September 2011


The mention of reality television can have a variety of effects on me: it can make me turn off to a conversation, bring to mind the Ayn Rand quote about the “glorification of mediocrity” (she may be flawed but I always loved that turn of phrase), tempt me to make an argument for its ill effects on society, or make me sad for the loss of great writing in modern television (with few exceptions).

I am of the generation that started tuning into it originally, with MTV’s The Real World debuting during my high school years.  I remember watching it then and thinking it was okay, but I didn’t watch subsequent seasons, and by the time the genre began to dominate television, I didn’t even have a television. 

My mom, on the other hand, loves reality TV.  She used to tape (yes, tape) episodes of Beauty and the Geek and give them to me unsolicited.  I started watching some network shows like Dancing with the Stars after that, and tried out a few other shows to determine the appeal (I didn’t find much) and generally because I love pop culture.

Which brings me to my subsequent embarrassment over how much I love watching Bachelor Pad.  It started with The Bachelor/Bachelorette, which I could only stomach for a couple of seasons (okay, okay, so that’s more than stomaching).  But I could eat buckets of popcorn enthralled by the stupidity that is Bachelor Pad.  I don’t know why.

The people on this show make me want to yell at the TV.  I want to gossip about them like they’re neighbors whose antics I’m privy to sans binoculars (yes, I call my mom to talk about them).  I google “Bachelor Pad recaps” to find other like-minded people who are enthralled as much as I am.  I know it’s all edited, I know it’s all made-for-tv, scripted so Jake doesn’t get booted too early (ratings rule!), but I love the trainwreck.

Last night, one of the players – Vienna – was talking about how she needed the $250,000 prize at the end of the show because her mother was 4 months behind on her rent and was going to lose her house – as if this was some kind of reason to keep her in the game because her cause was so noble.  She was comparing herself to another player, Ella, who was intending to open a shelter for battered women (her mom was shot and killed by an ex-boyfriend in front of her when she was 3) and use the money to give her 9-year-old son “the life he deserves”.  Vienna wanted to vote Ella off because her story was just too empathetic and part of the granting of the prize has to do with people’s intention for the money.

I think Ella’s story is amazing, but it also bothers me.  She’s a single mom, and she keeps saying repeatedly that she’s doing this for her son.  Part of me wants to say, “If you really love your son, you wouldn’t be going on The Bachelor and Bachelor Pad and being away from him months at a time to win money.”  Maybe I’m bitter because there are a lot of us single moms out there, and all of our kids should have “the life they deserve.”  My son’s been through some shit, and I work hard to ensure he’s got a good life – but to me that means mentally, physically and especially emotionally.  What kind of life does he deserve?  How much money would I need to buy it?  I’d like a house too, but it’s probably not in the cards.  How many single parents out there would benefit from having $250K for their kids?  I know for a fact I’m better off than most, and yet I’m still not where I’d be if money were no object.

Maybe it bothers me because she’s asking for sympathy – maybe because it’s her “vote for poor l’il me” cry.  I’m sure she’s a great person and obviously she’s been through a lot.  I guess it strikes a chord because I’ve never asked for charity – hell, I can’t even get the overdue child support from J’s bio parents for my guardianship years.  People tell me all the time to use my situation to ask for cheaper rates on things (karate classes, music lessons, etc).  Maybe I’d be better off if I did, but my pride is too great. 

I think it also bothers me because I’m jealous.  Two of the women on the show are single moms and they obviously have family to take care of their kids while they go away, frolic in the sun, make out with hot guys and become quasi-famous.  I couldn’t be away from J that long, but sometimes I’d just like to have someone around who I don’t have to pay so I can go see a movie.  By myself, even.  Another mom who I can exchange kid-watching with.  I’d like to go out on awesome dates with hot guys without worrying about my curfew or my reputation like they do (because it’s all in the name of winning money for a noble cause!).

I’d like one of the single moms to win – because of solidarity, I guess.  It isn’t easy.  And I hope they find love too – despite the fact that it’s reality TV and that’s a ridiculous expectation.  Maybe having one kid have a great life in exchange for junk-food-entertainment is worth it.  When it comes down to it, what would I do?  I’d probably do anything for him, too.

I’m feeling really pissed off this morning.

I’m pissed because I’m losing the tiny bit of tan I got last week while on vacation.  I miss being on vacation.  I miss being around people.  I spent the week with my friend Christina and her family, and J and I had constant companions, even if it was just company for watching tv or sitting in the garage enjoying the sunshine and a smoke.   I miss the conversation.  I miss laughing.  I miss just being myself without having anything to do.  I know that can’t last forever, but I’m pissed because it made me feel like I’m not enough myself in my daily life, whatever that means.  I miss the sunshine and the sound of the ocean. 

When we were at the beach on Sunday, J was out playing in the waves while I read a book.  Well, tried to read a book.  No matter how much I’d been told to relax about him, I still couldn’t read more than a paragraph without looking up.  He kept ignoring me and going too far into the waves; there was a riptide warning.  I told him not to go in above his knees.  But of course, the level kept changing because of the waves: one minute it would be at his ankles, the next at his chest.  When I realized I couldn’t see him in the ocean, I calmly got up from my towel and started walking toward the waves.  I knew he’d be to the right, because that’s where the ocean was pulling swimmers.  It wasn’t the first time I couldn’t find him, and usually I’d end up finding him digging in the sand, where I wasn’t looking.  When I got to the water, he was running up to me (from the right), half-sobbing, telling me about how he’d gotten pulled under the waves.  He said a woman helped him get back.  I hugged him and calmed him down and he started digging in the sand.  I know I looked for him as soon as I couldn’t see him, but I was still disturbed.  He was fine until that night when he couldn’t fall asleep, saying he could still feel the waves pulling him under, but eventually he slept. 

I’m pissed that it still haunts me.

I’m pissed because I want to write and I’m paralyzed.  I know if I do, I need it to take over my life (I WANT it to) but the band is distracting.  It’s an extroverted creative pursuit, and writing is an introverted creative pursuit, and I feel like a fucking schizophrenic just thinking about it.  I love singing, but I’m a better writer than a singer, and that’s really what I want to do.  I’m just afraid if I quit the band (dissolve it, really) that the other members will be disappointed in me (it was my idea after all) and that I’ll end up disappointed in me.  And I’ve also got that hero complex – why can’t I do it all?

I’m pissed because I make a ton of money for one person, yet I can’t seem to get a handle on my finances.  I’m saving money in one place just to spend it in another.  I want J to be able to do cub scouts and martial arts and basketball and music lessons, but I don’t have the money for everything.  My rent just went up, too.  And I have credit card bills from my vacation.  I seem to pay them off just to charge things again.  It’s driving me crazy.

I’m pissed because I hate my job.  I hate being at home all fucking day.  I hate having no one paying attention to me or my work.  I hate that I worry that I’m expendable because nobody sees me or asks anything challenging of me.  I like that I don’t have to rush anywhere in the morning, that I can come and go as I please, and that I’m respected enough to not be micro-managed.  I know that’s lowered my stress level a lot.  I feel like I’m looking a gift horse in the mouth, that I’m ungrateful for the good things it’s brought to my life.  And I’m afraid of them going away.  I just need some external motivation to keep me invested in my job and excited about it.

I’m pissed because I have grey hair and I’m too tired (I’m always tired, it seems) to dye it.  I’m pissed that I still haven’t lost any weight since meeting with my MD about dietary changes (I’m supposed to lose 20 pounds to get to a healthy weight).  That I just can’t seem to wake up in the morning to exercise.  I’m pissed that I ordered a dress that’s too small for me that I’m supposed to wear in three weeks and I know I’m going to diet in ways that aren’t what she and I discussed just to fit into it. 

I’m pissed that I’m pissed, because life is better than it’s been in a long time.  J’s doing great with his behavior and loves school.  I’m still feeling open and positive about life and not concerned with the whole guy thing (because strangely, I’m not pissed about that at all). 

I’m pissed that Christina and her husband have friends who would help them hide a body (to turn a clever phrase) but 99% of my friends don’t even call me.  I’m pissed that last week one of my supposed friends (obviously she isn’t) implied to a third party that I was a homewrecker when that’s about as far from my character as possible.  I’m pissed that I even considered her a friend.  It makes me wonder who else out there thinks they know me.

I wish I knew how to get over all this, because all it’s doing right now is coursing through me, when all I want is the lightness I felt last week.  The bright, California sunshine yellow of contentment.