Monday, February 27, 2006

The Bachelor

Season five of the Bachelor completes tonight. The Paris! Paris is certainly exciting, but somehow this show has managed to make even Paris and the French countryside as about American and "exciting" as an Olive Garden restaurant. Yet, still I watch.

The Bachelor used to seem more exciting to me--even when it was filmed in boring L.A. I used to watch the Bachelor religiously. Obsessively. Friends and I would gather round the television and watch with our glasses of wine in hand. We would analyze, predict and wonder about each of the Bachelor's choices, and what would happen in the future to him and his final pick. These were smart women too. Professors at UC Berkeley, lawyers, and teachers. We were women who fully and utterly identified as feminists. Yet still we watched.

No matter how enlightened and non-traditional we all were, we were still drawn to the romanticism of this supposed fairy tale love story. We put our own spin on it with a post-modern feminist analysis of each bachelorettes' action and movement, but we still fell for the fairy tale. Of course not one of the Bachelors has actually married his chosen Bachelorette. In fact, they seem to usually break up about 5-10 minutes after production ends. We knew these relationships were doomed, but we still hoped against all hope, and still we watched.

I don't watch the show nearly as often as a I used to. Yes, I'll still watch the finale, and yes, I still have a general sense of which Bachelorettes made it how far, but it doesn't hold the same interest for me anymore. The show has certainly lost it's novelty five seasons in. That's part of it. Bachelor whittles his choices down to two (it usually comes down to "good" girl vs. "bad" girl), and then after some media blitz, they break up. We've seen it over and over now.

I'm jaded about the Bachelor's choices and plot lines, that's true. The show itself is wearing thin. But I think I'm jaded about other things as well. I'm a few years older than I was when I sat around with my friends watching the first few seasons, and a little more jaded about relationships now too. I don't believe in many fairy tales any more, post-modern feminist ones or not. But rather than seeing this as a negative change, I actually see it as a positive one. I may not believe in fairy tales, but instead I think I now have a more positive and realistic understanding of what it takes to sustain a successful relationship. It takes work, communication, patience, humility, luck, and humor--among many other things.

I thought I was different from the bachelorettes on t.v. because my prince charming was going to be some indie rock boy who read deep literature, and not some independently wealthy bank manager water ski specialist. Even though my fairy tale was more non-traditional, I still believed in it. It allowed me to believe that I didn't have to work at relationships, that they just happened. I know better now, and I'm happy about that. I'll still watch, just not quite so obsessively.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

His Holiness

Whenever I have brunch at Henrietta's Table in Harvard Square, I almost always see some sort of local celebrity. It's a power brunch kind of place, at least by Cambridge standards. Mind you these are B-level, Boston-provincial style celebrities, but they are celebrities nonetheless. I confirm this by noticing that other diners are much more diffential and awestruck by them then they are by me over coffee and french toast.

Examples include, Kasey Kaufman, a Boston channel 4 news anchor, Dr. Dean Whittla, former Dean of the Harvard Ed School (note the inevitible confusion over his double use of "Dean"), and Alan Dershowitz, brash legal talking head.

Some people have reported seeing John Malkovich at Henrietta's as well, but alas I cannot. I have seen him at a local bookstore though. And my friend reports having seen him at Pier 1 Imports not once, but twice (that's a mystery in itself). JM sighting are so common in Cambridge these days that he seems to barely count now.

Mildly interesting celebrity sightings? Yes. Particularly noteworthy? No.

Now, things have changed. Yesterday morning catapulted me into a whole new land of Cambridge celebrity sightings. While looking for the bathroom to relieve myself from my five cups of coffee, I noticed that my companion's face had suddenly become quite slack. I looked in the direction at which it seemed his awe was coming from, and it suddenly became quite clear the reason for his awe. Standing in the atrium of the Charles Hotel stood Richard Gere, his wife Carey Lowell, a few seemingly local Cambridge types, and a Tibetian looking man in Buddhist robes.

Now, we are pretty sure RG wasn't dining with the actual Dalai Lama, but he did seem to be engaging in some of his non-acting work. I later heard that Richard had been awarded the annual Harvard Hasty Pudding award, so it made a little more sense that he was here in our fair city (and I also happen to know that his sister is a Dean at Cambridge's Lesley University).

However, even with these Massachusetts connections, I still find his local sighting more interesting and intriguing than any of my previous ones. One of the reasons of course is his higher placement on the celebrity food chain, but there was something else as well. I think it was the juxtaposition of his celebrity with the Tibetian monk. It was so "very Cambridge" and yet so very "not Cambridge" at the same time.

Half of Cambridge's population probably fancies themselves as dabblers in Buddhism and progressive politics. More power to them, but they are usually doing it in oversized LL Bean sweaters and with fuzzy, uncombed hair. This is the Cambridge way. However, RG clearly has more "it factor" than about 99.9 percent of the regular Cambridge population, and to see that "it factor" engaging in more typical Cambridge life (eating at Henrietta' Table, brushing snow off one's shoulder, socializing with those oversized LL Bean sweater types, etc.) was most interesting to see.

After a few more moments of furtive glancing, my companion and I went off about our business and left Richard to his. Henrietta's Table will never be the same again.

Friday, February 24, 2006

squeak of the wheel

I had to make a companion visit to the emegency room earlier this week (my roommate thought she was having a heart attack or something...turned out to be a false alarm). Although it was slightly annoying, it did make for some excellent people watching--the three boys with minor gunshot wounds chatting on their cell phones as they waited for treatment, the local drunk getting his fingers checked out, and the woman from the morning bus stop.

I was particularly struck by the fact that on a random Tuesday night in February, I seemed to recognize half the emergency room population. The local drunk is often sighted outside my front door drinking out of his mini airplane-sized vodka bottle (a minus of living above a liquor store). I often see the bus stop woman in the mornings. We don't talk, but we often awknowledge each other with a small smile. What was she doing in the emergency room at 11:30 on a Tuesday night? I didn't get the answer since we stuck with our bus stop ritual. Even though the scenery had changed, our manners and rituals did not.

Although I had never been to an emergency room before, it makes sense that there would be a lot of interesting human dynamics to observe. I wasn't banking on animal watching though. That was more of a surprise. While waiting for my roommate to have her vitals checked, out of the corner of my eye I spotted something small and black dart across the floor. Based on the reactions of the people around me, it quickly became clear what was so anxious to get from one end of the ER to the other: A mouse. People's feet went straight up on their chairs and there was a fair amount of yelping. Not the most heart warming scene in an ER. At least it wasn't a rat.

Monday, February 20, 2006


i heart crafty owls

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Cat or Dog?

The rivalry between cats and dogs is a long and storied one. People tend to be "cat people" or "dog people." Rarely is one both. However, usually they are refering to a like or disdain for one four legged animal or the other. I prefer to refer to the rivalry in terms of people personalities. "Cat people" are people who refuse to please others, while "dog people" (the more common in my opinion) are people who generally want to make others happy if they are able. I used to pride myself on my catlike qualities, but lately I've been seeing the positives in the more dog-like qualities of people pleasers. It certainly makes life a bit easier to navigate, and I've come to notice that caring for people and making their life easier actually makes mine too.

Marshmallow Soup is the name of a one hit wonder band from the late sixties. Out of Ottawa, Canada, they hit it big in 1969 with the song "I Love Candy." I didn't know any of this way back in 1993 when I also named my Friday morning college radio show "The Marshmallow Soup." I just thought it sounded cool and was somewhat original (at least it did in 1993 at a somewhat provincial women's college in Western MA). Fast forward to 2006, and I'm searching for a good blog title. I've been feeling both old and nostalgic these days, so maybe it makes a certain amount of sense that I'm trying to return to my college days. Regardless of the pop psychology analysis, I've settled on the name. Marshmallow Soups. I've added the "S" as an ode to my maturity (and because the singular was already taken).