Friday, October 28, 2016

woven threads

So I had to bake a peach pie.

Those words came into my mind on my drive to work this morning. 

The trail to get there went something like this:Memories of feeling left out -> a chosen blog post -> a forgotten chosen blog post - > bread -> sacramental baking -> I had to bake a peach pie

(Welcome to my brain.)

I wrote about making that pie in a blog post a couple of years ago. I wrote it in response to author Preston Yancey’s call for submissions for his blog on the theme “An Everlasting Meal and a Movable Feast: where food and faith intersect.” He was taking a break from posting while he finished up his first book, Tables in the Wilderness. In the end, he had 90 submissions and only 12 spots to fill. I was one of the “chosen” 12. I was chosen among a lot of other amazing authors I respected and loved their words very much. (Some of them had published books!)  It felt like a huge honor.

And then he forgot to post it.

He posted it later as an “open call” for guest posts on Thursday, which felt a lot less special to me. I wrote it specifically about the idea of faith and food intersecting. It was a powerful story from my life, and it changed me. And it was forgotten by the very person whose choice had made me feel special, and someone whose actions inspired the story to begin with. (He not only chose my post, but his class was why I baked the pie to begin with.)

As someone who struggles with rejection, this hurt. It hurt a lot. It hurt when I read the last post of the series, and realized I’d been left out. It hurt when I asked him about it and he apologized. It hurt when he suggested it be moved to a different guest post series. It all just hurt. And yes, people may say I’m overly sensitive. But I had a reasonable expectation, was excited about the opportunity I had to be published somewhere else (and the fact it was chosen by an author I respected) so I told people about it. They were waiting to read it. It was all so anti-climactic when it finally was published – because it felt like it was only published because I had to point it out to him. There I was, sitting on the floor in gym class, as the captains of the kickball teams chose classmate after classmate with my arm kind of half-raised, mumbling, “I’m still over here…”

Here’s the thing, though. I needed to tell you all that in case didn’t know the story, or remember that I once guest posted for an author. It was, after all, a few years ago, because the memory of this, while unpleasant (when it could have been such a joyful one) isn’t where my mind went after the words, “So I had to bake a peach pie” entered my mind this morning. That was the title of my post, and it’s the story itself that has me all turned around into knots right now.

Here is the post:

This story is no longer a sweet memory, or a positive one, and it has nothing to do with the fact it was forgotten about almost three years ago. It’s because the people in that story are no longer in my life. I made a mistake and it was too much for them.  Things remain unfinished because after I reached out to make amends, my amends were refused. My phone call was never returned, my voicemail never answered. This also, hurt.

It got me thinking about defining moments. A lot of people have defining moments that are huge… marriage, pregnancy, finishing a degree. For me, I look back over my life and the big stuff doesn’t come to mind. But little stuff does. Like the story of me and the peach pie. I guess when you are single and childless, defining moments just look different.

This was a defining moment for me, and that’s why, when Preston first announced that he was looking for guest submissions, I knew immediately what I could write about. The fact that it was chosen among 90 submissions just confirmed what I believed in my heart: that this was an important story. That it mattered. That it was a big deal. A tiny moment, a big deal… for me, for my heart, for just so much. 

But honestly, it no longer feels like a defining moment for me. This moment has been marred by circumstances that have happened since. It’s no longer a nice memory, because I am struggling to have nice feelings about the people who are in that story.

One of the most important takeaways I have from the counseling I went through in seminary is that your past does matter. Because it’s part of your story. When I first walked into my counselor’s office, I told her I didn’t want my past to define me, because I didn’t want to give people who’d hurt me the satisfaction of changing me. In my mind, that wasn’t fair – I wanted to be the sole person responsible for who I was.

But I’m not.

Our lives are made up of complicated and messy woven threads of people we like and dislike. Of people we trust and don’t trust. Of those that hurt us and those we hurt. People that healed us and people we healed. What are we to do with these woven threads? Threads that have the good colors and the ugly colors, colors that fit neatly in our color scheme and those that don’t? I know, deep down, that the people and situations we dislike are part of our story and what matters is what we do with their part in our story. But my inner child wants to have a temper tantrum because those big ole’ mean people JUST DON’T DESERVE IT. *harrumph* *stomp* *fist clenched* *snort*

My adult side will simply say that my sense of justice hates that the negative stuff has altered me. I should be stronger than that, right?

I wish the negative stuff didn’t matter. I wish when I was a child in music class, the one class where I excelled, that it wasn’t a painful moment to not be chosen when we had to partner up in the 6th grade for the spring concert to play ukuleles. And since our class had an uneven number, I was by myself and it was immortalized on film and in a photo album. (And in my brain, too, I guess.) I have a lot of stories like these. I hate that they still sting. I hate that they still matter.

The negative defining moments in my life often make me angry. Mostly, because there was some element out of my control and something bad happened. As well as an unmet expectation of mine. (As you may remember, expectations are something of a vice for me.)

What I’m realizing, with all these messy and mismatched woven threads of my life, is that they still matter not just because they are part of my story, but they still hurt because I am working through the grand, overall lesson I must learn: that I am an accepted child of God and his love for me is bigger and grander than all those people who’ve hurt me. There are days I get this truth. There are days I don’t.

Someday I hope to look at that picture of my 6th grade music concert of me without a partner and not feel the rush of rejection I felt back then.

Someday I hope to be able to make that bourbon-caramel peach pie and not get a horrible pit in my stomach.

Today is just not that day.

Monday, October 10, 2016

34 Episodes You Need to Watch Before the Gilmore Girls Reboot on Netflix

I admit it, the second I saw this Netflix trailer, my heart soared. I love Gilmore Girls and it’s always my go-to binge watch show when I need some joy. 

Because the creators of the show left before Season 7, I always felt cheated out of a great ending. So that is my explanation for my heart soaring. I’ve been watching the show on and off for the last couple of months, and when the November 25 date was announced, I read some pieces in the vein of , “Episodes you must watch for the reboot comes out.” But they were all subpar and clearly not written by true fans of the show. Yes, I’m that fan.

If you have already seen all the episodes, but want a refresher before November 25, this list is for you. There are episodes that are needed for plot points, but I didn’t include them if they weren't at the very top of the Gilmore Girl game. If I included episodes that help with major plots points, you might as well just re-watch the whole show. Plus, Netflix was great to put the “previouslys” on the episodes to help with this.

If you haven’t see the show yet, just watch them all. I could maybe create a list for those unfamiliar with the show, with a couple of episodes a season where you don’t miss much, but let’s face it. It’s just best to see the whole thing. The show is that good. And don’t read this list if you haven’t already seen the show, because spoilers. 

Season 1
1.) Pilot .The opening scene of this show is unparalleled in it's outstanding introduction to what the show will be like, despite how slooooow they are talking. Amy hadn’t quite found her writing voice for the show just yet, and the actors hadn’t reached Gilmore-pace yet. But it’s such a strong pilot.

2.) Forgiveness and Stuff. From Luke's inability to be in a hospital to Lorelai's almost speech to her dad, this episode is a can't miss. Plus, grossest hamburger ever.

3.) The Break Up, Part 2. You get a full dose of Lane, which always makes an episode better. Plus you start to see glimmer of Paris and Rory’s friendship starting.

Season 2
It’s my personal belief that this season of this show is one of the finest pieces of pop culture to ever grace the world’s stage.

4.) Nick & Nora/Sid and Nancy. The introduction of Jess and some epic scenes and fights with Luke and Lorelai.

5.) The Bracebridge Dinner. This show is at it’s finest with the background characters in Star Hollow are allowed to shine. This crazy and weird episode provides lots of fodder, plus some awesome stuff with Lorelai and her parents.

6.) A-Tisket, A-Tasket. The first episode I ever watched, which made me fall in love with the show. This is really just added for sentimental reasons, but that’s of sweet things happen here.

7.) There’s the Rub. More incredible scenes with Lorelai and her mother, where they both learn so much about each other. Plus Rory, Jess and Paris together? Great stuff.

8.) Help Wanted. This is one of my favorite episodes, because you finally see some real bonding with Lorelai and her father.

8.) Lorelai's Gradulation Day. Despite the ridiculous storyline of "Lorelai's the rich kid" at community college, everything else here is Gilmore Girls perfect.

9.) I Can’t Get Started. While I despise a lot of what is happening with the main characters in this episode, it’s Sookie and Jackson’s wedding. Enough said.

Season 3
10.) They Shoot Gilmores, Don’t They? It’s the Star Hollow Dance marathon and more ridiculousness ensues. Again, the best episodes highlight the townspeople. Plus one epic breakup scene.

11.) A Deep Friend Korean Thanksgiving. Lane’s first kiss. Thunder dome on Sookie’s lawn. And a fight with Lorelai and Emily. So much goodness. and laugh out loud moments.

I would like to include “Dear Emily and Richard” at this point, but this episodes looses major points because of the appearance of Sherri. She is one annoying character. It’s not because she took Christopher away from Lorelai. Nope. Couldn’t care less about it. Simple fact: she’s annoying. That said, if you watch it fast-forwarding most of her scenes, it’s pretty great. You get a glimpse of what it was like when Lorelai’s was pregnant, (the parallel with Shari’s labor experience was very well done.) and you see Emily and Lorelai bond in the sweetest way. Bridges are being built as Lorelai’s reflects on how they burned in the first place. I would also include "That’ll Do, Pig," except that I can’t stand Gran. (Actually, it’s more the actress I can’t stand to watch then the character of Gran.) But Lorelai explaining how she deals with her mother’s criticism is gold. Then watching her mother use that on her mother-in-law, platinum. Which really just goes to show that I should do a top scenes list, too. Because some of the best scenes aren’t in the best episodes because other plot lines are weak. And maybe I should do a “best lines” list, too. #popculturenerd

12.) A Tale of Poes and Fire. The inn catches fire and we have the sweetest and saddest endings of an episode (save the series finale) ever.

13.) Those are Strings, Pinocchio. Rory graduates and the Inn becomes a reality. Plus Brad sings.

Season 4
I realized after reviewing all the seasons that this is surprisingly one of my favorites. Though we are first introduced to Liz and TJ in season 4, they hadn’t reached the level of annoying (that broke me) until much later.  I’m also not really a fan of Digger, but watching Lorelai and Sookie pursue their dream of opening an inn is awesome. I also think I enjoy it so much because Rory is completely boyfriend-less, and so that drama isn’t there, so yay. 

14.) Ballrooms and Biscotti. Everything about this episode is perfect. I mean everything. It might be my all-time favorite episode.

15.) The Lorelais’ First Day at Yale. Save the annoying freshman counselor, watching Lorelai try to drive Luke’s truck and helping Rory adjust to college is particularly wonderful.

16.) An Affair to Remember. Watching Lorelai defend her mother to a childhood friend? Priceless. Plus I really need to have some of Sookie’s Lobster Pot Pie.

17.) In the Clamor and the Clangor. The Star Hollow bells get fixed and drive everyone crazy. Lorelai wears the best winter white sweater ever and her and Luke have another epic fight and then make up. And Lane finally fesses up to her double life with her mother.

18.) Scene in a Mall. The bulk of this episode involves shopping so it’s no wonder I like it. Emily has the best meltdown ever. But the sweetness of the episode (and why I am including it) lies in a moment in the food court.

19.) The Reigning Lorelai. Gran dies (finally) and the breakdown of this family unit is quite epic. Richard, Emily and Lorelei all have equally fantastic meltdowns and it’s a sight to behold.

20.) Last Week's Fight, This Week's Tights. Lane's mom finally meets Zach and Brian and  it's awesome. Luke and Lorelai go on their first date, even though Lorelei doesn't know it. The rest of the episode is just "meh" but the moment. You know what I'm talking about. THE MOMENT.

21.) Raincoats and Recipes. It’s finally time to open the Inn, and of course, much ridiculousness ensues because the practice weekend involves Sookie and Lorelai inviting the town to stay there to work out the kinks. I don’t need to say anymore except that we finally get to see a first kiss between Luke and Lorelei, and it involves Kirk running around naked. Yep. 

Season 5
22.) Written in the Stars. Stars Hollow is all a flutter now that the two townspeople who run eating establishments are in a relationship. But the real story is what in Luke’s wallet.

23.) Wedding Bell Blues. This episode is awesome because Lorelai reveals that despite all her and her parents have done to repair their relationship, that she is still willing to cut them off if they cross the line. Plus Ed Herman is a gem and Emily’s bachelorette party is hysterical. Plus, Cop Rock.

24.) Say Something. As self-indulgent as this episode really is, I love it. I guess because we’ve all felt this way at some point. Plus watching Lane (as a surrogate daughter) and Rory do everything she does for Lorelai is amazing to see.

25.) A House is Not A Home. A “need to see” episode plot-wise in order to understand the whole of Season 6, as Rory deals with the consequences of her stupid decision to listen to her boyfriend’s father. Lorelai is once again stabbed in the back by her parents, and as a huge bonus, Mrs. Kim gets Hep Alien on tour.

Season 6
This season is rough because the first half has our two Gilmore Girls apart and the show just felt wrong. Also, April. When the second half of the show shifts focus to the relationship between Luke and April, it’s so hard to watch Lorelai suffer. My next to least favorite season.

26.) Welcome to the Dollhouse. Actually, welcome to Sores and Boils Ave, the new address for the Dragonfly. And finally, Richard admits his daughter was right and Rory has made a huge mistake quitting Yale. Emily tries to smoke out Lorelai by sending her random things from her childhood. Plus, any episode that starts with a town meeting is awesome.

27.) Let Me Hear Your Balalaikas Ring Out. Jess knocks a little sense into Rory and murderously cute soccer girls get sponsored by Luke. Lorelai breaks and becomes all of us when Paul Anka gets sick.

28.) Friday Night’s Alright for Fighting. Rory finally tells her grandparents that her dad is paying for Yale, which means all of pandora’s box is opened from their relationships and even all of Lorelai’s stuff, too. Culminating in an epic Friday Night Dinner menagerie of fight scenes. Plus, Paris has the breakdowns of all breakdowns and Rory rallies the staff to get the paper out. Also, best final line of a episode ever.

29.) I Get a Sidekick Out of You. Lane gets married, and the reception is epic. We also meet her grandmother, and she’s scarier than Lane’s mom.

Season 7
The problem with Season 7, besides the obvious that Amy and Daniel left the show, is mainly two things: first, the scenes are painstakingly long. Waaaaaay longer than they needed to be, and way longer than the show had typically done before. It’s borderline painful because the writing is just not Gilmore. Second, the constant presence of Liz and TJ. Ugh. I CAN’T STAND THEM, and without Amy’s writing, they are even worse. I mean, Andrew’s acting isn’t stellar, but at least his personality is palatable. The acting and the personality of both Liz and TJ is just. so. painful.

30.) ’S Wonderful ’S Marvelous. Emily lands herself in jail. ‘Nuff said.

31.) I’d Rather Be In Philadelphia. Richard’s in the hospital again, Christopher fails to come through once again, and we see all three Gilmore Girls be real with each other sans humor. Pretty sure there is nary an obscure pop culture reference to be found (for shame) but it’s heartfelt. So it works for me, only because of Richard.

32.) Will You Be My Lorelei Gilmore? It’s the big baby shower for Lane and Zack, and for once in Season 7, the writers hit the right note.

33.) Hay Bale Maze. Rory makes a pro and con list about a job offer, Taylor is allergic to hay, which is unfortunate, because he decides to take over the town with a hay bale maze, and Logan and Lorelei come to an uneasy truce.

34.) Bon Voyage. “You’ve given me everything I need” Yep. I bawl like a BABY every time she says it.