Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Where you lead, I will follow

A television show is just a television show.  It is the product of talented writers who create the story as they go, letting the characters take them wherever they may, designed for bored people who crave escapism, such as ourselves, to binge watch over a nice fat bowl of yellow popcorn.  Yet, Gilmore Girls feels like so much more than just a television show.  This show has been with me for around six months now.  The adventures of Lorelai and Rory Gilmore have taken a constant place in my brain for half a year.  How can a simple script and a few actors have such a considerable impact on a person?

Set in Stars Hollow, Gilmore Girls was always the best feel-good show.  Rory Gilmore had exactly what any sixteen year old girl could want.  She had a mother who may as well have been her best friend; she had a best friend who, in today's time, would've been the coolest, most hipster friend a girl could have; she had a whole town of people who absolutely loved her; she had wealthy grandparents willing to pay for her education, as well as adding some spice to her life in the form of family drama; she had perfect grades at a perfectly elitist school, giving her such a bright future; and she had the hottest boyfriends.  Who wouldn't want to watch this show as a form of escapism?

But at the same time, Gilmore Girls was so much more than that.  There were countless occasions where I would think very seriously about how much I wanted to be more like Rory, or Lorelai.  Rory was always so genuinely nice.  While always succeeding in every way possible, she was still so matter-of-fact about it all.  Unlike Paris, she didn't feel the need to act superior, or prove her achievements to everybody.  She was never one for trying to seek approval, or sharing her personal life when unnecessary.  She was always so... perfect.  And I think that in some ways, Rory made me want to be more humble and private.  She made me consider the fact that success and relationships are a personal thing, and it is possible to thrive in happiness without everybody else needing to know.

Then there was Lorelai.  She was independent and always carried herself with a kind of aura that made everybody want to talk to her.  She was never awkward.  She sparkled.  In the way that she conducted herself, I realised that it was possible to get what you want by simply saying exactly what you feel.  Always be nice, always be respectful, and always be too honest - that is the key to being a charming, genuine person - as taught by Lorelai Gilmore.

As Rory grew up and her life was no longer so seemingly perfect, Gilmore Girls became less of a feel-good show.  Rory dropped out of Yale just as I was beginning to study for my own testing week, and this may be a coincidence, or I may be reading a lot into this, but this was around the same time that my own grades began to fluctuate downwards.  I'm not saying that Gilmore Girls caused this, but I'm saying that I was finding her predicament somewhat relatable.  "You don't have it."  That's what Michum Huntzberger told Rory that sent her crashing down.  "You don't have it."  All those things you thought you were great at, what if you're not?  What if you're not as smart as you think you are?  What happens when one thing that makes up a huge part of you is simply taken away?

Then, as Rory is about to graduate from Yale, she has no idea what the future holds.  At some points she drives herself crazy, having mini meltdowns and receiving setbacks.  It is a stressful time, not receiving what you would like to receive to make your dream possible.  An internship was her gateway into the New York Times, a scholarship is my ticket out of this city.  The fact that everybody was working so hard for what they wanted, unless they were like Paris and taking the safe route through grad school after school after school, made me realise that life is not about always receiving what you apply for.  It is possible to thrive with a rejection.  There are other pathways.

Rory described her future as open.  She was excited.  She wasn't pinned down to one plan.  There were so many opportunities out in the world for her to seek.  Sometimes knowing exactly where you are going is not what is right, no matter how completely stable it may sound.  Sometimes it is nice to leave your options open, to work towards something while also allowing that something to have many possibilities.  To know exactly where you want to be, with all its little details and avocado trees, is not important, and once that is realised this huge weight is lifted off your chest.  You can be 16 or 20, and the future is just as exciting as it was before.

So back when I spoiled the ending of Gilmore Girls for myself, back when I was upset that Rory does not end up with Logan, I was wrong.  Bon Voyage is the perfect goodbye.  Rory is being sent off to conquer the world, Lorelai has finally found love, and the whole town is celebrating in the quirky way they always have.  The final shot pans out from Luke's diner on the morning of Rory's departure, exactly like the pilot in a classic come-full-circle, so full of hope and and possibilities

At this point, we can imagine Rory crossing paths with Logan again.  We can imagine her becoming the editor of a famous newspaper, writing articles that change the opinions of the world.

Well, we could imagine until they decided to release the Revival, which I am frankly too scared to watch.  I know how it ends, and I know how everyone's lives turn out, and it honestly ruins everything.

So here I am, sitting on a high of one beautifully written tv show.  Maybe I'll give it some time before watching a few hours of footage that could ruin everything.  Maybe I'll never end up watching it at all.  Maybe I will finish with Rory's future open and leave it at that, because if her dreams are crushed, I think mine may as well be too.


Monday, 28 November 2016

The Unattainable Disconnect

They say that the only way to stop this addiction is to go cold turkey.  Delete all the apps.  Hide your phone.  God forbid, deactivate all your accounts.  Now, what would you become?

I've noticed these holes in the knowledge I've been able to obtain.  There are certain groups of beautiful, skinny girls in beautiful, skinny clothes containing six known faces with archives of who they are and who they know only one click away, and then one girl, with no tags, no profiles, nothing.  This girl is an absolute mystery.  Her friends know her.  Her family knows her.  Her pretty face appears occasionally in pretty group photos.  Yet, strangely enough, those of us who do not know her personally do not know her at all.  We have no judgements to make and no way of making any without speaking to her.  What would it be like to be this girl?

We are all voluntarily upkeeping these self-branding profiles of ours.  This isn't an assignment.  It isn't a mandatory form of identification in our society.  We choose to do this.  How liberating would it be to see something wonderful, taste something delicious or have an experience so genuinely funny, and want to keep the feeling all to ourselves?  Sharing is an addiction, and once you have a platform to do so, going back seems utterly ridiculous.

It is because of this that we are all trapped and connected in this huge database overflowing with unnecessary information.  We want everyone to know all these qualities about us.  We want them to know who we associate with, what we find important, what we look like - and we try with all our might to make them care about us.  We are forever wielders of the camera, culprits of recording moments and seeking external validation.

While all this is happening we are also handing over our validation with envy.  We spend hours pouring over the highlights.  People have nice clothes, nice shoes, forever seem to be having the time of their lives, and watching them is just as addictive as making them watch us.  We become influenced and inspired to be just like them.  This huge database is a brainwashing box bursting with culture.  What must this girl be like without it?

If she isn't spending hours pouring over her own narcissistic profile along with everyone else's, what is she doing with her time?  

I imagine myself waking up and getting dressed up for the day.  I don't pick up my phone and spend an extra half hour in bed.  I don't pose for the camera in the mirror once my hair has been adequately brushed.  Instead I go downstairs, eat breakfast, and gather my daily dose of culture from a magazine full of colour and beautiful, expensive things.

I imagine myself with more brain cells and a higher capacity for concentration.  There are no distractions.  There is no way for me to know what everyone else is doing.  There are no outlets to voice any complaints about maths assignments and television shows.  There is just knowledge in a looming pile of printed notes sitting on my desk.

I imagine myself with project after project.  Perhaps I'll always have a word document open in the background.  It'll be a piece I'll be proud enough of to edit until perfect.  I'd have a blog or an archive full of well-thought-out opinions, full of essays worth reading.  Perhaps that's what I'd do with all my extra hours.

It is unfortunate that to disconnect is something that I could never do.  This need to share, this need for knowledge, it overcomes me.  I will never experience the liberation of being free of the constraints of constant connection.  

There is a balance.  Perhaps one day this connection will stop being a necessity, and instead morph into something positive.


Tuesday, 15 November 2016

A post without a point

I probably should be studying but I thought, I haven't posted in a really long time, so why not?  I'm currently sitting at the glass dining room table in a sunny room, and I've accidentally caused an orange to roll onto the floor while erasing too furiously.  The table is strewn with papers everywhere, a Vogue magazine and an Asian cookbook buried underneath piles of chemistry notes.  The clock ticking on the wall is becoming increasingly annoying, but hey, such are the quirks of sitting here.  Utter silence would be even more irritating, in my opinion.

Of course my laptop is sitting on top of this mess of a table, and for once my phone is nowhere to be seen.  I've been oversharing lately.  I made one of those spam Instagram accounts, and despite my efforts to stay off social media by cutting off access to the time-sucking, life-distracting snapchat, posting is an addiction.  There is just so much in my life to share and document - no matter how mundane - or feelings to let out via posed selfies.

I've been following all these quirky models lately, with envious lives and that cool individuality vibe going on that's actually not all that individual.  I love their funky jackets and fringes, and all the pink!  But seeing them jet off to India or wear fancy clothes in London, or seeing girls in my own city imitating this look and doing it well, it makes me a little... jealous.

I read somewhere that you know when you're happy when you see someone thriving in some way, and you feel happy for them.  Jealousy is a sign that you're simply not content with something in your life, or else you wouldn't be feeling jealous, would you?  So perhaps it's this testing week.  Perhaps it's the fact that I've locked myself in all weekend, trying to study but feeling miserable, alone and ugly while doing so.  I read somewhere this morning that 'Another woman's beauty is not the absence of your own', and however cheesy that is, read it again.

I've been reading different books lately.  It's as if I've strayed away from those young adult novels and moved on to what they call 'literature'.  It's not so much that I actually enjoy this literature.  In fact, I don't think I paid the first quarter of the book I'm reading any attention at all.  It's just that when I try to read a feel-good young adult book, I feel like I'm watching a really bad movie.  I feel as if the characters don't make sense because they're simply not realistic, and as much as reading is supposed to be a sort of safe haven in a fictional perfect world, I can't help but feel irritated.  I want to read about realistic people who make realistic decisions and are put under realistic circumstances - because it makes the world I'm reading about seem more persuasive.  While I didn't pay attention to the first part of the book I'm reading, and while the story isn't as drama-filled and interesting, the characters and their relationships are like a painting of how the author sees people in real life, and maybe it'll teach me a thing or two.

I've lost my safe haven in Gilmore Girls.  For five whole seasons their lives were practically perfect, and now there's a rift.  For seven episodes Rory will be making bad decisions, which is unheard of, and she and her mother will be fighting.  I don't feel like watching a show where Rory has no direction.  Gilmore Girls has lost its warm and fuzzy feeling, and I don't know what to do.