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In Transition

Back in July, I decided to use my newly acquired professional certification to start searching for jobs elsewhere. I applied for jobs throughout Virginia, North Carolina, California, and various other places. (When I’m angry, I get shit done.) Within a few weeks of sending applications, universities throughout Virginia were asking to interview me. It was a bit of a slap in the face – to be professionally valued is unfamiliar to me. I interviewed at Virginia Commonwealth University on the way to the Outer Banks to camp with friends by myself, and within a week they offered me a position.

A month later (and one week ago yesterday), I moved away from Harrisonburg, which is where I’ve spent much of my adult life, to Richmond, Virginia. Honestly, almost everything has fallen into place perfectly. We found an apartment right away. We were able to schedule the POD knockoff so that I had a few days off work to pack, move, and unpack. A few days wasn’t enough, but you know.

On top of this, in August my partner in crime was injured (I saw bone) while we were hiking only four days after his car broke completely. So here I am in Richmond, on day four of a new job, trying (successfully, I must say…but that’s because I’m not driving much) to be a one-car family while the gent searches for a job and a new automobile.

I’m now in day four of a new job, and it’s bizarre: I feel like I know what I’m doing, and like other people KNOW I know what I’m doing. How has it taken eight years since college to get to this point? Oooohhh, right. Liberal arts major. And no, I don’t want to talk about what I’m doing. It doesn’t make for a catchy soundbite, but it pays the bills.

Needless to say, I’ve fallen behind on my writing. I feel it every day, but I’m exhausted mentally and emotionally. American Horror Story started yesterday, and The Walking Dead begins on Sunday. I’m genuinely hoping to write recaps, if not weekly then at least occasionally. We’ll see how it goes.

I’ll be dragging the dude to see Gone Girl with me. I’m stoked for a bunch of other movies this fall. Frankly, though, my musings on media have fallen by the wayside in this transition – which is a close second, in terms of upheaval, to moving out to Virginia in the back of a friend’s pickup during the recession with no job and two cats. I don’t want to lose the writing part of me, the part that takes pleasure in analysis and media, and I don’t intend to; my break may just be longer than I’d hoped.

In other news, this is the view from the park a block away from my new apartment.

From Jefferson Park, the city looks calm. You can see the building where I work in the right of the frame.

From Jefferson Park, the city looks calm. You can see the building where I work in the right of the frame.

You guys, I feel like such a grownup right now. It’s really disconcerting. A little bit sad. But mostly exciting.

SSDD

I have been redirecting my mental efforts toward what has become an actual, viable career path for me. That has proven far, far less fruitful than I hoped. I need to turn back to writing, and frankly I don’t know how well that will go since I’m no good at the SEO, clickbait-headlines, algorithmic nonsense.

I turn 30 years old on Wednesday. I will have been in Virginia for five years on Thursday. I’ve been really trying, mostly successfully, not to lose it, to remember to reset benchmarks, to give myself credit for the progress I’ve made. But there was some bad news yesterday and some more today, and I’m teetering on the edge. I need to thoroughly examine where I am vs. where I want to be – and walk the fine line between self-preservation and selfishness.

A friend once told me I “don’t fuck around with excellence.” I guess that’s true, but I feel like I’ve been doing a lot of messing around recently. I call this “flailing.” “Shadowboxing,” perhaps, if I want to give myself more credit.

Things are going to change, one way or another. Part of that change may be taking a break from social media. Part of it may be kicking a job search into high gear and actually trying to leave, the way I’ve been saying I would for…five years.

Anyway, thirty is going to be a year I don’t fuck around with excellence.

More to come, perhaps, in the coming months.

Musing on Mad Men, movies, & being a real adult

I’m studying for an exam that’ll take place on Thursday (May 15), so my recap for this week’s episode of Mad Men, “The Runaways,” will be bundled into the next week’s piece. But I wanted to write a listicle of sorts, punctuated with exclamation points! Because this week’s episode deserves some !!!.

– Betty Draper is more of a teenager than her daughter! (Also, doesn’t want to be a Stepford wife for actual.)

– A threesome is pretty much never the answer, Megan!

– “It’s a nose job, not an abortion!”

– Holy 2001: A Space Odyssey references!

– A nipple in a box! (!!!)

– “This is the Final Solution.” What you did there, I see it, Stan.

– Did pregnant Stephanie’s craving for steak remind anyone else of Rosemary’s Baby? At least Megan cooked her a medium-well done hunk of meat instead of searing a rare one.

– “I have a stomachache all the time.” 🙁

– Phillip Morris is back in the picture!

– “Scout’s Honor” actually makes me feel kind of sorry for Lou!

Aside from Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Revenge, and Hannibal, I’ve also started tentatively watching Don’t Trust the B*%&$ in Apt 23. So far, fun and funny. Also, I haven’t been writing about them, but I’ve seen quite a few movies in the last few weeks. More lists because it’s easy:

Frozen: cute, but not mind-blowing. I adored The Princess and the Frog, so it isn’t just being an Old that left me with so-so feelings on Frozen. The characters are pretty static and the music felt a little jumbled. (I know, I know: blasphemy.)

Noah: I need a re-watch. This shit was bizarre. I’m agnostic, I don’t know the Bible at all, and I saw it with two (largely) nonpracticing Mennonites, a nonpracticing Quaker, and a nonpracticing Catholic. Nobody was entirely sure what to do with it. Mostly: a waste of a brilliant cast on poor performances, but what a pretty movie. I expected more from Aronofsky, but I have a feeling it’ll grow on me.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier: It’s a downright angry NSA allegory, and the graphics are gorgeous. Totally enjoyable and definitely better than the first.

Grand Budapest Hotel: gorgeously curated, meticulously crafted, hilariously acted. I’m a sucker for Wes Anderson’s particular breed of quirk and this one is grotesque and odd (in that Eastern European way) on top of the usual idiosyncrasies. A winning combination.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Mehh. It has some serious pacing issues, and I don’t think Andrew Garfield is as funny as he thinks he is. I’m not familiar with the books, but I know the basic mythology, and some of the changes they’re making aren’t sensible. Dane DeHaan is great, and the sound design and graphics are magnificent.

Lastly, HBO is airing The Heat right now and I thought it’d be kind of terrible, but my thoughts are as follows: Melissa McCarthy is a goddamn genius.

Send me good vibrations on Thursday, okay? I’ll need them.

I’ve redecorated. Help warm my (metaphorical) house!

Big things are afoot. In the last few months I’ve decided firmly to take my own happiness, my few belongings, my space (both physical and online), and my work, and shape it into something that makes me feel proud and comfortable.

Needless to say, I’m a little extra antisocial and more depleted than usual. On top of moving and assembling actual furniture, figuring placement of decorations and lights, and deciding (yet again) to renew the lease with my less-than-ideal landlady, I’m also studying for a huge exam that’ll help me obtain a three-letter title (and hopefully more mobility and more money). Finally, I’m revamping this place (which has a much better landlord). The redecoration process has been lengthy and unexciting – but it is nearly complete.

Just in time for the final season of Mad Men, I’ve archived all of my recaps of seasons 5 and 6 (and holy shit, do you guys remember just how trippy season 5 was?). Likewise, all my recaps of The Walking Dead are up, starting from a blog after the series premiere and continuing all the way through to this Sunday’s episode. Finally, use the navigation up top to browse through old movie reviews; they’re loosely categorized for search purposes. I only put up the ones I want to show you. It’s kind of like rearranging my downstairs bookshelf so that the pretty hardcovers, the “sophisticated” Salinger, Oates, and Chabon are on display. The Charlaine Harris and Stephen King books reside upstairs (and are dogeared because I love them).

I’m no graphic designer, but in preparation for Mad Men I’ve pasted up some temporary wallpaper that’ll make your eyes twitch (like so many of the color combos of the 1960s did). I also made my hair purple, because you know what? I feel purple.

Settling is for suckers.

Settling is for suckers.

So come in, please, and make yourself comfortable. Make yourself a martini. Do take a tour. It ain’t much, but it’s home. For now.

On Celebrity, Addiction, and Art: Why Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Death Matters

Update, 2/7/2014: Aaron Sorkin‘s brief tribute to Hoffman from Wednesday, February 5 struck a chord, so you should go read it. DeBieHive also published a great piece on addiction, and the way it affects not only the addict but everyone around him. 

Yesterday one of my favorite actors, Philip Seymour Hoffman, was found dead in his New York apartment with a needle hanging from his left arm. He’d openly discussed his issues with addiction before, and today a friend of his claimed the actor genuinely seemed to have his life back together. This is exactly what people said about Cory Monteith.

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“We are uncool.” A discussion of the quicksand that is celebrity in Almost Famous.

Every time someone famous and talented dies, those of us in the real world are subjected to ridicule for mentioning it. My Facebook has blown up with snarky, “I’m so sorry for your loss,” and “I have no sympathy for this,” and “Who the fuck cares? You didn’t know him.” These same folks said the same thing about Paul Walker and Monteith when I mentioned I was upset to hear of their deaths. (And by the way, though I can’t say I respected Walker’s acting career particularly, NO ONE deserves to die that way, particularly not someone who devoted large chunks of his personal life to charity.)

Why is any death less significant than any other death? Why do people feel the need to slither out of the woodwork and vehemently attack those who mourn the passing of young, talented people?film Heist 2015

I have seen either 28 or 29 of the movies in which Mr. Hoffman performed, and each time he was onscreen he affected me. That means at least 60 hours of my life, not counting time in the college classes in which I studied his roles, and time spent contemplating and writing about his performances, I spent with this man. He played grief, anger, intensity, love, and poignant humanity in a way that no other actor of our generation has. He had an incredible presence, a way of inhabiting each and every role he got his hands on, that deserves recognition no matter the way he died.
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“I do many, many things.” (2012’s The Master).

Maybe instead of taking to the internet to claim you lack sympathy, that “the only reason people give a shit about this guy’s death is that he was famous,” it’s time to discuss why our culture venerates celebrity, loves to follow the travails of Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, and their ilk, but condemns the drug abuse that so often accompanies this celebrity. These people live in a world where anything and everything is available to them due to stature, money, and a cadre of hangers-on who wish to provide. Maybe it’s time to quit being self-righteous dicks about death, and discuss the fact that drug abuse is common, not only in the poor and under-educated, but among the wealthy, famous, and talented. Let’s face it: it’s even common in the middle class. And that in any case, it’s a terrible illness that needs not your contempt, but a discussion of how to help stop it. How do we care for the addicted? How can we provide assistance to those in need? Publicly scrutinized deaths like those of Hoffman, Monteith, River Phoenix, or Amy Winehouse (and the list goes on) should not be ignored or shoved aside. Those who mourn them should not be viewed in contempt. Let’s actually talk about drug abuse. Let’s actually talk about celebrity. Let’s not diminish the importance of someone’s death because of the cause; let’s not diminish death, period.

Rest in peace, Mr. Hoffman. I, for one, will miss you as though you were a friend. Your brilliant performances will live on in celluloid and digital prints and your memory with the people who loved you. I hope your demons no longer haunt you. I’ll continue to hope that a life like yours will bring out the best in people instead of the worst. That you’ll be an inspiration for those to come.

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“I’m a fucking idiot!” In one of my favorite performances in film history, Hoffman played poor, rejected, messed-up Scotty in P.T. Anderson’s Boogie Nights.