Failure

I dislike failure. Not failure in general, but failure as it relates to me. If someone else fails, it’s interesting; if someone fails hard, it’s really interesting; and if I dislike that person and they fail hard, it’s almost rewarding (terrible human being = me). But if I fail, it’s the apocalypse.

It doesn’t have to be anything spectacular that I fail at, it could be a new recipe I try or a glaringly obvious and inappropriate typo in a work email. My mind starts reeling with what a pathetic human being I am and how it’s remarkable I’m permitted to walk the earth with such an incredible stench of failure encompassing me and all within a 10-foot radius of my incredible suckiness as a person.

I do not fail at a flair for the dramatic. This, indeed, I excel at.

Often, I find that I’d rather not try at something rather than fail. One could argue that technically, not trying means an automatic fail. But even more technically, one could argue that you can’t fail at something you don’t try. Moot point?

The situation I am faced with now is the worst kind of failure—the kind where failure was the unexpected outcome.

Oh confidence. You tricked me!

Before I continue on, I confess, I’m wary to share my failure. To any other person who isn’t me or isn’t involved in my little world it will seem like peanuts. And I mean peanuts to someone who likes peanuts, salted and unsalted, and not to someone who is allergic.

I’m a self-proclaimed ballerina, and I use the word “ballerina” very liberally. Three years ago, I put on ballet slippers and have casually haunted dance studios ever since. Yes, at the overripe age of 30, I’m getting my repressed ballerina on.

When my husband, child, and two cats moved to a new, smaller community, I found the best way to dance was to join in on the middle and high school classes. Because of my immaturity, I fit right in with the tweens and teens.

These classes require exams. I like to work for something, so I participate in these evaluations. I’ve been trucking through the ballet levels, surpassing my “peers,” but apparently too fast. My most recent exam resulted with an “F.” The only class I ever got an “F” in was 9th grade geometry, and let’s be honest, when do I ever use geometry? Shapes are dumb.

On the bright side, if this can be considered a bright side, I’m in good company. Half my class failed the exam and the other half of the class received what is known as a “pass conditional.” Dancers that fail together, um, stay together? At least to repeat the level!

I feel the failure hits me harder because of my age in relation to my fellow dancers. It’s embarrassing. These girls look up to me even though they are mostly taller than me (figurative look ups, everyone!). I feel like an idol fallen from grace, a loser, a coming-of-age disappointment to a generation.

Pride takes the worst hit when faced with failure.

The emotional result is that I’m ashamed I ever undertook trying to make my ballet dreams come true. What can it achieve but heartache and sore toes? But it doesn’t stop there, it shakes my confidence in everything I want to do, and let me tell you, I have been bit by the project, entrepreneurial, creative bug and I need all the courage and chutzpah I can muster to make it happen.

The idea of failing stops me in my tracks.

So what’s a fallen ballerina to do? Quit and cut my losses?

My dance teacher told me the best analogy to get me through this difficult time. She said that if I have a car with a flat tire, I don’t puncture holes in the other three.

So, it’s time to get the spare out, drive to the nearest service station, and get everything rearing to go because the road trip isn’t over yet.

Here’s to further failures, successes, and all the mediocrity in between!

You tell it like it is, Yoda!

You tell it like it is, Yoda!

Book to movie turmoil

I am in a serious state of conflict. Serious.

My favorite book, Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy, has been turned into a movie* and part of me wants to damn Hollywood and all the people who will go see it and the other part of me wants to be first in line for my tickets and jumbo popcorn.

This isn’t a book like Harry Potter or The Hunger Games** which we all expect to be made into blockbusters and which prove to be quite entertaining cinematic adventures. Although, one could argue that these were bastardizations. I digress.

This is my genre, my story, my life! I take complete ownership of this book and no one else is allowed to love it like me or allowed to turn it into some shadow of the story it is. Only I am allowed to think about the book and to adapt it to the film reel in my head.

Of course, none of this is true no matter how irrationally I feel it.

I worry that this book will be corrupted for me; that the way I imagine Bathsheba will be all Carey Mulligan, and the county of Wessex I designed in my head will be all the cinematographer’s doing—bastard. I’m afraid I will lose my imagined adaptation to this movie adaptation and never get it back.

I’m annoyed that people may jump on the Madding bandwagon. They will be all, “OMG, this movie is awesome. Blah blah blah. I’m illiterate and won’t appreciate the book in its full glory. Blah blah blah.” Posers.

Worse than people liking the film and rejecting the novel are people that will read the book and love it. Enter hipster attitude. I liked it before it was cool, therefore, I am better than everyone else and deserve some sort of badge noting my superiority. Perhaps a pair of Far From the Madding Crowd Ray-Bans.

The most valid concern I have is that the story will be manipulated to please a modern, mass audience with the creation of a superfluous plot line, an over-sexualization of the story, or a touch of gore and foul language to spice things up. Why mess with a good thing? If the creators of the film adaptation felt it in good judgement to alter the story to its audience, they could’ve chosen a different book (like one I don’t care about), or, here’s a thought, come up with a new story.

I’m being harsh. I don’t know if this movie will ruin my life as badly as I anticipate it doing so, and it appears I may not have the courage to prove my theories positively or negatively.

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This quote hangs in my son’s room: “And at home by the fire, whenever you look up there I shall be–and whenever I look up, there will be you.”

Some readers may be thinking to themselves right now, “wow, this girl is batsh*# (my husband would agree). This book isn’t even that great or one of the better T. Hardy novels.” To those readers, I don’t like you.

I jest (but in seriousness).

Nearly final note. After finishing Far From the Madding Crowd for the first time a few years ago, I mentioned to my then boyfriend, now ball-and-chain, that if we ever had a little boy I wanted to name him Gabriel after Gabriel Oak because, “if ever I had a son, I would want him to grow up to be of the same character and demeanor of this guy.” A week later I found out I was pregnant with a boy, and guess what, his name is Gabriel.

I can’t have the actor playing Gabriel Oak to suck at life or to have the fictional character be misrepresented! Think of the consequences!

It seems all is against me, even NPR keeps telling me that Far From the Madding Crowd is in theaters. What’s a girl to do? Wonder forever or indulge a morbid curiosity? Or, more likely, put it into perspective that in the purview of life’s problems, this isn’t one.

*This is NOT the first film adaptation of Far From the Madding Crowd, but I chose to write about this one because it’s now.

**Katniss Everdeen is named after Bathsheba Everdeen. Small literature world!

Inspector Gadget, apparently Canadian

As a child, among my after-school diet of television shows was included a generous helping of Inspector Gadget. Since Netflix released a new version of the show this year and since I have a toddler, I felt it incumbent of me to watch. My child in the room while watching–not mandatory.

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I learned a few things about the show that I never realized–IT’S CANADIAN. Who knew? It’s like all those HGTV shows I watch–CANADIAN. It’s not that I have anything but respect for Canada, but just like the good, egocentric American I am, I assume that everything on TV is American and uses Australian actors with better US accents than my own.

Another fact I had no idea about was that when I watched the original Inspector Gadget as a child, it was in syndication. The original created in 1983, two years before my first birthday. I thought that me and my peers had this epic, they-don’t-make-kid’s-shows-like-they-used-to cartoon, but really, it was about ten years after the first episode aired that I jumped in the Gadgetmobile.

Among other secrets uncovered, in the process of binge-watching the new series, my husband and I began pondering the origins of the Inspector, and we found this crazy theory about his origin:

“Inspector Gadget is a cyborg detective with a seemingly endless supply of gadgets. Inspector Gadget hasn’t always been a cyborg, he had to be Human at one point, right?Wouldn’t it be ridiculous if the guy who became a cyborg actually has the last name, Gadget? If this person did have a name before becoming a cyborg, we don’t know and it likely wasn’t “Gadget”. Whoever he was, he was a regular human who likely worked for the cops. This theory states that something happened to him. Some terrible accident. Some explosion or collapse that left him completely destroyed. Once the cops found this, the chief decided to do something never before attempted. They used the newest and most secret technology to recreate this man with super human powers. They programmed this robot version of the inspector to look and sound just like him, even to think like him. He was programmed with the very best AI and all.

“He continued working for the company, even watched over his niece and dog, just like the real human version did. The only problem with all of this was that he didn’t die in the accident. No, the real human version survived, only he was changed. The accident deformed him, warped his brain, and made him see things differently. Once he discovered that they had replaced him with a robot doppelganger, he swore to destroy it no matter what it took. They had taken his life away and replaced it with a robot, that they now call Inspector Gadget. The human version decided to use everything he had and knew to fight against this robot version, and to do evil to the company that had ruined his life. He also changed his name. Now he is known as Dr. Claw. You never see his face because it is the face of Inspector Gadget, only deformed from the accident.”

Mind blown.

Back to the Netflix series–I find it vastly entertaining. I realize Inspector Gadget purists might be far too nostalgic to appreciate the re-creation, but I feel the creators did a good job adapting a more modern take with a different animation style. A few new characters and the old favorites. It didn’t feel like it was trying to relive the 1980s glory days but still honor them while reaching out to the 21st Century audience.

Mad Cat looks strangely like my cat...

Mad Cat looks strangely like my cat…

My favorite thing about the new show is Mad Cat. The clever animated nuances of that fat cat are just, as the kids say these days, adorbs. I very badly want a massive plush Mad Cat for my desk, not to assist in foiling any Canadian Intelligence plans, but just because I’m a ten-year-old stuck in a thirty-year-old body and I need that reminder in my 9-5 work day.

Speaking of work, “Go Go Gadget get back to work and stop reminiscing about childhood television shows!”

Because I am an adult

This morning I looked at the nearly empty fridge and thought, “I’m soooo hungry and there is NOTHING to eat.”

funny toastI looked at the boxes of Cheerios, the whole grain bread, the frozen pizza, and then last night’s dinner. Spaghetti it was!

I can have spaghetti for breakfast. Why? Because I am almost 30 and no one can tell me what is appropriate for breakfast!

Screw you cheerios! Screw you toast! Toast, you don’t even fill me up, you are just bread that’s been toasted which is why you are called toast—how original.

It’s not just breakfast I have autonomy over. I can watch whatever I want on Netflix, go to bed when I like, call in sick to work, and mismatch my socks.

As a new mom, I justify all the years I couldn’t have spaghetti or ice cream for breakfast by making my own child suffer as I once did. Little Gingerguppy has a bed time, is not allowed to watch anything ever, eats “appropriate” breakfast choices, and must get me cards on Mother’s Day.

It’s my way of paying it forward by ensuring that by the time the little guy is closing in on 30, he will appreciate spaghetti at breakfast as much as I do now.

I use words goodly

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Find a degree in English, Philosophy, and Theater in every box! Plus a temporary tattoo!

I have a Bachelor of Arts in English. I swear, they give those things out in Cracker Jack boxes.

I kid! I kid! Put your spatulas at ease, fellow English majors, those burgers don’t flip themselves!

Seriously, I loved, and still love, everything English, it’s my native tongue after all. What I mean is, I love literature and grammar and writing and being pretentious. Apparently, I also love not knowing what to do with my life, why else choose such an ambiguous degree to pursue?

Even with that certificate authenticating that I made it through four years at a reputable institution, charming my professors through long-winded essays that never came to any conclusion on anything conclusive, I must confess, I am a sham.

Yes, a sham. You may even see it in the way I write my blog sometimes. Not only do I make up my own grammar rules, sometimes I use a word so grossly incorrectly that the only thing that can be deduced is that I took an existing word and made it into a new word, devoid of it’s prior association. I’m that good.

It doesn’t stop there. You should hear me talk. I don’t even pronounce words correctly. For 28.5 years, I pronounced the word placate as “play-sate.” My husband first pointed it out to me, and I told him he was an idiot (I have a BA in English after all, from Penn State!). Well, he was, and is, correct, but I still can’t kick the habit. It’s far too entrenched in my brain. This mispronunciation is inoperable.

I have no idea what I would do at work without Grammar Girl. She is my savior whenever I forget the rules of capitalization in a title, which is everyday. How am I even employed?

I know I have faults as a writer (I’m talking about you, passive voice! ) and I’ve come to terms with it. Mostly because I don’t even notice my bad habits at this point—they are far too habitual. I don’t even want to change.

Perhaps I justify this with the compliment I received from the best professor I ever had, in the best class I ever took, and the only class I never skipped (creative writing, of course). All the students had to write a piece of fiction and critique every individual’s short story—mine was naturally the longest by a good 15 pages (remember, lover of passive voice here). The teacher said, “after reading Gingermermaid’s, did it really seem like 25 pages?” And the class was like, “no! How magical!” And he was like, “style…blah blah blah…genius…blah blah blah…A+++++” or something along those lines, I’m sure of it.

Look, I’m no Thomas Hardy (my personal favorite) or Shakespeare (thank goodness) or Suzanne Collins (nom nom nom games), I’m just me. A girl with a degree in English who works in the unrelated topics of the Middle East and Africa, who disregards the grammar rules that I don’t agree with (or remember), and a girl who should never ever teach English to anybody—ever. A girl with a blog I can abuse with words.