Friday, March 18, 2011

My Life as a British Sitcom

I celebrated St. Patrick's day by going to a movie and lunch with the ballet gang. I had a corned beef sandwich for lunch, and then I had braised cabbage (yum) with dinner, so if I put the two meals together, I was pretty traditional. The plan for the day was "cheesy teenybopper movie we can snark at," so we went to see Beastly. I'd read the book a few years ago and really liked it, so I figured I could at least have fun comparing the movie to the book. But I usually do my movie reviews on Monday and I have other stuff to talk about, so I will wait to discuss it in depth.

Meanwhile, I'm struggling with the book I'm currently reading. In the past few years, I've finally learned to give myself permission to put down a book that I'm not enjoying, but I don't know if I would say that I'm not enjoying this one, but I'm still not sure I want to keep reading it. The world building in it is fascinating, with a complete history and mythology. But I don't actually care about the main character or the plot that's happening in this fascinating world. I don't dislike the main character. I just have no emotional connection whatsoever. It's like following a Monopoly token around the board while watching someone else play the game. I find myself saying, "Hey, enough of this plot stuff. Can I get some more infodump about this world's history, please?" I keep turning pages, but I've realized it's more because of the drive that would lead to me reading an entire volume of an encyclopedia whenever I tried to look up one thing than because of the usual "I want to see what happens" drive that keeps me reading a novel. Given that the novel was published and is an award contender, I'm pretty sure my response isn't typical, unless it's being recognized for the amazing world building. Normally, when I'm just not feeling a book, I'll skip to the end so I can see how it turns out and then either it's easier to put down or I'm intrigued enough by the ending to read the rest of the book. But here, I don't really care how it ends (I've skipped to the end and it didn't change how I felt). I just want to see if there are any more history tidbits.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I was lacking TV favorites, but I do have a show that's growing on me. I didn't watch Parks and Recreation from the beginning. I picked it up in the middle of last season, but I've recently found myself rewatching episodes OnDemand because the show is just so warmhearted and endearing, with a heaping dose of quirky. Plus, an episode a few weeks ago gave me a huge epiphany about something that happened in my life.

Spoilers for the episode before the one last night:
In this show, Rob Lowe has been playing a state auditor who's come to town to deal with the town's budget crisis. His character is as about as perky as a man can be, a super-positive guy who speaks in affirmations, never criticizes, never says anything negative and avoids conflict at all costs. He's been dating a woman in the town, and now that he's finished his assignment, he's about to go back to the state capital. After dropping a lot of hints, she finally asks him what this move means for their relationship, and they have a long conversation about it, coming to the conclusion that she's not going to move to join him yet, but they're going to continue the relationship. But then after he moves, she starts to worry that he's cheating on her, since she hasn't heard from him very much, and then he's kind of cool and politely distant when she gets in touch with him. So she goes to confront him about it, and he tells her that he isn't cheating on her, but he's also not dating her. She rewinds the conversation in her head and realizes that he actually broke up with her before moving, only he did it in such a positive, affirming way that she interpreted it as him saying he wanted to continue the relationship, since he just kept talking about how great she was.

And then I realized that had happened to me with the ending of my last serious relationship. This had been haunting me for more than a decade. I'd been dating a guy for a while, and it seemed to be getting serious. I was even starting to think that this could be The One. We'd both been kind of busy for a while and had trouble getting our schedules in sync to get together much, so he then asked me out for a big date -- a concert, then dinner at a really nice restaurant where they had a live band for ballroom dancing. It was a great date that totally seemed to confirm my feelings that this could be the guy. He seemed to be feeling the same way because he started talking about how glad he was that he'd met me and how amazing I was. And then after that date, he fell off the face of the earth. I didn't hear from him for weeks, and when I called to see if he was okay, we had a short, polite conversation before he had to go, but he promised he'd call me later that weekend. Then he did call for another short conversation, and then I never heard from him again. I'd called that my X-Files relationship because it was like he was suddenly abducted by aliens just after the date that sounded like he wanted to intensify our relationship. But now, looking back, I'm thinking that the date was his way of doing a "nice" breakup. I totally got the "it's not you, it's me" speech, the "you're great and I'm glad I met you, but …" talk. So no wonder he didn't call and acted like I was being crazy and clingy when I called him. Obviously, he didn't communicate it that well if it took me more than a decade and a sitcom episode to figure this out, but now that I think about it, there were other conversations where he'd mentioned trying to figure out what he wanted to do with his life and how he didn't want to base any decisions he made on his connections with other people. I guess I got dumped because having a girlfriend would have contaminated his decision-making process. (Note to guys: the girl probably won't get the message if you take her out on a big, fancy date to soften the blow.)

Yes, my dating life is like something out of a sitcom. Only, it would have to be a show with one episode every five years or so. So, it's like a British sitcom, I guess, with a total cast change for each season.

Anyway, I now have another writing project I really want to work on, which is typical for when I'm about halfway through a book. But then that motivates me to finish the book so I can work on the new project, which means writing blitz! Let's see how much I can get done this weekend.

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