Tuesday, August 26, 2008

How I Lost Myself to LOST, or Forgive the Trite Analogy But This Show is Like Crack

I did it. I finally caved.

When the gardening is done, the dishes are clean, and the town you're living in is a virtual no-man's land in terms of stimulating activity, one must get creative in the way of entertainment. Well folks, my creativity is waning, and the best I can seem to come up with is God's gift to modern man: TV on DVD.

I started watching LOST.
Ok, I know what you're thinking, because I've thought it myself. WHY? WHY, LISA, DID YOU START WATCHING LOST? Are you really that bored? Has your mind rotted due to over sleeping? Are you actually that interested in joining a cult?

And you know, I can't really answer those questions, because I don't know why I started an innocent experiment that has now become an addiction. It's not that I found LOST, but more like LOST... found me. But at least I'm not totally bummed out about the Olympics being over. I swear, it's like crack with a disc menu.

LOST is more addictive than Pinkberry, and more entertaining than watching lions mate at the zoo. A thousand times more entertaining! I'm hesitant to admit this, but I guess for the sake of how pathetic is, I'll have you know I've spent somewhere around 23 hours over the last four days devouring the entire first season. Now there's no way I could watch lions do anything for 23 hours, much less crave it more and more on a (pretty much) hourly basis.

To my fellow LOST-is-a-ridiculous-trend resistors, I only have this to say: Please, do yourself a favor and swallow your pride. Start drinking the Kool-Aid. I held back for so long that my staunch opposition just, wore away like the sands of time. And perhaps that's why now I'm able to enjoy LOST without guilt, shame, or reservation. The way it was meant to be enjoyed... while you're unemployed.

You wanna know the best thing about watching the show? It's not how dramatic it is, or how badly it makes you want to visit Hawaii. It's not how you feel empowered, nay convinced, at the end of each episode that you'd totally be able to sustain your own life and the lives of 40 other people if stranded on an island and given only a smattering of random supplies. The best thing about LOST is not how it makes you wonder how many strangers you could potentially call friends, nor is it how scared you are to go outside in your backyard at night. No, the best thing about watching LOST is telling other people about how you started watching LOST.

I mean it. And I know this because I experienced the phenomenon last weekend.

Whilst visiting some long LOST friends* in LA (which, let's face it, often feels like an island you can't escape), I was asked frequently by my inquisitive companions just what it is I'm doing with myself now that I've moved home. And instead of getting into the humdrum details of the nothingness that has consumed my every day, I was able to sound delightfully occupied and productive when I mentioned that I had started watching season one of LOST. The show's role in my life, as a stand-in for friends and career advancement, spared me the embarrassment that the truth would have surely forced me to suffer.

By mentioning that I have started watching LOST it is evident to anyone listening that my inner strength has indeed weakened, but said message can be read between the lines. I can save face, while maintaining an air of serenity. Yes, my life is like a party you never want to leave, is what my audience hears. Don't worry about me, friend, I have plenty to do and have learned much about hunting boars in the wild. I'm very well adjusted, and want for nothing. You needn't worry about me. Now go in peace.

Trust me, it's pretty much the best thing ever.

So if you're on the fence about hopping on the bandwagon of the most underrated-overrated show ever, I'd encourage you to just go ahead and bite the bullet. Get in there and get all messy in it. Start from the beginning, and succumb to the obsession. Just because you have stupid friends who like it, it doesn't make you stupid too.

And besides, the worst thing that could happen is you have a few pseudo-thrills and something kind of lame to talk about.

*Get it? Get it?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Moving Home Has Revealed Dark Truths About My Taste or, True Confessions of a Closet Country Fan

Moving home is an emotional experience.

It's an ambiguous mix of sadness, relief, hope, and disbelief. For me it's only been about 8 weeks, but I find myself asking with unnerving regularity questions like, "Did I really move back here?" and, "How long is this going to last?" and, "If I'm not paying rent, where did all my money go?"*

For those of you who haven't moved home or aren't quite sure what I'm talking about, I'd encourage you to stop grinning smugly at your financial independence. Just wait. Your time will come.

But it's not a bad thing. I mean, the temporary retreat from mainstream society has its perks. Not long after making the trek back up north, I realized just how much of my time had been needlessly eaten up by work. Unemployment, under the right circumstances,** can be pretty sweet. It's freed up a lot of my time to do important things like plant a vegetable garden, watch the summer Olympics, and run errands. Boredom can always be remedied with a trip to Target, or an afternoon spent baking, slash, berating myself for being way too young to be acting like a suburban housewife.

All of that's fine, really. But, every silver lining has a cloud blocking it. So if trips to Target is my silver lining, then my cloud is that while I'm driving there, I've started to listen to the radio.

I know! I know! It's terrible, and I'm sorry but I have very few alternatives! I've listen to my CD collection probably twelve times in the last month, and I lack sufficient funds to update it with deep, creative, substantive music. I own zero books on tape, and whether I like it or not (which I don't) there are moments where I just can't stand the silence.

But the really sucky thing is that Sacramento radio stations are worse than stepping on a rusty nail. Sure it sounds dramatic, but I can't think of anything else that gets the point across. Sac radio is worse than... Paying off your credit cards? Drinking flat generic cola? Sitting next to a crying baby on a plane? Losing your little toe at a cock fight?

Scratch that. I'd rather listen to the radio if it meant I'd never have to hear the death-cries of a baby on a plane. Crying babies are the worst.

But I think you get my point. The radio around these here parts eats shit, so it's no small wonder I've been forced to seek creative solutions to this frequency deficiency problem.

Solutions like... listening to Country.

(Oh God, I may have just lost half my readers.)

Whatever. I'm admitting it right here, right now, out loud.

Throughout my formative years, like any kid I went in and out of various musical phases. One phase lasted for several months in which I just about worshiped Sarah McLachlan (I was eleven, sue me). Then there was another phase where I "discovered" punk and started wearing All Stars. Luckily, I survived both.

Following the McLachlan phase, I became a slave to peer acceptance, and shackled with the chains of conformity I was unable to indulge in my appreciation for country music. Unless I wanted to face inevitable public shaming and ostracizing from my already chilly classmates, I was wise to ignore the tender place in my heart for songs revering Chevy Pick-ups or those reproaching abusive boyfriends. Maybe it's all the Crystal Light I've been drinking, or the excessive lounging around that has led to the regrettable demise of my good taste, but I can't help it. I wish I could stop, but I keep finding myself tuning into the country radio station, singing along to songs like "Jesus Take The Wheel," aloud in my kitchen while I bake cobbler. I may be damn near unrecognizable to my friends, to hell with it, I live at home now and that opens the door to real life honesty even I can't fully understand. So I don't give a crap anymore.

Judge me not, friends. Moving home is a big change, and a difficult one at that. So a person is forced to find comfort in even the darkest of places. And for me, 101.9 FM "The Wolf" is that dark place. But you know what? It feels good. It's unabashedly cheesy, and it makes me proud to be an American. I actually kind of like country music, and if that bothers you I couldn't possibly care less.

So feel free to join me in my kitchen anytime.

Sing loudly enough and I might give you half of my next cobbler.

*I think it has mostly gone towards gas and frozen yogurt runs.

**Thanks Mom and Dad, for not considering me a complete failure.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Loving the Olympics Makes Me Hate Myself, or I Get the Gold Medal for Mid-20s Angst

Despite what my box of Cheerios tells me, I am not an Olympic Champion.

Neither is this guy.

When I was 9 years old I took gymnastics lessons. For six months I tumbled. I cart-wheeled. I jumped on a trampoline. And while the other girls in my level (they called it Basic A), all quickly mastered the fundamentals, I was left behind in the proverbial dust, unable to complete a back walkover.

I quit gymnastics before ever moving up to Level 1.

Sure, at the time it was disappointing, but at that point in my life, the future was full of possibility. When my dream of Gymnastic Gold died on the balance beam (scariest shit ever) alongside my confidence, I was still just a young woman of 9 years. Although at that age I could have competed for China, I chalked my failure up to experience and moved on to my next endeavor. It was probably swim team, or dance or something else I was terrible at.

Which I guess brings me to my next point:

I like watching the Olympics, but I know not why.

It's likely that my Olympic fascination centers around the abundance of shirtless men, all at the peak of their physical fitness.* I mean, at the end of the day (and even at the beginning) I am a girl, after all. Perhaps the Olympic games are really just about satiating my carnal appetite without watching porn...

But I doubt that.

I like the national pride that comes with winning medals. I like the cheesy national anthem playing as my new favorite competitor takes the podium (kind of, I also think the medals ceremonies are a bit long and uncomfortable/unfun to watch). And I like that events are featured that I'd normally never ever think to watch on ESPN because I loathe ESPN and wouldn't watch anything on that channel anyway.

Swimming, for example, is really only fun to watch when it's Olympic swimming. Hurdling is only fun to watch when it's Olympic hurdling. Same goes for water polo, fencing, gymnastics, and a barrage of other sports that are only entertaining when the competition is for "The Gold."

I like that the Olympics count for something. Like Pride. Glory. And Kicking the rest of the world's ass on a global stage without using guns or bombs or WMDs. The world remembers for years what you did as an Olympic athlete. Your accomplishments are called "historic," and "unbelievable," and you set records and stuff. It means something. Unlike the NBA, or the NFL or any number of professional sports leagues, the Olympics has an air about it that makes it feel more legit. You could pay me $10 million dollars to play professional basketball, and sure I'll work hard because I'm being paid $10 million dollars. But it's the Olympians** who have the real heart, the real balls to get up every morning and train. When the game is over and a team has that look of profound joy and relief and disbelief on their faces, it's just really cool to watch. It sounds goofy, but I love that shit.

But, in spite of all the rock hard abs and national pride and feel-good crap, I can't help but find the Olympics more than a little depressing.

Recall the pathetic story I told you about me as an incapable 9 year old. Take that same girl and fast forward 13 years, and sure you've got a modest list of accomplishments, but not one of them comes close to achieving an "Olympic Dream." Not one of them even comes close to qualifying for the Olympic qualifiers.

Those gymnasts are freaking young! I mean, at 16 I was proud of myself for things like getting an A on an Algebra II test, or not getting into a car accident during my first year of being a licensed driver. If I didn't feel bad about my thighs, or my hair looked good for more than 6 hours, that was a good day! My mind at that point could barely wrap itself around surviving high school, much less concept of Olympic destiny, or anything even remotely like it for that matter.

So when I say it's depressing to watch the Olympics I don't really mean that I get thoughts of loneliness or hopelessness while watching. I don't want to stay in my pajamas and mope around the house in the dark all day long. I wouldn't rather be watching soap operas. I just wish I had a little more to show for my 23 years. If those little non-menstruating girls can go home Olympic champions, and if Michael Phelps can win 100 Gold Medals before the age of 24, I'd just like to be able to sit in the same room with those kids and not feel totally inadequate.

And I'd be remiss to say I wasn't totally jealous of all the attention. Damn straight I'm jealous. The glitz and glamour of being a world-class athlete would be totally awesome and intoxicating. I'd deal with the stress just fine if I knew I could give a shout out to my mom on international television at the end when I raked in another win.

The Olympics are cool. But they lure me into the danger of thinking that I should have peaked by now. I'm 23 and I just moved home to the most boring place on earth to coach junior high volleyball and substitute teach in order to work myself out of debt. I have maybe 4 friends within 10 miles, and I planted a failing vegetable garden to keep myself busy.

If this is the top of my game, there's not a whole lot of room to fall.

And maybe that's a good thing.

Hi, Mom.

*This was Tommy's observation. But I mean, really. Even I'll jump on the Michael Phelps bandwagon despite its being totally overplayed in the media.

** Obviously I'm completely dismissing Olympic sports that allow pro-athletes to play. Kobe Bryant shouldn't be an Olympian. I kind of think it's bullshit.