I was born into a family of soap opera watchers. In the late 60s, my great-grandmother was admitted to the hospital in her hometown of Rome, NY with a bad case of pneumonia. When my great-grandfather was walking the halls to her room, he bumped into Gerald Gordon. Gordon, who played Dr. Nick Bellini on the soap The Doctors, was in town visiting a friend. My great-grandpa ran up to “Dr. Nick” and insisted that he went into my grandma’s room for a consultation. Gordon tried to explain to my grandfather that he just played a doctor on TV and had no medical background, but quickly yielded to the requests of an old, stubborn, Italian man.
When “the doctor” walked into my great-grandma’s room, her eyes lit up. She called him over to her bedside, going over all of her symptoms, asking what his professional recommendation for treatment would be. The very gracious Gordon told her that if she stayed well hydrated and got plenty of rest, she should be on her feet in a few days. He happened to have a headshot on him (ah, the days before Twitter and Facebook) which he signed for her as “Dr. Nick Bellini”. From then on, my great-grandmother consider herself a close friend of the doctor, showing everyone his signed picture and letting them know that it was his amazing treatment that helped her kick the illness. She treasured that picture until the day she died.
Her daughter-in-law, my grandma, made sure to get her weekday cooking and cleaning done before lunch. She had a long standing 1:00 appointment, all the days of her life, in Salem with the Hortons and Bradys. At 2:00, she’d cross networks and state borders (although, has Salem’s actual location ever been confirmed?) to catch up with the Buchanans and company in Llanview, PA. She’d then take the short trip into Port Charles, NY (this was back during a time where the prestigious Quartermaine family ruled the town and the hospital; long before mobsters took over.) She passed her knowledge of the different family ancestries down to her daughters and, eventually, to me.
I remember afternoons spent glued to my grandma’s TV (and her lap), when Days of Our Lives heroine Dr. Marlena Evans was possessed by the devil. Although not even ten-years-old, I loved the absurdness of the storyline – this smart, sweet, well-off psychiatrist (the irony of her profession was not lost on my young soul) was being possessed. by. the devil. The best part was that Satan was using Marlena to keep her true love, John Black (who recently discovered that he was a Roman Catholic priest before being kidnapped and brainwashed) from going back to the brotherhood.
Say it with me now. What?!
Marlena’s unfortunate run-in with the devil was my lucky gain – it was then that I fell in love with soaps.
At a young age, I realized I wanted to be a writer. The idea of creating characters out of nothing was intoxicating to me. Here were these fictional beings that you could bring to life with families and fears of their own. In a movie, writers have roughly two hours to deliver you a character and teach you everything there is to know about this person they want you to care about. But in a soap opera …
Ah, a soap opera. A viewer gets to see this person every day, Monday through Friday, for years. And even if they die, there’s a strong chance that you’ll see them again!
The audience is there through every romance and betrayal; every pregnancy and shipment of said child off to boarding school. You know which café a character goes to for coffee after work. You’ve been inside their home more times than you’ve been to your in-laws.
And if your “story” is blessed with a talented actor, you get to watch a person’s entire life unfold before your eyes (Kimberly McCullough originated the smart, feisty Dr. Robin Scorpio on General Hospital in 1985 at the age of 7, playing the doctor on and off for years, until Robin met an unfortunate explosion early in 2012. Side note: As fictional as they are, soap operas can sometimes provide a way for viewers to broach real-life topics. I first learned about HIV and AIDS when Robin was diagnosed in 1995.)
Usually, after “Days” finished, I was ushered outside to play – you know, like other kids my age. But as I transitioned into my teen years, I began to care less about playing in the turtle-shaped sandbox, and more about this new-to-Port-Charles, cigarette smoking Elizabeth Webber, who was making a play for my Lucky Spencer on General Hospital.
I was thirteen when Lucky found sixteen-year-old Liz the night of the Valentine’s Day dance, in the park, crying and bruised in a torn red dress, having just been raped. I was supposed to be doing homework after school. In actuality, I was crying as much as Rebecca Herbst’s Elizabeth.
I’ve watched General Hospital rather consistently since that storyline in 1997. I have grown with Elizabeth and Lucky (although, I have zero children to Liz’s three-by-three-different-men). We all graduated high school. Elizabeth went on to get her degree in nursing, while mine is in journalism. I’ve witnessed their (many attempts at a) wedding, and recently had one of my own. My new husband and I have settled into a nice nighttime routine, with me curled up on the couch, watching General Hospital on abc.com, while he catches a game on tv. With the advancements of technology, between the internet and DVR, it is rare that I miss an episode.
I am so sad to see what is happening to daytime TV. Back during those warm summer afternoons, as Grandma and I watched Deidre Hall levitate over a bed and spew out Latin in a demonic voice, I told my Grandma that I’d grow up to write for a soap opera. I’d create characters that viewers wanted to tune in and see every day. Undoubtedly, my best work would be the last five minutes of every Friday episode; I’d give them cliffhangers that made them wish the weekend away, just so they could find absolution when they turned on their program Monday afternoon. Now, I’m not so sure that is possible. For decades, soap operas – with the fictional families we have become invested in and the lives that they live, be them sensible or preposterous – have been passed down throughout generations. Will a new generation of grandchildren be able to spend summers in the safety of their grandmother’s living room, munching on a snack while making mental notes of the Corinthos family tree? (There are several branches on that one.)
Many people scuff at soap operas and their audiences, but I will never feel ashamed for being a loyal viewer. Do they get a little ridiculous? Of course. But that’s their whole shtick; part of the appeal. A loyal soap fan understands that and is in on the joke. Plenty of these naysayers are the same ones who tune in to watch the “match making” on shows like The Bachelor. While Elizabeth and Lucky are a fictional couple rich with history and romance, contestants on these dating shows are real-life people looking to make a quick buck and get their fifteen minutes of fame. If anything, the relationships in Port Charles are more real than anything I’d find on a reality show.
Plus, on General Hospital, Lucky can die in a fire and come back years later, only to father one of his first love’s children. (Sure, she did cheat on him. And, for some time, the child was believed to have been his brother’s but … who wants to be bothered with schematics?)
That would (probably) never happen on The Bachelor.
I’m easily made irritable. I probably say “That’s my BIGGEST pet peeve!” at least half a dozen times a day. I don’t do it to be dramatic. If I say it, I mean it. I just hate … lots of things. So that we can get to know each other better (and so that you can make a mental note of all the things NOT to do in my presence), I have compiled this helpful, Top Five list for you.*
1- When things don’t work/take longer than anticipated
Particularly, this applies to electronics. It’s guaranteed that I will freeze up a computer at least once a day. The Husband claims it’s because I “click too many times”. I do. I do click too many times. If I click on something once and it doesn’t open in .048 seconds, I’ll click six or seven more times. Obviously, I blame my impatience on Generation Y’s preoccupation with instant gratification. We’ve never had to wait for anything. Google, if you show me that Maureen McCormick is trending, I need to know RIGHTNOW what Marcia Brady is up to. Load. LOAD! Don’t freeze. What are you doing? Clickclickclickclick. Don’t fre … crap.
2- People who use social media as a place to barf all of their negativity onto the world
I have bad days too. This ENTIRE BLOG POST is devoted to things that make me grouch. But if your Facebook statuses/Twitter updates are nothing BUT “I hate my fill-in-the-blank”, you need to re-evaluate your entire existence. And maybe get a hobby. I know plenty of virtual farmers who are quite happy with their lives and crops. I can probably get them to send you a shovel and some seeds.
3- Industrial strength packaging
Listen, company-who-makes Midol (and by “Midol”, I probably mean the Target Up & Up kind because I rarely buy name brand). Let’s think about the symptoms I have that led me to your product– Headaches. Irritation. Is me getting that bottle opened a G.D. game to you? First of all, let’s take a moment to reflect on the child proof bottle. I don’t HAVE any children. I don’t want to squeeze the top, push it down and turn it seven times to the left. OPEN! And the foil. Oh, the foil. Put a pull-tab on that, would you? And then the cotton ball. Mother f. STOP MAKING THINGS TAKE SO LONG! Re: Pet Peeve #1 – instant gratification
4- Drivers who don’t let you merge
I’ve done plenty of super scientific studies (I won’t get into the schematics. You wouldn’t understand.) that prove my theory that: A driver that takes their foot off the acceleration pedal for six seconds to slow down and let someone merge gets to their destination exactly as planned, without incident WHILE a driver who maintains speed and DOESN’T let others merge is a mega-jerk who elicits road rage in other drivers and, possibly, a hex upon their family.
5- Any typing mistake that would make your English teacher cringe
Come on, people. Learn the difference between there, their and they’re. Find out when you should use effect or affect. The purpose of good grammar is to ensure that what you write is easily comprehended.
Go ahead and comment with your biggest pet peeves. I probably don’t like those things either.
*I retain the right to create another Top Five List whenever the spirit moves me, as my 5th grade teacher liked to say.
I’m pushing twenty-seven (My golden birthday is this year. 27 on 27th of August. That’s lucky, right? Did I make that up? I’m pretty sure it’s lucky.) I feel like I’m pushing 27. With the exception of Hart of Dixie and The Ringer (both of which center around 30 year old female leads), I can no longer watch The CW. I’m pretty much over watching teenagers – be it teenage vampires, teenage witches or rich teens.
I also find that I’m having a hard time clothes shopping. If I spend more than 28 seconds in Forever 21, I may end up standing in front of one of the (way too many) mirrors, crying because I’m lost and the music is too loud. And also, the lights. The lights in that store are so damn bright! Do I want to buy a t-shirt with a smart-looking owl on it? Yes, I do. Should I? I don’t know! I probably shouldn’t? I’ve become conflicted! I think I’m too old to buy shirts with cartoons and or animals. But they’re so cute.
I like to be in bed by 10. I like to eat dinner and watch my shows. I’d much rather drink at home with friends (or by myself. Don’t judge me) than waste money out at a crowded bar. When I go to the mall, my first step is to the Christmas Tree Shop, in hopes of finding a pretty picture to hang in our living room.
How do I REALLY know I’m old? Whenever I put on the radio. “I don’t know where you’re going or when you’re coming home. I left the keys under the mat to our front door … get your ass back home.” What? Is this what kids these days are listening to? Do teenage girls think its ok for a guy to just leave you hanging? And (as much as I not-so-secretly love her), how about Selena Gomez? “There’s no way to describe what you do to me. You just do to me what you do.” Wow, Selena. You’re a lyrical genius.
And whenever I hear “We Are Young” by Fun (cool name, guys), all I can think of is this (hilarious) parody.
I’m a happily married home owner and I think I’m coming to terms with my age. Check back at the end of summer.
Today, the world met Meow, a two-year-old, 39lb 10oz cat who was turned over to the Santa Fe Humane Society by his elderly owner, who could no longer care for him.
To put in perspective, 39 pounds is:
More than 4 average sized bowling bowls.
Approximately four and a half gallons of milk.
As much as a 26 in flat screen tv.
The same as 6 red bricks.
Approximately the same weight as a four-year-old.
A glimpse into my train of thought on the matter:
What was she feeding him? Surely, his diet could not have been cost effective. Although, eating off the dollar menu at McDonalds is cheap and could cause a person to get fat. The vet said a 39lb cat is equivalent to a 600lb man. He looks like a fluffy pillow. I wonder if he likes to be snuggled. Aw, I bet it’s sad when he tries to wobble away. It’s sad that he has to wobble. I wonder what his favorite treats are. I love cupcakes. I wish I had a cupcake. I’m happy I’m not a 600lb man, though. How does a cat lose weight when it’s THAT overweight? Are you supposed to leash them up and take them out for a walk? Why is his name Meow? That’s what we’re going with? Meow? Maybe he has low self-esteem because his owner didn’t love him enough to put any effort into choosing his name. Someone should change his name. He’s only two. Holy crap. How does a cat gain that much weight in two years? I bet his owner was so bummed when she had to turn him over. How come nobody in her life offered to take him in for her? That’s sad. If I die, I hope someone in my family takes our cats and dog.
I’m going to die.
(And, inevitably, this quote from my favorite movie, Love & Sex) “You’re all going to die. Think about that. You’re all going to die and nobody will ever remember you, because they’re all going to be dead too!”
(Around 42 seconds)
Somebody stole my lunch.
I understand that everyone isn’t as into their meals and snacks as I am. Not everyone keeps an emergency dollar in their wallet for the vending machine (and makes sure to replenish upon use). I know plenty of (thin) people who don’t spend their breakfasts thinking about their lunch. I can understand MAYBE eating a bag of unopened chips that have been collecting dust in the cabinet or a Healthy Choice that’s got a pretty thick layer of freezer burn on it – if you have no cash and forgot your food at home and, also, you have to maintain a correct blood sugar level.
But somebody’s LEFTOVER macaroni and cheese? Gross.
Not only was it NOT fresh (I bought it Wednesday) but it wasn’t even that good looking. It didn’t look homemade, with tons of delicious, carb-filled crumbly goodness scattered on top. It was a scoop of left over deli macaroni and cheese. And also, to reiterate – it was someone else’s LEFTOVERS.
Am I positive someone ate it? No. But I AM positive it was in the office refrigerator, that it has disappeared and none of it made it into my mouth (thatswhatshesaid).
If you’re wondering whether or not I checked the garbage, the answer is YES! Did I check the ENTIRE fridge, and cabinets AND freezer? Yup. And, of course, I have already checked my car and my desk. This isn’t amateur hour.
Now that I’ve made a big enough fuss to cause my entire side of the office to talk about it, I hope whoever ate it is feeling real awkward right about now.
In order to rectify this situation, you may go to Fluffalicious, purchase a cupcake and leave it on my desk with an apology note.
Otherwise – a pox upon your house!
Being engaged consumed my life (well, to be fair, OUR lives). Every day there was a check to be mailed, a person to be met with, ribbons to be glued. It was an extremely stressful time. I love, love, LOVE my husband and our wedding was absolutely perfect. But, boy, am I beyond grateful that it’s over! (Although I find myself looking through photos over and over again, waxing nostalgic. How quickly we humans choose to gloss over certain parts of our lives, while romanticizing others. To be fair, your wedding day is probably an ok day to romanticize)
One thing that bugged both The Husband and me during our engagement was the constant influx of “Are you nervous? You should be. Are you?” and “Are you sure you still want to? Are you suuuuure?” questions. We were together for four years when we got engaged. We’re not starring on our own MTV show. I didn’t accidently get knocked up. Nobody was living in the country illegally. Sponsors weren’t knocking on our door, showing us all the loot they would give us in order to see it happen. It was much discussed and well thought out. Maybe it’s old-school thinking, but we were getting married because we loved each other and were looking forward to being in it for the long haul.
Most of the time, the Question was always from a co-worker or random acquaintance. We would rather stay home and watch a rerun of “Melissa & Joey” on ABC Family than get a coffee with these people. However, they had no qualms implying that they knew us well enough to know we may be second guessing the biggest decision of our lives.
Maybe they were just executing a poorly written joke. Perhaps they were projecting their own fears, second-guesses and disappointment in their lives. Either way, I never thought it was funny, always thought it was rude and would never think to ask that of anyone.
I know that the world is full of Kardashians and pregnant teenage moms. I know that the divorce rate is astronomical (I mean, I’m not going to Google it and get you the exact percentage. I’m not that concerned.) I know that not everyone marries for love or for the long-haul. But asking a seemingly happy, excited, soon-to-be-bride if she thinks her husband is going to get cold feet or if she’s worried about being “tied down forever” makes you look like a jerk.
Don’t be a jerk.
This has been a public service announcement.