Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Why I'm Glad My Life Isn't A Hallmark Christmas Movie

The end of November is soon upon us. Which means that days will get shorter, nights will get colder, and we can all get cozy and gather around the TV for Hallmark Christmas movies. Now, for the second year running, my roommate and I have hunkered down for our favorite tradition. This means that all other TV watching is temporarily suspended as we become engrossed in cheesy romantic story after cheesy romantic story. At first, I was worried this would have some negative psychological effect; I remember one of my family processes professors warning about the dangers of idealization that can come from unrealistic expectations. After my 3rd movie last night though, I realized that these movies offer no threat of this. In fact, they make me grateful for the life I do have.

Now, this is not some thinly veiled braggey "seriously, so blessed" posts. My life is great, mostly because of the people in it. I've had some accomplishments, but no more than most others. Even if nothing works out, and I end up spending the majority of my life in a snuggie jumpsuit, I'd still kind of love it. I'm not unambitious or lazy, it's just that honestly when something doesn't work out, I'm ok. Get laid off my job? Break up with someone? Contract the flu? It's really alright. Just gives me one more day to do something fun like hike a mountain, or sit around in my pajama jeans and snuggie and look at pictures of cats. Then, pick up with my life and keep moving, usually with a smile, or at least a hearty chuckle.

Snuggie Jumpsuit
People in these Hallmark movies though, are miserable. They hate their lives, jobs, and can't relate to friends, family, or significant others. It takes the arrival of Santa, Mrs. Claus, elves, ghosts of christmas past/present/future, or an attractive and emotionally available member of the opposite gender to right themselves. Now, I am all for watching people fall in love; I'm a girl, I like love and happiness. It's just that I wish people in these portrayals could be happy enough without it or the huge righting miracle in their lives. They shouldn't have to dramatically change everything about themselves to suddenly bring about joy. They could just make the small personal decision to be just a little kinder and optimistic. In real life, if we had to wait around for a huge catalyst or Christmas miracle to turn us around, would it really have a lasting impact?
Pajama jeans. Yes, I actually do own both these items. And I'm proud of it. 
With that said, I will continue to watch them, because yes, I'm a sap. I secretly love cheesiness. But, only for the end of the movies. I honestly want to just grab the characters when they're being their morose, dour selves at the beginning and be like "look at your beautiful house and wardrobe. be happy now!". 

For now, I'll probably just go throw on my forever lazy and see which sad person gets their life saved by Christmas next. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Goodbye Dan

Friends, it is my birthday tomorrow. I don't particularly love acknowledging that I am now a full year closer to death, but there you have it. Right now, in one of the closest races in the country, they still have not determined a winner. Ami Bera holds a slight lead, with just under 2,000 votes ahead. Every bone in my body hopes that Dan Lungren loses."Wow, Beth, that's mega-harsh!", you may be thinking right now, but let me take you on a journey to explain.

The year is 2004. I am in high school and still 16 years old. My dad was running for congress in the California 3rd district. If you are one of the 99% of Americans whose parent has never run for congress, let me tell you, you are so lucky. It is one of the most stressful things you can go through. All I wanted to do was be an average high schooler. Playing sports, awkward flirting, attempting to stay awake during class, and essentially trying to attract as little attention to myself as possible. I didn't want to think of my Dad running a campaign and potentially moving to D.C. It happened though. My brother and I would go out for hours of canvASSing as we called it. This involved visiting 80% of the houses on our list, then getting a muffin from starbucks and sitting in the car making up data for the rest. This may sound bad, but I was 16. I didn't want to be going around to creepy peoples' houses. I wanted to be at home, sleeping. Then, my big brother left for school in Utah and left me to deal with it on my own. This was the same year Kerry lost and the republicans "took back the house". It was a dark time for a Mormon democratic candidate with a hispanic last name, running in one of the most conservative districts in the state. My dad tried though. Very hard. He had to deal with all sorts of ridiculous party politics that make me hate the democratic party. He was moderate, fiscally conservative, and had an A rating from the NRA. It was not meant to be though.

Official Castillo for Congress Photo
It all came to a culmination when my poli sci teacher invited Lungren to come and speak to our class a week before the election. During class, the only question I could think to ask him was why he supported the use of lobbyists in congress, who were bound to corrupt and sway congressional votes and he answered "That's just the way it's got to be. They've got the money, why shouldn't they use it?". Need I mention he was a millionaire?

You may not be able to completely make out his lower lip spittle
Ok, my dad obviously lost. I had to face some smug teachers and classmates the whole next day. In between class periods I'd stop by and cry in the bathroom. You can't help but take it personally. It is hard on you and on your whole family. I couldn't help but have a surge of dislike for Dan that has never really gone away, especially with his tea-party craziness of 2009-2011. Finally though, I hope I can put it behind me. I am still grateful to my high school friends Karine and Kibby, who went out canvassing with me for hours, putting up signs and being so supportive during such a hard time. Now, free at last, free at last, thank goodness, we are almost free at last! Hopefully soon we can all say, goodbye Dan.

Edit: I am sorry that I sounded so gloaty. Now that Ami has officially won, I feel a little bad. My dad reminded me, as we picked up my brother from the airport, that while very self-assured, Mr. Lungren was a very classy guy. Apparently, Ami Bera's camp sent out a tacky self-congratulatory email with a clip of Lungren classily continuing to orient new congressmen (his job) even though he had lost. Losing a race is very hard to take, and I sincerely wish you the best, Mr. Lungren. I'm sorry I was bitter and said mean things about your spittle.