Roseanne: A Bitter Pill to Swallow

In light of the fact that Roseanne’s controversial new season recently finished its run and even more recently got canceled due to its creator’s penchant for racist tweeting, I thought I’d look back at a simpler time when Roseanne’s character was pretty much completely different from her updated version.

Back in the fourth season of the shows original run, Roseanne’s oldest daughter (original Becky not Becky from Scrubs) decides to talk to her mother about birth control.

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It wasn’t until this past Fall when I was sick with a cold and baby-sitting for a demogorgon masquerading as a cat that I happened to catch this episode on TV.

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Video footage of me cat-sitting, Fall 2017.

Becky’s original plan was to go to a clinic and get a prescription, but after talking with her Aunt Jackie, she decides to ask her mom to take her to the gynecologist. Roseanne holds it together while Becky is in the room, but then she totally freaks out when she leaves.

But like that’s good. I mean who wouldn’t freak out when their kid asked them for birth control for the first time? It’s good that she does this with her sister instead of her kid. And when Roseanne hears her friend’s baby crying in the next room, she realizes she can pull herself together and help Becky. It’s really a sweet episode where Roseanne perfectly encapsulates a healthy amount of compartmentalization, struggling privately with her shifting mother-role while expertly support her daughter when she needs her most.

Oh and by the way, this episode was written by Amy Sherman-Palladino, so it’s possible I am just an Amy Sherman-Palladino fan and not an original-run Roseanne fan…but I’m still very, very mad about the Gilmore Girls revival.

This Breakup Is Brought to You by Milli Vanilli

This piece was also from my writing class last year. Other appropriate titles were “This Breakup Is Brought to You by Tonya Harding’s Triple Axels Played on Loop,” “This Breakup Is Brought to You by Annie Lennox’s No More I Love You’s, TLC’s Creep, and Sara Mclachlan’s Fumbling Towards Ecstasy with a Heavy Dosage of Milli Vanilli,” and 1st runner up: “How Do You Mend a Broken Heart? Milli Vanilli.” Also, I actually did blog about this at the time it was happening, but I mentioned only the data entry I was doing at work because my deadly sin is pride.  

Listening to music is always hard after a breakup, especially if the foundations of that relationship were largely facilitated by music. There was the classic rock we traded on burned CDs back when computers had disc drives. And the late 90’s pop that provided the soundtrack to our late night drives.

It became clear to me just how far we had fallen since he played Smokey Robinson on vinyl for me in his dorm room when post-breakup I started binge-listening to Milli Vanilli. And if you have ever binge-listened to Milli Vanilli—though I’m fairly confident that I am the first person to complete this task since 1990—you know that this truly consists of listening to the same eight songs on repeat for about a week.

But maybe this was the most appropriate bookend to our relationship for me–a naive young adult who signed up for the deal of a lifetime only to find out that it was all a sham.

Underneath all of the charm and empty promises, he was the guy who went with me to hear my favorite band from high school play in Nashville and knew all the words perfectly. But it wasn’t his music. He had learned it like he had learned me.

I have deleted his number from my phone, given away of the gifts his family gave to me, and thrown out our old pictures. But I will keep Jenny Lewis’s guitar pick. The one he caught at the concert and casually slipped into my coat pocket.

Me & Billy Dee

“He was in Lady Sings the Blues.”

“What’s that?” I said as my mother listed yet another piece of television or film that I had never heard of.

“He did a lot of commercials…but I guess you wouldn’t have seen those either,” she said.

It was an unusually cold February day in Florida, and I was glad that I had worn my purple corduroy jacket as my mom and I waited in line at Disney World. But this line was not for something cool like a Princess meet-and-greet or a chance to ride the teacups. This was one of the longest lines I had ever been in and it was all for a signed photograph of Billy Dee Williams—a name that meant absolutely nothing to me.

Like most things Disney, the process was incredibly efficient. Billy Dee Williams would sign a photo of himself, smile for a picture with his fans, and then a handler would politely and firmly tell everyone to move along. At seven years old, I was too short to see past the people ahead of me in line, so without recognizing his name or any of his movies, I was totally and completely bored.

Finally, we were the penultimate pair in line:

“He was in Star Wars,” she said.

“Oh. Who was he in Star Wars?”

“Lando Calrissian.”

“Who’s that?”

“Han Solo’s friend.”

“Luke Skywalker is Han Solo’s friend,” I said, trying to think of any other possible friends. This wasn’t the guy who wore the Wookie suit, was it?

“Lando Calrissian is Han’s friend from Cloud City.”

“I remember Cloud City but I don’t remember Lando,” I said. Who the heck was this guy? I’d seen all of the Star Wars movies but I could not remember “Lando” at all.

“He’s the one who had Han frozen in carbonite.”

Much like Han Solo, I was suddenly suspended in motion. Any ounce of boredom suddenly drained from my body and I was left with only one feeling: self-righteous indignation. As I realized that we were in line to see the Star Wars equivalent of Benedict Arnold, the handler swiftly whisked away the couple in front of us.

Wearing a grey sports coat with a brown striped scarf and round, wire-rimmed glasses, Billy Dee Williams smiled down at me, looking like a nice man who might work at the library. If I had not known who he was, I might have quite enjoyed chatting with him. But I knew his backstory and I was suspicious.

Halfway through the second-grade, I was no dummy. I knew intellectually that actors played characters and that they were not actually those people in real life. But how could anyone possibly play such a horrible role and not share at least some of the characteristics as the fictional person he played?

Had seven year old me been offered the part, I may have said something along the lines of, “Listen, Mr. Lucas, it is an honor to be considered for this role, but I could NEVER do that to Han Solo.” Billy Dee Williams, on the other hand, had no problem portraying an intergalactic swindler. No, I thought, it is definitely not safe to trust this guy. And I was not going to be nice to him.

He tried to strike up a conversation with me. I responded with an icy stare. Mortified, my mother admitted that I had not know who he was until she reminded me that he had frozen Han Solo—a revelation that she was beginning to feel may have been a mistake.

In what seemed like an act of genuine kindness, he laughed lightly and tried once again to talk with me. He told me that it was okay that I did not like him because that meant he had done a good job in the movie. I refused to speak to him, choosing instead to respond with a skeptical look.

Incidentally, my little rebellion had begun to put the efficiency of the meet-and-greet line into jeopardy. We had spent several seconds with Billy Dee while his Disney-issued Sharpie languished on the podium. As it turns out, I was also making it very awkward for my mother to ask him for a favor.

The rules of the Disney line were very strict. Billy Dee Williams was supposed to give out one-signed photograph per visiting group. But our dear friend Eloise was a life-long fan of his and was at home recovering from Hepatitis B, which she had contracted during a blood transfusion for an enzyme deficiency. According to his handler, Billy Dee most certainly did not have any time for an additional autograph. I offered to give Eloise mine (which was not personalized and which I clearly did not want). But he insisted on signing an autograph for Eloise.

Actually, Billy Dee didn’t want to just give her an autograph; he wanted to know how she was doing. He recognized her enzyme deficiency, which is more prevalent in the Black community and with which he was more familiar with than my mother and I. Then, in another clear violation of Disney rules, we took a photo of the two of us for Eloise. This was purely a labor of love on my part, as I would never deny Eloise something that was clearly, and so unfathomably important to her.

But you can tell I would rather be anywhere else than in that picture. I am very purposefully not smiling, but the corners of my mouth are slightly upturned in a smirk as my eyes pierce the camera’s lens—a historical documentation that I did this under protest. Billy Dee Williams is smiling, but it is not the charming smile that made him famous. It’s an “I know this kid hates me, but I think this might be funny one day” kind of smile.

I remember skipping away from the tent that day claiming a small victory for myself. I was just a kid and I had taken a stand against that guy from Star Wars!

I also remember Eloise keeping a framed copy of that autographed photo in her home until she passed away a couple of years later.

I’m not much on celebrity autographs and though I’ve gotten and lost a few over the years, I still have the one I got from Billy Dee Williams.

As I’ve gotten older, Lando Calrissian has become one of my favorite characters in the Star Wars franchise. But that is not why I kept the autograph. I keep it as a memory of someone who took extra time to send love and kindness to a stranger. I keep it as a reminder of someone who so gracefully and genuinely understood exactly where my seven year-old brain was coming from and who probably, hopefully, did not think I was a total jerk.

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Couples Costumes for You & Your Bestie

At the beginning of the year, I went through a breakup that changed my life in apocalyptic proportions. So that was a great start to the year. And then every musician I’ve ever loved died. So yeah, thanks for being a total ass, 2016. Anyway, the positive side of this year is that I’ve really been embracing my platonic friendships. And I’m truly lucky to have a lot of great friendships in my life! While, I thought this was finally the year that I would get to dress up as Marion Ravenwood (in the red pants with the monkey on my shoulder), I just don’t really have an Indiana right now. And I’m cool with that because I finally realized how many sweet costume options there are for best friends.

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I’m starting to think that Mallomars may be my soulmate in this life, so I’m really appreciating Eleven’s dedication to delicious toaster waffles this Halloween season. Plus, this is a great opportunity to wear a really sweet waffle headband, which I may just want to do anyway on a regular basis.

 

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This is great for anyone who just wants to rent a costume and be done with it. As someone who was so tired of high school by the time prom rolled around, I rented my prom dress and I can tell you that the dudes definitely have the right idea by renting their outfits. But why be so gender/hetero-normative about it? Purple tuxes are great for anyone. And when else will you get the opportunity to wear one of these? Unless you’re in a wedding that’s like very dedicated to theme colors.

 

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Let’s be honest, best friends don’t always come in pairs. If you’re a Mean Girls fan, why not dress up as the original Mean Girls this Halloween? Plus, it’s a great opportunity to play Croquet in your yard while you’re passing out candy to trick-or-treaters.

 

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Ah yes, the yin and yang of Olympic ice skating, forever immortalized inseparably in pop culture history. But ultimately, I’m really into this costume idea for the opportunity to wear roller skates, a.k.a. the figure skates of the asphalt world.

 

This is a great costume opportunity for anyone who just wants to be cozy. This will involve you and your bestie deciding which one of you is more cold-natured, as one of you will be wearing a sheepskin bomber jacket while the other rocks a Hawaiian shirt. Neither Chip nor Dale wear pants, but I suggest that both you and your bestie cover your lower halves in one way or another.

 

Starting Over

I’ve been a pretty-quiet blogger over the past few weeks. When 2016 rolled around, I gladly welcomed the New Year. “Finally, a year of stability!” I thought. After years of long-distance, I was finally going to be in the same place as my boyfriend of five years. A few months ago he asked me to move in with him and we began the long process of job-hunting and figuring out how to fit all of my stuff into his little apartment.

Sure, it was a little scary to take this next step in our relationship, but I rounded out 2015 feeling like I was walking on clouds. “Bye, year of frustration and uncertainty!” I proclaimed as I sorted through things to keep and things to discard before my move.

Then he called me two and a half days before I was supposed to move across the country to be with him. He told me that it no longer felt right for us to move in together. He had told his family we’d be living together and they weren’t accepting of the news. Even worse, he suddenly felt that it would be “morally wrong” for us to live together. And that it was at odds with his “up-bringing.”

Suddenly, my boyfriend and best friend of five-years was some kind of religious conservative who felt compelled to trust a weird “knot in his stomach”over the commitment he’d made to me. What’s more, he’d never invited me to explore or experience his religion. In fact, in all the time we dated, I’d never once seen him go to church or ask me to try a church with him. And I’m certainly not willing to sign-up for some religious exploration under an ultimatum–especially not when I’ve already made so many life changes for him.

He somehow still wanted to date me but I’m not a glutton for punishment, so I told him that he sucked and have primarily referred to him as “Turd Ferguson” for the past couple of weeks.

So much for that “year of stability.” I doubt I’ll ever be able to understand how someone who has been my best friend for over seven years and my boyfriend for over five could so dramatically and abruptly push me away. But if I’ve taken one thing away from this, it’s that I thought I understood people and I actually don’t.

I thought my old company would be all like, “Wow that sucks but we’ve already replaced you. Good luck being destitute in your new city.” But instead they were incredibly compassionate. The CEO offered me a new position at the same pay as my old job and offered to pay moving costs for me to come back.

I wondered how I could possibly share this news with all of my coworkers, who had given me a lovely send off and congratulated me on the reason for my move. As I stewed over how to present this new change of plans in the least humiliating way, amy closest coworkers gradually started texting me to let me know that they were excited to have me return. I feel like they probably knew that I didn’t know how to talk about this, and they wanted to take the burden of first-contact off of me.

Even friends I haven’t talked to consistently in months or years, have let me know that they’re available to talk and that they love me. After five years in a relationship, you have a lot of shared friendships and that can make things tricky. But I feel like our friends have done a really good job of not picking sides while also acknowledging that this is, objectively, a shitty thing to do to someone.

So I guess I lost my best friend and the person I trusted most in the world. But this has also reminded me that I have so many other people in the world who care about me. In fact, I probably have a lot of relationships that I haven’t nurtured because I’ve spent practically all of my time and energy maintaining this long-distance relationship.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about a lot of questions that I can’t possibly have the answers to. Primarily: “How did this happen after all these years?” But I’ve dragged myself out of the house to see my friends for coffee anyway. They’ve helped me interrupt my cyclical, confused thoughts with phone calls just to “check-in.” They tell me not to blame myself or criticize my past decisions. Of course, I’m still kind of doing that anyway but it makes me feel better to hear from someone other than my inner-critic or now-skeptical-romantic.

I’m wondering what I can possibly do with my life now that the relationship at the center of it is gone, but I feel like the only reason I can still believe in relationships in general is that everyone around me has been so unbelievably compassionate. I know I shouldn’t over-generalize and it’s probably a logic fallacy and blah blah blah but my heart is broken and I am so completely blindsided that my little broken brain is doing it’s best to make some sense of this. So here is the over-generalization that’s been letting me sleep at night: If the world is full of cool people like that, then maybe there are other cool dudes out there who will eventually want to live with me and will not abruptly change their at the last possible second.

Plus as one of my friends so aptly put it, “at least you found out two days before you move and not two days after.” I can’t really argue with that.

I’m hoping to still post a little bit over the next few weeks or so, mostly because it makes me so unbelievably cheery to see all of your likes and comments and to read the things you write as well!  After about a year and a half of the VSB, there are some things I’d like to revamp and some new topics I’d like to explore. But I don’t really have the energy to give those things the time they deserve right now. I still plan on binge-watching Fuller House and writing snarky posts about it, if only to trick myself into thinking that I’ve been productive when really I’ve spent the entire weekend glued to a computer screen. However, there’s a good chance I’ll be a quiet-blogger for a little while longer.

P.S.: I’d like to thank my mom for being the most awesome mom/pal/amazingest-person-ever during all of this.

Reason to Believe