Thursday, February 23, 2012

a brief clause

I assume there is no breathing adult who has not watched all of "Downton Abbey" by now (I was watching "Downton" in March 2011, by the way, not that it's a competition or anything). Anyway, I think we can all agree that after the sugary gumdrop waterfall (?) that was Season 1, Season 2 was something of a letdown. The plots got unwieldier and, frankly, duller. New characters were introduced in such a way that you knew they weren't going to be sticking around for long, which made their ample screen time (at the expense of the Coras and Thomases we had grown to love!) even more irritating. And, while Maggie Smith is undoubtedly phenomenal, hearing her 55th zinger is less exciting than hearing her 5th. Of course, I still loved it all and watched that last five minutes of the Christmas special 17 times, etc.

Now that I've had a few months to ruminate (oh, I guess I should have written "spoiler alert" or whatever at the beginning of this post), I think my favorite thing about the second season is that Mary's Great Scandal (i.e. that a dude died in her bed while attempting to take her virginity) -- which is basically the driving plot point of the entire series -- is, by the end of Season 2, NBD... to everyone, but most notably to Mary herself. Mary goes practically insane keeping this secret for years, feeling so guilty about it, agonizing over it, etc.; but then, in the end, she gets to a point where she just can't feel anything about it anymore... and it's fine! Sure, people like Matthew and her dad are surprised at first when she tells them, but they get over it quickly. And it's safe to assume the Pamuk of it all will be essentially forgotten by the time Season 3 rolls around.

I don't know, I just find this a really important message (lol)... and also applicable to our modern day lives? While none of us likely have secrets/scandals/anxieties as glamorous/intense as Mary's, we all have certain things, I'm sure, that we feel intense shame about and that we keep to ourselves. You'll be sitting with friends at brunch and something will strike a chord and you'll think "phew, thank god no one at this table will ever know I secretly write love letters to my old college professor!" (or whatever your particular "Pamuk" is). Not too far down the road, any such "scandal" you might be involved in now will almost definitely seem inconsequential -- such a trifle! -- and you'll be reminded of it one day and tell the Matthew in your life about it and he'll laugh and that will be it. It's nice and comforting -- when everything feels so heavy and uncertain -- to envision that future in which your present biggest concern will seem silly, a distant memory, at the very most just a brief clause in an early paragraph in the Wikipedia entry of your life.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

you and marvin

You're hanging out with your good friend Nate and his friend, whom you've met a few times maybe, at Nate's apartment. You're on cordial, perfectly fine terms with this friend of Nate's (let's call him Marvin), but there is no way you'd ever hang out with him without Nate; whenever you and Marvin see each other, you overdo the niceties (while thinking to yourself something like: "There's no way Nate could be closer with this chump than he is with me... right?").

You come back from the bathroom and a song you can't stand is playing from the plugged-in iPod and you shout theatrically, "Really, Nate? This song?! You would play this garbage! Chaaaaange it!"

Marvin leaps to attention. "Oh, this is actually my iPod," he says. "I just put this on..." And you immediately start gushing nonsense: "Ohhhh, I didn't, ummmm... realize! I was just... this song's totally fine. I like it, actually! You know, me and Nate, we... you know?"

"I mean, I can change it... no problem," Marvin says.

"No, it's great, really," you say, sitting down and taking out your phone.

There are a few moments of silent shifting before Nate clears his throat and asks if anyone wants more wine.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


I'll often send rambling e-mails to my parents - sometimes I'll put my brothers on them, too - in which I'll report some news ("Dad, your beloved 'Person of Interest' is filming on my street today...") or, more commonly, ask for advice about something ridiculous ("Should I be worried that I've had a 'water in my ear' feeling for 36 hours now?"). Almost without fail, my mom will reply within the hour. Either she'll send something brief from her phone ("sounds fun," "be careful," "im not really sure, honey"), or she'll write a longer message (perhaps with a relevant link or two obtained from a hasty Google search). Occasionally one of my brothers will contribute a sarcastic remark to the thread.

My dad, however, will rarely respond. If I've specifically asked for his opinion, or if my mom has written back with a "I defer to your father on this one," then he'll crank out a response -- but, otherwise, infrequently. Sometimes though, a few days later, the chain long since defunct, he'll respond to my initial e-mail (reply sender) with something completely unrelated. Like, he'll reply to the "weird thing on my electric bill" chain from a week ago (which he never weighed in on at the time) with the message: "Interesting article about writers on page 7 of wall street journal today." This specific habit of his strikes me as just about the most "Dad" behavior I could conceive of.