Lessons I Teach Myself
You know that tight, knotted, firm pain at the top part of your shoulders? Sometimes it creeps to your neck? That pain that no amount of CBD oil seems to cure? Yup, that's right: It's the pain of carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders.
Boy, am I feeling that pain now. I think I am gaining muscles in my arms from my poor attempts at pressing deep into my shoulders. As if I am commanding them 'RELAX!' with every push, with every press, with every poke. That pain is REAL. and it's years in the making: It was in the sandbox when a little boy I hated took my toy. It was in school when all the kids made fun of my name. It was when my parents divorced and crushed my dream of having a 'one happy family' for good. It was when I witnessed a fatal accident off a cliff in Turkey. It was when the boy I loved moved away. It was when I got my period. It was when I failed at math. It was when I had no friends, and it was when I had all the friends. It was when I broke up with that one. And it was when I broke up with that one. And that one. And the next. And the one after that. The list goes on. And now I shall add the 'weight of the world at a global pandemic' to the list, and tuck it away in my box of memories. I will continue to rub CBD oil on the pain, and bath in Epsom Salt baths for days, and massage it 'till my fingers swell.
Or maybe I should just take a load off and pass some of this weight along.
But who I would be WITHOUT that pain? Would my head stand tall? Will my lungs suddenly have room to breathe?? Will I be able to be flexible again and reach head to toe???
Questions to myself on a foggy Thursday afternoon.
I see you lurking there, in the shadows, always ready to raise your finger, to cross your arms, to roll your eyes at me. I see you with your stunning glow, shiny smile, incredibly irritating laugh. You always show up on time, never late. You are perfect and you know it. And I know it too. (sigh)
I love you little miss Perfect. I love your constant persistence, your unashamed loyalty, your willingness to show up even when you are uninvited. But... can you give me some space now? Isn't it time after all these years...? Go find a corner in the shadows and turn around in circles, see what that feels like, live a little! You don't have to watch me like a hawk anymore. I got this. I know it's hard to believe, with my self doubt, petite frame and naive outlook on life, but I REALLY got this.
Hey, chin up! You taught me a lot: I know how to second guess myself a thousand times a day; to pay attention to the smallest most minute details; to be relentless and work like an ant. I am grateful for these lessons, truly. But I gotta spread my wings and go now, and once I fly...there is no turning back. There is no second-guessing up in the sky. There are no small details in the big wide blue, and a bird is a BIRD. She's not an ant.
Thank you for your commitment to me. I will cherish it always. Now go back and hide in the shadows, let's see how long you can be, okay? I trust you will perfect the art of hiding. You are little miss perfect, after all.
When I was little, and pretty much every day still, I had fantasies, and dreams, and ambitions to be super mega accomplished. Successful. Fulfill my potential no matter what. I've made choices all in line with that NEED to accomplish. But as life does what, well, life DOES - which is whatever it wants to do on any given time like a badass - I've accomplished some of my goals and dreams, and other ones I definitely did not. Some of my dreams changed, and that's okay. I ended up accomplishing things I have never dreamt of, and also failed in things I never aspired for anyways.
This current pause in society put us all in either crisis mode, survival mode, or zen mode. For me, it also sent a rocket right to the heart of my need to accomplish.
I once told my therapist that I'd rather die than being unsuccessful. That 'once', was merely last year. Well, in proper psychology lingo let me 'reframe' that notion: I'd rather die than not live fully. Living fully means following the waves that life takes me on. Be it a break-up, a loss, a goal achieved, a mountain climbed on, or even a global pandemic that swept the world completely out of nowhere and made us all STOP and LISTEN.
Listen to the sound of the wave coming at you. What do you hear?
I hear "You ARE accomplished. You have been born and whole and loved and full of gifts. Now fly off and do whatever you want to do on any given time like a badass."
How suddenly the rules Change
The emperor takes off her clothes
The wizard reveals her face
How suddenly a new beginning
Or is it the end
Death to freedom
As we didn’t even know we had
I dream of a calm ocean
Surrounded by islands
Where dolphins and lions bath in the sun
Where mothers cradle their babies
And shops are open all night
I dream of another life
Away from here
Where life has no end no beginning
Be it what may
What may occur we shall not know
Nor would we care
Because we lost all of our understanding
And earth stood still in wonder
She reminds us who’s boss
It is not us.
So, yeah... we’re all going through this rollercoaster of emotions that the Corona-virus train has brought along with it. I sure am. Some days are up, some are anxiety-ridden. But most days I try to stay sane by somewhat socializing with others, on zoom, FaceTime, WhatsApp… or doing some meditation when I have enough of a zen attitude about it all, and some potato-chip binging and Netflix & chill when I just, well, DON’T.
Keeping myself calm and off the news as much as possible has been my saving grace. And daily check-ins with my mom, of course. That is always medicine for my troubles.
But this time around, it seems like my mom has been feeling more of the troubles than I do. Fortunately, she is in good health, but she has been isolated at her home for over a month now, so she is feeling quite bored and lonely. I figured it was time for her to get acquainted with her television. Easier said than done… See, my mom is an intellectual thinker, a reader of books - the long literary masterful ones that authors win Pulitzer prizes for, and she’s not necessarily a ‘TV person’. If there IS such a thing. Watching more than an episode of whatever would be a stretch for my mom, but since all ‘her friends are doing it now’, she asked for some recommendations. I thought a little and whipped up a couple of suggestions for a ‘complex character type dramas’ for my intellectual thinking mama, and then my dad showed up on my WhatsApp declaring he could use some TV recommendations too, and since I’m a TV junkie as all us millennials are - I should be able to help him out a bit, no? Well, other suggestions started piling up in my head as my dad’s taste is far different than my mom’s - He can handle some action, fast pace and thrilling type of dramas, and maybe a pinch of absurd comedy too… and I found myself with a full list of suggestions for my folks.
For clarity’s sake (we could all use some more of that nowadays, sigh) my parents are divorced, and neither has ever remarried, so here they are, each at their own home, looking for some quality binge escapism. And since there is not much I can physically do to help them in their isolated days, turning them into TV watching zombies like the rest of us - is my newfound goal. So here is my TV guide for the mom and dad who never got into the ‘TV thing’, but have plenty of time to catch up to the rest of the world now.
The guide is of my favorite BINGE worthy TV shows (and a few documentaries that I couldn’t resist) in no particular order:
Breaking Bad (crime drama, 5 seasons)
-This neo-western tale of a chemistry teacher who turns into a drug lord is an incredible masterclass in TV writing by Vince Gilligan and masterful acting by Bryan Cranston. It's quality escapism y'all!
Mad Men (period drama, 7 seasons)
-With excessive consumer-mentality coming to a halt these days, why not delve into the world of the advertisement industry in the 1960s, and be reminded of our own naivety as Don Draper sells us another cigarette, another jaguar, another American dream? Yes, it’s slow paced and has a TON of episodes, but it’s excellently done and is comforting like your favorite ice cream on a rainy day.
Halt And Catch Fire (period drama, 4 seasons)
-This underrated drama is seemingly about the computer and tech boom of the 1980s, but it’s really about failure- an inspiring theme to explore on TV and the team of creators behind this series did exceptionally well. How come no one has watched this brilliant show?! This forever will be a mystery to me. This, and well...the invention of the internet. (Really now, how the fuck does this thing work?! Asking for a friend.)
Six Feet Under (family drama, 5 seasons)
-A charming, family drama that explores death and family in deep and light ways both at once. A true ensemble of giant actors who shine in their roles in the Fisher family. As sentimental as puzzling your first puzzle. Plus - the finale episode is the best finale ever. EVER. Get your tissues ready and binge away.
The Wire (crime/action drama, 5 seasons)
-A social commentary about society, the justice system, what’s good or bad, etc. Intense, tense and exceptionally written. Ahead of its time. Definitely NOT a guilty pleasure type of watching.
The Sopranos (crime drama, 6 seasons)
-Does this one really need an explanation??! Obviously this is a classic. THE classic for our TV era. Must watch. It's a bit embarrassing for me to even have to note this one here. Come on mom and day! Watch it already, like, yesterYEARS.
FleaBag (dark comedy, 2 seasons)
-A NEW classic from the queen Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Nobody breaks the fourth wall as she does. All hail the queen. (P.S. Phebe, will you marry me?)
Killing Eve (drama/crime/comedy - mixed genre, 2 seasons)
-The queen continues with this sexy strange and witty crime-drama-comedy-fusion. I don’t know WHAT type of genre this show is, but I don’t really care. It’s a great female-driven cat & mouse story that is witty and unpredictable. Plus Jody Comer is EVERYTHING.
Money Heist (La Casa De Papel in Spanish) (crime/action/tele-novella, 4 seasons)
-Fast-paced, adrenaline-filled bank heist like nothing else. It will give you sweaty palms guys!!! Seriously, this show is fantastic and VERY binge-worthy with its action, suspense, humor, good ‘ole melodrama and an idealistic commentary on capitalism, community and other themes that are VERY relevant right now as we see our economic system crumble like a house of paper.
Fauda (drama/action, 3 seasons)
-Loads of suspense, high stakes in the vain of 24 and Homeland (yes, they both deserve honorable mentions here also, scroll below for that), terror groups and the Israeli Mossad?! Why, yes, please.
Curb Your Enthusiasm (comedy, 10 seasons)
-Comedy classic from the brilliant mind of Larry David. Need I say more? (P.S Larry, are we related!?)
Schitt’s Creek (comedy, 6 seasons)
-I finally started watching this during the ‘Quarantine season’ (God please make this 'New Normal' ONLY a season? pretty please?) and got hooked quickly. It’s a quirky family comedy portraying a story of riches to rags and featuring the flawless Catherine O’Hara- I’d watch her in anything, any day.
Broadchurch (crime drama, 3 seasons)
-A UK classic crime drama that is done so well and revealed to me the greatness that is OLIVIA COLEMAN.
The Bridge (original Scandinavian version, crime drama, 4 seasons)
-Flawed characters to psychoanalyze for hours, a murder mystery to solve, border politics to be intrigued by… what’s not to like?
The Crown (period history drama 3 seasons)
-Although I’m not into these types of stories usually (historical drama about privilege, royalty and the likes, yawn!), the nuanced layered characters kept me HOOKED and re-think this genre.
The Handmaid’s Tale (drama, 3 seasons)
-I found it a bit challenging to watch this dystopian drama but that’s exactly why it’s BRILLIANT. It examines the limits and surpasses them, another master class in writing. Also strangely and hauntingly appropriate for the current state of impending doom.
Stranger Things (period/sci-fi, 3 seasons)
-kids, 80s, Winona Ryder, strange things. Love it!
Game Of Thrones (action/fantasy, 8 seasons)
Lost (Sci-fi/suspense drama, 6 seasons)
-“Lost is like crack: It may not always be quality, but it does its job.”
The Good Wife (courtroom drama, 7 seasons)
-Seemingly a conventional network show - and mostly is - but I couldn’t stop binging it. Something in it just WORKS almost like a good ‘ole formulaic episode of Law & Order, but binge-worthy.
Succession (drama, 2 seasons)
-A new favorite of mine, slow to start but GROWS on you like a beast! The second season is wow. Just wow. WOW. Shakespeare wow. Yes, I really said it.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer (sci-fi, teen, 7 seasons)
-Yeah, I’m on the Buffy train. And maybe the feeling of an apocalypse, fearful expressions on people’s faces at the grocery store and the general feeling of age-regressing into my teen years that made me think of it...but anyhow- this show is addictive, and you can get sucked into the Buffy world even more if you watch Angel simultaneously- there are a lot of cross-references between the two shows. Sorry NOT sorry.
*Honorable mentions that deserve a nod: Law & Order, Law& Order SVU, Seinfeld, 24, Homeland, Ozark, River, Top Of The Lake, The Killing, Outlander, Unorthodox, This Is Us
* Recent documentaries for some ‘escape into realism':
Wild Wild Country (series)
-Everything you didn’t know you needed to know about Osho. Astounding people, astounding story, astounding series about them all. Must watch.
-Woah this Oscar Winning film is the magic of documentary filmmaking- you never know how it’s gonna go… the less I tell you the better actually.
Making A Murderer (series)
-This series started the docu-series recent trend and a clear formula that Netflix has followed again and again because it works. The formula is: ‘Did he do it? Did he not? Oh, he DID do it! Oh, what a twist, he DIDN’T do it. Oh, he did. Wait… what? So he’s innocent? I knew it. Wait… he did it after all? Oh, SHE did it? Who is she!? Help! Hello????? Gimme more!’
Tiger King (series)
-The latest controversial craze on Netflix. It’s absurd and kinda unbelievable that these people and situations are totally real, but if we have learned anything lately is that reality is stranger than fiction….right? Oh, and please STOP abusing animals people! Like, COME ON. (Sighs heavily)
The Imposter (film)
-A really great documentary I found on Netflix one day. The less you know, the better. (That mantra is very soothing in general these days).
The Keepers (series)
-Nuns and murder. Fascinating story.
The Jinx (series)
-The famed Netflix formula (read ‘Making a Murderer’ above) strikes again with this one. Right up to the very last frame.
Don’t Fuck With Cats (series)
-A fascinating documentary about the internet, community, psychosis and more. And PLEASE leave cats alone people! Sincerely, a cat person.
The Devil Next Door (series)
-Years after WW2, ‘Ivan The Terrible’, a SS Nazi officer, was allegedly found living his best life as a family man in suburbia USA…what followed was shocking and compelling. I LOVED this doc series.
The Confession Killer (series)
- A fascinating and disturbing look into confession killer Henry Lee Lucas.
Three Identical Strangers (film)
-Ooohhh this one is great. Again - the less you know….
Jiro Dreams Of Sushi (film)
-Those of us who are privileged to have food on our plates right now, are all becoming chefs during this quarantine (or excellent at ordering deliveries) so this inspiring doc about one of the best chefs out there is a good one to indulge in. No pun intended…
There you have it mom and dad - your ultimate TV guide that will suck up your time, but hopefully will also fill you with stories that are heartwarming, gut-wrenching, inspiring, stimulating and a whole lot of fun.
Stay healthy & stay home,
Tamar Pelzig pledged to write something every day, even if it's only a word, so she welcomed to the world a daily blog that may, or may not be, of any significance to anyone other than herself. If you found her lil' life lessons, stories, poems and blurbs meaningful to you, well that's f**ing amazing! Comment and share so she can pat herself in the back - she doesn't do that nearly enough. Cheers.