difficult journey, that our marriage is all a million times better for. (the journey, not the affair and the divorce) Whenever I get the chance to see elements of real marital stuff portrayed within the entertainment world, I gravitate there… (I’ll list a few movies at the end of this post that I think portray awesome marriage stuff.)

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I have recorded this series weekly, and found time to painfully sit through it. I have skimmed posts and articles where people have shouted about how sure they are that it’s all a hoax because apparently Dean & Tori have money issues. (Being a non-celebrity gossip, non TS fan, I’m watching this show and looking at their house and the things they own, the way they eat and the things they buy their kids and thinking “they do????” but whatever… Maybe when someone grew up a Spelling and they lose THAT degree of money, it feels like money problems when you have a lot less.) Here’s the thing, this show is raw. Though there are parts of it that feel super fake- {like if I hear “our fairy tale _________” (insert: romance, marriage, story, ending, love, etc) one more time, my tv may find itself feeling more broke than Tori’s book claims they are.} there is an uncomfortable level of honesty there that no one in their right mind would expose themselves or their family to, unless it’s honestly to fight for their family. The series ends next week, and honestly I’m glad. I truly do suffer through these episodes. It’s a battle between wanting to smack one of them (it varies) and feeling empathy rip out of my chest  for this awful place they’ve journeyed. Haters are gonna hate. People will criticize and Tori is no stranger to this, she knew this going in… I’d suspect there is so much edited out, how could there not be? It’s weeks of footage put into less than 7 hours of tv.

Is it real? I believe it is. I have a lot of reasons I won’t get into here, because they aren’t important, or the point. My point is: is this high quality, well-written tv? No. Is this even “entertaining”? Absolutely not. But it is honest, and tragically, so relevant. And brave. Marriage is hard. Parenting is hard. Adulthood is hard. Life is hard. Sometimes we just need to get through it. I get through it with a little bit of tv, every now and then and Tori apparently gets through it by putting her darkest moments and breakdowns on tv. I’m sad for them. I’m sad for these kids. We’ve sensationalized celebrities so much, and project either complete idolization or venom at them that we seldom award them the opportunity to be people. These are people, parents who obviously love their kids, these are people who are fighting for a marriage. It doesn’t matter how they met… It really doesn’t. I have friends who have the very same beginning to their marriages and I would never (EVER) tell them they deserve infidelity because of how they got together. Just because these two are celebrities doesn’t mean they do either…

All of this was a really wordy way to say that we need to be so much more compassionate… Whether it’s about what we think is valuable or what our opinions are of others.