Identity · Personal Experiences

Third Decade

How do 29 years go by and feel like only 1? I’m sure people have been wondering this since the dawn of time, or at least since the measurement of time first began. And now here I am on my own simple journey through life, wondering the same thing.

Tomorrow I turn 30.

It’s surreal and bittersweet.

On the one hand, I’m looking forward to this next chapter in my life and already have a bunch of new goals and adventures I plan on investing in more fully now that I feel readier for them. On the other hand, others have been ready for these things far sooner than myself, didn’t lose an entire decade wandering aimlessly, and it’s a little hard for me not to consider the things I always imagined I would accomplish by now when I was still in the first and second decades of my life.

But I can’t go back and start over and change the outcome. I can only accept that this was my story of being in my 20s and no one else’s. I can only accept that the ups and downs and in betweens happened, choices were made, and I’m now entering my 30s a woman shaped by it all. I can only accept my story for what it is and move forward, resolved to becoming a better and stronger and happier person by the time I’m 39 and reflecting back on another decade of life gone by. Because even if my story isn’t as amazing or successful as some and even if there were a lot of lows that I wish there hadn’t been, I am a better and stronger and happier person than I was when I turned 20.

I have been low, I have been mean, I have been angry, I have been careless, I have been clueless, I have been lazy, I have been scared, I have been stupid, I have been blind, I have been lonely, but if there is anything that this past decade has shown me it’s that I’m brave, beautiful, capable, kind, gracious, loved and worth so much more than others over the years have wanted me to believe I am. I am resilient and I’m not listening to those voices anymore. I can’t because nothing they’ve said about me is true and the things I’ve said about myself when I believed them are not true. I’m not the person others want me to be. I’m not the person I thought I’d be. I’m just a person who is learning how to be less afraid of living her own life no matter the “messy bits”.

So on this last day of my 20s, I’ll admit that I’m overwhelmed.

I’m overwhelmed with a desire to make sure I tie up as many loose ends of this decade as possible – if it’s even possible.

I’m also overwhelmed with a sense of peace in regards to where I am, who I’ve become, how I’m changing, and what lies ahead.

Here’s to my twenties, may the memories last a life time.

Here’s to my thirties, may they thrive.

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Classic Film · Film

The Reformer and the Redhead

Trigger warning, this movie starts off quite gruesomely. The villain of the film “kills” a lion on a hunting trip in Africa and you 1. see the lion, 2. see a gunshot and 3. see the man standing over a presumably dead lion in an image. It’s followed by much of the same, with the villain’s niece taking part in the ‘sport’, and includes: a leopard, a warthog, an elephant, and a rhino. It’s horrible, but that’s the point. And in 1950, when big game hunting was still a sport and quite a popular one among the elite, it’s a big deal. [Also, indicative of the time, a black man is actually the one skilled enough to kill the animals while the white man and his privileged niece get all the credit.]

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“For what possible reason could a sensible man get mixed up with a girl like that?”

The movie then transitions to a zoo where Commodore Parker (the aforementioned villain) and his niece Lily are presenting their trophy heads to the administration’s office as gift. Obviously, this makes no sense. Even if we also view zoos as less than ideal for the preservation of/care for wild animals nowadays, even in 1950 one would assume that it’s common sense that a place that’s a habitat for animals shouldn’t have the trophy heads of wild animals hanging in its offices.

Enter Kathleen Maguire (June Allyson), or Kathy, a zoo tour guide and daughter of the zoo’s superintendent Dr. Maguire, who learns from her coworkers that her father has just been fired on the very same day as the gifting ceremony of the trophy heads…because, surprise surprise, Dr. Maguire understands how terrible and hypocritical having them at the zoo is. It’s a stance Kathy shares quite adamantly, her face turning up in disgust and pity for the slaughtered animals being mounted on the walls. Of course, this is a movie about politics as much as it is social commentary so Dr. Maguire isn’t fired for his fight to get the heads taken down rather some other reason the commission has cooked up, all because Commodore Parker’s money talks louder than ethics or decency.

“Don’t be naive,” a journalist friend of the Maguires tell them in response to their confusion at how the commission could do such a thing. Over sixty years later, in a political climate where real news is at war with fake news; political corruption; and a lack of ethics or decency, this advice is still very accurate.

Quickly we see the stark difference between Dr. Maguire and his daughter. While they have the same passions and convictions, they have different approaches (explained later by Kathy as particular trait in their family). Dr. Maguire is the quiet, take the punches graciously, go through the civic process of filing a complaint, peaceful sort. Kathy has too much of a temper for that sort of thing. She wants things done and she wants those things done now. She wants her dad to fight back. She wants to take the political bull by the horn and effect change. And she’ll fight anyone who comes along that she believes deserves it, even Lily Parker herself.

Which is how she winds up in need of a lawyer and ends up crossing paths with Andrew Rockton Hale (Dick Powell), or Andy, an attorney general who has put his name on the ballot to run for mayor on the reform platform, even if he’s far from being a reformer and is currently trying to woo the Commodore Parker machine in order to secure his win – while also not wanting to give Parker any power over him (he wants to run his own machine, thank you very much).

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What follows is a political romantic comedy with animals thrown in for good measure, including a plot point borrowed straight from Bringing Up Baby. I won’t give away too much of the details, but I’m sure you can guess how it goes if you haven’t seen it.

This is my favorite film costarring Allyson and Powell, but it has nothing to do with their relationship in the film. In fact, the romance could be completely taken out and I’d probably like the movie more (for a few different reasons), but as it is, it’s not even a very central part of the film. Kathy and Andy don’t spend even half of the movie together, by my count – at least not directly interacting – which is one of the reasons I would enjoy it being taken out; it feels a little unnecessary. What I am here for is Kathy, the social commentary, and a different relationship in the film.

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I do so love feisty females who don’t conform to the more ideal gender standards (especially in old films) and June was a queen at playing them – even if it was the studio’s way of saying she wasn’t glamorous enough for other roles. This is very true of her turn as Kathy in the film. She’s a lovely lady with a big heart, who thinks animals should be treated humanely, that politics should be clean and open and fair (and playing the political game even for the right reasons/greater good tars you with the same brush, that reform should happen and those on the margins should be given fair shots (e.g. orphans and immigrants), and so on. But what I love about the film is that her goodwill towards animals and people has nothing to do with her being some overly-feminine type; it doesn’t utilize the stereotype that women are naturally more empathetic. The fact of the matter is, Kathy has been flying off the rails at injustice – particularly cruelty to animals – since she was a little girl. And, arguably, a major theme of the film is both aspects of her, that is both her rough edges and soft edges, rub off on Andy. He learns to actually care for the people and for animals and he grows a genuine backbone to stand up to others, including fierce lions.

“See, when I went to Sunday School I was taught thou shalt not kill. Well, as far as I’m concerned that also applies to elephants.” I agree, Kathy. I agree.

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Which brings me to the next thing I love about this movie, the social commentary. Sure, it’s still 1950 and the film plays it pretty safe. It’s nothing that hadn’t been seen before, in films such as Mr. Smith Goes To Washington. But I like to think that in 1950, every film with a social conscience was one step closer to the approaching Civil Rights era and even more socially aware Hollywood of that era. Likewise, watching this film is a little bittersweet when examined side by side with the political chaos of 2017. We need Kathleen Maguires and lots of them because somewhere along the line the Parkers of this world regained the upper hand (ironically, I blame the world Reagan’s presidency gave birth to, which gets a little meta when you factor his relationship with Allyson and Powell into things). Also, the film isn’t perfect in this regards, but it does spend a small chunk of time on the importance of immigrants to America. It’s not perfect in the fact that, outside of Mexico, it focuses on white European immigrants (Hungarians, Swedes, etc.) and white-passing Mediterranean immigrants (Italians, Greeks) – and there is only the one black hunting guide at the beginning and a singular Asian-as-the-help stereotype present in the film. That said, it’s of note to consider that in 1950 even white immigrants were on the margins in white America, because the fact is when non-white people are already mostly in their place white people in power will turn against other white people they make up reasons to deem as “lesser” than themselves (and, more accurately, this happens simultaneously with their efforts to put people of color in their place, but it’s less overt so as not to lose their votes to a candidate that is not anti-poc).

Also, being an animal lover and someone who wants to see the banning of all hunting, wants to see zoos change in their formats, more wildlife reservations, etc. I one hundred percent adore any movie that takes the stance that animals deserve to be cared for.

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Lastly, there’s another relationship in this film that, in my personal opinion, outshines Kathy’s and Andy’s. And that is the relationship between Andy and his law partner/campaign manager Arthur Colner Maxwell, or Artie (David Wayne). Their bromance is so strong that, arguably, it’s actually intentional homosexual subtext. While Artie is Andy’s right hand man and support throughout the film (in fact, they get just as much, if not more, screen time together as Andy and Kathy) and that includes him supporting him helping him with his romance with Kathy, he also spends a good deal of the time playing jealous lover. He orders the “cheap and stubby” roses for Kathy on behalf of Andy. And when Andy is dropped off at the apartment the two men share, and shares a kiss with Kathy, Artie’s response is: “You can wake up now. You’re home, dear.” Followed by a questioning, “What was that? *panicked voice* What was that?”

While, of course, it could be just a very strong friendship, there’s one particular exchange between Kathy and Andy that leads me to believe something more than friendship was being subtly implied (which could make sense in a movie about reform, even if I disagree that Andy would need to be reformed of that too by Kathy). In the exchange I’m referring to, Kathy (very much like June did in her pursuit of Dick) asks why Andy has never been married; given his age, surely there’s been enough women in his life for him to have considered it. Andy confirms that he’s “a man of considerable experience.” But strangely, especially considering that this is 1950, Kathy outright asks, “Women?” Obviously, that’s the only option, right? In 1950? One isn’t going to outright as a man if he’s gay in a movie… And yet, she asks for clarification if it’s women. Maybe she means to clarify if he means he’s just experienced in other worldly ways – a drifter so to speak – to the point that maybe he’s never bothered with women. But Andy’s answer to her question is even more surprising: “Some.” Some. Again, this could be taken to mean, he’s experienced in a lot of different ways, some of which includes women. Or it could mean exactly what it sounds like at face value, especially considering that he sleeps in a single bedroom with another man who is waiting up for him following this exchange (as already described above), that he has experience with both men and women. Especially since Kathy follows that up by asking for clarification on the “some” by asking, “Many?” The final bit of this exchange makes it even more likely that more is being implied. Kathy, realizing he has had experience with more than enough women (all “standard equipment” as his only description when asked what they were like), wonders then why Andy hasn’t ever been married. Andy’s response is a flat, “They were either too standard or not enough equipment.” Kathy: “Oh. OH.”

Add to it a few more exchanges between Andy and Artie, such as Artie promising “Whither thou goest” and a lampshade engagement gag where Andy “proposes” to Artie, it’s no stretch of the imagination that this was slipping some homosexuality/bisexuality in past the Hays Code, even if – again – the underlying point is that Kathy comes along with her aggressive manner and offers Andy what other women couldn’t. But, hey, sorry Artie, if my theory is correct and Andy is supposed to be bisexual, I’d drop anyone for Kathy too if I were him. How could you not…

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Overall, I think this is a cute little movie, especially if you’re into movies like Bringing Up Baby, or a fan of June Allyson. If you haven’t seen it, I urge you to give it a watch if you can. Again, look at how beautiful Junie is. How could anyone not want to watch it?

june-banner-3This post is part of the June Allyson Centenary Blogathon hosted by Simoa at Champagne For Lunch, in celebration of what would have been June’s 100th birthday! For more entries, click on the banner and if you enjoyed my post, you’re sure to enjoy the others even more!

XOXO Elinor Anne James

(All screencaps taken by me. Feel free to use if you’d like!)

 

 

writing

Short Story: Still

I’m dusting off some old short stories and poetry to finally give a home to online – as I slowly morph this into mostly a site for my writing. This first piece was written in spring of 2008 for a creative writing assignment in college. It was lightly edited yesterday to fix obvious errors and to better reflect how my writing style has evolved. Content warning for memory loss/amnesia.

Continue reading “Short Story: Still”

Identity · writing

Binary

What makes a girl or boy? 
Is it clothes or hair or a toy? 

Is it pink, is it blue 
That defines girl or boy to you?

If a boy wears a crown and a dress, 
Is he a prince or princess? 

If a girl takes up a sword to fight, 
Is she a damsel or knight? 

Who drew the line in the sand 
To decree on which side we should stand? 

What king, what ruler, what czar  
Determined who we can say we are? 

What makes a girl or boy? 
Neither clothes, nor hair, nor a toy. 

Not pink, child, nor blue – 
What defines who you are is you. 

This is the first poem I’ve (deliberately) written in about a decade and, good or bad, I owe my inspiration to Simoa for encouraging me to try my hand at poetry again.

Uncategorized

Why I Don’t Like Bernie Sanders

Since Sanders has been in the news again lately, this is a very well written post, with lots of links to proof of claims therein, in regards to why Bernie Sanders is extremely problematic and explains well my own stance against him and a great many of his most ardent supporters.

A while back someone asked me to explain why I don’t like Bernie Sanders. So here is my best attempt to explain why I dislike him.

First Findings About Sanders

The first thing I remember hearing about Bernie Sanders was his appearance at Netroots Nation’s conference in Phoenix during the summer of 2015. Friends of mine who went said they were unimpressed with how he handled it.  I was willing to give a bit of a pass because I hadn’t been there but it was a preview to what was to come.  Sanders does not like being challenged by anyone. Ever.

I had other friends who thought he was the bee’s knees. But they didn’t really seem to have a lot of information about him outside a few pat phrases.  For instance, when asked what he has done, I was told he was the Amendment King.  Essentially, he didn’t introduce…

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Personal Experiences · To Do

6 Weeks Down, 12 To Go

Today marks the third-way point of my 18 week self-given challenge to focus on and improve aspects of my life as I approach 30.

So I figured it might be a good time to check-in so I can analyze my progress and hold myself accountable going into the next 6 weeks.

♥ Become a better blogger

Well, I’ve posted one other time over on my spiritual/life journey blog and I’ve started at least three or four other blog posts for this one, but every single time I start, I ask myself ‘what’s the point?’ and close the tab. Even if I overcome outside factors such as energy levels, general lack of interest, difficulty with putting my thoughts into words (brain fog, essentially), time constraints, etc. I still end up with the question of what’s the point?

Anything that I could write about has been written by someone else far better. I don’t have a niche, I don’t even lead a very interesting life – it’s essentially the same routine day in and day out with a little variance once in a blue moon; even that variance is usually mundane.

So I wonder why waste the little bit of time and energy I have on waxing philosophical about favorite characters, movies, and similar things? Again, when others out there are offering so much more than I can to any potential audience (not that writing is always about an audience, of course). Just because I could probably sit down and write post after post on Kathleen Kelly (You’ve Got Mail heroine) or The Lord of the Rings or any of my other eclectic (but basic) interests doesn’t mean I should.

I suppose this is the pessimistic attitude a lot of writers feel from time to time. Regardless if it’s blogging or writing a novel or anything else. I just happen to wonder frequently if my pessimism and lack of focus when it comes to blogging means I need to stop trying to fit a square block into a triangular hole.

 Improve my handwriting

Thanks to muscle pain – potentially repetitive stress or carpal tunnel from my job – this one has been on the back burner. I’ve mostly been experimenting, trying to find my favorite ways of forming letters in a way that I can keep consistent. I’ve also worked on paying better attention to trying to keep my arm loose and letting it come naturally. Lastly, I’ve been making myself write in a planner and make lists as a way for daily practice without overtaxing my already stressed limbs. I can honestly say I have seen an improvement (on the days I’m trying; some days I’m still like ‘forget this I’m going with shorthand chicken scratch’).

 Improve my fitness

My health and fitness has been my main focus over the past 6 weeks (well, a little longer than that of course!) since I figured that if there is only one thing to focus on in this challenge, it’s that. I got very complacent during the first half of this year when it comes to fitness and if there’s anything I’ve learned about my body it’s that the whole ‘you can eat at a deficit and lose weight without exercise’ thing doesn’t work for me.

Consistently in my life if I only eat at a deficit (tracking calories religiously), I can still gain – and not just a little but a lot as if I were overeating. But if I track my calories religiously (even on days I go over or my compulsive need to eat everything in sight rears its ugly head) AND work out at least an hour a day, I start to see the scale go down and other physical changes.

It’s exhausting that I have to do both. It sucks that I can’t do the average recommended 30 minutes a day. It sucks that I can’t be like my coworkers that can eat all the junk food and stay thin while if I eat at the minimum suggested 1200 calories (which I don’t because I feel like I’ll eat my own face when I do that regularly) I still gain.

It sucks, but when I started this challenge and started thinking about my future, turning 30, etc. I had to be honest with myself and realize no amount of pitying the poor hand I feel I was given is going to make things better. Either I have to accept that an hour minimum of exercise a day and treating caloric intake the same way I treat my bank account is the lifestyle I have to commit to and make room for in order to be fit* or else I need to stop whining about what isn’t going to change just because I don’t think it’s fair I have to put in a little (or a lot, depending on each person) more effort than others.

* I say fit because I also have to work on getting out of a shallow mindset of the number on the scale or the composition of my body on the outside being the sole determination of if I’m strong, eating right, etc. Obviously, when I workout that much each day, I may not look like a person who works out at all to those who can only see my weight, but I know that I feel better, walk faster, sleep better (okay marginally better lol), fill full faster, etc.  Just because the science of calorie in, calorie out dictates I should be losing approximately X pounds a week doesn’t mean it’ll happen. Recently, it took ten weeks of effort before my scale showed my weight loss, going up and down 2-4 pounds at a time before dropping 12 seemingly overnight. That was a good reminder to me that persistence even when nothing seems to be changing is what matters (this is true of other areas of my life!).

I won’t go into detail, but I also took the gallon of water a day challenge in July and I am ecstatic to say I’m never going back to drinking less than 100 oz of water a day (outside of extenuating circumstances of course). While a gallon is a little too much for my body on most days, I learned over the course of the challenge that averaging around 100 oz does wonders for my body. I just feel better in ways that are hard to explain, and this is speaking as someone who regularly drank the recommended 64 oz a day, sometimes getting closer to 75. In fact, the days that I only drank 64-75 oz I was just a little more blah and I retained water really bad.

 Pay extra on my student loan principal

So, I guess it counts on extra on my student loan principal that I paid off one loan entirely, right? Since $1200 of an almost $1300 balance was the principal rather than interest on it ahaha. I was lucky to get a on the spot type bonus that allowed me to pay it off. Otherwise I haven’t paid any extra on any of my other student loans yet, but I have been saving money back extra per paycheck with the aggressive goals of paying off one more loan before my birthday (happy birthday to me – y/n?) and then another one after that by the end of the year/beginning of January in order to have my minimum payment down by over a hundred dollars from what it was at the start of this year. So that’s sort of what this specific goal has shifted to instead (and if I have an extra five-ten dollars laying around at the end of each pay check, I may still put it on the principal of my largest sum/interest rate loan).

While it’s depressing laying down literally grands at a time instead of being able to use that same money for other things, I keep telling myself the more aggressive I am now, the faster my minimum payment will go down and the less of a hassle this will be in the future. A little discipline and sacrifice now, while I’m in a position where I can do this (since I don’t deny that privilege whatsoever!) without as many worries as there might be in the future, will give me breathing room in the future – e.g. lower minimum payment to budget for in addition to other bills.

Of the other goals: improve my Spanish, write a novella, practice better skin care, deal with my name issues, and develop better sleep habits, there’s nothing of much interest to report. I’m working on them, but my focus hasn’t quite been there as much.

 

Personal Experiences · To Do

18 Weeks

As of today there are exactly 18 weeks until I turn 30. It’s still a little hard for me to believe that I’m this close to such a (arguably?) milestone age. In 18 weeks I’ll never ever be in my twenties again. Wow.

But I’m looking forward to it. So much so, that thinking about it has helped me with my ongoing depression. It’s given me something concrete to focus on, to plan for.

So with 18 weeks left in the countdown, I’ve come up with 9 goals to focus my energy on for the rest of my twenties (/dramatic). 9 goals that I also have specific mini-goals/strategies for helping me achieve them.

Become a better blogger
Improve my handwriting
Improve my fitness
Pay extra on my student loan principal 
Improve my Spanish
Write a novella
Practice better skin care
Deal with my name issues more aggressively
Develop better sleep habits

I plan on making this list into a visual graphic and then making copies of it to have at home and at work so I can keep a literal eye on my goals. They say that you are more likely to achieve goals if you write them down, but you increase your chances of achieving them even more if you can see them regularly. This has proven true for me in the past so that’s why I’m utilizing this method again.

Also, I tend to do strangely well when I challenge myself with very specific goals. If someone else gives me a deadline, or task in general, it tends to fall on deaf ears until I go out of my way to break it down and then psych myself up. This was true as a kid when cleaning my room (I’d make a list of the things I needed to do and then work on just one thing at a time), it was true in college (and the only way I survived my last term) and it’s true as a worker (I make a list of the overall goals for the month and then at the end of the work day I make a list of the things I want/need to accomplish the next day). I feel more capable when I break it down like this and then challenge myself to prove what I can do.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to over do it only to make myself feel like a failure. That’s why I’ve used language such as improve or better for most of these. For example, I fully recognize that I’m not likely to be speaking Spanish perfectly or even understanding it perfectly when it’s spoken in 18 weeks unless I actually immerse myself in the language and culture. But I can work on it regularly so that I’m more capable of saying the basics without thinking too hard or developing my vocabulary so that I can read/recognize words without relying on my English/Spanish dictionary.

So, here’s to 18 weeks more and, hopefully, an improved life as I prepare for the next decade. Since once of those goals is to become a better blogger, I will definitely be checking in on my progress via posts.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go read a bunch of silly posts about all the things a person should supposedly do before they’re 30. I’m pretty sure I’ll probably have accomplished very few of them!