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My Life in Television

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Distractions are good, especially when you are in a period of waiting. Typically, I gravitate towards a blend of books, TV, and movies to immerse myself in a world other than my own. Recently, a friend coaxed me into watching a new show. I caught up on five seasons in a matter of weeks – only to be devastated by its recent finale (thanks Caryn). But did it get my mind off of the wait? You betcha. It also got me to thinking about how much I just love and appreciate good television. In another life, I’d be working in this genre instead of observing from the sidelines.  Out of all of the hours I’ve logged, these are some of my most memorable…

Family Ties – “A My Name is Alex”

I was 15 years old when this Family Ties episode – about the sudden death of Alex’s friend – aired.  I loved the concept, the dialogue, the acting. And it was the first time I ever really appreciated really good television. I could also relate. Like Alex, I was a deep over thinker at times. In fact, I can still recall my favorite line of dialogue from him – “Mallory, it must be so easy to be you.” I knew what that meant, because I never felt like it was easy to be me.

ER – “Such Sweet Sorrow”

Picking just one episode from this show is a challenge. I sobbed endlessly through Love’s Labor Lost; I was terrified by the stabbing attack of Lucy and Carter; and I threw something at my television when Doug left the show. But to this day, Carol Hathaway is one of my favorite characters of all time and seeing her get the send-off she deserved – on a pier in Seattle with the father of her twins – was supremely satisfying. And – really – how many people get actual phone calls from friends to congratulate them on the return of George Clooney in that arc? Me – that’s who. And I wave my freak flag proudly.

Sex & the City – All of Them

When your love life sucks, you can live vicariously through a television show. This is what Sex and the City did for me. And in between offering up lots of highs and lows when it came to love and sex, it did something else – it taught me that you need to love yourself before you are really ready to love someone else. In the words of Carrie Bradshaw from the very last show – “An American Girl in Paris, Part Deux – “…the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you find someone to love the you that you love, well, that’s just fabulous.”

Friends – “The One With….”

Friends was everything in the mid-90s. I loved it from the minute go, but one of my early favorites was “The One Where Ross Finds Out” when Ross and Rachel kiss for the first time. Years later, I actually scored passes to a live taping in LA during the show’s eighth season, which in the end sounds more exciting than it actually was. But if pressed to pick an all-time favorite, I would have to go with “The One with the Embryos” where Monica and Rachel face off against Chandler and Joey in a round of trivia and end up losing their apartment.  “Rachel – we steal that TV Guide ever week….”

My So Called Life – “Self Esteem”

It’s best known as the Hallway Scene. You know, that scene – the one you wished happened to you in high school with the unattainable guy that you loved from afar for years. Well, Angela finally got her moment. While “Late at Night” by Buffalo Tom played in the background, Jordan finally manned up and grabbed that girl’s hand in the hall in front of everyone.  And no other show has ever captured the intensity of high school, teen angst, and unrequited love quite like My So Called Life.

Six Feet Under – “Everyone’s Waiting”

At times, watching this series was like a test of mental stamina. But, in the end, it was worth the journey. Once Sia’s “Breathe Me” started to play in that closing montage, I was a goner. Watching Claire drive away to face an exciting and uncertain future (with Nate running behind her car) brought such a sense of hope to a series so often filled with depression and despair. I could have abandoned the show once Nate died suddenly, but I would have missed out on the best series finale ever.

Savor the Moment

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Yesterday marked the third anniversary of a very sad day for us. Rather than wallowing in that day of loss, I chose to celebrate life — a satisfying brunch at a restaurant I’d been wanting to try, a visit to one of our favorite wine bars, a stroll around Rittenhouse Square in the early snow, and a little holiday shopping with my husband.

It wasn’t perfect. I was distracted by that old pull to immerse myself in the past vs. living in the moment. But I pushed through it and created some new memories. When you are lost in over thinking or caught in that cycle of self-involvement (I know – I’ve been there), focus on one small thing. It could be anything like savoring each sip of a wine you’ve never tried before, the act of making something like a pot of hearty soup or an entry in your journal, or taking the time to enjoy the quiet through a simple meditation that allows you to reset the pace. For me, it was standing on Walnut St., grabbing my husband’s hand and realizing that I finally allowed myself to move forward. In that moment, I felt hopeful and happy. Not sad. Not depressed. Not angry.

For me, December has always been a month of contemplation. That is even more true now, but I’m trying to observe the present instead of re-examining what happened last year or what this holiday SHOULD have been like. It is what it is and I want to make the best of it – just as it is.

These photos – taken by my husband – reflect how I feel right now. They represent some of my favorite spots in the city during a fresh snow. Plus they serve as a reminder to enjoy the moment and find pleasure in the little things…

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A Christmas Story

Every Christmas Eve, we would all pile into my grandmother’s small row home in Darby. The aunts and uncles would toss gifts around the living room as the cousins claimed their usual spots along the stairs. I have no idea what we ate or who got what. But I remember the feeling – that warm joy in my heart that I was with my favorite people in the world.

Today, we still gather together for Christmas Eve. Over the years, we’ve lost precious loved ones and their presence is deeply felt on this occasion. There is still joy though, and now it’s more about the food (hoagie dip? scallops wrapped in bacon?) and the fashion (this means you Michelle) than the gifts. I look forward to this night all year.

My husband and I laugh (and sometimes argue) over the difference in our holiday experiences growing up. We ALWAYS had Christmas morning at our house and my entire extended family lived between 10 and 40 minutes away. His family moved around a bit and hit the road every Christmas to visit family in Pittsburgh. He tells great stories of family traditions and Christmas mornings filled with cousins at his grandparent’s house. This year, we will have the best of both worlds with both families. And hopefully next year, we will have our own tradition.

Here are some of my favorite “Christmas Stories” from over the years…

  •  My first Christmas memory at the Melrose Ave. house when Mr. Pompilli dressed up as Santa for the neighborhood kids. I remember knowing it was him; I was only 3 or 4 at the time. Clearly, my tendencies towards over-analysis started at a very young age.
  • That feeling when you wake up and you realize that Santa has been at your house that night. I still remember taking those first steps down to the living room where you catch a glimpse of Christmas morning. For me, it was all about that the Barbie Townhouse. It was everything.
  • This isn’t so much a favorite, as it is memorable – as in the scarred for life variety. One Christmas Eve my parents got into a terrible fight. My brother decided to stay in my room that night because we were upset. In the middle of the night, I went to find my mom and walked in on my parents. Let’s just say they were no longer fighting. I quickly returned to my room and told my brother not to worry – they were not getting divorced.
  • A few years ago, Ryan and I escaped to New York – on Christmas Day. We got up early, took the train, and had a real New York holiday complete with ice skating at Bryant Park and a trip to Serendipity.
  • Every Christmas with Ryan.
  • And last, but certainly not least, the year I got this…(and yes, my brother had a matching outfit)

xmas cow

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